I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how quickly life can shift and change, and yet somehow while living this life, these shifts can seem to move at a glacial pace. Either way, there is movement. Every year in November, I take a bit of time for myself to reflect on the past year, and to plan (as best I can) for the next. I find that this time of year is excellent because the chaos of Christmas hasn’t hit yet, and the more frequent cloudy days make for an excellent backdrop to self-reflection.
To create this space, I set aside a few hours (sometimes a full day) in a location where I feel comfortable and good. I turn off any distracting devices, let my loved ones know that I am unavailable, prepare yummy snacks, create an inspiring playlist, gather paper, pens, markers, post-its, and combine a great diffuser blend of essential oils. This process puts me into the right mind-frame and I am able to reflect more fully on where I’ve been. This also creates a space to clearly look at what some of my goals are for the next year...maybe even five years if it feels good.
While reflecting on 2019, I feel proud of all the wonderful and challenging bits that were included. It’s incredible what one person can do with one year. I wouldn’t have been able to tell you in January that by November I would be living in St. John’s, NL for example. In a seemingly quick decision, I moved my life from Belleville, ON with a promise that I would fully commit to completing University. I had been studying part-time since 2011 and I just wanted to cross the finish line. The transition feels smooth now, but the months of July/August were full of anxiety, stress, chaos, long nights, and more.
In 2019, I became a certified life-coach. In my life and business, I love having conversations with others about their life journeys. Hearing other people share their stories is one of my favourite things. In my own life, I have found so much comfort and clarity when talking to someone else about situations that I am grappling with. Directions forward always seem to become clear when I get things out of my head and into the atmosphere! I wanted to be able to offer this same space for others. We all have the ability to make shifts in our lives, and sometimes we just need to mull it over with someone else.
A new business partnership developed this year as well. Julia (our Director of Coaching Experiences), joined me early in the year to support the growth of Blue Bark & Co. as well as offer some amazingly powerful coaching experiences. She has been a guiding light through the year, and we are so much better for it.
This year has also been a year of health improvements. In January I decided to take a bit of time off from alcohol. My relationship with alcohol had a good run, and it was time to take a little break. I simply felt that I needed to step away from it to fully recognize where it stood in my life. I didn’t have a goal in mind, just to continue until I felt like having a drink again. I am still alcohol free, and I have to say that I never thought that I would be a sober University student! This journey has been filled with so many learnings, but those will be shared in an upcoming blog.
In terms of fitness, I have found my soul-mate. After attempting to settle myself through the practice of yoga, I noticed that I was feeling unsettled. To explain a bit, I am a certified Forest Therapy guide which means that I spend a LOT of time in the forest either on my own, or guiding others. If this is the first time that you are hearing about Forest Therapy, check out: www.bluebarkandco.com/forest-therapy. This offers me a space to ground myself, slow my busy “monkey brain”, and reconnect myself in the natural world. For me, yoga was a wonderful place to stretch out my body and connect with community, but something was missing. Of course, with the state of social media today I had an advertisement cross my feed one day for a free-trial in a new women’s kickboxing program. I entered the gym, received my first pair of hand wraps and gloves, and fell in love! Who knew that punching and kicking could feel so good? Who knew that you could actually be encouraged to punch harder? After a lifetime of learning that girls/women aren’t supposed to channel emotions this way, I found that this was the exact way that I needed to channel! I have now transitioned to the martial art of Muay Thai, and I can’t get enough. It’s full of cardio, strength, coordination, community, and sweat! I’m so happy that I listened to myself when it said that there was something else out there for me.
At the beginning of this year, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you that by November I would be a full-time University student in Newfoundland, a certified life-coach, alcohol free, and training in the art of Muay Thai. All of these shifts, happened slowly and over time. I have been told recently that going back to school is really Brave. I had never really thought of it that way. It sort of just seemed like the thing to do. In looking back over the year, I can see that Brave is the exact word to theme my 2019. I didn’t know that I would be here at this point, but I would never have gotten here if I hadn’t been Brave enough to take each of the steps to get here.
Reflecting on where you’ve been is fundamental to designing your life, especially when working on an annual plan. This is the part that is difficult for a lot of people. I frequently hear “I don’t even know what I’m doing in a month from now, let alone next year!”. Of course, we aren’t able to predict what is going to happen for us in the future (unless you have this skill, in which case future visioning is a non-issue). Creating the space for yourself to think about where you would like to be a year from now, what you’d like to be doing more or less of, and what you’d like to have for yourself is incredibly beneficial in itself. We so infrequently give ourselves time to consider what might be best for us.
I like to use the 12-month mark as an ideal with the year chunked into quarter segments. For me, looking at my year in quarters (or seasons), has been the easiest to commit to. I use a visioning template that I have created which combines a few different templates that I have used and liked in the past. Within this, I plot out three different projects for the quarter which gives me the perfect amount to focus on without getting overwhelmed. It offers me a recipe if you will, that I can adjust as needed. The wonderful piece to this is that I come back to this each quarter and go through the visioning process again. It’s a lot more manageable, and feels good to have accomplished it!
By taking the time to reflect on where you’ve been, you offer yourself positive reinforcement for all you have accomplished. By reflecting on the positive and negative, you are able to set the tone for your next year. Creating this space in itself can be a gift, and who doesn’t like gifts?
As for me, I am looking forward to uncovering the word which will encompass my 2020...what will yours be?