Alright, well it’s December 31st, the last day of 2018, and I’m currently sitting on my sister’s couch in downtown Calgary, finally getting around to writing this blog post. It’s been a very quaint holiday thus far, and today’s the first day I haven’t left the house since my arrival in this part of the world. I’ve been thinking about writing this post for a while now, and I’ve spent the last two weeks trying to gather my thoughts and put into words how I felt about this year, and everything that this year has taught me. I’ve journaled quite a bit trying to narrow it down to a few key lessons but to put quite simply – this year has been a hodgepodge of moments, experiences, and emotions that I have actually found it quite difficult to make some sort of sense of it all and create some sort of coherent story. But then I realized that it’s my blog, and I can do and write however I want. Haha.
But to be quite honest, I’ve also been procrastinating in writing this post because I know that through my writing, I’d be forced to face parts of myself again – parts that I may not necessarily be proud of, but parts that I’ve had to learn to find forgiveness, compassion, kindness and love for. I write because I enjoy it, and also because it’s a creative outlet for me, but I also write because I find it incredibly liberating and healing. As I write and reflect on this year, I’m reminded of how much I’ve grown over the past 12 months. So much has changed this year, and yet I am more of myself than I have ever been.
I’ve cried a lot this year, and I’ve disappointed myself one too many times. But I am human after all, and I hold so much gratitude for even the most difficult and challenging experiences for they have served as mirrors and windows into my own psyche. I have learned to treat the most tender parts of myself with so much more compassion now as I’ve learned to forgive myself for tolerating such unkind behaviour towards me. I still remember that day, with tears streaming down my face as I was biking home, not out of sadness or anger, but out of a deep sense of remorse that I had abandoned myself. I remember that evening, writing an apology letter to myself, asking myself for my own forgiveness. I held my own heart that day, and it was only a few months ago that I was reminded of my own strength and resilience, and my ability to hold my own, especially in the darkest of times.
“Your arms can hold you too. Never underestimate the healing power of your own, intentional presence. Sometimes it takes great pain to get our your own attention” – Mark Groves
Our patterns will most definitely repeat themselves until the lesson is learned (and of course, if we’re playing close attention). But for real, how many times do we hear these words of wisdom, but are too stubborn to actually make a different choice?! LOL! But what I’ve learned is that when you finally muster up the courage to walk away, and say “NO” to those who can’t and won’t hold space for you, not only do you honour your value but you raise it. Just as Mark Groves says, “The key to your worth is in your words and your choices. If you want to feel like you’re worthy, you have to act like it”.
Boundaries, and more specifically maintaining “healthy boundaries”, have also been an ongoing theme and a very challenging concept for me to grasp this year. Not only does this apply to the romantic kinds of relationships, but to friendships and family relationships too. I’ve always prided myself on my ability to hold enough space for other people in my life, while being able to hold my own at the same time, BUT sometimes, I can forget what my boundaries are and I tend to over-give thus depleting myself of any love and energy reserved for myself. But I’m still learning. And I’ve learned to honour my voice, speak my mind when something is bothering me, ask for my needs, and choose wisely and carefully in the type of people and energy I choose to surround myself with. I mean, let’s all just stop saying “YES” to shit we actually hate doing, right?
With all this to say, however, 2018 has also been one of the most adventurous and amazing years of my life (if I look back to my “end of year 2017” post, I probably said the same thing though… LMAO!) but it has definitely been A BIG YEAR for me. I’ve travelled far and wide, moved continents & physically changed homes four times while constantly having to find groundedness within myself. I’ve attended weddings and celebrated milestones with my closest friends and families, finished my Master Thesis Project even when faced with a multitude of challenges, graduated Cum Laude, and landed myself a full time job, kick-starting my career here in Europe.
I know I’ve mentioned disappointment earlier in this post but at the end of the day, what I’ve accomplished this year (and I’m not just talking about the degree or the job) FAR SURPASS any of those remorse feelings I may have had for myself. It is not just pain and disappointment that has taught me, but joy, grace and happiness too. I have learned that a simple smile and kindness can go a long way. I have learned to find beauty in the simplest of moments such as a sunrise or sunset, or even coming across a beautiful butterfly. I’ve learned that I have the most amazing support system, in both my friends and family. I’ve learned that genuine human connection is one of the greatest gifts and we must treat it with love, care, and respect. I have so much love for myself and the world around me. There is so much to celebrate and to be thankful for..
.. for this life that I’ve created for myself, for showing up to life each and every day, for choosing love over fear, for the experience of love no matter how it played out in the end, for who I am today, and most especially for my ability and curiosity to look at past versions of me and ask myself, “How could I have shown up better?” This takes courage, I know it does.
I look at myself with such compassion and kindness, and thank the former version of me for bringing me here today, and for teaching me what I needed to learn the most. I’ve been shedding so many layers of myself this year and have been letting go of beliefs that no longer serve me. It’s been both incredibly healing and freeing.
As such, this entire year has just been a season of unfolding.
In the past 12 months, I’ve always been in this state of navigating this transition from before to after, and always somewhere in the middle.
As I always found myself in this space of newness, I’ve been fascinated by all that I’m learning about myself and all that I’m yet to know. Uncovering the many layers of who I am again, and again, and learning to fall in love with what and who I’ve found. It’s been a space of openness, possibility, uncertainty and curiosity. I’ve been working so hard this entire year to go gently on myself, to have compassion for my vulnerability and emotions, and redefining what it means to be present, productive and in progress.
So as you’re reading this, I challenge you to take a second and ask yourself what this process looks like for you. I’m curious as to what your unfolding process space looks like? Perhaps it’s fairly smooth with familiar and friendly territory. Or perhaps it’s more challenging and you find yourself getting stuck here and there. Either way, I don’t think it’s possible to be unfolding without some wrinkles in the experience. That’s the process of self-discovery: to arrive at the bump, acknowledge being stuck, and then finding a way through.
So whatever it is you are going through in this human experience we call life, just know that I am right there with you. Living, learning and loving.
Let’s journey together, my friends.
With that being said, HAPPY 2019! I’m really looking forward to what this year has in store for me! (such a cliché line, I know, but every year over the past few years, has presented itself so differently for me!!)
And now, a highlight reel of my 2018! 🙂
Love & light my beautiful souls,
Yours in love,
– The Phoenix
Highlights in January: Ringing in the New Year in CORDOBA!!
Highlights in January: Road tripping through the THE ALGARVE! (south of Portugal)
Highlights in January: all the amazing food in LISBON!!
Highlights in January: spending our last day of our Christmas vacation in rainy MADRID
Highlights in January: PREMIUM Mix & Match (Honours Programme, Maastricht University)
Highlights in January: Celebrating Magdalena’s birthday! such a fun night!!
Highlights in January: living my most extra life at the club (Magdalena’s birthday night)
Highlights in February: First TEAM FOCUS team-building (PREMIUM)
Highlights in February: Traveling to DUBLIN!
Highlights in February: Traveling to BUDAPEST!
Highlights in February: when my parents came to visit me!
Highlights in March: when my parents cooked, and met all my friends! 🙂
Highlights in March: Celebrating my girl, Kinsella’s birthday!
Highlights in March: Speaking on the panel at the 20th annual FIGT Conference
Highlights in March: Traveling to MILAN!
Highlights in April: Meeting up with a childhood friend, Noran, from the UAE
Highlights in April: LAST DAY OF SCHOOL!
Highlights in April: Celebrating end of exams!
Highlights in April: When my childhood friend from the UAE, Jill, came to visit me!
Highlights in April: Celebrating Dani’s birthday and my last night in Maastricht!
Highlights in April/May/June/July: Settling into my new home in HK, playing tourist and making new friends!
Highlights in April: Traveling to MANILA for a reunion with my brother, my aunt and cousins, friends from Western, and childhood friends from the UAE! (oh and attending IgniteXChange where I got to meet some awesome entrepreneurs!)
Highlights in May: When I got to hang out with Sam (Western) and her friends in HK!
Highlights in June: Traveling to MACAU!
Highlights in June: Entering a waacking battle in HK!
Highlights in June: Celebrating my 26th birthday in CEBU, The Philippines!
Highlights in June: Celebrating my cousin’s, Alyza, debut in CEBU, The Philippines
Highlights in June: Family weekend at Kandaya Resort in The Philippines!
Highlights in July: One of my fav classes at the dance studio in HK!
Highlights in July: My Kambal (twin and best friend) travelled to HK just to come visit me!
Highlights in May/June/July: All the amazing dance classes w/ these choreographers in HK
Highlights in April/May/June/July: All the reunions with old friends whilst also making new friends in HK over the past 13 weeks!
Highlights in July: Coming back to Europe, reuniting with my friends but then saying goodbye to Dani!
Highlights in July/August: Finishing off the summer in The Netherlands with all the picnics, sunsets, and good vibes! 🙂
Highlights in August: My trip back to Canada where I was reunited with my family and all my friends!!
Highlights in August: Taking dance class in TO and living my life. haha
Highlights in August: Traveling to SERBIA for my childhood best friend’s wedding!
Highlights in September: My best friend’s wedding in SERBIA! 🙂
Highlights in September: My girl, Joan, came to Maastricht to visit me!
Highlights in September/October/November: Working for the PREMIUM Team!
Highlights in October: PREMIUM Reunion!
Highlights in October: GRADUATION!! (and graduating CUM LAUDE!)
Highlights in November: Visiting my childhood friends in Zeewolde!
Highlights in December: Going to the Aachen Christmas Market with these cool cats!
Highlights in December: Maastricht Christmas Market with my loves!
Highlights in December: Traveling to LONDON for a reunion with my Western friends! 🙂
Highlights in December: Started teaching dance class in Maastricht!
Highlights in December: Christmas Day Celebrations at MEDTRONIC!
Highlights of September/October/November/December: all the good times with my friends, both new and old! such good vibes!! 🙂
Highlights in December: Seeing my bestie, Maida, and doing a full-on videoshoot/photoshoot with Rojo during my layover in Toronto!
Highlights in December: Traveling to CANADA and spending time with my family!
IT’S BEEN A FANTASTIC YEAR, THANK YOU 2018! 🙏
So so proud of you, and me too, what an incredible year it was indeed!! Much love! and bravo to always keeping space for yourself and being mindful of over-giving, or just the effect giving has on you. Cheers to always learning and re-establishing that we’re perfectly imperfect!