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Fourteen things I learned in 2014

Hindsight is a beautiful thing. We will probably talk about it a lot on this blog because I'm all about it. Perspective, analysis, growth and learning from mistakes. Life is a classroom my friends: here is my end of year report.
I present to you dear friends....

The fourteen things I learnt in 2014.
(ready for lots of cheesy but sometimes insightful points?)

1. You can release in Love.
For the third year in a row, I found myself bidding farewell to the people I love most. It's become a bit of a joke, but every year I find myself saying, "Everyone I love leaves!". Truth is, there are goodbyes that must be said because there are adventures to be had, new jobs to be done, new places to call home, mysterious roads begging to be wandered down. I learnt that wanting or expecting people to stay is silly and selfish - when you love people you want them to live and learn and grow and go. I farewelled my parents as they moved to Perth. I farewelled my best friends as they moved to sunny places. I learnt how to release in love.

2. There is always room.
The craziest thing about releasing those I love was how much it opened up space in my life for new ones to come in. I never actually lost any of my friends - sure there may be an ocean or two between us but they are still there, still important and precious. But it did free up space in my life and I was most pleasantly surprised to find that naturally, these places wanted to be filled. I made time for people and watched acquaintances become friends, and friends become confidants and this new cast of characters, while not replacements, added unexpected joy and interest and experiences to my year. I learnt that it's not about replacing or replicating relationships, but there is always room for more.

3. Get on board.
I say this to one friend often, usually when he is dragging his feet getting onside with one of my hare-brained plans. Sometimes you have to be big enough to take your own advice (this is one of those times). Get on board with other people's plans and projects and parties when you're invited. Unexpected and wonderful things can and will happen. I did and it brought so much unexpected joy to my life.

4. Choices and changes are okay.
You are responsible for the choices and changes you make in your life. (With the exception of the curve balls life can and will throw at you). Mostly this meant waking up and realising that in this small and selfish-by-default chapter of my life, I have the choice to make decisions. And changes. And right now they directly affect as few people as possible. There is a crazy amount of freedom where there used to be fear. I know I can choose and that there is no such things as a wrong choice, just a choice and the consequences that follow. If you don't like the choice, you can choose to change is. Phew - try saying that three times quickly.

5. You are not what you do.
You are not your job, your job is what you do. If you're lucky like me and you love your job, it's a huge blessing and makes it easier to get up in the morning and go to work. But my job does not define me and it's not the most interesting thing about me. I'm learning that 'success' can be measured on multiple scales and spectrums and work is only one of them. It's good to work hard while you're young, but I'm not sure that any one job will define your life. You are not what you do, you are far more.

6. Choose your battles.
It's about finding things worth fighting for rather than things to fight about. Simple in theory. Difficult in practise.

7. Be kind to yourself.
I read a quote this year by Lori Deschene that hit me squarely in the feelings. It was this: 'We can't hate ourselves into a version of ourselves we can love.' It was so powerful and so useful in changing my internal dialogue. At 24, I have never loved or cared for myself as much as I do now. It might sound strange and you can take it as you will, but I'm actually really proud of this.

8. Attention is the purest form of generosity.
I spent a lot more time in 2014 learning the art of listening and actually hearing people. I feel like in the age of 'Me Me Me' we are quick to talk about ourselves and slow to listen to others. It means we lose our ability to empathise and engage in our environment. I tried (and still try) to actively listen to what people are saying in conversations and try not to think about what I think I will say next whilst they are still speaking! I'm still working on this one - short-changing my friends out of the attention they deserve is not something I want to be about.

9. It's good to balter.
(v.) to dance artlessly, without particular grace or skill but usually with enjoyment. I can't believe I found a dictionary definition for what I do ALL THE TIME. Seriously. In the car, in the kitchen, at work when I'm alone, in my room...

10. Embrace the In-Between.
I talked about the 'in-between' and the process of 'becoming' a lot in 2014, mostly because it's been the biggest relief to me to find that place and be able to reside comfortably within it. The present is the only thing we have - looking back and reminiscing is beautiful and special, planning ahead is exciting and motivating. But sometimes staying where you are is a choice, and one you are glad to make. I am in a state of in-between things and it is good. I might stay a while.

11. Life is a classroom - Take notes.
At the beginning of the year I would meet with a friend, and as we were talking about weird and wonderful things, he would ask me to repeat certain phrases and type them into his phone. Weird. I had another friend who would record the things that kids would say throughout the day while he was teaching them, because he loved their perspective and wisdom. I realised that the more I watched and waited on the happenings of the world - from conversations with friends to watching strangers on the bus - the more I learned and pondered and found ideas and inspiration. Life is full to the brim with lessons and ideas if you're open to learning them. Take notes.
(I actually write the bones for most of my blog posts on public transport. True story).

12. Go away so you can come back.
At one stage last year I felt tired and burnt out and extremely uninspired. I craved a break from my life, desperately longed for a change of scene, a respite from my routine. And then my friends suggested I take one. So I did. And it wasn't long and it wasn't fancy but it was one of the best and most relaxing, amazing weekends of my year. I came back feeling so refreshed and refuelled and ready to tackle life once more. Cannot recommend it enough. Go away so you can (make a) come back.

13. Love is not a finite resource.
I spent some time thinking about love in its many forms this past year, and looking into the way we try to love one another as human beings. I learned that love is not something I can create - there are people we have to do life with that for whatever circumstances, make it difficult for you to love them. Difficult if you believe that you will have to somehow conjure up enough love for that person. Nothing comes from nothing though. Love is the only infinitely sustainable resource, from the Father, the meaning of love itself. When I realised that he didn't expect me to create or muster up love for those who needed it, but instead called me to be a vessel through which love could pass through - a stream but not the source, it changed the way I viewed love and what that looked like in a practical and very ordinary way. Love doesn't come from me, just through me.

14. These are great days.
It was the great Winston Churchill who said those words and despite the removal of the original words from the context in which they were spoken, this phrase for me rang true in 2014. These are indeed great days. There were great days in 2013 and long before that, and there were great days in the year just been. There is always a risk that we look back on our lives through the rose tinted glasses of nostalgia, and like romantics, choose to see and remember only the good parts. So well worn are these memories that we can find ourselves thinking that our greatest days have already passed. That we may never again have days so great. It's simply not true. Those were great days and so are these. There may even be greater days to be had.

And so dear friends, onwards to greatness in the coming year. Go forth in love and optimism and honesty and generosity. Look, listen, make room for others in your life and take notes of the things you learn along the way. Be kind to one another and yourself, dance (even artlessly), go away to come back, make choices and changes if that's what you need to do and choose your battles wisely.
Here's to another year of love and learning, or collecting moments and embracing the in-between. x H

1 comment

  1. Why do people laugh at me when I balter? Great writing darling