On paper, this year could have been the worst. It certainly had its moments. Without dwelling too hard, I can conjure up a dozen reasons why this might have been the best year of my life.
I started the year on a high. Having worked through a serious slump from the death of my Dad in the summer of 2014 it took me until October to really regain control of my life. After a lot of introspection and some counselling with Angela Clark (ROPC) I was able to push forward and gain the momentum that would carry me through 2015. I'd already reached the point of wanting more from life and was feeling unstoppable by the end of the year. I remember so clearly thinking, 2015 would be the best year of my life and I documented it as such. With so much to look forward to, I couldn't wait to welcome in 2016.
In January, instead of starting where everyone else was (feeling ready to jump on the fitness wagon) I was already 10lbs lighter and ready to keep working hard to reach my goals. Practically every year of my adult life, January had been a month for making changes.. this year, however, I was already on my way.
The weight loss momentum did continue throughout the year as was sped up significantly at the latter end of February when I, for a short period of time, gave up eating.
Apparently, nothing makes you lose your appetite quicker than your husband deciding to leave you.
I say this in jest, and we all know (well, you probably don't know) but there was no correlation to my size and my relationship ending. That didn't stop a few people from sending me their pity in forms of condescending "it doesn't matter that you're fat, you'll find someone else to love you" remarks. As if that were the sole purpose of my life? I brushed that off to the kind of awkward thing blurted out when you don't know what to say to someone in their sorrow. I wouldn't have known what to say either. Maybe nothing needed to be said. In many moments, the best form of understanding was a hug - and I got plenty of those from cherished people in my life.
I tried to listen, gracefully, to the many varied and somewhat puzzling things people told me while I digested the information. I'm not going to say it wasn't horrible and a struggle - but it became quickly apparent to me that the only solution was moving forward, in the knowledge that the universe had something bigger and better planned for me.
Even that was confusing to some people. After that many years with someone, shouldn't I have been crying myself to sleep with a picture of him on my pillow?
Maybe... but I've never been conventional.
Not to say there weren't moments of real despair. Moments where I wondered if I would be able to drag myself out of the darkness and find anything positive to cling on to. For those of you who have suffered from depression you will know the pain I talk of. It's real. It's not something you brush off and walk away from easily. I can be grateful that in my toolkit I have the ability to recognise this destructive melancholic behavior and dig my way out.
Instead of following the typical "must hate my ex" strategy I chose to be grateful for all that we'd had. Instead of hating, I sent love. Not in a romantic way of course.. but in a genuine hope-you-are-happy kind of way. For the children, my thoughts and actions were to always put him in a positive light - which at times, was a struggle - but for the most part, sincere. Sometimes I hated him a bit too. After all, I'm not a fucking angel.
One of the discoveries I made this year was how many generous and kind people are in my life. I always knew I was blessed with the most amazing friendships, but rediscovering some of them was a highlight of my year. Some people, of course, made a dramatic exit and a few others slipped away quietly but everything happened just as it was meant to.
Despite the very obvious change in my life this year, it has been better, if not the best year to date and that has very little to do with anything external -and very much to do with me stepping into my personal power. This year I realised how much I had to offer. Not shallow friendship or meaningless connection but a genuine passion for living my life with purpose.
Right to the very last days, this year has been full of love and laughter.
And with an even greater level of optimism, I feel 2016 is going to be my best year yet! Not because I am giving up anything, or making pointless resolutions, but because I refuse to make excuses for myself.
I am no longer worried about the fear of rejection. Fear of not doing it perfectly. No longer will I carry that crippling doubt on my shoulders.
It has been a year of self discovery and acceptance. It has been about looking at myself and liking the person I see, flaws and all.
It has been about acknowledging the value I bring to every relationship and seeing the value in every transaction.
Stepping into 2016, I can walk my dog with my head high, smiling at every person because I want to. Because I am filled with a joy of self acceptance.
It means I move into the year acknowledging that I'm confident, I'm happy, I'm exactly what you see"
and I love myself.
Thank you for being part of my life.
I woke up this morning thinking about motivation to get things done. The motivation we all need to shine in this life. And not for our partners, our kids or our friends... but for ourselves.
The ability to jump out of bed on a Monday and think..
DAMN WOMAN. You're amazing. Go chase that dream. Think big. Spread some love.
What could I tell you that you haven't already heard before? I am almost certain that today you will see many beautifully illustrated graphics telling you to go out and get the things you want.
Be inspired. Take a chance. Learn to shine. Yadda Yadda Yadda.
It doesn't matter how many times you hear me, or some other random person tell you, "you've got what it takes - you're brilliant, your time is now" ....
It's all bullshit when you're not in the right frame of mind.
Maybe It's not your time right now. Sorry.
But what if.... play along with me now.. if today actually WAS the day? What if today that you're life changed forever because you made the decision? What if these words were the catalyst in making those changes?
Now let's be under no misconception here. I'm not big headed enough to expect my words to change your life. I'm not asking you to credit me in the screen play when you get famous for living the life you've always wanted. BUT... what if you were just a little more open to change? What if, today, you felt worthwhile enough to say YES to yourself? What if this was the push to get you started?
Throughout my life, many people have inspired me to make a change. I can and will write a whole series of blog posts about them.. and they have shifted my expectation of what being alive means to me. There were times when I was so closed to the idea of change because I found it insulting that anyone would expect me to be any different than I was. What was so wrong with me?
I had it in my head that any change was admitting I wasn't perfect (who is?) and I was scared of what to expect if I did change.
During a smoke break in a day long training course I was delivering, a delegate told me I reminded me of her dead sister (her words, not mine). That's right. HER DEAD SISTER.
Turns out she was overweight too. That hit me like a tonne of bricks. She went on to tell me, that even though she didn't know me, she wanted me to lose weight and stop smoking, because I was going to die. WOW.
An extreme example of motivation. I felt offended, upset and surprised that a complete stranger, that I had to go back into a classroom and teach for the rest of the day, was bold enough to comment on my life choices without even knowing me. I'm not often (ever) left speechless. I was catching flies that day.
It took a while for that to sink in. No one wants to admit their failures or worse, have them pointed out to you in the middle of a training course.
I didn't stop smoking for another 4 years after that. I am still losing weight. and I still think back to the balls of that woman, who since became a great friend to me, who had the guts to make an impact in my life in the boldest way.
It can get frustrating seeing people make the same choices over and over, expecting to get different results. Why sugar coat it? Something needs to be done differently.
If you want to be HAPPY and you are currently UNHAPPY with something. Logic says you have to CHANGE something. It doesn't matter how many motivational posters you see, or how many people are jumping around willing to support you. Until you are ready. nothing is going to change.
Chances are, someone else in your life recognises that you have been unhappy with something. They can see that you need that push, but they don't know how to tell you, or worry that when they tell you, you will be insulted and feel even worse. They too might awkwardly blurt out something about their dead sister. It might be offensive in the moment. Go easy on them - because they might not know how to help you start. Don't wait for them to point out the things they think you need to change. The person that knows you need to change most is YOU.
and you are the only person stopping you... so...
What if today was the day?
From an early age kids are fascinated with mirrors. Put a mirror in front of a baby and watch their joy and curiosity in discovering their own reflection. I've always been fascinated with mirrors and the power they hold over us.
This weekend I realised I have a lot of mirrors in my place. Yep. I think it could be a thing.
I remember one of my boarding school bedrooms that had a mirror as you walked out the door. Every time, without fail, I would do the old point, wink and click.
As an adult, I dream of a wall of mirrors so I can watch myself dance. As a matter of self improvement, you understand. Mirrors are a part of my life. You see it all. The good - the not so good. It's all on show and I like to watch.
Mirrors have given me the opportunity to practice my smile for the camera. They've been witness to tears. They have been there to document my weight loss. They have watched me grab rolls of fat in moments of self loathing.
Find me a woman who hasn’t once complained and scoffed at herself in the mirror over her imperfections.– Throwing criticism around casually - picking herself apart. Letting the mirror have the power over her feelings. Sometimes that has applied to me....
But, for the most part, when I'm looking in the mirror I’m usually imagining the Kool Aid Man bursting through my wall. OHHH YEAH!
Call me big headed if you will, but that's not the case. I choose to feel beautiful. It's as simple as that.
And we keep looking in them because we want to see our beauty, our strength and our flaws.
We look into them because we need to see what's reflected in the world around us.
And sometimes we don't like what we see.
Imagine if you used the energy you spent hating yourself in the mirror, and simply loved yourself.
What could change in those moments – over days, weeks, months, years?
Would it be possible to start feeling beautiful, where you once felt disgusting? Undesirable?
In my mirror I see a woman who has suffered. Loved. Struggled. Succeeded.
I see a woman who knows what she wants and who is prepared to get it.
I see kindness. I see determination. I see bravery and loyalty. The smile on my face and the light in my eyes. Don't get me wrong, I see the physical imperfections too... but I choose not to dwell on them.
No mirror will ever know the full picture anyway... because it's not only about what you see, it's about what you feel. And I wake up every morning and FEEL beautiful.
Not because I am the most exquisite creature on earth (although let me know if you disagree!) but because I choose it that way.
What's your relationship with the mirror?
I hope you can look yourself in the eyes and surrender to the person inside telling you you're not enough in some way. You are always enough. I hope you can look at that person looking back at you and love them with all your heart. And if you don't....
I hope you're lucky enough to meet a person who will be a mirror in your life. Someone who will help you see what you can’t from your own perspective.
I hope that you will find someone who will give you the answers the mirror never does, or at least, wants to explore the questions with you.
And some people come into our lives, with their own brilliant perspectives.
They make us question if we need all our mirrors, but they still hang them up for us anyway.
Mother, creative strategist and health & happiness advocate. These are my personal ramblings..