Lessons from 2018

Happy new year!

I started 2019 with a trip to the Galapagos Islands that I’ve been dreaming about for over 10 years. While swimming with sea turtles and lazing on the beach with water iguanas, I took some time to reflect on what went well, and what went not so well, over the last year.

Galapagos Sea Lion

Lazing with the Sea Lions on San Cristobal Island.

I don't tend to set new years goals or resolutions. I prefer to set new goals throughout the year as different opportunities arise.  However, I do enjoy setting intentions for the new year. Setting an intention, for example, to prioritise mindful living is more helpful than a resolution to go on an unattainable diet or make unsustainable life changes.  Last year I set the intention to write regularly, and I published three books! In 2019 I want to write more about health and travel.

Reflecting on the last year often helps me figure out what I’d like to do more of and less of, so that’s what I’d like to share with you today. Perhaps it will help you to reflect on your year and how you’d like to set your intentions for 2019.

1. Making scary changes.

I made a few big decisions over the last year which led to significant changes in my lifestyle.

I became fully nomadic again. In 2018, the longest I stayed in any one place was 2 months!

I decided to leave my home base of Europe to travel around Latin America. A decision which I am so far enjoying very much. Even though I had to leave behind work, people, and places that I loved, I knew I needed to take this step to move forward to the next stage of my life.

In 2019 I will find the courage to make more hard choices that lead me in the direction I need to go.

2. More in-person yoga.

While I love teaching online, I realised that I missed teaching in person. I spent four months of 2018 teaching yoga at hotels and guesthouses in Montenegro and Ecuador. This allowed me to teach daily yoga classes and get to interact with my students in person. I also co-hosted the epic Heroine Training retreat in Edinburgh which was a day of yoga, tea, and self-development and we even had a furry friend join us!

Edinburgh yoga retreat

Post yoga chats and furry friends.
Photos by: Olivia Annand Design.

Post yoga chats and furry friends. Photos by: Olivia Annand Design.

I am introverted and enjoy having a lot of time in a quiet room writing alone. However, I want to find more opportunities to teach yoga in person, as well as expanding my online offerings to make these teachings accessible to people all over the world.

3. Finding my creative groove.

Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted three things: travel the world, have a dog, and be a writer. This year I honoured that third desire. After years of taking the “safe” writing route ( I’ll start a blog! I’ll be a copywriter! ), I took the plunge and did what I had always wanted to do – write a book. I did not expect three to fall out of me! Writing these books has been a rewarding personal experience, and I’ve enjoyed finding another way to reach people with the knowledge I've acquired. Once I opened the gates to writing, I can’t seem to stop and have several more books in the pipeline for 2019. I’ve also committed to being more active on this blog, and in 2019 hope to share more here about yoga and health as well as about my travels.

In 2018 I went to the Edinburgh Fringe for the first time and had a blast discovering new plays and fitting in all the musical comedy I could find. Being around, so many people taking risks with their creativity was inspiring and great fun. It encouraged me to find more play in both my writing and my yoga practice.

yoga edinburgh

Taking a break from the craziness of Fringe to backbend.

Lastly, I read a book called The Artist’s Way which I wanted to mention here because I know that many of you are creative people and might enjoy it. The book is a bit ‘woo woo’, and I had avoided reading it even though it’s one of the most highly recommended books for creatives. Finally, I rented it from the library telling myself that I’d keep an open mind for the 12 weeks of the course. As I started reading, I was struck by how much I was reacting to this book the same way I had first reacted to mindfulness. I was skeptical but committed to keeping an open mind for the duration. By the end, I was sold on the method. I’ve now started journaling every morning and giving myself more permission to explore my creative ideas. I liked how this book tied in creativity with emotional and spiritual health, and I think a lot in the chronic illness community would benefit from reading it! **Come befriend me on Goodreads if you want to see more of what I’ve read last year and talk more about books!**

Writing a blog, and writing books about my life don’t come naturally to me. I was always more interested in writing about made up worlds. I’m usually a private person and don’t like sharing what I’m thinking or what I’ve been through. But getting feedback from my readers about how sharing my stories has helped them has made me realise it’s worth it (and if you’re enjoying this blog I’d love a comment or email from you)! It makes me smile and gives me a boost of motivation every time I hear from a reader!

4. Finding community

When I lived in Halifax for six years, one thing that I loved was the community I found there. I was involved with student clubs, there were fair trade cafes I enjoyed going to for work or study, and I had a great group of close friends. Travelling and living abroad I missed having that community. In the last two years, I’ve begun to find new communities both online and in person.

In 2017 I joined a writers group in Barcelona, and I don’t think I would have finished any of my books without that support. I also have a writers group in Toronto where I met my editor and still keep in touch with. I found a community of nomads that I see every year at the 7in7 conference, and I’ve begun seeking out yoga hostels and writers residencies to stay in when I travel.

In Greece, I stayed in a beautiful house on Crete with 5 other artists working on painting murals, creating sound, and writing. In Medellin, I reconnected with my nomad friends and talked about extended travel. In just a few days I’ll be heading to another artists residency in the rainforest in Peru. Finding these communities have helped me feel grounded and centred as I continue to travel. Travel is often seen as harmful to the first chakra or Ayurvedic balances. Finding these communities that help me feel like I have a base even though I’m on the move has been fantastic for my emotional health.

Yoga hostel in Banos, Ecuador

5. Honouring my health

In 2018 I continued to pay attention to my body and what it needed. At times I felt overwhelmed with all that I wanted to do with this blog, my yoga courses, writing, and the copywriting work that I do. I decided to cut back on social media and combine my Instagram accounts. I also wanted to focus my energy on where I felt I was reaching the most people: on this blog, through email, and on Facebook & Pinterest. This focus helped reduce some of the stress I was feeling about wanting to do all the things.

Since beginning my travels in South America a couple of months ago, I’ve also started exploring Shamanic forms of meditation and healing and have already had a couple profound experiences here. I look forward to sharing more about those experiences after my time in the rainforest where I will also get the chance to work 1 on 1 with a Shaman.

In the last year. I’ve taken some much-needed steps to move forward on my personal journey.  I’m looking forward to sharing more of what I’m learning and experiencing in the year to come. This year has reminded me that there is so much more to our health than just the physical. It’s important to find emotional and spiritual health as well which can mean making hard decisions and exploring new things. Heading into 2019, my energy levels are doing well because of the focus I’ve placed on aspects outside of the physical in the last year.

Wishing everyone reading this a lovely 2019!

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