13 January 2017

The Lessons 2016 Taught Me

As a sea of strangers going about our daily errands and duties like robotic wanderers it becomes somewhat a way of life to merely drift from one day to the next. Our experiences and acknowledgment of the world living around us becomes tightened and narrow so that we find ourselves focusing solely upon the sickness and disastrous atrocities that occur and how we can(not) fix them single-handedly.

It's all too easy to gravitate towards constantly peering over the edge of the glass and carrying the weight of the half empty failures, mishaps, misfortune and defeat so that our thoughts become clouded and dubious of both ourselves and everyone around us. 

We only need to turn on the breakfast news to get our daily fix of affliction even before we set sight upon our own maddening calamities. It can take a mere flick of the switch to suddenly become disenchanted with the hidden magic of this world.

2016 was an especially roller coaster year for us as a nation and one that many willed to end due to its yo-yo swinging between political dire straits to despairing natural disasters. It's somewhat permissible to accept that it's only human to respond with morose and view the future through shit-tinted glasses. 

Yet in light of it all, it's important not to forget that where we find the cheerless and despairing, there also resides the joyous and more importantly hope.

We experienced an astonishing number of great losses in 2016 - some of which were entirely gut-wrenching but throughout them all I realised the importance of not trying to be like these idols but to take the messages they so powerfully preached to us; the power of being our authentic selves. 

It's a powerful asset to have someone who you look up to but it's not about striving to be like them but to unashamedly love who you naturally are and to channel their apparent authenticity into your thoughts, your actions, your voice and your place in this world. We're vulnerable beings but we hold so much potential for unbreakable greatness.

So as with what seems like the rest of the world I wave goodbye to the year that was 2016, cursing it for all its bullshit but simultaneously fist-bumping it for the reflective good that it has undoubtedly taught me... 

#1. Digest, reflect & let go

Letting go. For me this is one of life's hardest lessons to accept and let be. We all feel and experience the pains of loss, defeat and wrong-doings but the real hurt comes from the insistence of holding onto this sadness and carrying it with us like a token of pity. It's about flipping your perspective on the big bad wolf of a world and allowing yourself to accept grievances as gifts of growth. What's been and done is gone but the experience aids you with a wake up call to blossom. Hurt and sadness in your past doesn't have to break you down, in fact it allows you to break free - only if you choose to let it. Let yourself crack open, feel your past feels and then take the choice to loosen the grip on the pain and plant it in your yesterday to grow into a new and beautiful today.

#2. Life is happening for us, Not to us

The world itself is filled with great magic and wonder, the lesson isn't to seek it out but to harness our senses so that we naturally grow and experience these virtues. Honour your desire for a new life.
The world is always there waiting, bubbling and dancing with opportunity; you just need to swallow your nerves, reframe your thinking, reach out and accept the invitation of your life. Let your dreams breathe stronger than your fears.

#3. Embrace who you are & foster your dreams

Wander aimlessly. Let yourself be exactly what and who you are. Explore what sets your senses on fire, take your time to be curious of what's out there waiting for you and most importantly, don't rush. Life isn't a hurdles race and if you're living in the now then you'll realise there are no deadlines to existing.

#4. Pay it forward spirit

The world can never experience too much kindness when genuine, authentic selflessness is a rare gem to unearth these days. It's true that the beauty and rewarding nature of life comes only to those who believe in the good of this world. Those who utilise the positives - believe me, there are always positives to be found - will be the ones to rise and achieve their dreams. Seeing the good in others is such a rewarding, feel-good trait yet remains to be something incredibly overseen. Doing something nice for someone else because you want to as opposed to feeling obliged, such as helping someone carry their grocery bags can transform both your and their day. 

To expect nothing in return from a simple act of kindness gifts you with far more than any materialistic token of thanks could - it gives hope for a loving and bright future. Experience the euphoria and satisfaction of paying it forward by getting involved with 'National Pay It Forward Day' this April 27th 2017. Go on, I dare you. 

#5. You are not alone; There are people out there who understand you

Everyone feels a sense of loneliness at some point in their life and when shit hits the pan, it can leave you feeling lost, numb and very much alone. When obstacles keep popping up one after one, it can leave you feeling like a lump of coal amongst a sea of pearls wandering what has gone wrong for you to have to live the life you do. There's one golden light to all of your battles which is that you're certainly not alone. It may feel like everyone around you has their shit together but appearances are deceptive and often those that appear the most blessed hide an ongoing battle themselves. 

Whether it be through physical friendship, online forum settings, a smile thrown your way in a waiting room or a simple hello from a stranger, all the simple easily forgotten gestures are big markers of love that you are and never will be alone. You are not the only one suffering, you've not been placed on this earth to be a red marker of what could go wrong - you are you, your pain is growth for something better and you are 100% understood. 

#6. Your body deserves love, health & protection

Cocooned in a world where so many choices are made and decided for us there is one very important decision that is entirely in our own hands; the choice to choose ourselves. The choice to keep looking ahead, the choice to keep honouring our needs and the choice to love ourselves. In a world devoid of peace and unconditional love, it's easy to turn that hatred and reluctance upon ourselves but your body and your wellbeing is your vessel. They are our powerhouses for the future and just like an engine, they need the sufficient oil to keep burning bright. Everyone is different and requires their own individual needs - diesel may power some but others need unleaded, super unleaded or even sunlight. Know yourself- your strengths, your weaknesses, your basic needs and then choose to honour them every single waking day.

#7. It's okay to not be okay; It's healthy

In a social-frenzy world where every day is met with a feed of whimsical tropical sunsets, lean sculpted bodies of art and snapshots of couples gazing in complete disney-worthy adoration, it's no wonder we end up feeling lack-lustre with our realities. Life is not perfect; it really isn't. Perfection is not a tangible thing - it is merely a mirage created through a heck load of airbrushing and the Valencia filter of Instagram. The pressures to have it all together can begin to consume you but don't ever allow someone or something to make you feel that being real - by that I mean expressing any emotion other than happy euphoria - is not okay. 

To express yourself in the good times, the bad and the downright ugly is human, is normal and is healthy. What isn't healthy is locking all that shit down in an attempt to put on a face of sunshine and showers. To feel is to be real and to express sadness, grief, anger or anxiety helps to heals and will make you a hell of a lot more genuine than little Miss Twinkletoes posting about her #tuesdaytreat of a private jet to Miami from bae. You're 100% okay and you'll be 100% okay in any emotional state you feel, I promise you. 

#8. Music can be an incredible antidote

There's no emotional or physical ailment that can't be fixed or even just middy reduced by your two best friends in life: coffee and sweet, sweet music. The power of a simple beat is incredible and the way a melody can take you back to pathways of memories in an instance just cannot be beaten. Our minds are pesky little monkeys and enjoy nothing more than taking us on a galavant through the places of jealousy mountain, depressive caves, raging volcanoes and anxiety island so it's important for our sanity to find a way that enables you to turn off the switch button, declutter your head and dump the crap basically. A simple undertaking but one that is very much overlooked. 

For most, this would involve indulging in a hobby - reading, ceramics, cooking, the gym; the list is endless. For me personally, music helps to dissolve and wash away racing mind burdens. Music gives me a chance to take myself and my mind to someplace else where nothing and no-one is asking questions or making demands. The only thing that's needed is my ears and the beat and for me that's when the tranquility can wash through me and I can begin to relax from the chaos around me. Find what it is that works for you, what it is that makes you tick and keep doing it. What ever it is, your soul deserves to be happy too. 

#9. Lessons repeat until they are learned

The bad experiences and misgivings in life are disguised as our greatest teachers; life throws us curveballs to help us grow and strengthen our reactions. One of the most important teachings to take from these burning flames is to reframe your thinking and perspective in line with the fact that you are strong enough to handle anything that comes. The storms manifest an inner resilience from within gifting you with unshakeable empowerment. I believe that life continues to throw us the same predicaments and lessons until we have truly learnt to acknowledge and implement the teachings from them. Instead of always questioning "Why me?" why not reframe your approach and say "Try me! What are you telling me?" - your life may just take a revolutionary shift in direction.

#10. With age comes losing friends more than you gain them; That's life

Ok so when you were 8 running round the school field in your checked bloomers playing kiss chase, you only had to burp or fart and you'd suddenly become friends with anyone breathing and half a sense of humour but try it when you're 24 and you may have to rethink your morning commute. As you grow, move schools, pursue education or not, your friendship groups chop and change, grow and deplete just as quickly as the seasons change. It's important to ground yourself with the reality that just as quickly as people grace our lives, changing and moulding them for better or worse, those very same individuals can leave just as quickly. Not all friendships are for keeps and that's okay, it's natural. Every person who enters your life is there to either educate you with something new or to show you a lesson you need to teach yourself. All friendships and relationships whether long or short-term are opportunities for self-discovery and personal growth. Whilst friendships aid you in your own life journey, your presence in another's life gifts them with lessons unbeknown to them too. 

#11Cupid doesn't fire at your ass with warning; Just go with it

Life and all that happens isn't meant to be controlled - if it were we would have been gifted a remote with instruction manuals. Trust the timing of your life and allow it to lead you to places you never imagined it to flow. Taking risks can often lead you to situations and people you could only dream of and the potential to be someone you didn't believe possible. Friendships and relationships we thought we would carry through for the long haul often can turn out to be the ones that pull the rug under our feet, leaving us stumbling and confused. Life and love have no scheduled timeline and often the people and things you think are meant for you, aren't. 

These losses aren't to be mourned or scorned, think of them as blessings as those who are foolish enough to flee aren't worthy of the golden heart you have. In fact those that go are doing you the biggest favour there is; they're leaving room for the special someone who'll fill that space when you least expect or want it. The individual(s)who have the privilege of settling with you will know how lucky they are to have someone so beautifully authentic and real in their life and heart. Those are the people who will show you why it didn't work out with everyone else. Go with the flow and the flow will take you to paradise. 

Remember that what feels like the devils' work in this moment today can be tomorrow's fish and chips crumpled wrapper - if you choose it to be. Choice is the elixir for living life and is paramount to how you view the world. Don't let your yesterday skulk and monopolise your today as it sure as hell doesn't deserve a place in your tomorrow. 

Fear is nothing but a quivering weak monkey simply there to throw you off guard; don't allow it to dominate your potential as you have so much more to offer a world that is calling out to see more of what you've got to give.

Breathe, put your shitkickers on and saunter into 2017 with some bad-a$$ mother fucka shades!

Love, Sarah

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