As 2018 draws to a close, I like to do a review of the year and plan for the year ahead. I find it helps realise progress that has, or hasn't been made, in areas of my life and to formulate ideas for the year ahead. I pick a word each year to represent a 'theme' of the year. In 2018 my word was FREEDOM and I had that in all areas of my life, some more unexpected than others.
This year my word is COURAGE and INTUITION, more of that later.
What would your own word/theme for the year ahead be?
This year started off after a 'bad health' experiment where I quit working out after an injury, then deliberately stopped eating healthily and quit meditating. It was a test to see just how stopping these good habits would impact on my overall mental and physical health and well-being. The result was that I was at my heaviest ever, 91.6KG to be exact which was 14.4 stone in weight or 202 pounds, I was obese basically and felt terrible. I also found my mental health really struggled when I stopped meditating and going to Yoga or Pilates regularly. It highlighted to me the importance of good nutrition, movement and mental health practices to keep the mind and body in good condition. I also broke my toe in January which delayed my plans to start my healthy living phase.
Fast forward after the 'bad experiment' completed, this time last year, and today I am down to 74.8KG, a drop of nearly 17 Kilos (17 bags of sugar!), which is not quite my optimum weight, but close enough to feeling great right now. I am a regular attendee at Kundalini Yoga and Pilates, have started going back to the gym and practice meditation or Qi Gong regularly, while maintaining good nutrition. The difference is immeasurable. A big part of 2019's goals is to help others regain more balance, health, vitality and well-being in their lives, both physically and mentally, through Lifestyle Coaching. I'm also going to take up more cardio exercises but not with running, as it can be damaging to the knees and joints and instead will take part in more H.I.T type workouts and body strength. Another recent discovery has been the power of Tantra, which basically involves being present, not just in sex as many might think, but in the form of meditations and Kriyas to weave and expand energy.
I was still working in Technology 4 days a week but it was still 4 days too many after being in that career for 30 years. Having tried to quit my job in December, I was asked to hang fire as I may be able to receive a redundancy payment in a month or two. This was likely to take longer than expected so I started the year by planning ahead and launching a web design company and had a grand total of 3 clients before a really bad experience with one client. I quickly realised, that although I had the skills to do this, and had built websites for myself, I didn't enjoy doing it for other people and especially dealing with difficult clients and their, at times, unrealistic expectations. However, we don't know these things until we try them, so another great example of an experiment and lessons learned. I don't like the word 'failure' or things 'going wrong' but instead view each experience as a lesson.
I was getting done with I.T. and technical work as a 'career', having re-trained as a Hypnotherapist, Health & Lifestyle Coach, Mindfulness Teacher and in the progress of continuing my Shamanic Practitioner training. It was far more rewarding to work with people than sit at a desk, slowly counting the hours until 5pm - my values had basically changed and instead of wanting to pursue a 'career' I wanted to find a purpose and make a difference in people's lives and the world in general. Fortunately, I was gifted redundancy on Star Wars Day (May 4th) and this helped give me some breathing space.
I have no intention to ever get a traditional 'day job' again as I value my freedom too much nowadays. I have also seen and experienced the difference I can make in other people's lives and have a lot of shared experience of my own progression health and career-wise, to help other people find more freedom, balance and enjoy life to the fullest. As well as this I have re-discovered my analytical and technical skills with regard to playing Daily US Fantasy Sports contests and starting Day Trading on the US Stockmarket in 2019 - these will form a big part of my 'career' and earnings in 2019. As well as this I will continue to facilitate both Shamanism and Mindfulness workshops in and around Glasgow as well as publishing a few online courses and communities around Authenticity and Mindfulness.
The fortnightly Mastermind group I had established was going really well and it was inspiring to see what other people were achieving and getting encouragement behind my own plans and I was also still hosting Live Your Legend meetup groups. However, I was also aware that these groups were not always turning out as I had expected or hoped them to be so began to question my involvement in them. Having run my first Shamanic Workshop the month before and run several Mindfulness courses, I found so much more joy in these than any 'self-development' meetups, simply because I believe I had already done enough development and work on myself personally.
I have a desire to create mindful and spiritual communities but I do accept now that not everyone always has the same intention, motivation and drive as I do - so many people are overly concerned with their own lives, which is understandable and so I've let go of any plans or expectations and just allowing whatever unfolds to unfold through my workshops, focusing more perhaps on building more accessible online communities instead around common themes.
By far the biggest change in my life in 2018 was a re-igniting of my desire to travel. Once receiving redundancy in May, I took off to Italy, Thailand, Bali, Croatia, Spain and France, as well as exploring a lot more places in Scotland. Part of this was solo travel, part volunteering and part holidaying with new friends - many of whom had a massive impact on my life. I learned to Scuba Dive, hiked, explored and also fell madly in love with a beautiful girl, who sadly did not return the feelings. It was a big lesson for me in managing expectations but I am grateful to my unrequited love for helping to open up my heart again after my long-term relationship had ended in the Spring. It also made me realise the desire to travel more and have a more digital nomadic lifestyle that does not require me to be in any one fixed place in the world, as well as my desire to visit new places and have more sunshine in my life.
I'm starting with a honeymoon and Shamanic Workshop in Belgium in January, planning a 2nd Honeymoon in Iceland not long after, some hiking around the Carpathian Mountains in Romania and perhaps a road/hiking trip in California/West Coast in the Spring/Summer. Beyond that, there is likely a return visit to Bali planned later in the year, and perhaps a first visit to India at some point.
It's so important to have many varied interests and hobbies in life. I can't emphasise the importance of having balance between work, play and rest in life - the ultimate is having your work also be play and I'm much closer to that nowadays. I'm fortunate and grateful that a lot of my work now involves activities that I am interested in. In April I completed a weekend Mountaineering training in the Cairngorms. I had intended to become a Mountain Leader but soon realised I enjoyed the experience of being in the hills and mountains more than I would leading groups - again another experiment, lesson learned and I at least left with the knowledge of map reading and navigation.
I had another week with Trees For Life in May and wanted to pursue a potential career in Forestry. I decided to cancel a 1-Year HNC in Countryside and Environment management for September as it was just not specific enough with the work I wanted to do. Later in 2018 I applied, and was assessed for, a Scottish Forestry commission apprenticeship but believe that my age counted against me amongst a sea of youth, and didn't make the final cut. That plan has been put on the backburner for now and it makes perfect sense now, looking at how my life has panned out in the second half of the year.
In May I took a 2-week training in Qi Gong in Chiang Mai which was really life changing and has become a big part of my regular daily meditation practice. I completed my Shamanic training in August this year and in October I discovered, on a "Spark of Creation" course, that I had a thirst for creativity so have been exploring and experimenting more with Life Drawing, Photography and Creative Writing. I am already planning out at least one book and have started writing poetry on a regular basis, which is a great form of expression.
I am happy with the hobbies I have right now - my work is now a hobby and interest and with the drawing, photography and writing I feel I have all I need without having to explore anything new. I do want to master the Native American flute to bring more music and ability to bring joy to others but this month will just be continued exploration of creativity, with perhaps a revisit towards acting, which I enjoyed immensely last year.
Love is so important in our life. As my long-term relationship ended in Spring, I found the desire to find a new love, almost overwhelming but it was only when I returned from Bali in August after having my heart and desrire awoken, broken and then healed again, that I realised I had to first, truly love myself again. There was a lot of time exploring Spiritual Development and trusting my own intuition and recognising that I had all I already needed in life to love myself. There is a lot of talk nowadays about 'self-love' and people jumping on that bandwagon for coaching people to love themselves, when in actual fact it's really, simply about being your Authentic self and living life in accordance with your values.
It was ironic that just a few months after feeling love towards myself again that I met someone, my true soul-mate that I had to rub my eyes and pinch myself in disbelief that I met when I did. We became very close almost instantly, moved in together after just 3 weeks and are getting married in January 2019 - it's been a glorious whirlwind but when you know, you know. I never believed a love like this was possible in my life and it has highlighted the importance of communication and being confident within yourself as to who you are, warts and all. It's really exciting to begin the year as a couple with shared goals, interests, passions, travels and pursuits with a beautiful soul who gets the balance right between pushing me, supporting me and accepting me - as I do with her.
I also realised that having expectations around friendships and love just doesn't work - we need to let go of all expectations being met and just simply be present, be mindful and be open to loving ourselves and accepting the love of another, without wanting to change them or have things be a certain way. I made so many amazing friends over the last year but everyone has their own lives to get on with and I can't have unrealistic expectations anymore about others commitments to build and develop friendships.
It's amazing that FREEDOM was found, not just in terms of travel, relationships, work but also FREEDOM to be myself, to explore new possibilities and interest and the freedom to be exactly who I am with someone who accepts me completely. My urge to anyone who is in a relationship where they are struggling, is to set yourself free - don't stay too long as we all deserve happiness, to be ourselves in our relationships and to feel freedom to do so.
This year my planning is less rigid. I have a few goals but they are very loosely held and with no expectations. My word for this year is COURAGE which it will continue to be and I've already been embracing over the last few months. I'll add an additional one in INTUITION and learning to trust it, remain in a state of flow, be present at all timee and be open to all the possibilities that provides.
I wish you all the very best for the year ahead. I will be launching coaching programs in February this year, as January is all about love, marriage and being present with my new love as well as continuing my personal and spiritual development and growth.Thank you to everyone who has been part of my life and shaped such amazing experiences this year - I love you all and look forward to connecting with you all in the year ahead.
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