Before we embark on a new year, I think it is so important to pause and take a look back at the year that has passed. Otherwise, the fast paced nature of life can just feel like a rat race. So set aside a couple of minutes to yourself to take the time to acknowledge the blessings you have had throughout the year and the struggles you may have faced before you lunge into 2019. At the end of this post, I have added some questions which might spark some inspiration to look back at the last year. It is a great exercise for mindfulness and conscious living. It is a way to slow down and appreciate all the little and big things that were a part of your life this year. This exercise also helps to draw some conclusions about what kind of things bring you joy and as importantly; a deeper understanding of what doesn’t. If you are hoping to set some goals for the New Year, looking back at the past year will assist in ensuring that your ambitions are truly in line with your priorities and values.
I have taken the time to reflect and have written about my ups and downs of 2018. If you are interested have a read and if not just skip down to the last paragraph to conduct the exercise to reflect on your own year.
Above all else, I think 2018 has been the year in which I have really grown into my own skin. I have never felt more sure of knowing exactly who I am and what matters the most to me. So much has happened in my life in 2018. While it has mostly been positive there have been unmerciful painful experiences too. I think it’s unfair to just portray the positives as it is not realistic, which is why I always try to be as open and honest as I can be about the ups and downs of life. This is so important so that we don’t feel alone in the journey we are traveling together. By just being human, we all experience pain and it is unfortunately unavoidable. At this point in time, I am not going to go into detail about one of the most difficult experiences of the year and my life in general as it doesn’t only involve me and I want to respect my family’s privacy also. Nonetheless, it is something that is massively pushed under the carpet and an experience that I think women in general need to talk more about in order to support each other further. So I imagine in time, I will share it with you for the right reasons.
Going to India to become a yoga teacher definitely has had a huge role to play in the renewed clarity of my self-awareness. Pushing myself out of my comfort zone at a time in which I felt extremely vulnerable helped me grow and develop in ways I didn’t think I was capable of. The picture below is what greeted me as I landed in Mumbai Airport. I was petrified but seeing the familiarity of the glorious sunrise, the same one I search for every morning at home-made me realise that I brought my own sense of home deep inside me that I could choose to connect with at any time. I began to calm down and appreciate the adventure I was about to embark on and what an adventure it was.
When I returned from India, I started teaching yoga and finally plucked up the courage to share my ramblings in the form of this Smiling Soul Blog. Two of my life dreams which have changed everything for me. Until this year, I always felt that there was something missing in my chosen career. While I have always loved being a Social Worker it just didn’t feel like it was enough. Now that I have coupled this with teaching yoga and writing this blog I feel so complete and fulfilled in a way that I never experienced before. The peace this has brought is profound as I am no longer searching and instead have an overwhelming feeling of being exactly where I need to be. I have never been busier. It is a lot of work managing my three passions but I really love each of them for very different reasons. This really helps whenever motivation is low.
Teaching yoga has insured that I keep up my own practice and continue to learn the vast amount of information that there is about yoga. This has had such a positive impact on my life. The people I have met through teaching yoga and attending classes have been one of the highlights of the year. The little yoga community we have is so wonderful and each of them are so encouraging and inspiring in their own individual way. I am also three-quarters of the way through yoga pregnancy teacher training which I absolutely love! Our teacher is just amazing and one of the most knowledgeable people in the world about anything relating to women. She is so inspiring. I have also met the nicest, supportive group of women in the course which I truly admire and am in awe of their achievements as mothers and professionals. It would be a complete dream to hopefully teach pregnancy yoga next year at some stage.
Starting Smiling Soul also pushed me way outside of my comfort zone! I was so nervous to put myself out there but the positive feedback I have received has made it all so worth it. Each and every one of the messages sent about the blog have meant so much to me and are what has inspired me to continue to dedicate so much time to it. I truly appreciate that you go out of your way to write to me and I am so grateful so, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I remember how nervous I was posting the below picture announcing that I had started it but I am so glad that I pushed through the fear and did it anyway.
Another highlight was definitely having the honour of being a bridesmaid at my best friend Aoife’s wedding. As an only child, this meant the absolute world to me. It was such a magical day and one we will all always treasure. Aoife will be by my side on our wedding day in 2019 also. Friends really are the icing on the cake of life.
Ian and I getting engaged was obviously the most wonderful surprise and the best feeling in the world. We are still in our little bubble of happiness that this brings. We are really enjoying planning a wedding for 2019. Ian means the absolute world to me and I can’t wait to be his wife. Anyway I won’t harp on about this as you have heard it all before.
Along with the above, I traveled to so many of the places that I have always wanted to. Iceland for one which was incredible and is a country that I would highly recommend visiting. It is any sunrise /sunset lover’s dream. For the first time in my life, I experienced travelling alone to India which was also an incredible experience and changed everything for me. Travelling alone is so amazing and should definitely be done at least once in your lifetime. It puts you so far out of your comfort zone and also insures that you mingle with others. Meeting the most incredible people is one of the biggest perks of traveling solo. Also you get to know yourself so fast. In addition, it has made me even more confident to go to places on my own when I returned home. I have incorporated this new-found pleasure in my weekly life back in Dublin by going on group hikes solo to get to meet and chat to new people. Also, once a week I now go for breakfast alone which is one of my favorite times of the week. Having this increased appreciation for being in my own company has been truly life changing.
There is so much more I could talk about here but I will keep the rest of 2018’s adventures to myself so that this doesn’t turn into a book. The above have definitely been the highlights.
I have added some questions to help you reflect on and appreciate 2018. If you are struggling to put pen to paper, you can use these as prompts to ponder upon different aspects of the year.
- What one event big or small are you going to tell your grandchildren about?
- Describe the year passed in three words.
- What single achievement are you most proud of?
- What new thing did you discover about yourself?
- What was your favourite place that you visited in 2018?
- What was the best news you received?
- What was the most important lesson you learned?
- Did you learn a new skill?
- What was the biggest complement you received?
- What book, movie or play most affected you?
- What activity made you lose track of time?
- What did you think about more than anything else?
- Did you go out of your comfort zone?
- What are you most grateful for?
- What new things did you try this year?
Grab a cup of tea and some chocolate if you are that way inclined and jot down a few answers in a journal. It can also be really nice to chat over these questions with close friends or family.
I hope you enjoyed this post, the last one before Christmas. I wish each of you a wonderful, peaceful and mindful Christmas. Look after yourself and one and other. Sending you all a big Christmas hug!