A wise man one said “Stop acting as if life is a rehearsal. Live this day as if it were your last. The past is over and gone. The future is not guaranteed.” If 2019 has taught me ANYTHING, then it is definitely this!
2019 has certainly proved to have been a challenging year and I’m sure I’ll be all the more stronger for surviving it, even though it nearly pushed me past my breaking point at one stage. It is extremely easy for me to just say “Bloody hell mate, that was a sh*t year” (pardon my Aussie). I’m sure others would also say the same, and I know some people who have had a much worse year, unfortunately. But if I let the stress, anxiety, and negative periods define my year, then that would completely overshadow the great moments that ought to be remembered instead.
Despite the trials and storms that I have weathered this year, there have also been some beautiful moments too – such as finally meeting friends from the USA who came to Brisbane, or my awesome trip to Melbourne to see the Chinese Terracotta Warriors and seeing Harry Potter & the Cursed Child theatrical production, or the happy moments enjoyed during lots of fun band gigs.
As a dear friend of mine wrote to me earlier this month: “You should never never never forget what an extraordinary person you are. Totally loved and appreciated. Life drags us down – but you always have people who care.“
Life is too short to dwell on the negatives – its time to start focusing on positives again. I am trying to remind myself each morning to embrace the beauty of life, to remember to stay grounded despite the recent daily challenges that I (and my family) have been facing, and to remember to be inspired by the beauty that surrounds us.
“The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.” – C. JoyBell C.
Moving forward into 2020 – a new year, a new decade, new beginnings – I want to change my outlook and perspective on MANY things in life. I want to start focusing on the positives and to grow myself into a *hopefully* beautiful and unique person. I not only want to be happy in myself, I also want to make those around me happy and laugh. I have been told that I am a joy to be near and a pleasure to work with, I just want to believe that in my heart. I want to be confident and independent and to ensure that I am always be there to help others with kindness and love.
As a Harry Potter nerd, I can’t help but quote one of my favourite quotes from one of my favourite characters, Albus Dumbledore: “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” — Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Below are 19 things I learnt in 2019 with maybe a couple of self revelations along the way. I hope that by recognising these, I can build upon myself and grow into the best person I can be. ♥
1. I Am Stronger Than I Think I Am
Many of you would say that I am a strong person, and made sure to remind me of this in recent times. I know I can weather some intense storms and survive whatever is thrown at me, I have endured more than my fair share of cyclones in recent years and these have shaped me into a stronger person. My biggest setback is that I have to REMEMBER TO BELIEVE in myself and to have faith in knowing that I AM STRONG, and to not let the anxiety in my head win – to believe in the knowledge that, no matter what life wants to throw at me, I CAN survive it, and that I will come out STRONGER for it.
For me, the Tree of Life has become more relevant – it reminds me to be inspired by the beauty in the resilience trees have. A tree can weather many storms and hardships – it will bend and sway as the winds hit with their ferocity, but despite this, it will not break – it will be shaped by these struggles and be stronger for it. The tree will not be broken.
2. Never Take Good Health For Granted
This year has really been a kicker in this department. It has been a wake up call to me that I need to be aware of my health and to look after it. We ALL do. I have usually been one to look after my health (responsible drinker (yes, I’ve NEVER been drunk…!), non-smoker, healthy diet, exercise and have been trying to cut back on the sugar) but I know there is still room for improvement. We take our health for granted, thinking that we don’t really need to worry about our bodies and health until we are in our senior years. But that is NOT the case. We need to be looking after our health NOW. Regardless of whether you are 16, 28, 55, 62 or 88, our bodies are our temples and we NEED to be taking better care!
This year I have learnt that you can be in your 60’s and have heart issues involving surgeries and unexpectedly suffer a massive stroke. You could be in your 30’s and fighting a deadly battle with cancer. You could be in your 50’s and be diagnosed with breast cancer. You could be in your 70’s and passing away (within 2 months of diagnosis) from Melanoma that has metastasised to the brain. Or in your 20s and be hospitalised from what was supposed to just be a common flu.
My point is, our good health can be ripped out from underneath us at any moment and if it is, the consequences can be life impacting, not only for you but for your family and friends around you. I know I’ll be taking better care of myself in the future, and will be booking a few health checks with my GP in the new year. If not for the sake of yourself, do it for the sake of those around you who love you – take care of yourself and listen to your body.
3. The Saying “When Things Get Tough, You See Who Your REAL Friends Are” Is Definitely ACCURATE
I have been disappointingly hit by this revelation in particular, in recent months. Friends who I thought would be there for me in times of crisis and yet have not reached out to me at all during the last 6-8 weeks (not even when I was in crisis mode in November). Yet, at the same time, I have also been overwhelmed and amazed by the care and support that was offered from unexpected sources – from banding friends, work colleagues, friends and acquaintances. I honestly consider you as my adopted family!
To those who have been there for me this year, particularly during November (you all know who you are ♥), I have no idea where to begin to thank you. No matter how big or small your support was, it was TRULY appreciated. To those who constantly sent texts and messages to see how things were going, to those who called daily to do “friendly welfare checks”, to those who recommended books or movie/TV suggestions to read/watch to distract myself from my thoughts/anxiety/stress, to those who offered hugs, to those who made meals, and to those who just simply made an offer to ask for help at any point that I or my family needed them, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. There are truly some beautiful, kind and gentle souls in this world. Or, as Anne Shirley from Green Gables would say, Kindred Spirits! ♥
4. There Will ALWAYS Be People Who Will Try To Bring Me Down – The Trick Is Not To Let Them
This year I’ve learnt that I should not let those who don’t support me try to bring me down. I am going to let go of the negativity and continue on my life with peace in my heart instead. Life is short and it really is not worth wasting my precious time on trying to figure the negative people out, let alone prove anything to them. I am going to strive to be the best person I can possibly be in life, even if this means learning to be stronger.
Holding onto bitterness or anger towards those particular people is only going to hold me back from finding that ‘inner peace’ and frankly, I don’t want to be that girl who has hate in her heart. I want to my heart to be pure, filled with nothing but love, kindness and joy (which it has been, until recent years where it feels like negativity has started to ebb in ever so quietly). I want my kindness and laughter and smile to be infectious! Time is much too precious to spend another minute worrying about anyone who doesn’t bring me happiness, especially if they tend to bring the worst out in me rather than my best.
Hugh Grant as The Prime Minister in Love Actually says the following statement, which really sums it up beautifully: “And a friend who bullies us is no longer a friend. And since bullies only respond to strength, from now onward I will be prepared to be much stronger.“
I now want to surround myself with those who do support me, who encourage me and push me to better myself and to remind me when they think my talents are being wasted. I want to be surrounded by family, friends and acquaintances who support growth and aren’t afraid to nudge me and remind me to not let my talents go wasted. They inspire me to follow and pursue my dreams. To be around people who will help me to be the best person I want to be. Life is too short to waste another moment!
5. I Undervalue Myself Way Too Much And Pay Too Much Heed To My Inner Critic
I have a very bad habit of undervaluing myself and underestimating my worth and abilities. I never give myself enough credit where it is due. In a nutshell: I never recognise my true worth. I spend too much of my time “playing it safe”. Each time that little quiet positive voice in my head whispers: “Take a leap, you are capable, you CAN do more”, the inner critic in my brain instantly convinces me with a list of (most likely ridiculous) reasons why I shouldn’t take the leap, why I wouldn’t be capable and why I should “play it safe” and so on. I believe this is an residual result from being immensely bullied during primary school relentlessly in those formative years. This is linked to lesson #4 – do not let them win!
I proved myself wrong back in 2018 when I decided to be brave and agree to help organise 37 band members to get over into China (and safely back) for a festival. Of course my negative inner critic in my head was loudly saying “Don’t be stupid girl. There’s no way you’ll be able to do this, what would you know about organising visas and flights and travel details, you’ll only screw it up, better leave it for someone experienced” and so on. I ignored my inner critic and took the leap, telling myself that “I am smart, I CAN do this, I am a good communicator, I am an organised person, and failure is NOT going to be an option” and I proved my inner critic WRONG! I had support and assistance from others, but most importantly: I proved to myself that I AM worth more than I give myself due credit for, and that I should have more confidence in my abilities.
“With realisation of one’s own potential and self-confidence in one’s ability, one can build a better world.” – Dalai Lama
My goal for 2020 and beyond is to continue to defy the inner critic in my brain and to push boundaries and achieve as much as I possibly can. I can do this! I am good enough, I am worth more than I currently treat myself and there are people around me who do care and who will support. Already, I have started to take on new responsibilities and challenging myself to do more.
6. Learn To Embrace The Unexpected
This year has also had its fair share of surprises – some good, some bad, some, well let’s be frank, interesting. Life doesn’t always go according to our plans. If we can have enough faith that there is a silver lining to every upset plan, and if we can be flexible enough to fully embrace the unexpected twists in the road we hadn’t planned for, we will find happiness in the most unexpected of places.
I’ve learnt that flexibility is key when life takes you in a new and exciting direction. Even when it feels that life is taking you down uncharted waters that seem dark and cold, if you are ready to embrace the unexpected, you’ll be ready for wherever life takes you.
7. Sleep Is INCREDIBLY Important
Some nights I am a night owl (usually by choice if I’m not sleepy, other times because of stress or other factors) and won’t be asleep prior to 11pm. Other nights I’ll be sound asleep by 8:30pm and will instead be an early bird. However lately I’ve been feeling more like an exhausted pigeon rather than a night owl or early bird, and this is not good. I’ve come to realise that having a more regular sleep pattern is important, especially as I get older.
I used to get a solid 8 hour sleep each night and anything less was a disaster, but lately, I’ll be lucky to get more than 5-6hrs sleep on average (with only getting a solid 6-8hr sleep once or twice a week). This DEFINITELY needs to change. One of my goals for 2020 is to improve this, as part of focusing on good health.
8. Always Take A Moment To Pause Daily
I’ve learnt that it is easy to get caught up with work, housework, errands, chores, email, social media and other tasks. It is important to take time out of each day to do the things that I enjoy – reading, watching Netflix, playing Nintendo Switch games, listening to music, walking in the fresh air, and colouring in, or even writing a blog post on this long-neglected blog of mine! We should try to “unplug” and pause during our daily routines for some “me time” , to re-energise and refocus.
9. I Have To Stop Bottling It All Up
I am definitely a bottler. I bottle things up and try not to show what my current emotions are. For example, I haven’t let on to too many people about the recent struggles I’ve been going through. After the initial storm was over, people all assumed that life was ‘back to normal’ again, just because the ‘crisis’ had appeared to have ended and I appeared to their eyes to be holding things together. What many don’t realise is that “normal” for me and my family now needs to be redefined as a result of the storm. Things are not and may not get back to as they were beforehand, and that’s OK – we simply have to learn to adapt. But being the person I am, I will definitely “hide” all this and bottle it up. And even though many of you actually take the time to ask “How are you going?” or “How are things”, I may not always reveal whether I’m in a not-so-good place, legitimately in a happy place or simply ‘faking it til I make it”. I am a strong-willed person who will always “soldier on” after I’ve managed to pick myself up and dust off the rubble from a storm. I am working on ways to combat this – I have to learn to let it out, and the first step is to be able to admit to others when things “aren’t OK”. Progress is slow but steady.
10. There Is Nothing Wrong In Prioritising Yourself Or Your Mental Health
If you’re having an off day, then take it easy. Because going on and pretending all is okay will only make things worse in the long run. Don’t feel guilty if you have to take time for yourself.
For example, as I write this, I am quite happy singing (badly) at the top of my lungs along to USA for Africa’s “We are the World” playing on my iPhone. Just like singing along to songs while driving, this is a release for me to unwind and relax and/or to stay calm. Music is my medicine. “We are the world, we are the children, we are the ones who make a brighter day, so let’s start giving…It’s true we’ll make a better day, just you and me.”
A goal I would like to set myself for 2020 is to read more books – to make the time and read those extra few chapters each day. I am already a bookworm, that is true. But I feel that I’m not reading as much as I possibly could be, and reading is part of my core, my inner balance and what helps keep me sane and grounded.
11. Don’t Underestimate The Value In Creating Something From Scratch!
There have been studies done that show that being creative can be proven to be beneficial in maintaining and increasing happiness levels and that it helps to keep our brain sharp. Recently, I was given a handmade gift for Christmas and it really resonated with me just how important and special it is to be creative. It also reminded me that I have let my creative side fall to the wayside over the last 2-4 years – I used to do a lot of homemade gifts and handmade cards. My goal for 2020 is to renew that creativity and take pride in handing out handmade gifts in 2020 to give to all my friends!
12. It Is Okay To Say NO!
I have a bad habit of wanting to say yes all the time, for wanting to please everyone first, before thinking of myself. This year I have discovered that it is completely OK to say no, especially to certain people who have come to expect me to do anything and everything they want/demand. It was tough at first but honestly it is quite liberating to finally recognise my wants and needs and to say “No, this is not OK”. I am gradually learning that I don’t need to make excuses either (but I will provide explanations if I really feel they’re necessary). This doesn’t mean I can’t or won’t still put others first – afterall it is in my DNA to want to help others and I LOVE helping others – I just now recognise that I need to remember to factor in my needs and wants into the equation rather than neglect myself altogether.
13. Practice Gratitude Every Day
Gratitude grounds me and reminds me how lucky I am. Albert Einstein once said, “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t always been good at living life as though everything is a miracle, but I’m trying to get better every day.
I’ve read and learnt that gratitude can shield me from negativity, make me happier, can rewire my brain, can help eliminate stress, heal, improve sleep, boost self esteem and more. Doesn’t seem like rocket science to realise that gratitude should be an important part of our lives.
As A.A Milne wrote, “Piglet noticed that even though he had a very small heart, it could hold a rather large amount of gratitude.”
14. Self Honesty Is Freedom And Perfection Is Boring
Facing the truth will set you free and allows you to live authentically. Just don’t be too harsh on yourself – something I am guilty of doing occasionally. I can be brutal on myself at times, beating myself up over this and that.
Life would be dull and boring if we are all perfect all the time. It is our quirks and eccentricities that help add the spice to life. Our imperfections, differences and foibles connect us to humanity and make us REAL.
15. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff
I’m learning not to sweat the small stuff. This last year has been about finding strength within myself – not looking to others for it. It’s not worth stressing over things out of your control, it will achieve nothing in the long run.
Don’t worry about what you can’t control. Our focus and energy needs to be on the things we CAN control. Attitude, effort, focus, energy, outlook – these are some of the things we can control.
16. Don’t Underestimate The Power In A Change Of Scenery
Whether it be a drive to the beautiful beach, or a road trip to a country town, or a bush walk up to a local lookout, there is a beauty in re-connecting with nature and the great outdoors. It helps to put things back into perspective and to refocus on priorities.
17. It is OK to “COPE” And Allow Healing To Happen In Good Time
Healing will happen in good time. It can’t be rushed or hurried, so don’t feel guilty if you have to do things that help you to cope in the meantime. For me, that means disappearing into Netflix or into a good book for a few hours on end, phone on silent, maybe a glass of alcohol and a bar of chocolate or some cheese.
18. Change Is Scary, Regret Is Scarier
If there is one thing I have also learnt this year, there is never that “right time” to start something. You just have to dive all in and take the plunge. Seize the moment. Grab the bull by the horns and JUST DO IT! Life is too short for regrets, do not allow the precious time you have in this world to be consumed by regret.
19. Live Life To The MAX!
Life can be short and cruel. Life does have a habit of kicking us in the guts and throwing us in a heap at times. Sometimes it can be hard to get back up but the most important thing is to remember that every struggle in your life has shaped you into the person you are today. So be thankful for the hard times, they can only make your stronger.
Don’t wait until tomorrow, next week, next month, or next year. Do it now. You won’t be sorry.
I am well and truly ready for 2019 to come to an end, to close this chapter on my life. 2020 is a brand new decade, a brand new year, brand new experiences to be had, a fresh chapter of my life and a better me. It also is a time for new goals and achievements – such as hopefully buying my own place within the next 2-4 years. I can’t wait to fill the new chapter with lots of positivity. My biggest wish for all of you is that 2020 is filled with good health, joy and hope!