Saturday, December 26, 2015

The year without pause: 2015.

It's been five years since my first ever year-in-review post. I look forward to these every year, because it's another opportunity to reflect, and then take aim for the next 12 months and beyond.

There's been a bit of a common theme with these posts. They open up about what is going on with me personally, and what I'm working on for the year ahead. Because I'm keeping it real, I talk a lot about whatever I'm struggling with. This year is no different.

If you've been keeping up with the blog for a while now (and so many of you have—thanks for sticking around), you'll know that I've been battling a lot of... stuff. Every year I make a little more progress working through that stuff, but it's been a bit of a cha-cha in that sometimes, I take a few steps forward and another one back. I guess that's all part of the process of working on yourself.

Yoga has been an incredible process of healing for me. Healing is hard, it is painful; it takes time. It will be a lifelong journey, and I'm okay with that, but the process is slower and more complicated when you’re so busy that you don’t have a single pause between thoughts, a pattern which is then reflected in every aspect of your life. Once again this year, I fell into the trap of trying to be productive by keeping myself busy, and despite my best efforts to introduce more mindfulness into my life, I find myself completely burnt out now. Being busy allowed me to do more, yes, but it did not help me on my path in designing the life I want to live. Two steps forward, one step back.

This year I guess I started working on all that a lot more—on creating a life I actually want to live and beginning the foundations for what will hopefully be calmer years ahead. I finished yoga teacher training, and with that I’ll start teaching next year. I ran my first photography workshop. I travelled a hell-of-a-lot, visiting Hong Kong, Beijing and The Philippines, and flying to Sydney more times this year than I have in the last ten; Martin and I road-tripped around Tasmania and soon—tomorrow, actually—we fly to Canada. I took more portraits, but nowhere near enough. I’ve been writing lots more on the blog which I’ve really enjoyed, because despite how busy I am, a monthly post forces me to sit and make space to reflect on things as they happen. From this newfound confidence in writing, I wrote a story—my story—on how a conversation saved my life. Sharing this sparked a profound reaction within my personal circles and I felt so loved by the support I received after opening up about what is an ongoing battle.

We are all busy—and this is a problem. We get caught up in a lot of stuff that doesn't matter, we become deeply unhappy and dissatisfied and we look for other avenues of relief. I keep staying busy because I say yes to a lot of things—I work full-time; outside of that, I work on a lot of freelance jobs, some of which are creatively fulfilling but don't pay, some of which pay but are not fulfilling; I have a social life and a family life; I exercise and commit to my yoga practice. I am still desperate to have time to read, to experiment, to try new things, and ultimately to grow as a person—but I'm stuck in the mouse-wheel of having too little time, which of course is not true, because what I actually have are misguided ideas of what my priorities are.

I used to think that if I was busy doing lots of things I love all of the time (which I am), that I'd be happy (which I'm not), and I'd feel as if I was “getting somewhere”, but that's just a lie I tell myself that keeps my schedule overwhelmed.

I've put a lot of undue pressure on myself to achieve certain life milestones by certain times. It's great to have goals, but I put some extraordinary burdens on top of my already chaotic life and that's where it all starts falling apart. Lately, it's started to show, as my fuses have been shorter and I've been far quicker to anger. You can't work on mindfulness and designing the life you love over the top of a lot of other chaos.

So next year, I concentrate on the slow and the present. On less screen time. Less work. Being a whole lot more selective on what I give my time to. Returning to a mindset of play, exploration and experimentation. Space and boredom are essential to creativity; having room to work on myself is critical for a healthy state of mind. How can I hope to work things out when I have no time or space to think? I used to think that the life I wanted would be waiting for me at the other end of working too damn hard, but the life I want is actually accessible right now, if I choose it.

I took a lot more photos this year but unfortunately haven't been able to release them all, so the below is a selection, including sneak peeks from the early parts of our trip in Tasmania. The photos below represent not only some of my year, but also what I deeply enjoy. It serves as a visual reminder for me, to help me keep in mind what I hold most dear, until that inevitably changes once more.

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