One of my favourite aspects of this time of the year is having some time and space to reflect on what has been and what lies ahead. Within that it becomes clearer about what we might want to leave behind and what we might want to take ahead with us. I like to think of it as an opportunity to be discerning and that is going to be my word for 2019; discerning about my relationships, my time and my ideas.

In order to do that, it’s good to think about what we’ve learned as this supports the kind of clearing out and cleansing that we might need to do! So here are my top ten lessons learned from 2018.

1 There are many diverse ways to be a human and to experience the world and while this may not be purely a 2018 lesson for me, my travels around the world have really layered that learning. Working in Pakistan has given me such a richness of learning about the diversity of our shared experience as humans on Earth that it feels uncomfortable to call it work. It’s a privilege!

2 I have been fortunate enough to deliver training across just about every Public Sector in this country and I will never tire of meeting people who dedicate their hearts and their souls to supporting, nurturing, rescuing and loving other humans. Education, the NHS, Social Care and Criminal Justice services have all been so desperately battered yet the capacity that humans have to give is astounding. It is this desire to make the world a better place that is so beautiful (even though I absolutely do NOT support the unreasonable and mounting pressures being placed upon people).

3 Humans are incredibly resourceful and it seems will always seek to create a home and community with whatever resources they have. I was astounded in Lyari and also in the slums of Karachi during my time working in Pakistan this last year, how people who had literally nothing (less than nothing in fact) made shops, homes and food. From nothing. Nothing at all. It was overwhelming to watch.

4 We have far more in common than we have differences. In the last few years, the reemergence of a divisive fearful narrative that seeks to render us all different and separate from each other, whether that is through religion, culture, class, sexuality, gender, the truth about how we are connected to each other has become lost.

5 Stories are the bedrock for healing. When we share our stories with one another we create an opportunity for connection. When we support others to share stories, we create an opportunity for ‘the other’ to vanish as we are reminded that there is no them and us, just humans.

6 I am enough. No really. I am enough. I seem to have to revisit this every year as I find myself so easily lured into looking at what other people are doing and this sends me into the depths of am I doing enough? I must do more (goes the message). NO. I really mustn’t.

7 Time has a way about it that means it sorts out everything in the end. The challenges and difficulties that I wandered into 2018 with are not the challenges that I face as I leave 2018. I have a few new ones! And other challenges have simply unravelled and moved into a new energy.

8 I cannot abide ‘stuff’. I haven’t wanted ‘stuff’ around me for a long time but entering into the home of my children’s father days after he died in July made this even clearer to me; you really can’t take it with you. More importantly, no one really wants it. It hurts. It’s too painful. What matters out of all the ‘stuff’ is a carrier bag worth of photos, key rings, guitar picks.

9 Humans are incredibly resilient and also so incredibly fragile too. One minute we’re here and the next we might well be gone. The moment is everything, the kisses, the hugs and the scents of the seasons. The eye contact, the music and the fleeting touches as we move through life and cross the paths of other souls.

10 Finally, I have had the most amazing year filled with travel all over the world, the most satisfying and rewarding work I could wish for and I also achieved my MA in Education which meant I could undertake some research that told stories. Mostly this has happened because I say YES. Opportunities come my way and I say YES. Be awake to opportunity, believe that you deserve the opportunities and then, the important bit, even if it scares you, say YES!

As I have written this I realise I could have written 20 lessons! But I’ll spare you. For now. In a nutshell, life is short, seize the day and be kind. The oldest lessons, it transpires, are always the best…

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