Annual Review 2017

Well, it’s been a while! Actually it’s almost been a year and a half since I last published here. I’ve half written a few blog posts and had a number of ideas for challenges and posts waft through my brain but nothing has stuck, nothing has felt right. Part of me has been beating myself up for it, but if I am to give myself more compassion and understanding, then I would concede that the last year, at least, has been a big one. Looking after a baby, my son who was born three days before New Year last year, has been exhausting emotionally and physically. He is now one year old and just that very fact has lightened my burden hugely. OK, the fact I am getting (a little bit) more sleep also helps, but much of the weight that has lifted has been psychological rather than physiological.

So here I am. Why am I returning here you may be asking? What has brought me back to this space? At this point I am a little hazy around that, but there is something drawing me back. The need to be more intentional in my life, the need to get back to me, the need for a creative outlet or space to connect perhaps? I am not entirely sure, but I am learning to trust my intuition more these days and so, this is where it finds me.

I have decided to start with a bit of a reflection on last year and then to set my intentions for the coming year. An Annual Review is an idea that I read about from Chris Guillebeau. Each year he reflects on the previous 12 months to work out what went well for him that year and what didn’t go so well. Then he sets goals for the year ahead. I’ve done goal setting before, but I was drawn to the idea of a reflection on the year that has past. It’s a short and simple exercise, but my efficient, organised, OCD mind likes the idea of drawing a line under the previous year. Sort of like packaging it up, tying a neat little bow around it and then putting it on the shelf. It also kind of clears the decks for the year ahead.

Here are my reflections on the year that was 2017:

Positives of 2017 – Leon’s first year, watching him grow and change and my own personal growth as a result; Our family trip to Portugal, challenging at times but a magnificent adventure that I will remember for years to come; Being able to support a friend through a difficult time; Getting to know/understand my Mum better and feeling closer to her because of it; Seeing one of my best friends get married and have a baby; Communication with my husband has improved hugely this year and we are closer than ever because of it (I still kind of dig him, even after ten years together).

Negatives of 2017 – No progress on making a career change; Still struggling somewhat with my body image; Neglected doing things ‘just for fun’ such as photography, social outings, reading, creative writing; Haven’t saved as much money as I would have liked; I continue to have a lot of negative self talk.

One of the benefits of doing this reflection is that it allows me to be a little more objective about my year. There is no doubt that 2017 was a difficult one, lack of sleep affects my mental health hugely and that makes things tougher than they need to be, but it’s also helpful to be reminded that amidst the difficulty there have been lots of achievements, lots of moments of joy and SO many things to celebrate. It is also helpful for me to give compassion to myself around the detractors – no, I haven’t made any progress on my career change, but I recognise that this was a season for caring and connecting with my gorgeous little boy. And yes, I still struggle with body image sometimes, but I have made huge progress with intuitive eating, awareness of diet culture and catching judgements.

Now that I’ve put 2017 on the shelf, it’s time to get excited for 2018! And I AM excited. I turned 40 just a week ago and initially that blew me a little off keel. But now I am feeling pretty damn pumped about it – how could I not be, I’m not so keen about the alternative! Right now I am feeling exceptionally grateful for being alive, for all the privileges I have been bestowed and all my achievements big and small that have led me to today. How great is it to be alive!

The framework that I am using for my goals comes from a book I read last year called Designing Your Life. The authors use four categories to create a Dashboard of sorts to help you assess how well things are going in four broad areas of your life: Work, Play, Health, Love. Of course you can use any categories you like, or none at all, but I have used each of these categories to set my intentions for the year ahead as it resonated with me. This is what I came up with.

Work

  • Conduct at least 12 interviews with people to explore potential career change ideas;
  • To be earning at least $1,000 from a side hustle by the end of the year;
  • Write at least one blog post per month for Cold Showers Are Good For you and get back into doing comfort zone challenges;

Play

  • Sign up for a regular class for each term this year (i.e. dancing, pottery, etc);
  • Read 12 novels and 12 non-fiction books by the end of the year;
  • Spend one day a month taking photos, just for the fun of it;

Health

  • Meditate 365 days of this year;
  • Drink a green smoothie daily for 30 days;
  • Not to weigh myself at all this year (hopefully ever again);

Love

  • Have a date with my husband at least once a month;
  • To not check my phone (especially social media) when I am spending time with Sophie and Leon;
  • Plan or say yes to at least one social event with friends per month.

As Chris Guillebeau says in his article, you need to have an action plan as well as a vision. I am using a Passion Planner, for the third year in a row (admittedly last years use was pretty patchy), to help me turn these goals into reality. It helps me break it all down and create solid action steps to get from where I am now to achieving my goals. It helps to keep me accountable when I check in each week too, although now I also have YOU, dear reader, to keep me accountable when I check in this time next year.

What are your goals for 2018? Have you ever conducted an annual review? And will you join me in a year of comfort zone challenges to stretch and learn and grow into the person you know you can be?

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I’m too sexy for my clothes

There are not many things that make me cry… actually, who am I kidding, I cry at everything these days. I am, as they say, a ‘sensitive soul’. Even so, as I made my way to Cobblers Beach on Sunday, I couldn’t quite believe that I was about to cry over something as silly as taking my clothes off. I was scared.   Not ‘jumping out of a plane’ scared, but scared in a sense of feeling really damn vulnerable. I was scared of other people judging my body the way I have been judging it.

‘Going to a Nudist Beach’ was one of the first comfort zone challenges I set for myself when I started the blog last year.   So when I found out about the Sydney Skinny I thought it would be the perfect way to tick it off my comfort zone list. The event is in its fourth year and it’s a 300m or 900m ocean swim that is swam completely in the nude. I can’t tell you how many friends I tried to convince to join me, but I swear I could have got more people to go skydiving than to get their kit off in public.

I get it, I was apprehensive too. I wouldn’t exactly say that I am ashamed of my body, but my relationship with it over the years has probably been one of judgement and control, rather than acceptance and trust. I’ve never exactly been overweight (well, if you don’t count the hefty Heathrow Injection I acquired on my gap year), but the thing I’ve learned is that how you feel about your body actually has very little to do with what size or shape you are.

For a long time that had been an unfathomable concept for me. I felt that it was normal that I should like my body more when I weighed a certain amount and when I started tipping the scales, naturally I wouldn’t like it so much. Over the years that has led to me trying to control my weight – calorie counting, so-called ‘health kicks’, quitting sugar or whatever other food plans that I convinced myself wasn’t really a diet. But here’s the thing – I like cake. I like croissants. And I LOVE chocolate. So no matter how much will power I summoned I would eventually ‘fail’ and self-loathing would ensue and so too would a few extra pounds.

So as I walked down to Cobblers Beach, ready to strip off, all I could think about was how I was going to have to expose my growing booty to the world. Once I got to the bottom of the hill, however, I started talking to everyone around me and as we laughed and chatted I started thinking about how ridiculous it is that we place so much value in how we look. I am still the same person whether I am my ideal weight or holding a few extra kilos. My friends, my family and any other person I come in contact with is unlikely to be thinking “I would like her more if she was 5kg lighter”, and god if they were would I really want to be friends with that person? Umm, no.

I mean this isn’t news to me, I know this deep down. But I do have to keep reminding myself of it sometimes. I have to keep remembering that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Once I finally got down onto the beach this became abundantly clear. As I looked around at all these naked bodies I no longer worried about my own body looked like. Not because I was comparing myself to them, but because when you actually take a look at the real world (as apposed to Vogue magazines and Seafolly advertisements) there is so much diversity.

When the time finally came to strip off I was surprisingly ok about it. Actually, I would go as far to say that it was thoroughly liberating! As I stood in the water ready for the swim to start I was smiling so much, thinking how cool it was that I was totally ok standing there with no clothes on. Although cool is probably not how I looked – swimming cap, goggles and a bare butt. Sexy!

The swim itself was great, in fact after all my training I kind of felt like I should probably have done the 900m. It was all over a little bit too soon. But for me it was never really about the swim, it was all about my body image. Signing up for the Sydney Skinny has really brought my relationship with my body (and food) into focus. It’s encouraged me to ditch dieting so I can let go of controlling what I eat, avoid binge eating and stop feeling a little bit craycray about food. Actually what I am focusing on more these days is 100% body acceptance and self-acceptance. I’m celebrating the amazing things my body can do and the life that it allows me to lead. And mostly it’s about setting a rock solid example for my daughter for what loving yourself for who you are looks like.

Who’s in for next year?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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