Friday, December 30, 2011

Now is as good a time as any

Text reads: In life, may you be your own greatest teacher

January is an interesting month. My experience of it has always been to feel a sense of inspiration and opportunity. The year is new! Anything could happen!

People make resolutions with the intention of this year being 'different'. This year will be the year they finally get around to that thing they've always wanted to do, the year they finally break that habit they know is causing them harm, the year they get that job they've always wanted to have.

My feeling on resolutions is that, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing now. I don't want to wait until the first of the year to start making change in my life. If I want to take up a new hobby, learn a new skill, visit a new place, break and old habit, change an old thought pattern - the first of July is as good as the first of January. The twenty-third of April or September is suitable. Essentially, if it's worth changing then it's worth changing now.

But I do set yearly goals come January. This is the time of year when I list what I want to do in the next twelve months. It's about creating a yearly To Do list - and a year is a good way to measure accomplishments. For example, my goals for 2011 were to complete my tarot card paintings, hold a gallery showing in London, eat in as many Michelin starred restaurants as I could reasonably afford and visit Wales, Scotland and Ireland.

I completed my tarot cards in February and held my gallery show in August. I've dined at Bohemia, Murano, Pearl and Gavroche. I made it to Scotland and Wales but not Ireland. Instead my travels took me to Thailand, which was well worth it and a reminder that goals do not need to be set in stone because we have as much time as we are willing to make.

It truly was the year of the rabbit as it hopped by at a rapid speed, each month filled with a multitude of new experiences and adventures.

2012 is nearly upon us and my primary goals are to establish Me First life coaching and to finish editing manuscripts and start sending them out for publication. Two goals which will afford me more freedom for the future.

Of course you needn't set yearly goals on a January to January basis. You can set them on whatever calendar works for you - but I highly recommend the 12 month timeline for measuring outcomes. It can give you a lot of flexibility but it also makes for a wonderful way to keep track of where you are on a multitude of accomplishments. And above all, remember that you are in charge of your life. Where you end up, where you go, what you learn - it's all down to you. Ask yourself what you want (because you  come first in your own life and you deserve to be your own best friend.) and then get out there and make it happen.

Here's to a happy New Year.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

May your love keep you warm

Taking a holiday is so very important. I tend to find them difficult because I am my own worst critic and hate to be seen as lazy. But it's important to love yourself first and best and part of that is knowing when to give yourself breaks and taking time to enjoy the moment without rushing about and being preoccupied with too many responsibilities.

For me, this is the one time of year where I find it easy to take a break. This is probably because it's the one time of year when the priority should be the people you love. I am so fortunate to have a wonderful, supportive family and incredible friends. For me, this is the time of year when I am able to express my gratitude and appreciation by making time to share in conversation and delicious food.

Living a good life is largely about the attitude you take to it. My attitude at this time of year is one of warmth and comfort. It's about building new memories and reminiscing on the old. It's about time spent with loved ones.

I think with those as my priorities, taking a break becomes much simpler. I'm not slacking off at all - if anything I'm doing some of my most important work. I'm sharing in the joy of the connections we have with those around us and celebrating the wonderful people who make my life so very interesting and delightful.

Merry Christmas to you and yours and I'll be back to my regular posting in the New Year.

Friday, December 9, 2011

London Journal - 2 years

O.K, not two years exactly just yet. One year, eleven months and nine days, if I'm going to be entirely accurate. The point is, I've nearly been in London for the original duration I planned for back in 2009. 

My life needed shaking up and the route I took for this was to move from the city where I was born and raised to London. Why London? A multitude of reasons spring to mind every time someone asks me this and it's something I've covered extensively in this very blog. The short of it is that I was ready for something entirely different than anything I knew before. 

It has been incredibly different and it's not over yet. My original work visa is set to expire in a few weeks, but it no longer applies as I've moved onto a temporary leave to remain card. I've got at least two more years in the UK but I wanted to reflect on the time I've spent here based on that original timeline. 

Everyday is an opportunity and as time passes it's amazing what we can accomplish. I didn't set out to do anything specific when I moved to a new country. I was just looking for adventure, change, a chance to explore. 

Explore I have! In two years I've been to Scotland, Wales, Jersey and explored a large chunk of England. I've travelled to Paris and Amsterdam, been to the vineyards in the south of France and gone all the way to Thailand for my birthday. 

As for change, I've had my fair share to reckon with. Culturally I've discovered and learned so much about myself as a Canadian. I've also realised that the UK is full of a multitude of cultural differences. Sometimes it's been a struggle as I have felt too loud, too up front or too honest for the relatively subdued English. More often it's been a delight as I've discovered the inherently English things about me and my family which have been passed down from my wonderful Grandmother, a war bride who left England at the same age as when I came to it. 

More than anything, there have been the opportunities. I didn't really imagine that I'd learn graphic design, hold an art gallery showing and take the first steps into starting my own life coaching business. Not to mention the incredible wealth of knowledge I have gained from watching brilliant BBC documentaries, visiting a multitude of museums from the National Gallery to the Louvre, and reading countless plaques and monuments to some of histories most significant characters. 

I know how easy it is to make excuses to not do something because of a fear of the unknown, an inability to save the cash or the feeling that some obligation to others is more important than any desire you have to live the life you dream of. I once spent two years doing so little that I can hardly remember them - day to day there was so little change. Now I've spent two years doing so much that I can hardly believe it's only been two! I feel as though I've been making up for that wasted time, ravenously reading books (59 so far in 2011!), studying psychology and philosophy, jet setting anywhere that takes my fancy, creating incredible artwork, editing more than one novel at a time, and continuing to find new things to try, new places to visit and new ways to see the world. 

We can get bogged down with cliches so easily but life really is what you make it. At the end, I doubt very highly that you'll be wishing you'd been more careful, less generous and more introverted - so go after the life you want.