Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Farewell 2013 - thanks for all you taught me

Farewell 2013 - what a year you've been.   A year of ups and downs as they always are, and happily way more ups than downs.

I could reflect back on all that I've done, that has happened, recounting the highs and lows but instead, and as testament to a wiser me, I'd rather take a different approach by asking questions:  what have you been most proud of achieving, what has brought you joy, what have you learned to take you forward into 2014?

What have you been most proud of achieving?  It might be a big goal that took your focus for much of the year, or perhaps the way in which you dealt with a situation, or getting through a challenging period.  Or maybe something that to others may seem insignificant or small but to you means a lot.  It may be something that was planned or that happened unexpectedly. 

For me it has to be the completion of my first 100 mile endurance run.  It wasn't pretty, in fact the last 8hrs were a miserable experience but without a doubt it was one of the most challenging things I have ever done and I learned a huge amount from it.  The buckle I earned is one of my prized posessions that I wear with pride, often not on show, but sitting quietly hidden on my waist reminding me of the challenges I overcame and the self belief and conviction I know I am capable of if I want something enough.

I am also proud of the fledgeling community I am building with Re-emerging - bringing like minded people together, united in their quest to make positive change to their lives and supporting others as they do so.   

What has brought you joy?   Whilst the first question focused on perhaps bigger things, this one is the opportunity to look at the smaller things that perhaps get taken for granted, or overlooked.  Take a moment to reflect on those 'champagne' moments that made your heart sing, when for those moments you didn't want life to be any different, that everything was just as it should be.

I found joy in the natural world around me.
Taking time to observe nature - wildlife and plantlife, environments, skies and the weather.  From the distant shores of Maui, Hawaii where I was blessed to spend a few weeks in January watching whales from the local beach, to the mesmerising beauty of the Teton mountains in Colorado, to the more local beauty of the North Downs (a blissful birthday run) and the nature to be found in my very own back garden.  Having earned my membership of the 100 Marathon Club it has been lovely to ease back and run the races that appeal to me most - mainly being out on the trail or in warmer climates.

And on running, joyful moments were of course the celebration of my 100th marathon where friends made me a celebrity for the day - a day I will always cherish - such fun and  shared with so many.  
Whilst the solitude of trail running brings me much joy, I also find joy in sharing my running with others, I grinned the whole way round the London Marathon meeting so many friends and family along the route, and shared fun running weekends with friends, and more local club runs with Harrier friends.

Joyful moments with people - with those already in my life, and also new people.   Being able, through my work, to guide people to aha moments of learning and self discovery.  I treasure my family, friends and clients for the connection we share.

And finally, what have you learned to take you forward into 2014?   Perhaps the learning came from a painful or negative experience, from trauma or loss.  Or maybe from the achievement of a challenging goal.

I learned the power of belief.
At Rocky Raccoon 100 miler it was belief that got me round.  Sure I had a certain base level of fitness but I saw those fitter and faster fail to finish.   I never once thought I wouldn't make it.  It was non-negotiable.  I willed my legs and body to keep going and they did despite extreme fatigue, nausea and lack of calories in the previous 24 hrs.  The memories of misery soon faded to euphoria and a massive amount of self belief.  If I could apply that level of belief to every area of my life there is nothing I cannot achieve.  My belt buckle is a reminder of that self belief - I know I have it, I just have to remind myself of how to access it and apply it!

On a similar thread I learned about commitment and desire.

I crewed my partner on a 145 mile race along the Grand Union Canal - unusually for him his heart wasn't in it, and never had been.  At 82 miles, suffering from macerated feet and nausea he had a fleeting thought that he didn't want the race enough.  At that moment his body started shutting down with fatigue, cramping, shivering, unable to move forward in a straight line.  He staggered another mile or so until I was able to meet him, the moment at which he decided to quit his symptoms subsided.  He just didn't want it enough to overcome the physical and mental challenges of the next 60 odd miles.  My partner continues to be an inspiration for setting goals and having the courage and conviction to achieve them.

I learned too about the beauty of connection and networking.
I led on a community project for the first six months of the year. I knew it would be hard work and that whilst I would gain invaluable experience I always felt I would gain something far greater through the connections I would make.  Little did I know it would be the catalyst of significant change for my daughter through the connections I and subsequently she made.  As I look to expand my life in a new area of Kent next year I know that making connections and networking will be key to my happiness and success there. 

Clearing 'stuff', whatever that 'stuff' is, has been another area of learning for me.  I understand how my joy and happiness has little to do with physical possessions, and also how letting go of the other 'stuff' - stale relationships, worries, unnecessary commitments, all those things in my life that no longer serve me usefully - is so liberating. I am committed to pursuing this direction of simplification and liberation over the coming months and hope that if you too are so inclined we will share our journeys together, liberating and connecting at the same time!  What's not to like! 

And finally, a lesson I have been sharing with clients for many years I finally started to take heed of and learn for myself.   That of self care.
Through taking on too much, I came close to meltdown earlier in the year.  Exhausted, eating rubbish, lost my mojo for running, no sense of direction.  I have learned to identify those signs and to act on them quickly so as not to reach that point again.  Taking time out for yourself isn't being selfish. It is necessary.  What use are we to others if we are run down, exhausted - how does that best serve them, or ourselves well?  Self care for me means eating and drinking well, cutting out processed foods, caffeine and sugar; eating vegetables, good fats and where possible organic.  It also means resting and recharging, doing things that are good for my soul on a regular basis.  My inspiration and knowledge has come from many sources and I am truly grateful for those people in my life who have shared their knowledge and insight so I may learn this lifelong lesson.

I wonder what has brought you joy, what you are proud of achieving and what lessons you have learned.  Sharing and connecting has been an underlying theme, and my wish for all of us in 2014 is that these connections and that sharing of knowledge and experience and support grows and grows.

Thank you for being part of my life in 2013 and I look forward to sharing so much more in 2014

With love and joy

Rachel x

Connect with me on facebook at Re-emerging Therapies!

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