A few days ago, one of my wonderful and brilliant friends (Jenna) put up a post on Facebook, that read, as follows:
"What did you do, create, or make last year that you're proud of? I want to hear some of your reflections from 2018! Perfect time to review before moving forward in the new year."
I thought about it for a minute, and started to write a quick response. Before I knew it, I had a whole list of things that I had certainly thought about seriously before, but hadn't ever really put together into a comprehensive list of just how much my life has changed, and how much *I* have changed, in the past 2-and-a-bit years.
I say two years, and not one, because, in truth, the foundations of much of what I achieved this year were laid in the previous year-and-a-bit. Moving back home to South Africa 27 months ago has been FUNDAMENTAL to my personal growth.
I never really knew why I was moving back. I didn't really have a plan (surprise, surprise. This IS me, after all. Ha!). I only knew that my time in Taiwan had reached a point where I was beginning to stagnate. The lessons that I had needed to learn, the experiences that I had needed to have, the people that I had needed to encounter... I felt like I had achieved all of the goals that were required of me in that phase of my life. And so it was time to move on.
But where to from there?
Instead of opting to head to a new and exciting location, instead of pursuing a job in an international school in an exotic location which I had not lived in before, I chose to go home. ("Home". Sigh. Where is "Home", anyway? I've always found that to be a terribly difficult question to answer, having been born in one place, then growing up in another, born to parents who were from two entirely different places to either of the ones I'd lived in, but whose identities were closely tied to their own countries of origin... What a mish-mash of identities to traverse... )
I chose to go to a place that I knew, a place that I was familiar with. So I returned to my African roots, to fulfil the next chapter that I was being drawn towards.
In retrospect, I now understand why I did it.
In a message recently, I wrote:
"I've really grown and learned SO MUCH in these last two years. I feel like THAT'S why I was driven to come home for a while: to focus on ME.
If I'd gone to a new country, I'd be expending all of my energy on getting to know how things work, making new friends, learning the language... all outer things.
But being home, I already knew all of that, and had all my networks and routines set, so I could turn my energy inwards, and actually start to learn about ME.
It hasn't always been good - in fact it was fucking awful for quite a while in the beginning! - but now that I'm on the other side of it all, WOW."
In the time since I moved back to South Africa, I've found ME again.
I say "again", but even that's not entirely accurate.
I discovered myself in ways that I was not aware of before. I didn't really KNOW the inner me. I'd spent my whole life perfecting the persona - as we all do. I'd worked so hard on the image of ME that I wanted to present to the world, that I dismissed the parts of me that didn't fit in neatly with the persona. The soft parts, the sad parts, the tender parts. The parts we bury deep down inside. The parts we wish weren't there.
But they ARE there. And the pressure to keep them buried is what creates so much turmoil and conflict within us... until we learn to forgive ourselves. Until we learn to embrace it ALL, to revel in the lessons that our soul has sought out, and to trust the path that we're on as being exactly the right path.
In answer to my friend's post, about the achievements of 2018, I wrote the following:
*I attended - and completed a diploma in - a year-long set of workshops on how to teach using the Reggio Emilio approach, which is INCREDIBLE. ❤
*I continued working on myself and healing myself with the help of a phenomenal therapist, and feel like a completely different person now - whole and calm and centred and truly at peace.
*I started immersing myself in the world of plant medicine, attended several retreats, went to an incredible series of chakra workshops, and am discovering my own spirituality and connecting with my soul in ways that I never even imagined I could do before.
*I'm in a healthy, positive, beautiful relationship, completely devoid of angst.
*I learnt how to be brave enough to let go of toxic people and relationships, which created a space for many new and beautiful and wholesome ones instead.
*I got to reconnect with my brother and build a friendship with him in a way that we never had before.
*I taught a class of beautiful children, and loved them, and sent them off into their educational futures with strength, knowledge, confidence, and a sense of awe and magic about the world around them.
*I learnt that what other people think of me is none of my business... it's THEIR stuff, THEIR ugliness, THEIR damage, theirs to heal - both in a professional and a social environment. As long as I live my life and conduct myself with kindness, honesty, and integrity - I'm on the right path. ❤"
As I prepare to say goodbye to South Africa exactly 9 days from now, and embark upon yet another adventure, I am filled with gratitude as I reflect on this most recent chapter of my life. It hasn't always been easy - in fact it was downright crushing at times! - but I am SO incredibly grateful for where I find myself today.
Again, the future is a great big mystery. (Isn't it ALWAYS, though?!) But I've been learning to live in the moment. To quiet the noise. To trust in the journey.
My soul's got this.
I am at peace. ❤
Wishing you all a big, beautiful, enriching and joyous 2019.
With ALL MY LOVE.