Sweet TwentySixteen

On 1st January, inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert, I created my inaugural mood board – randomly choosing colours and images that appealed. My New Year collage represented how I wanted 2015 to feel, a kind of visual emotional wish for the following twelve months. After a happy couple of hours I proudly hung it on my bathroom wall, with no idea what the picture represented. All I knew was that my intuitive self had whispered that 2015 would be  …

  • An orange, purple and golden year peppered with flowers and sparkles
  • Centrally about nurturing friendships and giving to others and having a sense of peace, beneath a big golden butterfly
  • About going upwards – having wings and flying, ascending in balloons and looking to the stars
  • Warm and sun-shiney and with the seaside
  • Somehow including a gift that might be connected to a fairie

Yesterday I completed my review of 2015. I started with a mindmap of all the things I considered to be highlights of the year. They consisted of moments I had particularly enjoyed such as interesting conversations, great nights out, creative activities … things that made me feel alive, energised or happy. There were 62 in total and the dominant theme was friendships which accounted for 29%: new friends I have made this year, existing friendships I have nurtured, and old friendships I have re-kindled. Next, I produced a mindmap of 17 lowlights. This list consisted of sad and difficult things that had happened, projects that had frustrated  me, goals I had set myself and failed to achieve. This was equally useful in prompting me to think consciously about how I might direct energy for 2016, choose to let go of certain things or do them differently.

In keeping with my own mantra, I also spent time reflecting on the extent to which I had Stood Tall, Been Brave and Shone in 2015. This proved to be more tricky and also, unexpected. In total there were 26 items on what I dubbed My Lighthouse Keeper List allocated into these three categories.

Standing Tall represented 23% of my list and consisted of mostly really small moments of discomfort where I held my ground in the face of challenge or opposition, took action I believed to be the right thing to do, even though I feared embarrassment or a negative reaction from those involved, or simply spoke up. One example of this was where I took my team to lunch to celebrate delivery of a really successful project and made a speech. I find making speeches terribly embarrassing but decided it was really important to speak from the heart and allow them to see me being emotional. At the other end of the spectrum, I accosted a man trying to steal my husband’s wallet in Amsterdam. Even when he pulled out a Stanley knife, I kept going. This was not out of bravery, I assure you. It was an act motivated by the sheer sense of injustice that my husband had had such a run of back luck at the time, that this simply could not be allowed to happen. Fortunately, we recovered everything, the man was arrested, no harm came to anyone and I earned major wife-y points.

Being Brave represented 19% and was less about being an adrenaline fuelled hero and more about being vulnerable by opening myself up to potential ridicule and shame as a result of expressing my deeper nature and feelings. One example was a conversation with a colleague at work who I believe clearly has the potential to do my job. I opened up a frank conversation about her career development and, to my surprise, it became clear that she had placed me on a pedestal of “you are perfect and so in control and I could never do what you do” so I shared with her many times I have doubted and struggled and continue to do so, and how much I admire her qualities and capabilities. My second example is setting up this blog, something which satisfies a desire to write and reach out to others, and in return challenges me to deal with an excruciating vulnerability that comes with it.

Shining, which I expected to be the lowest score, turned out to be 58% of my list and the common themes were about giving to others, being in flow and leaning into moments of joy. Examples included making a photo collage for my husband for our wedding anniversary consisting of pictures representing special moments together over the last ten years, and of shaking Rory Bremner’s hand with tears in my eyes as I stood on stage at a Tower of London event and received a trophy of behalf of my organisation for Best Newcomer at the International Investors In People awards.

Having completed this review, it later occurred to me to go back and look at my mood board and my wish for 2015. Here’s what came to mind …

An orange, purple and golden year peppered with flowers and sparkles

One of my highlights of the year was my best ever bargain! I was looking for a dress for a family wedding and being helped my a lovely assistant. She brought in a bright orange and purpley blue dress I would never have taken off the rail but said “It’s the last one, from the last-chance-to-buy-rail. I know it’s a bit full on, but trust me it looks amazing on, and it’s your size”. She was right and it turned out the dress had been reduced from £185 to £8.99!!! I couldn’t believe it (as my husband will attest from my screeching down the phone!) and I decided that instead of being for the wedding, it was destined to be my lucky Investors In People awards frock, which we then went on to win. A very sparkly night indeed.

In summer I unexpectedly had several weeks away from work and found myself drawn, day after day, to walking and taking dozens photographs – particularly of the surrounding area where I live. I called the album ‘Smelling The Home Grown Roses’ which became a bit of a mantra for a while and there was a five weeks period where I was constantly noticing and being sent sunflowers (which apparently symbolise bounty and plentifulness) including being given a beautiful painting by an artist friend of mine who said “I don’t know why, but I just feel that this painting is meant for you”.

Finally, a week before I broke up for Christmas, we received the result of our latest Investors In People assessment at work, after I convinced the Executive Team to bring it forward eighteen months for a whole variety of business reasons. To our delight we got Gold accreditation, which was followed by celebrations and many emails and conversations peppered with references to Spandau Ballet and golden handshakes!

Nurturing friendships, giving to others and having a sense of peace

I am pleased to say I have made a lot of progress here this year which has brought so much happiness to 2015, although this is still a work in progress. A major shift this year has been a sense of peacefulness. Although I have completely failed (yet again!) to make meditation a regular practice, I have definitely felt a deep sense of peace with a decision I made last year not to have children. Reaching this decision was a long and soul-searching process that only really concluded in autumn of 2014 and I have felt a gradual acceptance and peace settling into my whole body and being this year, knowing that I have made a choice that is authentic and right for me.

Going upwards – having wings and flying, ascending in balloons and looking to the stars

It perhaps sound a bit silly to say it but I have spent more time literally looking up this year, towards the sky and the horizon. Career-wise 2015 has been a validation and coming together of much work and personal development and I have had a number of conversations throughout the year about feeling a sense of flying and flowing. A bit like the sunflowers, I had a period of time around August-October where butterflies were appearing everywhere, although I only noticed this after the fact … I repaired a dress I hadn’t worn for years and only when I got it back from the shop suddenly realised it had a huge abstract butterfly shape on the front; days later, appropo of nothing, I found myself drawn into a charity shop and bought a T-shirt covered with butterflies; then I kept receiving cards and small gifts with butterflies on them.

During the year I also had a few sessions with a friend trained in working with energy and did some healing rituals which involved butterfly visualisations and lots of flying, all of which left me feeling lighter and more vital.

Warm and sun-shiney and with the seaside

My husband and I started the year with a wonderful weeks holiday in the sun in a hotel overlooking the sea and we had our best summer here in the frozen North of England for years. I spent more time walking on the beach enjoying the sunshine than I have in a long time.

A gift that might be connected to a fairie

For me, this came true when I spent a magical few days on a remote island in Scotland accompanied by Elizabeth Gilbert’s new book Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear. This was the catalyst for me making peace with my Inner Witch (whom I have written about in my first blog post How To Find Your Courage And Shine) who consequently feels more like my Fairy Godmother.

And so, whimsical as it may seem, my mood board turned out to be a great portrait of 2015. Whether it programmed my brain to watch out for and seek certain things that made it ‘come true’, or whether I am now retrospectively fitting things together that make it seem so really doesn’t matter to me. It just makes me happy to think that some kind of spooky magic occurred, as if my mood board shone a light out into 2015 and I followed. So I can’t wait to create my mood board for Sweet TwentySixteen to see what teenage kicks the New Year may hold. Perhaps you might like to join me with some glue and scissors in a few days time and I’d love to see what your SweetSixteen looks like?

Shine on. Love LHKD XXX

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