I’m a tad cynical about annual resolutions. Quite a few goals set out in previous years haven’t been achieved in the shape I longed for so I arrived into this new year with more questions than answers. Do I repeat previous years goals that have been unfulfilled in an undying never-give-up-spirit and give it yet another shot, even as the potential of it not being fulfilled looms heavily? Or do I just start a fresh with new goals solely focused on the internal development so as to re-angle my life approach towards inner peace and contentment and less on external rewards?
Thus in order to steer this post into a more uplifting tone, I’ll pause to reflect on 2018 highlights than shortcomings and return to the prospect of what I want to create in 2019 hopefully in a better frame of mind.
- Working from home
This has been a true transformation from an unending life pattern of previous years and gave birth to the other highlights of 2018. After having been on the road since 2010, getting to set up base at home for the past 12 months has given me a luxurious freedom I couldn’t dream of while still engaging myself intellectually. The nature of work in the project I am engaged in has certainly relieved me from the emotional burden of previous projects. Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t exchange that period of work abroad for anything – it gave me a sense of purpose, intellectual and spiritual stimulation and opened the doors to countless significant friendships which redefined my entire worldview. But I just wanted to recalibrate on my native land – get connected to my base again and jump out of the gravy train as I approach my professional life from a more topographic view and less of an operational one. It also gave me so much more time to balance out my life with other interests and commitments. I have another (maximum) 6 months of this working style in 2019 and will definitely milk every moment dry.
- More time with loved ones
A by product of the first blessing. The opportunity to spend more time with my family and friends has been a fabulous milestone. If the past 8 years has been a series of rushed and stolen moments every quick trip back home, the past 12 months have been spending days together without checking on boarding times and finding the best deals for the next flight back home. Brunches, lunches, dinners, road trips and prayers together. Through illnesses and birthday meals, the fasting month and hospital stays, it just really hits you that this is truly what life should be about. Time and connection with your tribe in good times and ill health. Life feels meaningless if you are not giving your all to the significant people in your life.
- Health issues addressed
I finally managed to get a few necessary health scannings done last year and even a necessary surgery out of the way. It scares me to think how much we neglect our health sometimes because we are just busy working on a day to day basis and hospital visits cost us time, medical leave, and gosh a surgery would mean you have to suspend work commitments for like 2 weeks! I’m just deeply grateful that the issues were addressed and pray every day that there are no more scares in the future.
- More travel and reunions
This has been yet again a blessing only possible because I wasn’t committed in an assignment abroad. Most of the traveling this year either coincided with work meetings or with special reunions with best friends based in different corners of the globe and it was possible to stay for long periods because I could continue working remotely. At the top of the list was spending a week in Bali with a deeply treasured friend A – someone whose friendship is very much a blessing of Divinity and I still recollect it as though it was yesterday. I am immeasurably grateful that I managed to have that week with her. We were classmates for a year in Geneva then went our separate ways for 5 years, and housemates for 6 months in Ankara before going on to different parts of the world again until reuniting in Bali last year. We joke that despite a decade of friendship, we meet basically once in 5 years yet somehow praise our Creator for sustaining this remarkable bond.
A new country which was a first for me and my husband in 2018 was the Czech Republic. It was also our first introduction to Central (Eastern) Europe and what a gorgeous first chapter it was. For Canada, London, Paris, Zurich and Geneva it was about celebrating family or friends there and taking time to really soak the fruits of these blessings of love. Again it dawned on me that happy as I have always been for being able to do the work I love in countries that unlocked different dimensions of my life experience, reconnecting with special relationships is definitely a sacrifice we live without when living more or less nomadically. The wellbeing these reunions continues to reverberate as a deep afterglow, amplifying my appreciation for a fuller inner life.
- More volunteer work
Not enough as I would want to, but a step in the right direction. I had been admiring the work of a local NGO from a distance in the past few years – their feed a family campaigns, their bazaars selling dishes and crafts made by refugee communities, and was especially in admiration of the founder who seemed like a pretty dynamic woman. But it just didn’t seem like I would ever be able to do any volunteer work justice if I was constantly not around. Last year I managed to pick up the phone, make that contact and participate in their committee meetings and events that has helped me keep myself closer to a group of people I usually work for intellectually but less personally, which is a terrible shame. Definitely a trend I want to continue and increase this upcoming year.
Alora. Counting our blessings does help. From a dour morning mood full of sighs of the unfulfilled, I now feel extraordinarily blessed. It has reaffirmed my desire to set up 2019 goals which focuses more on the inner architecture of our life perception and being, and less on the big fishes of tangibles. Because tangibles come and go, but how are we really doing, behind the doors?