Lessons of 2021

1. You can enjoy where you are even if it’s not your final destination

After I moved back to Brisbane, I felt like I’d taken a step backwards. I didn’t want to be back living in the city, I didn’t want to be stuck in the concrete jungle and I felt stifled of any creativity. I hated where I was, every day for about 7 months. 

It took me a long time to give myself permission to enjoy the benefits of living in the city, even if it’s not where I want to be forever. I’d forgotten all the joys that being here brings. I had my blinkers on and was refusing to acknowledge the benefits I was reaping from being in a city. From playing netball again, to being able to run, cycle and walk along the Brisbane River with friends – I was being too hard on myself for the fact that I was back living in a place that, 3 years ago, I vowed to never live in again. 

A promotion at work and a good, long, hard look at my attitude has afforded me a change to my perspective. Sure, I don’t want to live here forever, but I can allow myself to enjoy being here right now. 

2. There is power in asking for help. 

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. One of my new years resolutions was ‘seek professional help when needed’. And while it didn’t feel like a ‘win’ when I finally took the steps I needed to, hindsight has allowed me to reflect and see that there is great power and courage in asking for help when you don’t want to. 

3. Serendipity is a gift from the universe

Know all those moments of unexpected goodness? That’s serendipity. From the nights with friends that had you clutching your side because you were laughing so hard, to the moments where you stood back and thought ‘wow, how am I so lucky that this is my life?’ – that’s the universe reminding us that there is good in every single day. 

4. Changing SOMEONE’s world, is just as fulfilling as changing THE world. 

I used to dream about having my name in history books. I wanted to make an impact, I wanted to eliminate poverty, or provide world peace and, I wanted to be someone people talked about in generations to come. 

This year, I’ve learnt that changing someone’s world is just as fulfilling as changing the entire world. I look around the Year 7 Boarding House Dorm at work and see the faces of ‘my’ girls. The faces, that 12 months ago were preparing to embark on one of the biggest challenges of their lives. The faces, that today are capable young girls who have faced adversity and challenges in the last 12 months and have handled them with independence, wisdom and grace (and sometimes a few tears). But the point is, I look at them and I’m proud of the role I’ve played in their lives. While I’m not the sole contributor to changing their world this year, I am honoured to have been trusted to play a small part in their lives. 

5. There are few things in life a good sunset can’t solve. 

One of the things I miss the most from living in the bush is the sunrises and sunsets. I used to sit on my front steps every morning, with a cup of tea and watch the sunrise. I used to repeat this process on my back steps every evening and watch the sun set. I don’t see many sunrises or sunsets anymore, but when I do, even the most mediocre sunset will take my breath away.

I’m a firm believer, that the moment of pause you are forced to take to watch a sunset is enough to realign your day. 

6. There is beauty in the ordinary 

Life doesn’t have to be flashy and aesthetically pleasing to be beautiful. When I think back to my top ‘moments’ of 2021, most of them don’t have perfectly manicured landscapes or visually appealing aesthetics. Instead, they are the rough around the edges, day to day things.  

I found beauty in dancing on the table in the tin shed at the farm for my cousins 21st – with chocolate lamington smeared down my jumper (from a food fight that took place during the speeches). And I found beauty in chasing poddy lambs barefoot across the paddock with the girls I used to govie for. We were hot, sweaty, and quickly losing daylight, but we were laughing so hard we had to stop numerous times to catch our breath. If you were to document these moments on film, neither of these moments would look spectacular – but that’s exactly why I love them. 

7. Open space feeds your soul. 

Reading this lesson gives me goosebumps. It’s a visceral reaction to something I think every soul desires. The beauty of creation, the clear air and the isolation of wide, far reaching, open space. Whether it’s the rolling green hills of our family property, or the dusty flats of downs country, my heart will quite often yearn for open space. 

8. Optimism is a mentality

Living in this world is tough. It always has been, but the last 24 months has required a little more grit than usual. Being optimistic isn’t a character trait you’re born with, it’s a learned skill and a state of mind that you choose to have. In tough times it would be easy to adopt the mentality of ‘woe is me’ – but realistically, that’s not going to help anyone, let alone yourself. How you see yourself, society and the world starts from within. Sure, sometimes things suck, and I don’t want to downplay hard times, but acknowledge the hard times and choosing to be optimistic for what lays ahead is one simple way to help your mental health. 

9. You can do hard things. 

Ever been in a situation and thought ‘This is too hard?’. Yeah – me too. But you know what? We still somehow get through it because we are strong, tenacious people, who are made to do hard things. 

10. God is good, all the time. Even when you can’t understand it.

It’s the greatest mystery of the universe, why do bad things happen to good people? It’s also the greatest reliance on faith. Trusting that even amongst the mess and chaos, even when we can’t see or understand how any good can come from bad situations – God loves us and is still good. 

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