14 things I learned in 2014

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Another year has passed so I thought it would be fun to see what I’d actually learned from it. Here goes:

1. Don’t Shrink Back
Let’s face it, we are one of the most empowered generations of women to ever exist. We have been given ridiculous amounts of power and influence but so often, we don’t use it. We don’t utilise our influence to build, or even destroy. Our tendency is to do nothing. Back in January, I heard Jennie Allen preach on not shrinking back and it felt like someone grabbed my shoulders, shook me and woke me up to the responsibility I have, not for my sake but for the sake of others.

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2. I love the outdoors, like REALLY love it.

I love big open outdoor spaces. I’ve visited a lot of cities this year but my favourite places have been the mountains and fields and lakes and the spaces where you feel tiny in comparison to the landscape – I’m a sucker for a good view. Being outdoors is good for my soul.

3. Coaching keeps me healthy and accelerates my spiritual growth.

At the beginning of the year, I began meeting up with Lisa who is a coach and spiritual director, a dear friend and all round amazing human being. She has been the helpful and hopeful voice in my life, through asking questions, highlighting the nuances of my answers and providing tools to help me process situations I’m facing. From reading past journal entries and reflecting on the year, I feel like this year has been a season of accelerated growth and I understand myself far more now than I did going into the year. Much of that has been down to time spent with Lisa reflecting and processing and with her sharing her insights. I could not recommend it enough.

4. I can make meaningful friendships quickly.
This year, we’ve made some wonderful new friends and I’ve learnt that if you’re intentional about it, opening up over some round the table conversation, you really can build meaningful friendships in a few days – it doesn’t take a lifetime.

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5. Writing and making takes vulnerability.
Since starting this blog and knowing that others will read it, the temptation for me is too strip away a layer or two of my juiciest creativity and innovation to make the revealing less risky – to create in line with what people want me to say as opposed to what I want to say. It makes you feel exposed and vulnerable. As the things you make and create are personal to you, it can feel like there’s too much on the line to just put my wildest creations out there. If I do share it in its wildest and unrefined form and the reception isn’t great, I have to remember who I’m creating for and the purpose behind this blog. This writing is a risky business.

6. To just start where I am

Don’t wait for everything to be perfect. You can read about that here.

7. To stop wearing busyness and exhaustion as a badge of honour.

I was driven by “should do” instead of “want to do” and thought that if I did more, I would be more. I had mistaken efficiency with love and am learning to answer “how are you?” with responses other than “busy” or “tired”. I’m avoiding these words as then I have to find something more interesting to be.

8. The art of calligraphy.

In the Autumn, I took a calligraphy course and learnt copperplate lettering. I loved doing something so practical and enjoyed every minute – I’ll write about it soon.B1WMT3fIAAA619k

9. To delight

Celebrating is important. Enjoying and cherishing and reveling. This year, we’ve been intentional about celebrating and delighting in the small things – the end of a busy season, pulling off a great conference, birthdays. Its been great for our souls.

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10. There’s a difference between rest and recreation.

I think I’ve always thought that rest and recreation were interchangeable and as long as you were doing something fun, it still counted as rest. Turns out, I was wrong. I’ve tried to pack lots of playing into holidays as possible (days out, hosting dinner parties, holiday activities and projects) but left no time for stopping and stillness. There have been a few times this year when I’ve come back to work after a holiday filled with lots of fun things but not feeling rested at all. It’s R and R not R or R for a reason. You need both.

11. I can keep 2 living creatures alive for a whole month (with help from Ben).

I’ve wanted a dog for a while but I was never convinced I was responsible enough to look after something living and wasn’t sure whether we’d be able to give them enough attention, time and walks as we’re quite busy. However, in the summer, we spent a month looking after our friends lovely labradors and we completely loved it. Granted, we may have taught them some bad habits (sorry about the whole sofa thing Catrina!) and there were a few precarious incidents with some cows, but we had lots of fun with them.

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12. Use every emotion as fuel for prayer.
I did a study on the life of David this year with some friends and my big take away from it was how he used every emotion that he experienced and used it as fuel for a conversation with God. The psalms are a collection of those emotion driven conversations – he complained to God, was angry, delighted, he mourned, he shared his disgust and fear. Through every emotion, he cried out to God because God can handle out emotions. This year, I’ve begun to get better at doing it.

13. I can finish things.

This year, I did a two month program of exercising an hour a day for 6 days a week. I never finish anything as I get bored before the end so this was a major achievement for me.

14. A change of place + change of pace = change of perspective.

There have been many times this year when I’ve realised that I haven’t left that same 10 mile patch of land for weeks. I live, work, shop, visit family and friends all in this same patch of land and I regularly get claustrophobic. It is so life giving for me to leave Bracknell and go to the beach for the day or take a picnic in the countryside. When I’m stuck in that rut and feeling hemmed in, I know I need to slow down and get out of Bracknell, whether just for the day or for a holiday. It helps.

It feels good to track the journey and document the progress that you’re making. What did you learn this year? I’d love to hear it!

12 thoughts on “14 things I learned in 2014

      1. Haha it may well get a resurrection soon. I didn’t realise I was commenting as it! Lots of love to you and Ben, happy new year gorgeous friend! X

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  1. Just wanted to write a quick note to say that I’m loving reading your blogs Heather. Often these quick reads inspire me and remind me that it’s my turn to sit down, reflect and write something. May 2015 be a blessed one x

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    1. Aww Naomi! Its lovely to hear from you! Thank you for the encouragment – I hope you’re well and having a lovely Christmas season whatever you’re up to in the world! Yes, do start writing soon and we can be blogging buddies 🙂 Xx

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  2. Don’t shrink back. Love that Jennie Allen!!! Have you seen the movie Akeelah and the Bee? There is a scene in there where Akeelah is told not to be a shrinking violet. I just love that. So many times I’d rather shrink up than gut it up. Blessings for 2015.

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    1. Hi Alene! Thanls for stopping by! I havent heard of that film – I’ll have to look it up! I see you’ve done a link up for 2014 learnings so i’ll head over to yours and have a read. Happy new year for 2015 🙂

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  3. Make a change of place and don’t shrink back; yup those two, they really resonate with me. All in, you have been fabulously productive! Wishing you Happy New Year!, as I wander in from Emily’s link up.

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  4. I LOVE that statement: “Use every emotion as fuel for prayer.” That’s going to stick with me, thank you 🙂
    Also, we learned quite a few similar things this year! It was a hard one, but I think it’s one I’ll always look back on as a very significant part of my story. I don’t know if it’s the same for you 🙂

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  5. I’m not sure if I subconsciously read your post without realising it, but I wrote something along similar lines today…..with some different ‘lessons learnt’. You’ve got some powerful ones here Heather. A few of mine were a tad frivolous 😉

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