2018 in Review: Break-up, Break-in and Break-through

I will remember 2018 as a year of building and also of tearing down, of learning to trust myself beyond what I thought possible through both a break-up and a break-in (more in a bit). 

Work-wise

I really prioritised building my practise this year, to the extent that that only holidays I took were to visit my family in Jordan at Easter and Christmas and a long weekend with friends. I feel immensely privileged to be doing this work, to sit with fellow humans in their most intimate and vulnerable moments.

I feel I have found a good balance in splitting my time between sessions in both my old home of Geneva and my new home of Lausanne. I now have about half my clients in each city.

Two of the rooms at  Lausanne Therapy Space  (photo creds:  Hannah Shan Photography )

Two of the rooms at Lausanne Therapy Space (photo creds: Hannah Shan Photography)

In November we celebrated our one year anniversary at Lausanne Therapy Space. I feel very fortunate to work with the women in this space, and am still in love with everything about it from the room design by Sofia Clara to Momo who sells (delicious) crêpes at the entrance of the building and always brightens my day! 

The Lausanne Therapy Space Team from left to right: Hiba, Teresa, Carey, Tania and Julianna

The Lausanne Therapy Space Team from left to right: Hiba, Teresa, Carey, Tania and Julianna

Visibility

My word of the year was VISIBILITY because I wanted visibility over my finances, insurance and administration. This was something I had never really taken responsibility for when I was married and being on my own and also independent work-wise, this filled me with anxiety and dread.

I am now at the point where I enjoy (!!) accounting thanks to the accounting system I am using (Wave) and I have even come to realize that this stuff is also a form of self-care, that being able to have my own back financially and administratively is just as important as eating healthy or going to yoga.

Lots of events

VISIBILITY was also about putting myself out there despite the doubts and anxiety that are always there when running workshops and events. 

This year, I launched some new topics that I am really excited about:

I held a workshop for men with Aernout and we had a wonderful group of seven men who were all eager to learn and share. 

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This led me to hear about Carl who has a men’s peer to peer support group in both Lausanne and Geneva called Blokes and Black Dogs.

I also co-led a Yoga + Psychology Urban Retreat around building confidence with my friend and yoga teacher Ludmila

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I held a new workshop in the summer on relationships patterns based on attachment theory and a corporate talk on stress for the first time, which I tackled from quite an unusual angle which I hope to share more widely in 2019.

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I also explored the topic of trust / self-trust and intuition for the first time in the framework of my Becoming Wiser Workshop Trilogy while updating some existing topics - my staples around boundaries, emotions and connection. 

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Blogging

My favorite blog posts this year came from personal experience. The first came from visiting my 90 year old adopted aunt and being moved by her life wisdom in the face of difficulty and loss. The idea that life is meant to mark you touched me deeply, and I very much resonate with this quote I used at the beginning of the blog post:

“I don't want to die without any scars.” - Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

The other came from spending a long weekend with two of my close friends who are also at the end of their 30’s. We spent a lot of time talking about the paradox of this life stage and the questions we were asking, which became this blog post

I also wrote a blog post on boundaries with diagrams as I realize this is one of the topics I refer to most often in individual sessions - and it has become a post that clients tell me they share with their family members who don’t respect their boundaries!

Hello, Body

This year saw a focus on the body, and integrating body and mind in working with people and in my own training as a psychologist.

I completed Level 1 training in Sensorimotor Psychotherapy which aims at integrating the body in therapy, particular in working with trauma which is often stored in the body. 

I also found myself working and exploring the emotional interplay with physical issues such as PMS / PMDD, digestive issues or chronic pain. 

I am working more and more with other practitioners such as acupuncturists, nutritional therapists or yoga teachers, particularly in clients with burnout.

I changed therapy supervisors and have been working with someone who has a more body based approach which is very helpful for my own growth as a therapist.

I am also continuing my own therapy and I found someone in Lausanne who I see every 2-3 weeks. I find that having this space for myself has been incredible, simply to check in with someone and take stock of how I am doing.

I also needed to amp up my own self-care. While last year I felt I was still in survival mode post separation / divorce, this year I realised I needed to more seriously take care of myself, especially since I wasn’t relying as much as in the past on holidays or travel to recharge and I often work late nights and early mornings.

I rediscovered dancing and started taking Nia dance classes again, going to yoga and even doing 2-3 hour intensive workshops with teachers like Nico Luce. I also saw self-care in ways of organising my time, what I was saying yes and no to. I am very grateful that my health this year was great, despite still being quite relaxed around food - I am particularly grateful for this after being constantly sick the previous year. 

A break-in and a break-up

Following my divorce, I had a mental list in my head of ‘stuff I wouldn’t be able to handle on my own’ because it didn’t believe I was strong enough without a man (I know this sounds terrible). 

On the top of that list was for my apartment, which had become my safe haven, to be robbed. Ironically, it seems like Life wanted to show me I actually could handle it, and in March my apartment was broken into. I learned that I actually could handle all of it, from the clean-up to dealing with the police, and feeling safe again in my own home. 

Also on that mental list was ‘I couldn't deal with another break-up’ and I also went through this this year. I was able to let get of a relationship that was no longer working for me even if we had a great connection on many levels. 

It was a difficult decision, and yet there is also great strength in walking away from that which no longer works. I honestly believe that everyone wins when we do this, even if in the short term it is often painful and messy. 

After the break-up, I went through several months of isolation, of withdrawal. I took this time to fully be on my own, and this quote from Osho really spoke to me during this phase: 

The capacity to be alone is the capacity to love. It may look paradoxical to you, but it's not. It is an existential truth: only those people who are capable of being alone are capable of love, of sharing, of going into the deepest core of another person--without possessing the other, without becoming dependent on the other, without reducing the other to a thing, and without becoming addicted to the other. They allow the other absolute freedom, because they know that if the other leaves, they will be as happy as they are now. Their happiness cannot be taken by the other, because it is not given by the other. - Osho

Where to next

2018 was a year of making things happen, of structure, of building, tearing down, consolidating. 

I feel like I now have a foundation and I can relax into this structure and allow more flow in my life.

In 2019, I want to move more from a place of trust, intuition and flow.

I want to listen to myself and my needs in the moment - while trusting that whatever happens, I’ll handle it - that I can take risks and do new things and face failure, and still be OK.

Through both the break-in and break-up this year, I had the break-through that there is so much in life that we cannot predict or control, and that instead we can trust ourselves to be able to handle whatever life brings.

This was the break-through I had in 2018 and I really want to embrace it in 2019.

I want to embrace the mystery of life instead of over-planning or overbooking or trying to control things.

Because mystery or the unknown will always be a part of life.

So I want to welcome the unknown that inevitably comes from stepping out of our comfort zone, that inevitably comes at the start of any new endeavor, be it a new project or a new relationship. 

My word for 2019 is MYSTERY.

I want to dance more, to explore more, to go deeper, to open my heart more. I want to trust that even if I open my heart and get hurt, I will still be OK.

Like, my 90 year old aunt, Lydia, I want to be marked by life. I want to be fully alive. I want to fully love. And I want to be open to change and whatever life brings.

Thank you for being a part of my 2018!

Here’s to a 2019 filled with growth and wisdom and embracing the mystery of life, while trusting ourselves to handle whatever life brings - be it a break-up, a break-in or a break-through!


Two things make life easier: Having a good relationship with your intuition and not being afraid of change. - Yung Pueblo

Travel as an Attitude

One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things. - Henry Miller

When I worked in the corporate world, I remember waiting for the two weeks of travelling somewhere new and exotic to finally feel alive. 

To extend this feeling, I even took six months off to travel around the world nine years ago with my then husband. It was a wonderful experience - and it actually taught me something very unexpected.

It taught me that travel can be an attitude. That travel doesn't have to be to a far flung exotic destination. It doesn't even have to be a time when we are away from our daily lives of work and family. 

Instead, we can also apply the aspects of travel we love to our everyday lives.

We can start building a life we already love, that is filling with alive-ness, instead of seeing travel as an escape from an un-alive life. 

Here are five suggestions to start bringing travel as an attitude to every day life. 

1. Travel as an attitude means embracing discomfort as a necessary path to growth.

Travel is often about taking a small step - or many steps - away from our comfort zone. This moving out of our comfort zone is where magic can happen - where we discover aspects of ourselves we didn’t even know existed. 

Everyday life provides plenty of opportunities to push past our fears - from moving away from a situation or relationship that is no longer working to standing up for ourselves, signing-up to a dating app or even opening up a little bit more with someone we care about.

Travel as an attitude embraces all forms of discomfort as a path to growth - not just the physical discomfort of travel, but also the emotional discomfort that comes from personal growth. 

2. Travel as an attitude means being open to new experiences wherever we are.

Travel enables us to experience new things — both man made and natural. Seeing kangaroos on a beach at sunrise, taking a helicopter ride or experiencing Angkor Wat at sunset?

Definitely awe-inspiring.

Yet daily life also provides plenty of opportunities for new experiences IF we create them. These can be as small as trying a new café or restaurant in the city we live in, taking a new class, learning a new language, reading a book or buying an unknown vegetable when grocery shopping. 

We can make time to watch the sun set after work or take a different path to work. We can always create new experiences.

3. Travel as an attitude sees differences as enriching rather than threatening.

Travel opens our minds to different ways of doing things. It gently, and sometimes not so gently, reveals that other ways, beliefs and attitudes exist - and that they, too, are valid and even fascinating. In doing so, it provides the opportunity to re-examine our own beliefs and habits.

In everyday life, we are faced with different beliefs and attitudes all around us, yet we often don’t choose to see these as intriguing - annoying is probably a more apt description! 

Yet we can always choose to be open to differences in opinions and values that come from our family or co-workers - with appropriate boundaries, of course! Accepting them with the same openness and curiosity we show ‘foreign’ cultures can be a novel experience.

Instead of seething with resentment, we could become curious about this difference: 

I wonder why my colleague / family member / boss is reacting in this way? How do they see the world differently to me? What is it about their reaction that triggers me? 

Perhaps we will notice what Carl Jung wrote - that "Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves."

4. Travel as an attitude means being open to connection.

Away from the cocoon of our known lives, we are more vulnerable and open, both with people we know and people we don’t. And while we don't always stay in touch with those we meet, for a brief moment, we have walked along the same path, and this interaction leaves us all the richer. It can act as a humble reminder, as Maya Angelou wrote, that "We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike".

We don’t actually need to physically travel to connect with people or be just a little more open and vulnerable with people around us. We can choose to put our phones down in public places and connect, even if this is just a brief moment of connection

5. Travel as an attitude means taking distance from life.

Being able to briefly press the pause button on everyday routines provides a bird’s eye view of life. Travel enables us to assess what matters most, to re-evaluate our priorities and what we want or need to change in our daily lives.

A physical change in environment is helpful - yet when this isn't possible we can also explore other ways of gaining a little perspective such as journaling, meditating, yoga, going into nature, therapy/coaching or simply leaving more space to just BE instead of overbooking the week.

Nothing will ever replace real travel, of course. But what I have found by bringing travel as an attitude into my life as much as possible is that I no longer see travel as an escape from life but a way to enhance a life I already enjoy. 

I haven't gone anywhere this summer, so this is one of my attempt at living  Travel as an attitude:  Trying out an awesome new café in Lausanne -  Ca Passe Crème  - in the great company of Tony Johnston -  freelance video, animation and podcast producer  who took this photo.  I drank a delicious cold drink called  cascara  which is made from the cherry blossoms of the coffee bean.

I haven't gone anywhere this summer, so this is one of my attempt at living Travel as an attitude: Trying out an awesome new café in Lausanne - Ca Passe Crème - in the great company of Tony Johnston - freelance video, animation and podcast producer who took this photo.

I drank a delicious cold drink called cascara which is made from the cherry blossoms of the coffee bean.