I will remember 2017 as a year of destruction and rebuilding, of endings and beginnings.
It has been an intense, alive year, filled with the sadness and grief of letting go and the anxiety and excitement that often comes with newness.
As T.S. Eliot wrote: To make an end is to make a beginning.
And while sometimes we ‘make an end’ gently, softly, gradually - other times it feels more like setting something on fire.
There is no right or wrong way to do things. This is simply what I experienced in my life this past year and I want to share my experience, a little of what happened behind the scenes in 2017 and what I am looking forward to in 2018.
A Year of Endings
This past year felt like I needed to completely let go of many things in my life and start over.
At the beginning of the year, I let go of my past branding / website and focus on health coaching with Healthwise, and shifted fully into the work I am doing now in therapy and coaching through Wiser Humans.
I painstakingly unravelled the married life I had built over 12 years. In addition to the emotional difficulty, I also discovered the administrative, financial, legal and logistical challenges that go along with this life transition.
Destruction. It felt like I was setting my old life on fire and watching the flames burn, knowing it was no longer working for me, yet not really knowing what I was heading towards.
And of course, there were moments of doubt, of what am I doing? Am I crazy? Would I be able to build a new life from the ashes that felt more in line with the person I wanted to be? There is never any guarantee of anything in life, and yet making room for this uncertainty is not easy.
In nature, destruction is necessary for growth, for newness. Forests need the naturally occurring fires in order to renew the ecosystem and help it thrive.
And nothing is ever lost. The ashes of what was nourishes the soil of what is to become.
I wrote one of my favorite pieces about this transitional phase which was published on Elephant Journal earlier this year.
A Year of Beginnings
This was also a year of beginnings.
I took one of my first solo trips to Portugal in the Spring, with absolutely nothing planned for six days. I hung out on my own in Lisbon and by the majestic ocean at Cascais. I spent a lot of time walking, reading, writing, biking and trying to simply be with the loneliness that was often there. As an extravert, being alone does not come naturally for me - it is something I am consciously cultivating.
The Beginnings of Love
Now that I was single again after 15 years, everything felt new and unfamiliar in the dating world. I was curious to try online dating for the first time - but I wanted to do it in a way that felt self-compassionate.
I committed to having my own back, to not putting up with unacceptable behavior, and to viewing it all as learning - learning about myself, about men, about dating.
I gave myself permission to be fully myself and to approach each encounter with an open-minded curiosity - while still being able to put boundaries, to say no, to walk away at any point.
I vowed not to take anything anyone wrote personally - they were entitled to their reactions in the same way I was entitled to mine. Their reaction would not have the power to define my worth. Being clear on what I could and could not change / control made me write this piece on personal power which was my most read blog post in 2017.
Within a few weeks, I met an amazing man. We have been together now for nine months and this relationship is enabling me to grow and laugh more than I ever thought possible - even if that growth sometimes feels uncomfortable! I wrote about finding a 'whole-ish' love here.
Work-wise this has been a pretty busy year, particularly with individual sessions.
I changed therapy rooms in Geneva to have an additional day for sessions and I opened a new space in the city I now live in, Lausanne, with three English-speaking psychologists called Lausanne Therapy Space. Our vision it to create a safe space for personal growth for the English-speaking community in the area. Below is a photo of the smaller room.
I also created a few online events in the beginning of 2017: I hosted my first webinar on self-sabotage in January and held live online classes on emotions and boundaries.
Below is a behind the scenes look at my very sophisticated set-up!
Being on my own on Valentine’s Day, I hosted a discussion group around the topic Connection Beyond Romance which was a little different from my usual workshop format and a lot of fun! I also held a workshop called Once Upon a Dark Time: Skills for Coping With a Difficult Time which also felt very close to my heart.
I did quite a few corporate workshops / events which I also very much enjoyed as a way of reaching a different audience. The photo below is a Wellness Day event at one of the United Nations agencies.
I once again attended the annual Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS) conference in June to continue my training in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). The highlight of this conference was discovering a more body-based approach to therapy which helped me see things in a different light.
Following this discovery, I attended an introduction to two body-based approaches to learn more about how to integrate the body in therapy: Somatic Experiencing and the Hakomi Method.
In November, I went on my first retreat ever to Thailand on mindful compassion with Dr Chris Irons. This was a Compassion-Focused Therapy (CFT) retreat/training for therapists and it was wonderful.
Despite my past obsession with healthy eating, my eating has been anything but stellar this year.
With everything else going on in my life, I felt it was kinder towards myself to relax things, to do what I felt I could without this being an additional stress.
This more relaxed attitude has allowed me to let go of the rigidity I still had around food and to simply eat what felt best in the moment - sometimes this was pizza and sometimes broccoli! I have also been moving in ways that feel kind to my body: Lots of yoga, hikes and walks by the lake.
I was sick more than I have ever been this year. Nothing major - sore throats, swollen tonsils, colds, coughs, fever - that kind of thing. I also bruised my tailbone at the beginning of the year and couldn’t do much physical activity for over a month.
Interestingly, what I learned through this is to be OK with not always feeling OK physically. I can do my best to take care of myself, but there is only so much that is in my control. Similarly to emotional pain, when we let go of beating ourselves up over how we are feeling, we can drop some of the pain - or at least not add on to what is already there.
Here are some themes I would like to explore further in 2018.
Workshops / events for men
I have been avidly exploring men’s issues over the past two years and have been working with more and more men individually, and I would love to hold workshops for men in collaboration with a male counsellor. I am excited about this as I feel there isn't a lot of group work available to men in the region yet!
Relationship as a path to growth
I really enjoy working with people around relationships and building healthier, deeper, more intimate relationships and I would love to continue to develop this, individually or through a group dynamic.
I hope to continue exploring how the body can be integrated into the work of healing and growth as this is something I believe very strongly in.
I would also like to develop more of the online part of my work, perhaps through online programs.
Thank you for being part of my 2017
I have been quite open about what I was going through this year in the hope that sharing this might also be relevant to some of you - and many of you have expressed your support in various ways which always touches me deeply.
Thank you for being part of my 2017, for sharing this journey of growth with me. Your presence makes all the difference.