New Year’s Eve 2015. A warm, playful night on the deck at home in Western Australia. I turn to my friend Janine and say “I’m done with alcohol, I’m not going to drink for awhile” and I mean it and I do it and I have only a glass of wine between that night and mid-June, when summer begins to shine in London because that’s where I live now.
I’ve had four addresses this year, not including when I crashed on the couches of generous friends, which would bring that tally a wee bit higher. My word(s) for 2016 were OPEN HEART. And this year I moved my life from Perth to London, ended my de facto relationship, turned 30, took some big business risks / leaps of faith and spent almost half the year sober. There were times when OPEN HEART felt more like someone’d pierced the centre of my chest with a crowbar, prying my ribs wide. There were moments this year where it felt like my skin had been ripped off, nerves exposed, bumbling about the world and wondering — when did I become so sensitive?
It all ends well, though. Promise. I love doing these annual wrap-up posts; they give me a sense of completion and you know me, I’m all about reflection and understanding and acceptance and moving forwards with intention. This is I know how to work in this weird-arse world. And it is a weird-arse world isn’t it? 2016 is a number 9 year (2 + 0 + 1 + 6 = 9) a year of completion. A year of death, breakups and endings. Painful stuff. But also, just… Life Stuff. Lots of my people have lost people this year (and we’ve all lost Bowie, Alan Rickman, Prince, Leonard Cohen, George Michael… Brexit and Brangelina?) and transitioned out of old chapters and left jobs and left partners and said goodbye to old ways of being. It’s change! It’s uncomfortable! It’s inevitable!
And so in this moment I’m sitting in a cafe in London, window seat, sipping a mandarin and ginger tea, contemplating a brownie, smiling at the fog outside and watching the sky darken as it’s 3pm and that’s how it works here in winter. But let’s start at the start shall we?
I’d grown out of Perth quite some time before leaving and I wrote about why I left here. That beautiful city healed me. It was so bloody good to me. But adventure, you know? January and February were spent packing up the house, selling 80% of my belongings, squeezing in every last minute with Em (including a biz planning retreat together in Margaret River region) saying my teary goodbyes and preparing to drive across the country, home. Before we left, my sister Rachel visited which was so lovely, I held my first Walk To Write workshop, ran the second round of my beloved course Wild, Well & Creative and then February came and Andrew, Zuma and I piled into the car and we were off.
The drive across the country was absolutely one of the highlights of 2016, something I’d always wanted to do and finally had the opportunity to do it. Australia is HUGE and BEAUTIFUL and it took us a full week, taking our time, and at no point was I bored or sick of the Nullarbor. It was a relaxing week. No phone, no laptop, not even a book really (I can’t read in the car!) and the days were long and it was lovely. A few nights at a beachside Air BnB in Sceale Bay and smuggling the dog into a hotel room in a country pub are definitely moments to remember.
March, April and May were spent between ‘home’ in country NSW and Melbourne. I am grateful for these months with my family and friends that I hadn’t spent real time with since I left Melbourne in 2012. I mean, I left home in 2005 and so it was the first time in forever that my sisters and my brother and I had time to really hang out, under the same roof. We celebrated my parent’s 60th birthday with a 60’s style party and I met new babies and new boyfriends and really appreciated just how beautiful my hometown is. I had the really cool experience of going through a lot of my old journals and letters from primary / high school and saw the shy, creative dreamer I was in a new light. I found journals from when I was 10! Including declarations of wanting to be an author! I love this, because in the final chapter of this year (and we’ll get there soon) I’ve really committed to this dream. THIS IS WHY I LOVE JOURNALLING! It ties all the pieces of your life together, giving you a lens through which you can truly understand your soul. Forever a documenter and dreamer, that’s for sure.
I also held my first series of Adore Your Cycle workshops in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Albury and that’s been another highlight of this year: honing my focus work-wise to really embrace the menstrual cycle work that I’ve been talking about for a quite some time now, but really owning it and sharing it. That has felt GOOD. What didn’t feel good was getting VERTIGO in May. Oh. My. Good. Lord. I can say in total certainty that I have never felt so debilitated in my life. I felt a real sense of depression for a few days there. I mean, you can’t do anything! I couldn’t walk, read, write, work, drive, look down, wash my hair… Life was all about sleeping upright on the couch and feeling like I was stoned on a roller coaster for a few weeks. I could not do a single thing without wanting to vomit. Thank the heavens for audiobooks, let me just say, which brings me to another highlight of this year which was reading a book a week! I decided to set myself this challenge when I turned 29, in the lead up to my 30th. It’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done, though I only got to 46 books — still a pretty good trot I reckon. You can find the reviews and reflections on all the books I read right here. Highly recommend trying it! (And if you too are a book lover, come join my free online book club!)
Alrighty, so where were we? Ahuh, leading up to the big takeoff to London. The vertigo meant that our leaving date needed to be pushed back quite a bit, but visas were accepted and back and it was feeling more ‘real’. Sort of. We arrived in London on the 6th of June and spent the first couple of weeks on my cousin’s couch, getting over the jet lag and getting our bearings and phone numbers and applying for rentals and bank accounts and all that fun stuff. We had a frustrating screw up with a leasing agency and decided it was time for a Euro trip to remember why London had called in the first place: adventure. Barcelona was as brilliant as I’d remembered and Amsterdam felt like I could call it home. Food and parks and beach and sun and wine and a sense of new-ness abounded and in July we headed, recharged, back to London and slid into a light-filled, freshly renovated one bedroom flat right by the canals in Hackney for a “steal” (*ahem* London rent prices can’t ever really fall in that category, but you know what I mean…) and then there it was, London became ‘home’.
This is the part of the story when I tell you that things in my relationship got tricky quickly. I wrote a little about that here. Naturally the details of our breakup remain between Andrew and I, but I suppose there’s nothing like moving to the other side of the world with your spouse — particularly without the network of your family and friends — to really bring all your shit to the surface. And surface it did and here we are. August, September and October were all about the high highs and low lows: the summer was warm and playful and I lived most of my life in the park, I joyfully turned 30 (and wrote a letter to my 20-year old self which you can read here), took a mini-break in Brighton, held an Adore Your Cycle workshop in London, made some excellent memories with my cousin Gen and my long lost Perth neighbour (and very good friend) Lacey and I met some insanely wonderful, clever, creative, kind and open souls, witnessing the beginnings of good friendships unfurl. London’s markets and canals and villages and sense of possibility reeled me in and then there I was, falling in love with a new city and wondering if I was falling out of love with this man I’d been building a life with for the past three years.
And so. A huge lesson for me this year has been SELF TRUST. Self trust is the foundation of all of our decisions and it determines whether or not we listen to our intuition and value ourselves and the wisdom of our life experience. Moving into single life has asked me to really trust myself and my wants and needs and desires and my ability to love and support myself, no matter what. Can I be here, on the other side of the world, on my own? Can I be 30 (I know, I know) and be on my own? Can I have what I want and live the life I want to live, on my own? These questions are what’ve led me to reclaim one of my core desired feelings from 2012 as my word for next year: SOVEREIGN. I realised in a therapy session (another BRILLIANT decision I made this year = start seeing a therapist) that for the first time in my adult life, I’m single, but I don’t feel alone. I’m on my own, but I’m not lonely and I’m not alone. I don’t feel the need for another human to fill up space in my life. My therapist was happy to hear that I certainly haven’t “gone off men” forever, but I’m really relishing this chapter, this feeling of chosen sovereignty. It’s yummy.
Saying that, November is a blur of anxious nights and breaking lease agreements and having difficult and delicate conversations and trying to figure out… what comes next? The beauty of FLOW is that when we make one big, right and real decision in an area of our life, the rest of our world slides into alignment too. The transition out of my flat into the house I’m currently housesitting was seriously easy — I mean, who finds a 5 bedroom house in one of the most beautiful suburbs of London for 6 weeks, rent free? With a cute dog. Work and creativity and finances suddenly began to flow too, after some stuckness: I released my Adore Your Cycle eBook and it went MAD, I ran Wild, Well & Creative again (my favourite round yet!), was accepted into a menstruality training here in the UK with women’s health guru Alexandra Pope, I attended Laura Jane William’s writing workshop in Notting Hill and the annual Hay House Writer’s Workshop where JULIA CAMERON presented and I committed to my heart that I will pen my first book proposal (and of course, BOOK) in 2017.
I’ve spent December in my current home, crushing on London’s commitment to the festive season (I seriously feel like I’m in a Christmas movie every time I leave the house right now!) and integrating all of the change that’s occurred in my world this year, with particular gratitude for my WORK: the way my business has flourished and evolved throughout this transition from Australia to the UK has grounded and astounded me; I really wasn’t sure how it would all go and was totally open to finding casual work if I needed to, but actually, I didn’t need to and it’s become an anchor of sorts as all of my foundations have shifted. It’s wonderful. I’m so grateful. My intention for my business this year was to create stuff that felt TRUE to me by asking questions like “would this be a product or service I’d like to buy? Is this the most ‘me’ way of delivering this?” The answers meant some big changes, including the structure and delivery of Wild, Well & Creative in its third round in November and the process of creating and pre-selling Adore Your Cycle. I offered a new 6-month business mentoring program which has been effective and relaxed and overall I refined a lot of my systems and routines to better match how I like to live and work.
A few more things:
+ I felt my Feminist fire RAGE this year. She’s growing, learning, burning.
+ My top 10 books in my reading extravaganza were Truth & Beauty, The Course of Love, Writing Down The Bones, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, This I Know, The Art of Asking, Mischief, Big Magic, I Love Dick and All The Light We Cannot See.
+ Besides the obvious, I’ve learnt a lot about relationships this year, particularly: sometimes those who love you just can’t give you what you need and that’s okay. And: good people make a good life.
+ Living abroad is the greatest.
+ My five-ish months of sobriety were EASY… which was a surprise to me.
+ I became obsessed with roast potatoes this year! Never really liked ‘em and now I can’t get enough.
+ I really really realised and felt the powers of manifestation this year. Like, instant manifestation man. It’s real. It’s good.
+ I used my menstrual cycle to plan the move to London, transition out of my relationship and support every single thing I’ve done in my business, creativity and self-care this year. Mmmmm-hmmmmm.
+ I borrowed money for the move. The first time I’ve done that since paying off $20,000+ debt in 2014. It was uncomfortable at first, but so completely different to the consumer debt feeling I’ve had before. This time I feel good and confident about paying it off. Self trust anyone?
+ I got a tattoo for my 30th! My second. It’s the Goddess trinity, with the addition of wildflowers on the lunar phases to represent the Wild Woman archetype. A dude named Wolfgang inked me, which I thought was quite appropriate.
+ I saw a psychic for the first time this year. Exceeded my expectations massively.
+ I really got into modern history, particularly German history. I started the year with weekly Deutsch lessons but let that slip… time to get back on that Pferd!
+ How was my first cold Christmas in London? Well, we woke early and rode through the city and devoured croissants and prosecco and napped and pub lunched and played card games and got sore faces from laughing and had hearts that missed home but were all so very happy to be here, together.
Wow. Wow. Wow. God I feel blessed, completely in AWE of the love and generosity and magic that has fallen across my path this year. THIS is why doing these kinds of reflections is important friends! It’s easy to focus on the things that were hard and tricky and sad but gosh there is beauty and aliveness to be found, always.
If you’ve had a rocky year too, know that you’re not alone. In fact if you’re reading this, know that you’re not alone. Feel the feels and then ask yourself: what did you do this year that you’re proud of? What did you embrace and let go of? What did you try? What changed for the better? What do you know now that you didn’t know 12 months ago?
I’m really excited about moving into 2017 with you. I haven’t blogged a great deal this year, I’ve definitely shared quite a bit more in my newsletters, particularly when things were tender. If you don’t receive these emails from me, pop your email in below and we can connect in your inbox. You get my free eBook Get Unstuck which is particularly apt for the New Years period of reflection and visioning up 2017. And what’s in store in this neck of the woods in 2017? Well I’ve got some new courses in the works, workshops in the UK and Europe, THE BOOK, travel, play, presence, friendships, trust… Bring it all on.
I HAVE SO MUCH LOVE FOR YOU! THANK YOU FOR BEING SO LOVELY AND SUPPORTIVE IN 2016. HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Love Claire x
Ps. You can listen to this blog post below! Or click here to download the audio file. And as always, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. How was your 2016? What are you bringing into your life in 2017? Do share this one with your people x