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It's the end of 2020; well, pretty close to it. And now is a better time than ever to reflect on all that's happened in the last 356 days of the year. With 9 days to go, I think about my journey and wonder if I am at a better place now than I was those days before.

I close my eyes and take three deep inhales in, with an equally large exhalation per breath. I wipe the liquid that forms around my eyelids, a sign that self-reflection brings with it a great deal of emotion. In a sense, I'm evaluating and scoring myself against self-proclaimed goals and objectives... if I developed any that is, of course.

I don't suspect I would have envisioned my life to be here in this moment, but then again, I don't think I've ever envisioned my life to go just the way as it has. And that's the beauty of life, isn't it? That we can create these stories in our minds but the reality of what we experience can be quite different and unexpected.

Take me back -- I watch a vlog I created January 6 of 2020 and realize that the one thing I had asked for fully was a remote work position. Funny isn't it? When we ask for something yet aren't exactly specific about our asks, it can come in forms we would have never imagined. I've been one of the blessed few who have witnessed hardship and loss throughout this pandemic but have come out on the other side unscathed by its wrath. I recognize this blessing and choose to bring solace, comfort and empathy to those whose circumstances have differed.

In many ways my life has changed. I've moved back home, transitioned to a new company for work, am newly single. I've witnessed family struggles financially and emotionally along with spiritual questioning... but I choose to declassify each of these things as hardship and loss. Instead, I see each as opportunity and growth. With the new year, I suspect even more change. Further transition with work, yet another place to call home. I also see the year bringing greater clarity and sense of self, greater bonds with those I love and care for, and continual advancement in all senses of the word.

This year I've been blessed to live in multiple cities and towns, travel to new locations, strengthen relationships, experience love and connection. And so, while that's all been intermingled with said 'opportunity and growth', I believe without one we cannot have the other. Without experiencing pain and suffering, regardless of how big or small, we can not appreciate the spectacular nature of our wins to the same extent. So in this way, I am thankful. Thankful for it all: all the moments, lessons and time.

So, if I were to evaluate myself now compared to where I was back in January, I'd tell myself this is not a space for comparisons. I think that I've grown immensely over this time and know that I will always have further room to grow. I will instead pay homage to my learnings, which are:

- I am never alone: Regardless of how 'alone' I may feel, there are beautiful spirits who love, support and appreciate me, but may just show it in their own ways and times. That does not mean the love and support is not there.

- I am strong: Life will throw different obstacles my way when they're least expected, but I must stay strong, believe in myself and my abilities. I must allow that inner strength to pull me forward even when I question its possibility.

- Stay present: Moments are fleeting; I will never have this exact moment ever again in my life. I must remind myself to be fully conscious in each moment and appreciate that moment while it's happening, not just after the fact.

- Have an open mind and listen: Attentively listen and take in others' stances. Consider where they are coming from when they speak and leave room for difference in perspective and experience. Don't respond emotionally, respond both empathetically and rationally.

- Time is valuable: I'm allowed to use my time as I choose to. I must not feel guilty about the choices I make on how to spend my valued life.

- Keep having fun: Life isn't just about learnings, it's about experiences. Continue to enjoy life, branch out, go beyond my comforts. Learn exactly who I am and who I want to be! This life is mine for the taking!!

While I write these learnings specifically about myself, they are of course fluid and pronouns can easily change. Each of us has our own journeys and learnings. I commend you to take some time for yourself and do the same. It's not only an opportunity for growth but for acceptance, appreciation and further strength.

Sending you love, light and blessings <3.

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