6 simple truths that shaped my 2019

I look back at the year 2019 and remember it as one of the most notable years of my life.

I spent most of the year on the road. I solo-travelled across Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, Singapore, India, Jordan, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Palestine, and Mexico (my photos from each country are hyperlinked). Everywhere I went, I worked with Cause Digital‘s clients remotely to support digital campaigns for social impact, visited a tourist site or two, and most importantly connected with people and immersed myself in local culture. I also facilitated mental health workshops with The Burnout Project, and learned that “burnout” was indeed a cross-cultural phenomenon.

I felt at my best when I had a combination of nature, good humans, movement, and/or acoustic music. I felt at my worst when I abandoned self-care in favour of short-term gains.

It was a year of extreme highs, extreme lows, and a lot of healing. I picked up many gems of wisdom along the way.

Leah's log of 2019

My log of 2019

This past fall I moved to Toronto. I love the vibrancy, grit, and people in this city. I closed a chapter of nomadism and novelty, and I embraced stability and depth. 

These are the six simple truths that guided me throughout my 2019. I hope you’ll find them resonant too.

  1. My world is my mirror. What I experience with others is a mirror for what I experience within myself. When I’m triggered by other people or situations, it’s a reflection of what’s happening in me, often connected to a part of me that I haven’t yet embraced or accepted. It is never the situation, but my reaction to the situation and the story I create from it. It shifts your personal narrative — for example:
    “I hate it when my friends are late.” → “Do I extend myself the grace to make mistakes?”
    “I get anxious if my partner feels angry.” → “What is my own relationship to expressing anger?”
    “I feel uncomfortable getting too close to someone.” → “How closely connected am I to myself?”
  2. I am always trying my best at any given moment. This means trusting myself that I did the best I could, in the ways I knew at the time. This doesn’t mean I can avoid responsibility for mistakes I made or harm I caused, but to practice self-compassion as we are all constantly learning and growing as humans. I may become wiser with time and learn upgraded behaviours and strategies, but I trust that I am always trying my best with the knowledge and awareness I have at the time. 
  3. Fear will always be in my car — just don’t let it sit in the driver’s seat. This was the year I reckoned with my anxiety. Most people who meet me describe me to have a very calm energy. However I also hold dualities like calm and anxiety. Anxious episodes and anxiety attacks have been a big part of my year and life, and it’s been cathartic to acknowledge and embrace this side of me. Anxiety is an uncomfortable emotion to process and it’s also wise information that my body is trying to share with me. 
  4. Pain is necessary but suffering is optional. This year I chose to sit through, properly process, and integrate each moment of grief and pain. Pain is an inevitable part of life. Suffering is the interpretation or story that you tell yourself about the pain. I can choose whether or not to suffer through the meaning I assign to the pain. 
  5. Home is not a place — it’s within me. After travelling to 40+ countries and living in 3 continents, this is the conclusion I have come to. People ask me how I managed to keep grounded and if I ever got lonely through my travels. Of course I occasionally experienced loneliness — it is such a normal, human emotion to feel. Because I couldn’t find groundedness through the typical means (i.e. physical home, regular community, activities), I learned to derive it from other forms. Rituals, my loved ones, and a compassionate relationship with self kept me grounded and feeling at home within myself wherever I was in the world.
  6. There is no wrong path in life. There is no “right” or “wrong” path in life, there is only growth and learning. Life will get me where I am meant to go, in the way I am meant to be. 

If you find yourself in Toronto, make sure to say hello!

With love and gratitude,
Leah

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