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  • Shelley

Six Things I’ve Learnt in 2023

Updated: Dec 24, 2023


Woman smiling holding a cup of tea

This year has been somewhat defined by the weather in Auckland - storms, flooding, rain, wind and promises of a long, hot summer that don’t seem to be coming to fruition - and war in Ukraine and genocide in Palestine. Never before in my lifetime has it felt like there is so much to protest about, right here at home: the reversing of the cigarette ban (very topical for me working in primary health care), undoing of the Treaty, and backtracking on progressive climate policies. 


Yet, on a personal level,  this was a year of firsts for me. It was my first year working on Santosha full time, and I worked with 55 clients. I appreciate the deep, open conversations we had and the trust they put in me as their coach. I joined a networking group and had to learn the art of a weekly 60” elevator pitch. I taught my first yoga class to a group. And, I got a mortgage for the first time. 


Here are just six things that I have learnt in 2023:


  1. Where attention goes, energy flows

The single most important lesson for me this year was that where my attention goes, my energy flows. And where energy flows, whatever you're focusing on grows. In other words, your life is controlled by what you focus on. That's why you need to focus on where you want to go, not on what you fear. 


 I always wanted to do health coaching full time but I was scared to leave the safety of a corporate job paycheck. I was coaching on the side but feeling frustrated with my lack of progress. But, when I put all of my energy into Santosha and didn't have to split my brain between competing obligations, opportunities started flowing. Because health coaching feels like my purpose, I have a deep inner knowing that it will all work out. 


  1. The importance of communicating clearly

 This year I read Dr. Gabor Mate’s book 'The Myth of Normal’ where he talks about certain health conditions happening to ‘very nice people’. These people do a lot for others without expressing their own needs and he suggests that repressing your emotions can make you physically sick. I talk about this topic a lot with clients, and reference The Four Agreements where number one is ‘Be impeccable with your word - say only what you what you mean’. 


On an energetic level, not speaking up can lead to a blocked throat chakra, which manifests itself as sore throats, glandular fever and thyroid problems. 


  1. Masculine v Feminine energy

This is something I've read a lot about this year. I grew up in an era where women were encouraged to ‘do it all’ - be a boss at work, run a household, maintain a social life, have interesting hobbies, raise kids - and  it's not sustainable. 


Feminine energy is fluid and controls your creative, intuitive and empathetic nature. It's about being. Masculine energy is logical and governs your rational, focused and analytical thoughts. It's about doing. Men and women have both energies within them and it's about using your strengths. I’ve realised I need to lean into my feminine energy more by being more vulnerable and allow someone else to lead.


  1. Routine for resilience

What I know for sure is that when you eat well, sleep well and exercise you have this invisible body armour that helps you to deal with life’s challenges. Haven’t had a good night's sleep? Of course you are going to be tired and emotional the next day. Eating processed junk food, sugar and empty carbs? Well, I'm not surprised you feel anxious and depressed. Not making time for exercise? It's a given that your energy is low. 


This may sound obvious and simple, but many of us aren’t doing the basics and it's making us sick. The good news is, small habit changes can make a huge difference and through the study of epigenetics we know that our behaviour and environment affects our genes and these changes are reversible as every single cell in the human body replaces itself over a period of seven years.


  1. Connection with nature

I can’t overstate the value of going bush, for your mental health. This year I've been lucky enough to spend a bit of time on Auckland's rugged west coast beaches. Feeling the sand between your toes, watching the sunset from the dunes and swimming in an ice cold waterfall is so good for the soul. Nature is healing and I want to spend even more time disconnected from city life moving forward.


  1. Seeing the beauty in your neighbourhood

Now that I'm a proud Westie and member of the Te Atatu Peninsula Community Page on Facebook, I've really embraced my neighbourhood.  On my daily walks I observe the trees and plants change throughout the seasons, feijoas and lemons growing in abundance, moving through cherry blossom season right up to Pohutukawa blooming. It's also stopping to talk to locals walking their dogs, visiting the local library, supporting the local cafes and shops and just being really present instead of rushing from one place to another.

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