2016. How many changes can you fit into a year?

What a fucking year… right?

Conrad – Ben Howard PLAY ME WHILE READING

Whether it has been a year of triumphs, a year of hurdles, or a mixture somewhere in between (like mine), I think we can all agree that either ourselves or someone we know has gone through quite some change in 2016.

I am sure most of us recently experienced the end of the year drawing up reflection and processing, and the near future offering fresh starts and clean slates which provide hope and ambition. What did you reflect upon, and (possibly still are) digest(ing)? What goals, resolutions and ambitions give you motivation right now?

I’ve never really been one to believe in New Year’s Resolutions. In my prior years, life just kind of kept on moving – I went along with it as it was. If I did make a resolution, I just tagged along with a ‘get fit’, or ‘do a hobby of mine more’.

This year has been different though. This year… wow. I wouldn’t say that I ended 2016 with setting New Year’s Resolutions, per se, but I would say that I used the month of December to close some chapters, and look towards the bright future (all milestones included) which I intend to compel for myself.

I have been silent for a while, as so much has happened, so let me take this post to elaborate on some major events that I experienced in 2016.

In the beginning months of the year, I went through a burnout, of which I think was induced by the type of work I was doing, as well as the romantic relationship I was in. I was putting out so much energy into work, as well as putting in energy to my romantic relationship, but I was not getting enough back. I felt hopeless, lost, insecure, unappreciated, alone, and unloved for who I was. It was a challenging time for me, and my boyfriend at the time.

During these months, I became interested in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), and began to study and heal through NLP techniques with Holly Kobayashi. It was soon after I began when I realized that this was where my heart lies. This is what I wanted to do. I wanted to work with people, I want to help them create positive change in their lives in some capacity. It was a bit of an overwhelming realization I had during such an exhausting period in my life, and I wasn’t sure if I was ready to accept or digest my decision. Regardless, the time came when I quit my contracting coordinator position (which I wrote about in this piece), and I decided that it was time to choose myself, and start figuring my shit out. As soon as this decision was made, I had a weird, relieving and ambiguous feeling in the pit of my stomach. I knew that it was a turning point… something big, something extraordinary was to come.

Have you ever had that feeling?

The one where you know you just made a huge decision, and you have no idea what is one step in front of you? As if for a moment you are blinded by life, yet you’ve chosen to be blinded because of a gut, instinctual feeling that’s urged action?

This was definitely one of those moments. I was unemployed, in an incompatible and dried out relationship, and financially screwed. I didn’t know what was going to happen. What did I do? How did I take that next step without keeling over?

Some may have called me crazy, but I invested money in hiring a personal results coach, and continued on with my NLP training (and decided to begin co-owning a company with my coach). If there was anything I knew at this weak and transitional point of my life, it was that I wanted to help people, I wanted to offer opportunity for positive change. For those people who feel stuck in a corner, who feel trapped, or feel like they’ve reached the ceiling, I want to be the one to help them see further, wider, broader, and discover their passion, and to LIVE IT!

As I continued sessions with my personal coach, and my NLP training, I got myself a couple part time jobs (one as a barista at a tea cafe, another as a food courier for Deliveroo). By the way, the struggle of finding a job in a foreign country is real – especially when your experience lies in an industry which requires language fluency. The jobs I had landed were not my passion, but I found ways in which to make myself happy at both of them. I found pleasure in listening to music while biking around delivering food. I enjoyed making playlists for the cafe, having connections with the clients, and bringing them satisfaction with a delicious drink. I knew that this was not the end however, and I was eager to jump to new opportunities.

My love affair with Tim continued down a more distant path. We began to realize the truth of our relationship, and were revealed with what we had become, as individuals fighting to be happy together for so long. The end of the relationship didn’t go so smoothly. I wanted to do everything possible to make it work, no matter how hurt I was that he had fallen out of love with me (and me with him).

Tim met another woman. It was a girl he had known for a long time, but had always just been acquaintances. They continued to spend time together, eventually to where I felt very threatened. I knew that this was the moment – our relationship was at stake, and in my gut, I had a feeling it was going to be another moment stepping into the blinded future.

My intuition was right. Tim decided that he wanted to continue his new relationship, and end ours. I felt shocked, hurt, betrayed, numb, and… in some place deep down, free. Aside from feeling like the ground had fallen out from beneath me, aside from not physically being able to stand on my own two feet, or barely being able to open my eyes, I could see something… I could see me.

Over the years I had become buried. I was trying to fit into a ‘cookie-cutter’ lifestyle, simplifying myself, trying to adjust my interests, all to try and keep the relationship alive and thriving. Who had I become? “Who am I? What are my interests? Am I doing them? Where am I and how did I get here?” After I caught a bit more stability, some rest, some strength, I was able to paint these answers a bit more vividly – however I am still, and will always probably be investigating because I have learned that I am quite complex ;-).

Tim moved out, and soon moved in with his new girlfriend. I stayed at the house we were living at together with our dog. It was a huge struggle trying to find a new place which I could afford, while working minimally for a low wage, and also allowed dogs. I truly thought for about a month that I would be forced to move back to The US to live with my parents. In my mind, I didn’t give up. “I am resourceful, I will make it happen.” And I did. An opportunity presented itself to live in a huge loft, after a long hard search.

Meanwhile…within the time period that Tim moved out I got a text from a friend, with a link to a job posting for a Social Selling Coach – PERFECT! The role entailed coaching sales executives how to leverage social media as a means to sell (rather, how to build relationships). I applied, got a call back, and within a week, I got the job. It started out paying minimally (but more than what I had been making), and only for two days a week… that changed quickly, but a few other things happened first.

Before packing my boxes, calling friends for help, and leaving my relationship with Tim to remain at the Schermerstraat, I decided that I needed some space. I needed a little time to just be, to center, to ground. I booked a flight to Newcastle to have a training session with my NLP coach, and extended my trip 7 extra days. What did I do in those 7 days? I walked. I walked alone, I walked with people, I walked with cows, sheep, grasslands, and along an ancient wall of Hadrian. I walked from the east coast to the west coast of Northern England. I walked in silence, allowing for my head to clear it’s noise. I could breathe, I could move, I felt free and in control. I felt safe. I felt like me. It felt fulfilling to reconnect with myself and recognize that I was still inside this body shell. I met some incredible characters along my journey, and began to open myself back up to the beauty of the world. 4 days into my journey I got tendinitis, but I didn’t realize that it was that until my journey back to the airport after day 7. I was in extreme pain, my ankle was entirely swollen, but I pushed through, stepped one foot in front of the other, and made it. Crossing the end of this route felt like a lifelong accomplishment. As if this walk had been a metaphor for my life. Throughout the rain, the wind, the cold, pain, joy, peace, freedom, the sun, the companionship, I had made it to this point, which is actually not the end, but only where I am to begin. Begin my life as me, who I am genuinely, entirely. It took until now to get to my beginning, but at least I’ve made it.

I got back to The Netherlands, moved into the loft, and got back to my new job! I was very busy learning, and excited to be coaching people. In accordance with a new project, my time grew to 3 days a week. A couple smooth months later, I was informed that one of the leads for the Worldwide team would be out for paternity leave, and they asked me to fill his role. I accepted, and agreed to working 4 days a week as a freelance consultant.

Professionally, this is currently where I stand: I own my own Consulting/Coaching business. I have Social Selling clients who I work for 4 days a week and I am continuing to build my clientele for my personal coaching business. Alongside my coaching, I work one day a week at snack shop, cooking and serving fries to locals in the neighborhood, practicing my Dutch, and continuing to network and build relationships. I also love working with my hands and being forced to not be behind a screen – so that’s a plus!

Romantically: It has been about 5 months since the break up with Tim. It’s my first time being single… really ever. At least feeling fully detached, romantically, so it’s been a huge adjustment along the way. I am, however, really starting to feel more content about the situation, and am enjoying spending time with myself, with friends, and with Skye. I am gaining an understanding of who I am, and who I want to surround myself with, also romantically. It feels good to have this opportunity to shape and develop myself to the way I want to be. When I feel more secure in this, maybe I will find someone who is along the same path as I and we will continue the race together.

In the month of December, I have managed to get my Freelancer visa aligned and prepared for submission, I have found myself a more permanent home for Skye and myself, have landed myself a secure job, and am living an independent, and free lifestyle. The end of 2016, for me, feels like the end of an era. Many things happened, many things ended, and with the end of the year, ended a piece of me, who was, in fact, no longer me. I shed what was not genuine, what I’ve lost. I’ve shed pain, sorrow, guilt, victimization. I am beginning to see myself as who I am now, regardless of my past, regardless of my experiences, but rather as who those have brought me to become, now..

2017 better watch out, because I am ready to crush it. I am taking this month to sit down with myself, and really consider what it is that I want. Where do I want to go? What am I going to accomplish in 3 months? 6 months? This year? What does my road map look like? Action plan? Most importantly… why? What is the value behind it all? What is the meaning? Goals are flat without motivational depth. Get courageous, dive deep, live full, find your passion and compel it into your life. You have the power within you; find the key to unlock it.

I am so excited to be sharing this journey with you, and I hope you have a valuable takeaway from my sharing.

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