As 2018 comes to a close, I decided to sit down and write a blog post about everything I’ve learned, grown through and achieved. The past 365 days culminated to form what was probably the most transformative year of my life, and I have to say, I’m extremely grateful for both the highs and lows, and very excited to reflect back on it all.
2017 was the year that my healing journey began, and it set off a trajectory of events and experiences for me that continued into 2018, all of which allowed me to learn so much about myself and how I interact with the world that I live in. I have allowed my true self to be seen more times this year than I have in my entire life, and I feel so comfortable and content with who I am.
I’m writing this blog post as I sit in my backyard area, which is nestled by many tall North Vancouver trees, and is frequently visited by many wildlife visitors such as hummingbirds (no joke) and the occasional squirrel. It’s quiet, I have unlimited access to crisp mountain air, and there’s a fire pit (which I have yet to successfully use - my dad is currently on a mission to help me with this). I’m very happy to be where I currently am, and am even happier with the person I’ve worked so hard to become.
I don’t know if this mindset comes with getting older (I’m 29), but I have started to care less and less about what people think, and my main focus these days is infusing as much joy as I can into my life - a life that I have cultivated to suit my own unique wants and needs, and one that I’m unapologetic for. When I started thinking back on all the things that have happened for me in 2018, I found myself realizing that this mindset in itself is a huge shift - I used to believe that things only happened to me, not for me.
A lot of major shifts happened for me this year, and I’m glad that I sat down to write this post because it really helps me grasp the magnitude of how much can happen in such a short period of time. If you ever find yourself feeling low, stuck or unproductive, try making a list of things that you’ve grown through, shifted, or learned in a certain time period - I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Now, without further ado, here’s everything that I’ve achieved, worked through, and learned in 2018:
1. Healing my disordered eating patterns
This is a pretty huge one. As you might have seen through my Instagram, my relationship with food and eating has been anything but healthy for most of my life. I’ve been a chronic under-eater and over-exerciser, I’ve gone through multiple periods of emotional/binge eating, I’ve been a “healthy weight” for my height but was seriously malnourished because I was living off of broccoli, protein powder, chicken and tilapia, I’ve used food as a way to cope with stress and depression, and I’ve gone through times when I was so anxious that the thought of food made me physically nauseous.
As some of you have seen, I started working with Chloe Elgar in April 2018, first through a psychic intuitive reading, and then in a mentorship group called Vibrate Light - at this point, I had a lot of self-taught knowledge about food, nutrition and health, but I was still struggling to implement mindful eating habits into my own life. Unbeknownst to me, once I worked on healing my obsessive need for perfection and control, I was able to let go of all my “food rules” and eat using the guidance of my ever so wise body. This was something that happened quietly and slowly, but also all at once, and I’m forever grateful to Chloe for helping me heal such a large wound that I had carried for many, many years.
One thing in particular that I have always maintained, but never truly fully embodied until this year, is that we are all incredibly unique. While I have been able to figure out things like my gluten, sugar and dairy intolerances, and the fact that intermittent fasting works very well for my body, I was still stuck in thought patterns such as “I should eat every 2-3 hours” and “I should consume at least 120 grams of protein per day, even though I would never be naturally inclined to eat this way”. I realized that not only were these pre-conditioned notions not serving me, they were blinding me to my body's hunger cues, cravings and satiety signals.
It has been almost four months now that I’ve stopped tracking my calories and macros, and I feel incredibly nourished and free. That knowledge will always be there, and has definitely benefited me in the sense that it laid the foundation for things like healthy portion sizes and macronutrient/micronutrient consumption, but it no longer controls me, and I have so much more mental space and energy to dedicate to other things.
2. When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change
Such wise words. Full disclosure - I used to think that practicing gratitude, seeing the growth and learning in all situations, and believing that everything happens for a reason was complete and utter bullshit (pardon my French).
I actually remember the exact moment when I made the conscious choice to start practicing gratitude and be a more aware and active participant in my life - it was when I had moved back home at the ripe old age of 27; I was off work on injury leave and feeling pretty crappy about myself. I had hit “rock bottom”, as they say.
I remember thinking that ok, yes, this situation is not ideal, but are you going to wallow in your misery or are you going to be grateful that you have a home to go back to, and friends and family that genuinely care about and support you? The choice I needed to make was pretty obvious, and since that day, I haven't looked back.
Since I’ve embarked on my journey towards physical and emotional healing and delved into the wonderful worlds of mindfulness, energy work and spirituality, my relationship with my life and the experiences in it has greatly transformed and evolved.
This does not mean that “bad things” no longer happen to me - I still get flat tires, my skin is far from perfect, I’ve been ghosted on several occasions, and even on the best of days I can be angered by something small and trivial (I attribute this to my inner Pitta). What has changed is that my relationship with these things has been re-framed - I’m now able to interact differently with these experiences, so that I can choose to learn from them instead of and letting them ruin my day/outlook on life.
3. Health is all encompassing, and includes physical, mental, spiritual and emotional elements
I have spoken about this several times on Instagram, but I wanted to re-iterate a few points here, because I think that this is something that many people are starting to realize. When I first got into health and wellness, it was the year 2013, when gym selfies were becoming the norm and MyFitnessPal was the app of the moment (on second thought, maybe it was a close second to Tinder). I was quickly drawn into learning about nutrition, calories, macros and different types of resistance and high intensity training, and thought these were the absolute cornerstones of health.
Flash forward to 2018, when I (as well as many others) have started to realize what a significant impact mental health, spirituality/mindfulness and emotional expression have on overall health. This year was the first time I started meditating, and now I can’t imagine going a day without it - whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed, anxious or stressed, I now look to meditation instead of trying to numb my emotions with a drink, Netflix or food.
Taking care of my mental health has also made a massive impact on my day to day health and wellness. Not only is my mood more consistent, but I feel clear-minded and grounded almost every day, and I know what actions to take on the days that I don’t feel as great (i.e. stay off social media, spend time in nature, meditate, avoid caffeine).
Lastly, I wanted to discuss emotions - as a society, we have been taught to just “get over” things (i.e. breakups, stress, rejection, sadness). That would be easy to do, if human beings were robots. But we’re not. We are complex creatures that experience a multitude of emotions every single day, all while juggling things like work, relationships, family dynamics, financial stress, health issues and the never ending quest to feel fulfilled, happy and loved. I’ve been fortunate enough to learn that emotions are meant to be felt, and I’m a much happier, healthier person when I allow myself to process them in my own way, at my own speed.
4. Joy, happiness and beauty can be felt in the most ordinary, unexpected moments
I know, that statement probably sounds like one of my positive affirmation cards! But it’s so true (and those cards are amazing - click here if you’re interested in checking out the deck I use). As someone who used to be quite pessimistic and thought that joy, beauty and happiness could only be found in only material things, I’m so glad that I’ve become a more conscious person who is able to recognize that we are constantly surrounded by them - we just need to take the time to stop and notice.
I recall one day recently where I was embarking upon my 45 minute drive home from work - I was tired, it was dark and windy, traffic was backed up, and an endless downpour of rain splattered my car windshield (as my wipers did that annoying streaky thing where they drag and squeak, but if I turned the wiper speed down one notch it wouldn’t wipe the rain away fast enough, and I’d barely be able to see two feet in front of me). Despite all of this, I was so content - my car was warm and keeping me shielded from the wind and rain, one of my favourite Spotify playlists was on and I was listening to a beautiful song (music is actually one of the most healing things ever), and I was driving home from a job that I really liked and didn’t aggravate my soft tissue injuries. In this moment, I felt pure, authentic joy.
It wasn’t always like this for me - I would regularly miss out on moments of beauty and joy simply because I was looking for them in a very specific, limited number of places (i.e. relationships, money, jobs, my physical appearance). Once I slowed down and opened my eyes to the fact that just being alive is f*cking amazing, it was like I was seeing things clearly for the first time, and was able to appreciate the little things that I experienced (and took for granted) each day.
5. Your job, relationship status, weight, income, etc. does not define you
Disclaimer - I’m still consistently working on this one, but I feel as though I’ve made leaps and bounds when it comes to not letting these things define me. And to be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a great job that you enjoy, a loving relationship that enriches your life, a fit and healthy body that is able to carry you through life, and enough money to support the lifestyle that you want - but at the end of the day, what matters most is what kind of person you are.
I used to place so much emphasis on my job, body image and relationships status - I always thought that once I had achieved the “ideal” of each of these things, I would be happy and well-liked by everyone, and all my problems would disappear (I’m audibly lol-ing at this mindset right now, but I also completely understand that my younger self was conditioned by societal expectations/norms to feel this way). Once I embarked on my spiritual journey, and with the guidance of Chloe and my mentorship group, I began to see that we are all just souls, journeying through life in physical vessels (our bodies).
Once I realized this, it became much easier for me to see people not for their outward appearance or job title, but to really see them; what kind of energy they were giving off, if their actions were coming from a place of love, anger, grief, etc. I’m still learning about energies and how we interact with so many different types of them each day, but what I’ve come to know thus far is that human beings are beautiful, complex works of art that cannot be defined by something as small as a number on a scale or the balance in a bank account.
6. I am worthy of wonderful, amazing things, and I can manifest whatever I desire
It was a hard for me to even type out the above heading because this is still a fairly new concept/mindset for me. For most of my life, I have struggled to believe that I am “enough”, and have often even thought that maybe I’m “too much” - too loving, too sensitive, too passionate about health/wellness, too idealistic, etc. Well, I’m now at a point where I’m ready to say f*ck that.
I remember the first time that I talked about manifestation and what I want out of life (with the wise, wonderful Chloe, of course). She asked me questions like where I want to travel, what my dream life looks like, and what kind of relationship I want. At first, I struggled to come up with even one answer - I realized that I had never even allowed myself to think about these things, because deep down, I didn’t believe that I would ever have them, because I didn’t believe that I was worthy of them.
Though I was quite sad to come to this realization, I have put in a lot of work to change this mindset, and am continuing to do so each day. And guess what? Several shifts have already occurred, and I have been able to manifest things that I didn’t dare let myself even dream about before!
7. Practicing self care/love and truly enjoying your own company is one of the best gifts you can give yourself
I used to cringe when people would tell me that they took themselves out to a movie, or dined solo at a restaurant. “Why would anyone ever want to do that?!” I’d think. While I have yet to actually do either of those things myself (#2019goals), this year I actually spent quite a lot of time on my own - whether it was going for walks, shopping or grabbing a coffee, I have learned to cherish, and now even look forward to alone time.
As a semi-extroverted introvert, I am someone who enjoys the company of others, but definitely needs daily alone time to recharge. And although I don’t love the term “self care” (I feel like it’s a little overused), I cannot deny that getting at least 7.5-8 hours of sleep each night, daily meditation, nourishing my body with nutrient dense and immune boosting foods, not over committing myself with social obligations, and drinking a boatload of water every day are all practices that keep me happy, healthy and grounded.
Learning to love myself for who I am at the core of my being is something that I have struggled with, and will still occasionally question, but it’s something that has given me such a sense of peace and freedom that I’ve never experienced before. Growing up as probably the most sensitive, empathetic, hippie woo woo person in my family and friends group was never easy, but I’ve come to appreciate that these are my unique gifts, and I’m so happy to be able to share them with others.
8. Anything creative/artistic makes me profoundly happy
I’ve always known that I was a creative person, but as I entered my 20’s and was hyper-focused on “adulting”, this part of my personality was dulled, and I forgot how much I enjoyed things like reading, writing, music and photography. I could read and write blog posts for hours (I’ve been writing this one for almost 2.5 hours now, and the time has flown by), and I absolutely love cozying up with a good book on any given day.
Photography has become a huge part of my life again, and infusing little bits of it into my day to day life has made me exponentially happier, and allowed me to keep my creative juices flowing. I’m so thankful every day that I decided to start Zakiya’s Kitchen - it’s allowed me to cultivate a deeper appreciation for the beauty of food, as well as hone my photography skills and share my passion for nutrition, women’s health and wellness.
Music has also become an extremely big part of my daily life - I truly believe it has healing powers, and I listen to various kinds of music whenever I can (beyond thankful for Spotify). I have playlists for many different occasions, and love that there’s a song for whatever mood I’m in each day. Although I don’t have any tattoos yet, I think my first one will be music related!
9. How people treat you/interact with you has much more to do with them than it does with you
This was a tough lesson to learn - I’m a very sensitive, empathetic person and I feel all things very deeply. I’ve always been this way, and even though I’ve learned to embrace this side of myself, understanding this concept was a journey that was consisted of me feeling all the feels.
Whether it’s a friend, family member, acquaintance, colleague or partner that treats you less than ideally, I have learned that their actions/behaviour are usually a reflection of something much deeper that’s going on for them. I’ve been guilty of this too - any time I’m bothered or triggered by something, it’s always a reflection of an old wound that has been poked, or something that brings out my shadow self (the parts of us that we don’t like/are ashamed to show or talk about).
Though I still feel things very deeply when someone hurts me, treats me badly, etc., it has become much easier for me to process my feelings, understand why certain emotions and thoughts have come up, and then release everything once I’ve worked through it and allowed myself to feel what I need to feel.
10. When in doubt, keep it simple and listen to your intuition
This can apply to so, so many things. What I’m referring to specifically, based on my own experiences, is things like food, exercise, relationships and life decisions. I have been down more rabbit holes/wild goose chases than I can count when it comes to nutrition, gym routines, dating and the ups and downs of adulthood - what I’ve learned is that going back to basics is the easiest, most sustainable option, and usually one with the path of least resistance.
You don’t need to eat fancy 12 ingredient lunches, do a weekly rotation of 5 different fitness classes, agonize over questionable dates/relationships and stress about life choices - your intuition has probably already told you what you need to know in order to live your happiest, healthiest life; it’s just a matter of tapping into and trusting it.
It isn’t always easy to trust your intuition, especially if you’re not used to listening to it, but once you do, things will be so much easier - they will flow with ease, and there will be a lightness present that you may not have felt before. It’s taken some time, but I’ve gotten to a point where I can tap into my intuition with pretty minimal effort, and it’s comforting to know that I will always have that inner guidance accessible to me, wherever I go.
11. Just be yourself
This advice has been around for years and years, but I never truly took it until 2018. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment it happened, but I remember feeling an overwhelming sense of fatigue at the thought of pretending to be anyone except the person I am. Just like my thoughts around food, once I stopped trying to be this perfect, ideal version of myself, I had so much free time and mental energy to spare.
Perfection and control have been #goals for me for as long as I can remember - I spent so much time trying to be the perfect friend, daughter, sibling, employee, girlfriend, etc. What I didn't realize was that the more I tried to control things to a tee, the more upset and distraught I would be when things inevitably didn’t go exactly as planned. I also felt extremely muted - I barely had a voice and was scared to share anything that would ruin my perfectly curated “image”.
This past year, I let SO MANY THINGS GO and the weight that was lifted off my shoulders was immense. I have embraced who I am and what I want, I let things flow instead of obsessing over control and what I “should” do (and it’s crazy to see how they always work out how they’re meant to, one way or another), and I’m just a much happier person now that I’ve allowed myself to embrace the beautiful mistakes, struggles and imperfections that come along with being a living, breathing human being.
12. The Universe has your back
It really, truly does. Sometimes it can be hard to understand or believe this (I’ve been there), but everything that I’ve experienced this year has shown me that things will unfold as they are meant and needed to - whether this is in the form of a job offer, a relationship ending, or someone entering your life unexpectedly, things are always happening for us to learn and grown from, to help heal old wounds, and to guide us towards our best selves and happiest lives.
I know that things will not always feel easy and joyful, but what I’ve learned is that that my experiences so far have occurred in order to teach, heal and empower me so that I can create a life that I am nourished and fulfilled by. Though it might be scary to keep showing up to do the work that I need to do, I would rather be brave and continue along this path than stay stagnant, fearful, and stuck in my old ways.
Well, this was a whopper of a blog post. I always say this, but writing is so incredibly healing/therapeutic for me - I’m exhausted right now but it feels so great to write down the words that have been floating around in my head for the last few weeks. I feel very grateful that I’m living in an era (that word alone should tell you what an old soul I am) that supports blogging/over-sharing! If I had it my way, I would write blog posts for you guys every day - maybe one day in the future I’ll be able to do that. For now, I’ll leave you with a few final thoughts on 2018, and the upcoming year:
What I’m releasing in 2018:
- the need for control
- the belief that I’m unworthy/not good enough
What I’m calling in for 2019:
- inner peace
- new friendships
- spiritual insight
- physical fitness/strength
- financial abundance
Thank you for reading! Sending you all lots of love, and wishing you the happiest new year. xo