18 things 2018 has taught me

As with all of us, my life has been full of experiences, both good and bad, and throughout the years lessons have been learnt. However, I feel in 2018, simple every day lessons have not only been taught and implemented, but they have stayed with me, to the core and are now just part of a better, well rounded and more productive me! I am not sure why they have really stuck and worked this time, but whatever the reason, I am very thankful for it!

*This list is obviously specific for me and may not work or be needed by anyone else, but for the ones that strike a chord, do give them a go!

Lesson No 1: Wake up a little bit earlier than you need to. (or before every body else in your household). This is one habit that I find super beneficial. Whenever I wake up earlier than I need to, I am able to 'wake up' slowly, fit more things in my day and on winter days help make my day longer and more fulfilled.

On a work day, this is pretty much my routine:
  •  I get up lazily (using a gentle alarm, such as 'bird song'. This way I get woken up gently and somewhat naturally rather than rocket up with some blasting alarm that gives one immediate adrenaline similar to being in fight or flight mode before you're even fully awake!) 
  • drink a glass of water
  •  make my bed
  • make/drink a coconut matcha tea or herbal tea, even chamomile
  • sometimes read, sometimes do a bit of yoga, sometimes both. 
  • I then work on Deliciously Me and other personal goals
  • I then take a shower and start breakfast
  • Get ready for work; at this point, more often than not, drink a black tea and check emails/ texts before heading out to work (or to my desk if I'm working from home). 

This way, I feel in control of my day and most importantly for me, I get some 'me time' and 'quiet time' before the hustle and bustle starts. Goodbye to snooze buttons that make me feel even groggier, taking a one minute shower, making a tea that I end up not even drinking, checking my messages whilst brushing my teeth and grabbing a piece of toast and eating it as I'm putting my coat on! I pretty much do the same on 'non work days' with the exception of no alarm, to let my body sleep as much or as little as it needs, and not checking my phone and emails for the first couple of hours.

Lesson No 2: No need to check your emails, texts, whatsapp and social media every minute! In fact, I don't have notification set up for any of these so that I am in control of when I want to check them. I rarely check my emails when I am not working and I look at my phone even less. For those who follow me on Instagram, you know I take a lot of pictures with my phone, so I have started putting my phone on airplane mode, so that my phone mainly works as a camera rather than a phone that needs my attention constantly. It has taken time to stop feeling guilty about 'not being available to others' but people just accept it. As to social media, I have cut down considerably and am trying to schedule time for social media with the goal being 30 minutes mid morning and 30 minutes late afternoon and 30 minutes at night. This sounds like a lot but is actually less than when I'd find myself checking every few minutes on auto-pilot.  The above helps me stay more grounded and be more productive and relaxed and feel much more in tune with my surroundings and world around me. However, I understand that some people thrive and live for technology whereas my body and soul needs to gravitate more towards nature.

Lesson No 3: Make your bed soon after waking up and your productivity will thank you for it. Can you believe 2018 is the first year I am actually making my bed every single morning!? Yep, I am ashamed to say this is true but hey, better late than never (sorry mom!), and wow, what a revelation! Making my bed subconsciously tells me, I am ready to face the world, I will not be lazy and step back, I will take on the day head on. I also notice it gives me confidence. I think as small as a task that it is, I am making myself do it every single day without fail and that to me is about discipline which is something I don't have that much of, and so this action somehow instills more back bone (I know! All this from making your bed, you ask!?). Lastly, it keeps the bedroom more serene and streamline and a lovely sight when you stagger into your bedroom at night, to see a lovely clean & made bed, ready for you to dive into!

Lesson No 4: Never feel bad for doing some thing your own way, when others are telling you it's the wrong way. Ask yourself who is it wrong for? It may be the wrong way for them, from their perspective, from the path they are walking on, but it isn't wrong for me. Also, I have found, through the years, that people have given me advice, and I have missed out on big opportunities because I have listened to their comments - and then, believe it or not, when it became their turn, they went ahead and did the thing they were so against and stopped me doing!!! Be confident in what you want and how you want it and don't let anyone make you feel bad for how you are going about it. Whether these be parenting tips, lifestyle tips, makeup tips or even money tips. Sure, be open, but really listen to your gut. Are you apologising for something you shouldn't have to? Are you being true to yourself? These certain people may have your best interest at heart, or they may not at all, either way, don't get diluted, keep your focus and stay determined.

Lesson No 5: If you believe in something, go for it! This is really more of the above; it doesn't matter how crazy or far fetched it sounds, but if you believe you are the one who can do this, then do it! There is no one stopping you but you! I am going ahead with my Deliciously Me YouTube channel eventhough many people don't get it. I hear things like, 'but everybody is a cook!' 'But everybody has a cooking channel' 'but your name is similar to Deliciously Ella so no one will take you seriously', but how are you going to make money out of this' and then I get advice on how to present it and how to liven it up. The advice at least comes from a positive place, but still it is 'their' ideas, not mine. Be true to yourself, be you, and if you have a dream, whatever it may be, however big or small, and for whatever outcome you wish to get out of it, stay authentic to you and just do it!

Lesson No 6: Save for a rainy day. Whether it be not being able to work due to illness, being made redundant, have family in hospital, or an unexpected tax bill, all these things can be so much less stressful than they already are, if I have some money put aside to just pay the expenses without financial worry added to the pot.

Lesson No 7: A 'sun' holiday once a year is non-negotiable. Apart from having SAD and experiencing a hard winter if I don't get any sun in the year, and apart from becoming vitamin D deficient, if I don't get enough sun, which then leads to a lower immune system, stiff bones and exhaustion, amongst other things, I need a holiday at least once a year, to just 'get away', 'switch off' and slowwww down. Without our physical and emotional health, life can become very difficult. The doctors in Hungary, Germany, Italy and France have got it right; doctors there prescribe spa prescriptions!!

Lesson No 8: People are emotions and everyone has a story. People are sad, happy, angry, insecure, loved, unloved, people are feelings. Be kind. The person at the bus stop who pushed passed me, didn't actually mean to be rude, but her mind was on her ill child in hospital. The guy who didn't thank me when I held the door for him wasn't even aware; he was on automatic as he'd just lost his job and didn't know how he was going to feed his kids in a month's time. Of course some people are just rude, self-absorbed and inconsiderate and others are just trapped in the constant hamster wheel forgetting to care for themselves properly, let alone care about others, so on the day to day, most people usually have an underlying reason, valid or not. I suppose everything is relative and we have to bear in mind that all is not always what it seems. (Though I still feel people could be more thoughtful at bus stops, and line up like civilised, respectful people! Yep, I think I'll always rant about this one lol and will also appreciate Nottingham for their civilised and respectful bus lines!)

Lesson No 9: Not every illness is visible and not every same illness has the same side effects. This I have learnt the hard way. I have a hiatus hernia and a yet to be confirmed PMR, so sometimes just standing or holding a piece of paper can cause agony, therefore when I get on a bus for example, if I am carrying something or sometimes even if I am not carrying something I honestly can not give up my seat, either due to pain or serious fatigue. I usually do, even in pain, but sometimes it's just not possible and I realise that I look inconsiderate. I have learnt a lot about chronic illness and soo many ways people can't get it. I don't think you can fully understand what any illness feels like until you actually experience the illness or a similar one then when you really can truly empathise, at least this has been the experience for me. Again, even if you have the same illness you may not understand the other person's as their symptoms can be very different to yours and again I have been guilty of this too.

Lesson No 10: Vision Boards work! (also, the mind is a powerful thing, so be careful what you wish for and try to be exact in what you want). I have had vision boards all over my homes at different times and I can't really remember much ever manifesting from them....until 2018... when I made a private board for myself on Pinterest. I would look at it every morning and every night and add things and sometimes took away things. Within days, I started getting things that were on my vision board. It was crazy! They may not have come in the ways I anticipated but they came! I then questioned how come these were coming now rather than all those other years, and I realised that the difference was I actually looked at my board every day, most of the time, twice a day. Whereas, the vision boards on my walls became just part of the furniture and I seldom paid attention to them. I also find desktop wallpapers useful too as we look at them often. But please, do go ahead and make a vision board on pinterest and look at it at least once a day and comment below what you find happens!! :D

Lesson No 11: If you are putting anything off, just do it asap. Get it off that list. The anxiety of anticipating it is always far worse than the feeling of relief after you've done it. So, go do that one thing you've been avoiding right now! (you're welcome! ;D)

Lesson No 12: Live your desires! 

Life passes, you age, some dreams do not have the same meaning a few years later -  so if there is something you want to try, try it now! Don't put it off. Live your life! Make it full! I made a bucket list for everything I wanted to do by thirty, then it became by forty and guess what, out of 20 things, only about 3 have been accomplished and I need to rewrite a much revised one for 50 soon!! Granted there were a lot of things on the list and most required quite a lot of money (buy villa in Tuscany comes to mind as one, others like master the tango, I achieved, but I didn't go to a milonga in Argentina after, as I had wanted). I was young and naïve! Now, I know to start with one or two and once achieved those, move on to another two and so on..

I am also talking about the simple things, like wanting to visit the lavender farm I did this summer. I had been saying this for the last 5 years, and I nearly didn't go again, this year, but I made myself do it. I just told myself that there will always be other things I need to do, so just make this a priority this week. So, whatever your passion, follow it, whatever dream holiday you want to have, start planning it now, and then do it! The sooner, the better, as we never know what our tomorrow brings.

Lesson No 13: Put yourself first.

Even if you want to be there for everyone, you still need to put yourself first. In fact you need to put yourself first even more to enable you to be there to support and help others. Putting yourself first is not 'selfish'. You need to value yourself, treat yourself and your body and mind and emotions well.

This is what I wrote somewhere the other day about what self-care means to me:

'Self care is listening to your needs, believing them and making sure those needs are met. These for me include several meditative practices such as stretching, yoga, tai chi and Qigong, photography, not using technology every minute , giving my self ‘me time’, saying no, and saying yes! Going for walks, being in green, soaking in the sun’s rays, watching and listening to the waves.
Eating good food, cooking, singing, even though I can hardly hold a note, drawing, even though I am no Van Goh, doing these things anyway as they bring me joy and feed my soul . For me self care is keeping myself balanced and happy and grateful and keeping my stress levels as low as I can. The above are just some- some days will need different needs, like doing voluntary work, getting a massage, putting a face mask on or going to the cinema. Mostly though nature gets involved! And for that guilt that pops up from time to time, the one imbedded from childhood and past society or someone you know, you can give of yourself, but never give up yourself. That’s not self care and for the people who think you need to be, once they see you care for yourself and prioritise yourself they will see that you are there for them in a much more healthy and present and productive way too. 🙏🏻💛'

Lastly, but most probably most importantly, never give up anything that makes you, you, that ads to your life, that makes you feel alive and happy. For me, that's photography and I make sure I include it in my life on an almost daily basis, even though I am no longer a professional photographer, I am a photographer, that is my personal identity, it is part of my soul.

Lesson No 14: Give, Give, Give! Watch out for this. Sometimes we take things for granted for no bad reason, just not taking a moment to 'be there'. If my significant other is giving me a foot rub third night in a row, I will turn around and say, hey, I'd like to do this for you tonight instead, and while we're at it, would you like a shoulder massage too!? If I haven't heard from a friend for a while even though the last two times I called her, I'll still call her because I'd know that she is obviously going through a busy period. If I hear my mom tell me her friend cancelled her coffee and I sense my mom was disappointed and at a loose end I'd stop by for a coffee myself. Giving feels so good and we can all do it as long as we have checked in and look after our needs too.

Lesson No 15: Drink more water.

To be honest, I used to be this person and for some reason, in the last few years, it changed. I found myself not drinking much water at all. I'd drink so much tea instead! Nowadays, I still drink tea, but it's not 7 strong black teas a day! and I drink different kinds of teas in between to compensate, such as fruit and herbal teas. However, the big change has been that I have started drinking loads of water again! Halleluja! And on days that I don't feel like it, I get my motivation by putting fruit in my water bottle, like I have done here for work (I then add more water to it as the day goes and finish up eating the fruit at the end of the day too!

Water is AMAZING. When my body is sluggish, or bigger, or bloated, or my brain is foggy, or I'm eating more, I realise it is because I haven't had much water for the last 1-2 days. Yes, it only takes that to completely mess my body up! When I'm working I actually grab a glass of water before I go for that caffeine boost of tea and it doubles my sharpness. When I find I am eating and not getting full, I try and listen to my body and ask if I am actually thirsty. Usually I am and a glass of water stops me having thirds! When I am not being regular, water, when I am bloated, water, when my skin and eyes look dull, water.. Yep water is AMAZING.

Lesson No 16: 

Breathe in Nature:  Green! I need the outdoors like I need oxygen, which hey, green space has a lot of! I need to go and sit on a tree, or yes, even hug a tree or two or three! I need to be surrounded by nature.

Get near and stare at any body of water. Whenever I see any ocean, or body of water, I just stare at it and I find my breathing slows down, either with each wave or if the water is still just because of the calm.

Lesson No 17: Make time for your friends and family. For me this is about true, solid, supportive, good friends and family, people you love and who love you, people that want the best for you and you want the best for. It's not about competition, it's about sharing and being there for one another,supporting eachother in everything that life brings, good and bad. Making time for my friends always lifts my mood and I have made an effort to communicate more with them even when I think I do not have that much time, I realise there is always time for important people in my life.

Lesson 18: Being Thankful.

The more thankful I am every single day the easier and more content my days turn out. 
If you haven't already, try it! But don't do it just when you are feeling low and don't do it just for a week and stop, do it constantly and see the rewards build! 

What I do: Very close after waking, I voice note all the things I am thankful for. When I first started, I started with three things I was thankful for, some days there would be 10! Soemtimes I even say it to myself, or even out loud, if it's amazing 'THANK YOU!' as things are happening as I walk along etc.

I am thankful to have a roof over my head.
I am thankful that I am loved by so many of my friends and family. 
I am thankful for my lovely, kind daughter. 
I am thankful for the warm sun and to be able to witness the beautiful moon and stars at night.

and most days I will be thankful for specific things that have happened on that particular day such as:

I am thankful I have a boss with a good sense of humour who made me laugh so hard with that joke today.
I am thankful I remembered to go back for my keys, before I got on the bus.
I am thankful I saw a beautiful dragon fly in the middle of the street right here in London!
I am thankful I brought a giant smile to that lady's face when I complimented her on her lipstick colour.

What this has also taught me, is to see the good in a bad situation, such as I am thankful that my missing the bus this morning that made me late for work, and caused me to stay late, enabled me to bump into my long lost friend at a time I wouldn't have normally been out.

It also helps you think more - I said I was thankful that I was loved - why not expand on that and be thankful for being able to feel love and having found people that I love so deeply too. 

Being thankful in the morning starts my day on such a positive vibe and I carry those feelings with me throughout the day. Of course this doesn't always last, because, well life! So, I do make sure that right before sleeping, I spend five minutes saying what I am thankful for and usually by then there will be different things to be thankful for.

This has probably been the greatest life lesson to me, personally. If you do try it please come back and comment below on your thoughts, or if you do it now, let me know what benefits you get. Of course, you don't have to voice note. Most people write a list but I have found saying these out loud somehow gets it out into the universe for me in a more powerful permanent way.

What has 2018 taught you? I would love to know.

Raha x

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