Review of Embrace - My One Little Word 2014

For the past two years I've been selecting a word at the beginning of the year and trying to bring my word into my everyday. In 2013 my word One Little Word was 'grow' and last January I chose 'embrace' as my word for 2014. The words I've had for the past two years have played a key role in helping me shape each year. 'Grow' brought with it great change and personal growth, and 'embrace' has brought with it something different than I had expected. I will admit that it has taken me a while to write about how embrace impacted on my year. It's near the end of January and it has taken until now to process and work out how to express the past year and the impact of my word. Processing the year and tying up loose ends this month has been a challenge in itself, and then putting it into words another.
When I started to explore the meaning of the word 'embrace' I saw that it had a range of meanings, including to hold close, to surround, accept willingly, encircle, adopt, accept and welcome. At the start of the project, for me the word embrace meant embracing who I am, what I have grown to be, what I believe in and what I love to do. Embrace meant surrounding myself with, and welcoming things around me, that made me feel good, embracing my ideas, thoughts and plans to push forward, forming my key intentions for the year. But embrace ended up meaning so much more...

I look back at my twelve intentions I set for the year -
embrace space
embrace change
embrace me
embrace the moments
embrace simplicity
embrace the now
embrace challenge
embrace positivity
embrace my plans
embrace creativity
embrace curiosity
embrace reflection
With these intentions I set my own hopes and thoughts of what may happen in the year. When I selected the word it jumped out of a list of words, I had a huge gut reaction at the time that made me feel that 'this is what I'll need for the year ahead', little did I know the role that the word embrace would play. Perhaps it was intuition or a gut feeling, or perhaps just through pure coincidence, the word embrace became possibly the most powerful thing I had in my emotional toolkit for the year. It became a mantra that gave me focus and something to anchor to and hold close during such a mixed year.
The year was filled with many memorable moments, from the huge high that came from Mr C and I buying our first home together, however a number of key moments of real lows and sadness came with it too. Hands down, last year was possibly the toughest year I've ever navigated through, and I really mean navigated through. I felt that the year was guided by being faced with multiple paths, trying to read the signs in front of me to help pick a path, dealing with huge obstacles and challenges to overcome on the journey, making key decisions, dealing with a range of emotions and moments, and choosing the best possible path to navigate to the end of the year with. The year was full of key decisions including work, career, relationships, finances and wellbeing. I wrote in June about my blogging break and things that had happened at the start of the year and it was a mixed start to the year. From then onwards it continued to be mixed with a number of challenges playing their own part.

I look back at the year and the best way to describe it was as if a few huge hurricanes landed in our life ripping through at various parts of the year. It felt much of the time that I was holding on during the storm, managing to keep safe but effected by the impacts. At times it seemed that the storm had passed but in actual fact we were in the eye of the storm. At that stage I was taking the time to pick myself up, rebuild, and enjoy the moment of calm…only to be hit by the next phase of the storm. The year felt engulfed by challenge, change and moments that will stay with me forever, with many things happening that impacted on myself and those people very close to Mr C and I.

There were huge changes to my career and work. A process of restructure and redundancy selection happened to me twice during the year, once at the end of March and the other in August. The whole experience rocked me to my core and made me question what I really wanted. I look back and it was tough going through two rounds of restructure and change to the team I was in, saying goodbye to my entire team and other people in the business I've worked with for most of my working life. I felt the anxiety, stress and paranoia of feeling I'm next and unsure what was ahead of me. The work changes shaped most of my year but I embraced it. It was tough but my word embrace became the core focus I needed to get through that period of time. I embraced the moments I had left with my old team and embraced the change to the business and the department I'm part of. I embraced the challenges that arose from the changes to my day job and ultimately the career path I have had planned. I've found myself being the only remaining original team member, which at times was, and still is, incredibly hard, as it has meant huge change in my role and my daily work life. I've embraced it but will look back ever so fondly on the time I had before the huge change. A unique wider team of incredibly talented and creative people filled my weeks making my job the best I think I'll ever have. The close team of people I worked with everyday, their great personalities, and the brilliant achievements we had over the years, are things I will never forget. But I have kept saying to myself embrace the change and move forwards onto the next chapter which gradually I am trying to do.

The year progressed with an overwhelmingly high volume of work, and in time I ended up with the same amount of work that used to be managed by a team of four, needless to say there were many moments that pushed me to near breaking point. But I embraced it which I'm incredibly proud of, I know that I was as strong as I could ever hope to be at such a challenging and emotive time. I tried hard to embrace the change but at times I felt I lost a bit of me as time became dedicated to getting through the overwhelm of work, the lengthy working the hours that were required to deliver, and the pressure of the business on the need for the work to be completed. Losing a little bit of me during that time was tough, I worked late and couldn't really switch off as much as I wanted, I lost any drive to be creative. At times it felt that I was almost fighting for survival, feeling drowned and overcome with workload and demands on me. But I embraced it and ploughed on. I'm proud that I worked so hard, I gave it everything I could, I embraced me and all that I could do.

During the year I kept saying to myself 'just hold on tight', 'embrace this challenge' and 'embrace the new'. It wasn't until I had a fortnight off at Christmas that I realised just how mentally exhausted and physically drained I had become, our last holiday was July where I just sat and relaxed and I did the same again for a fortnight over Christmas. I'm surprised now how I managed to battle through the lack of sleep, deal with the volume of work, the lengthy working hours and pressure I was under to keep things going for the role I found myself in at work, plus deal with the other things going on outside of work. Embrace provided me with a level of strength and taught me to just accept the changes willingly. Somewhere in its meaning it also just meant that I had to hold tight, embrace it and get through it. Without embracing it I think I would have found myself in a different situation than I'm in now.

In addition to the overwhelm of work, we had to deal with the incredibly emotional loss of our beautiful niece. I mentioned in my blog post in June that our niece was diagnosed with a rare terminal illness. In amongst challenges with work, we had a heart breaking number of months of seeing our gorgeous niece fade and slowly slip away. Her brave fight ended in September leaving us utterly heart broken, shell shocked and stunned that life can be so short. I haven’t mentioned it here before as writing it brings it all back and I pour with tears, but it was a key moment for me telling me even more to embrace life and embrace the moments. We've seen so much loss of little ones around us with very close friends' new arrivals not making it through various stages of pregnancy and life over the past few years, it showed me just how so precious and delicate life is.

The year taught me to embrace the moments. I will never forget the moments I spent with our niece, holding her close, cuddling her, comforting her at times when she was in excruciating pain, trying to make the moments we had with her calm, warm and brimming with so much love. The times I spent with her were so incredibly precious, the moments when she squeezed my hand, registered that I was there, telling her stories and comforting her when she was visibly in so much pain. Those moments will never leave me, her presence will never leave our family. What it taught me even more than I was already doing was to embrace the moments we have with the people that mean so much to us, it taught me life can be so short and life can dramatically change over night. I look back and during the year across most things that I experienced I embraced the moments, tried to live life to the full, and remembered to document the moments and memories.

Documenting the moments in my Project Life album took on a new routine and new meaning. Memory keeping during tough times was delayed until I could deal with writing about it and printing out the photos associated with it. What I'm so pleased with is that I embraced the moments and documented them in the best way I could and when I could. The project from 2014 still isn't complete but I'm ok with it and adding the missing weeks when I can. I embraced me, I embraced how I felt and embraced the creative moments however few and far between they were.

The week after our niece passed away Mr C and I collected the keys to our new home. A whirlwind of emotions engulfed us during that time, dealing with a very sad time versus an incredibly positive and exciting event was quite overwhelming. We packed up our home and our courtyard garden and moved into our new home. I embraced our new space, embraced the positivity of our new home and embraced the exciting change to our routines and what we could do in our amazing new space. It felt like a dream come true and I still have to pinch myself everyday that it happened and we were so lucky to find our home and be able to move. Our new home became a space of pure happiness that I came back to everyday after a busy day and enjoyed throughout the comforting autumnal months and during Christmas when we hosted for our friends.

The year we had has taught me is to embrace life and what it throws at you. The goodbyes, the change, the life decisions, and the new things that became part of life shaping things moving forwards. I embraced the fact that many decisions were out of my hands and were meant to be. I embraced the tough times and discovered during the year new levels of mental strength and composure that I have never had to tap into before. I spent much of the year embracing reflection and trying to embrace the challenges around me personally, professionally and emotionally. I embraced the journey of my thoughts and feelings during the year, it enabled me to see what was important in life, it helped me refocus things and discover what I most wanted in life.

Embrace added a new level of strength to my personal and emotional toolkit. As with the word 'grow' the year before last, the word 'embrace' isn’t going to leave me, that feeling and belief is embedded in who I am now. In some areas of my life the situations faced during the year would have prompted me to crumble and not deal with things but embrace gave me a real focus and strength. I embraced space to think and to reflect, I embraced change and saw it as the next stage, I embraced and discovered the positives and I held on tight, I embraced the life I was leading.

This January leaving my word behind and moving to the next word is exciting and all part of the next phase for me. I didn't manage to meet some of the intentions I set last year like embracing simplicity, embracing my plans and embracing curiosity, in the way I thought I may have had the opportunity to. As with all changes in the calendar, I can see this year as a new dawn and a new phase. It's time for the next path to be created, a fresh chapter to be started on a crisp page of a book waiting to be written. It is the opportunity to move forwards to something new. I know there will be more challenges this year and I have already experienced a few in January that I've embraced and just finished working through. Luckily my in built 'embrace' mechanism kicked in as did the feelings behind 'grow' and also the impact of my new word of the year.

What I know is that by having a word selected for the year can lead to remarkable things. It can help guide during key decisions and for me it enabled a new level of personal development to be experienced and reached. Thank you 'embrace' for being there in 2014, you certainly provided a guiding light and an anchor for year.

I'm looking forward to what my One Little Word for 2015 will bring...I'll update you on this soon.