Another Year Over (28/12/2016)

“This year is for reflection and growth.” That’s what I said when I last wrote nearly 9 months ago. I could not have known how accurate that statement would be.

After completing my Relational Psychodynamics unit in first semester, I dialled back my study even further by taking an entire semester off. I’m very ambitious and so it’s always hard for me to do ‘less’, but as you might have guessed the unexpected rewards have been incredible.

In line with my January conviction to step up my prayer life, I began the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises in the first week of May and just finished the week before Christmas. The Exercises can either be done as a 30-day silent retreat, or as I did them ‘in daily life’. This involved about an hour of guided prayer every day, plus a weekly visit to my spiritual director. This is one of those journeys that feels impossibly long in the beginning and then one day you see the finish line approaching and it’s almost unexpected. Prioritising such a significant time for prayer (1 hour first thing in the morning) was an incredibly grounding experience. First things first, as they say. It led me to work on creating a dedicated prayer space in my room. Now I have a really nice set up with a partition and a beanbag, and a little table with a nice cloth and candles. I’ve already gone on at length about how amazing my place is here in Carlton, but it just seems to get better and better. Little did I know that the little useless corner of my room, tucked away behind the wardrobes and barely big enough for a small table, would make the perfect little prayer space.

prayerspace

A useless corner transformed into a nice little prayer space

Another long term project that I have finally completed is my travel journal. While walking the Camino I wrote a little summary of every day for 50 days. This included 2 weeks rest in Galicia afterwards. Upon returning to Melbourne, I thought it would be great to write something for every day that I was travelling. I’d already done 50, what’s another 464? Well I’m happy to report that last month, the day after my 32nd birthday, and 2 years after landing back in Melbourne, I finally finished this project. Many people seem surprised that I could remember every individual day, but I sat down with my little diary, and with the help of my photos and the odd reflection in my personal journal each day was quite distinct. It’s not so hard when every few days I was in a different city with a different person. I remember back when I was working full time one of my biggest concerns about walking the Camino was not that I would not enjoy it, but that I would use all my leave, have an amazing experience and then have to come straight back to work the next day. Now, thanks to the work I put in preparing for my odyssey celebration, I have maps and photos and also this day-by-day account of my entire trip. So, with that in mind, it feels very good to have taken the time to properly process it all.

Other significant highlights have been my ongoing work with the I CAN Network (including running a half-marathon as part of AWEgust for AWEtism – 21.1km was more than double my previous distance record). In September I was in charge of running a teens camp – the very first one without our founder present! It was not only a big milestone but also a massive success. I’ve had many more speaking opportunities too. My favourite was a last minute talk to about 70 staff members at a high school a few months ago. I had very little time to prepare but wasn’t nervous at all. I felt the presentation itself went well and feedback was immensely positive as usual. Also of note was my first solo talk at a primary school (to about 100 year 5 students) and being flown to Canberra to speak at the Australian Bureau of Statistics. We also ran our first whole-day professional development conference. It was a great success with really positive feedback and about 60 teachers attending. This has all been very ad-hoc casual stuff, but next year I will actually have 2 days a week of paid employment. That’s by far the closest thing to a real job I’ve had in a long time!

MelbourneMarathon.jpg

Melbourne Marathon – start line and finisher’s medal

There are so many things that have reached their conclusion recently. Everything has wrapped up and it makes for a very timely end to the year. Even the local bible study group I’ve been going to just completed a comprehensive 27-week whole-bible overview the week before Christmas! When I turned 31 so many people told me it would be a special year and they weren’t wrong! It was actually a bit sad to see it end last month but everything has it’s time and part of moving forward is letting go of the past.

So that’s been this year. In terms of next year, on top of my work with I CAN, I’m investing in my career with an Advanced Diploma of Group Facilitation and by pursuing some volunteer opportunities like running a seminar on ‘Love and Imperfection’ at the DOJ Summer School in January. It’s very rewarding to finally be doing what I’m good at – and even getting paid for some of it!

I hope this year has been good for you all too.

If you can find the time to write back it would be lovely to hear from you 🙂

Peace

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