It feels a little surreal that 2018 is almost over (well, back in Singapore and other parts of the world, it is already 2019!). And the good thing about writing so much over the past year and a half is that… there’s a ton of stuff to reflect on :p
In particular, I thought of looking back at how I wanted to make my 2018 count. In that post, I said that I wanted my life to speak for something this year, especially in the areas of service, kindness and generosity.
It’s so cool - heck, amazing even - to see what 2017 me wrote, and to realise that things that I desired to grow in actually did come to pass.
On service, I wrote:
There is a part of me that longs to help others (fun fact: I'm an INFP, or a "healer"). But I've never had enough courage to step forward and avail myself to a particular cause or felt need. I think fear - of being too vulnerable or too inadequate - was holding me back. Also, it's been years since I've been "actively serving" in church, but since moving to Vancouver, I've felt many tuggings on my heart to serve again. So I've written in to the church I'm attending now to explore a few avenues of service - not in the areas I have previously served in, but in new ones. I'm looking forward to seeing where these will lead me to in the new year.
Serving others is a joy, and it’s something I’ve re-discovered in many different ways this year. From volunteering as my church’s social media manager to hosting friends to dinner and gatherings in our little apartment in Vancouver, I’ve found that these acts of service, however insignificant, have helped me to care for and love others not just in word, but also in action.
And in what will be another huge milestone in my life: I’ve started working as a writer at a Canadian charity recently. The charity helps malnourished children, pregnant women and mothers in North Korea, and I’ve been working there on a part-time basis - which kinda explains why this blog has been so quiet lately as I’ve been trying to adjust to a new schedule.
That being said, I don’t see what I do there as work per se; I feel like I’m contributing in my own little way to a cause greater than I am. What greater joy is there?
On kindness, I wrote:
I have this terrible habit of speaking down to myself. Maybe it's because I'm Asian, but I am pretty critical of myself in a lot of aspects - appearance, skills, what have you. And there are many times this year where I've nagged my husband and given irritated retorts and eye-rolls when I am impatient with him. My prayer for 2018 is to be a little kinder to myself and to my loved ones, and to stop perpetuating harmful speech/behavioural patterns.
My relationship with my body has never been a smooth-sailing one. I’m ever so grateful to have discovered Hilary McBride, a therapist/researcher/writer based in BC who has challenged me to re-think, re-look and re-love my body for what it is. One of my favourite lines that she penned recently goes: “My body is my monastery, and if I could be so bold, I would also suggest that your body is your monastery. A sacred place, consecrated, and good. Very very Good.”
I think one of the biggest mental blocks that I overcame regarding my body was through going for HIIT (high intensity interval training) regularly. It was always a form of exercise that I felt super intimidated by, but the more I showed up, the more I saw my body changing, adapting, and growing. I’ve learned to respect my body for all it has done and all it can do - and I think that in itself is a kindness shown.
As for being kind to myself and to others (especially the spouse, hurhur): I think being intentional about this has helped me stave off the negative things I say about myself and/or my actions. There are still times I beat myself up, of course, but I’m learning to show grace to myself and to my loved ones too. And I suppose my husband is the best person to comment on whether I’ve been kinder to him this year :p
On generosity, I wrote:
While working full-time, I had so little energy for other people and other pursuits outside of the job. I absolutely hated feeling that way. Since going on a sabbatical in March this year, I finally found the space and time to slow down and reflect more deeply about the trajectory I want my career and life to take. One of the biggest realisations that arose from this extended duration of "chilling out" is that I need to cultivate a more giving spirit - whether of my time, my money, or any other means by which I can encourage someone. I feel like this is a rusty engine that needs a little bit of repair work right now - but hey, it's definitely moving in the right direction.
Generosity doesn’t come naturally, but it does come with practice!
I’m grateful for all the opportunities God has given to me to be generous this year with my time, my words, and my money. In doing life here, we saw needs that we could help meet, and in giving freely, we’ve received so much in return too.
My money, my time, and my life is not my own; it belongs to Him (something my husband tends to repeat often, and is worth sharing here too).
Most of all, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported this little endeavour of mine by reading/sharing/commenting/whatnot. I hope some of what I’ve written has encouraged you in some way over the past year… and I'm really excited to put some plans and dreams for 2019 into motion!
I would also love to hear from you on your biggest takeaways for 2018 - what did God show you, teach you, or draw you deeper into? What were some of your happiest and/or most challenging moments of the year? Tell me in the comments box below!
For now… I’m off to drink some red wine and usher in the new year in my jammies!
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