17 Things I Learned in 2017

1. Let yourself figure it out. 
If you were meant to have all the answers now, you would.   If you spend all of your time stressing over the things you don't know, you're going to make it 10x harder to find life's answers.  Stop demanding a direct path set forth for you and let yourself feel confused and play out all the possible moves, changes and choices you can make. It's in the moments we feel most lost that we truly start to find ourselves, or even better - create ourselves.  Get real quiet and see what your life is trying to tell you.  

2.  There's beauty in the madness.  
Even in your worst of moments, darkest of nightmares or the deepest pits of stresses - find something worth laughing about.  Find a song to sing to.  Look for reasons to still smile.  No one's life is going as smoothly as it seems through the looking glass.  The trick to happy people isn't the absence of problems, it's the ability to decide how much control their problems have over their happiness.  Life wasn't meant to be taken so seriously, so laugh it off and see the beauty in all the madness. 

3. You've got to be sure of yourself. 
Even when you're unsure, be sure of that uncertainty.  Let yourself feel it fully.  Be and own everything that you are.
Don't let anyone tell you how you feel or what's right or wrong about you.  You were made exactly as you are, as exactly who you are so embrace it. Own your thoughts, own your weird quirks, own your words, own your opinions.  Have a strong enough foundation within that you know when to let things slide and adapt and when to stand your ground and own your path. 

4.  Love with every fibre of your being. 
Cut any ties that keep you bound to believing in the idea that love is dreadful or overrated. You are not another wounded soul who plays out the victim storyline only to fall asleep feeling sorry for themselves for the walls they've built around the thing they really want most.  The biggest trick to enjoying your life - stop hating what you lack and start loving what you have.
Love what you do, love the faces in your life, love the tiniest moments of your day that you might one day miss.  Fall in love with the seasons, the smell of coffee in the morning, the face of someone else.  Let yourself be vulnerable enough to fill yourself ten fold in care and admiration for all the things you love most.  It's better to be the a free spirit with a few scars than a victim with a sob story.  

5.  Give it 24 hours. 
No matter what it is, mull it over for 24 hours.  Flow through the emotions, sift through the thoughts, play out the meanings and then see how you feel.  Odds are, things are never as confusing or complicated as we make them out to be.  And if you get quiet enough, all the wisdom you seek is within. 

6. Forgive Yourself. 
You can spend your entire life obsessing over why.  Why do you do these things, why do you feel this way, why didn't you work harder, why can't you stick to your goals?
Instead you should ask yourself what. What are you going to do about it?
Some questions don't have definitive answers. Sometimes it's just part of what makes up who we are.  A habit deeply embedded in our core, a subconscious belief that plays peek-a-boo.  Let go of whatever attachment you have to who you think you should be, how you think you should act, how you wish you looked or what you wish you were.  Break the chain and work with yourself instead of fighting against yourself.  Notice your talents, dress to your own personal flare, find the things about who you are that make you feel most connected within. At the end of the day, you're all you got.  You came into this world alone and through every hardship and bliss point, you carried yourself through.  If you're not at peace within, you won't ever feel peace without. 

7.  Comparing your life is the worst way to waste your time.
No one has your DNA.  Your hair, your eyes, your hands.  No one has thought your thoughts, made your memories or linked the days, places and faces into an interwoven fabric that only you were given the chance to experience.  Greatness will always surround us and lives are easy to paint greener than the side of the grass we stand on, but don't dance with that devil.
You are sitting here, right now, at this exact second.  The world is spinning slow, gravity is holding you to right where you are, taking up the perfect amount of space in this Universe.  You have to look up and live your best life so you can do this space justice.  You have to put away the illusion of other's lives so you can reconnect with your own.  Some days your purpose will feel life changing, other days it may be as simple as spending time with the people you love. When you find your purpose, you lose your need to compare and contrast your life against anyone else's.

8. Loving yourself isn't selfish.
Sometimes, it's okay to take a step back and focus on yourself.  It's alright to take some time to get your head on straight.  It's not selfish to sometimes say no thank you or spend a night in.  If you continue to give all of yourself to everyone else, you'll be left stretched so thin with nothing left to give.  We love at our best when we feel at our best, so love yourself just as much as you want to love everyone else and watch the quality of your love and life change.

9. When you want to run away, charge straight at it.
The minute you face anything you're afraid of, you'll want to turn and run.
Don't.  Don't shrink in fear.  Don't ignore the shadows in the corner.  Don't let it keep you from living your life.  Instead, turn and face the music, it's never quite as scary as you think.  Whether you're afraid of yourself, the ocean, heights or heartbreak, fear is just an illusion.  Once you face it head on you'll realize the thing you fear most is nothing but a mirage of 'what if' decorated in barbed wire holding you hostage.  What doesn't kill you can only make you stronger, so lace up your gloves and put on brave face.  There is nothing that you can't grow through and fight down.  

10. Rejection is just redirection.
Anytime things don't go the way you want, or something you were working hard for hits you back hard with a fat "nope, not happening" - don't take the hit personally.  Don't let the rejection rain on your parade.  Everything you've ever gone for has equipped you with a lesson or experience to carry you on to something better you can't see coming yet.  Every rejection in life is a redirection towards something better. 

11. Don't check the time.
At least once a week, get so lost in something that you forget to check the time or the messages on your phone.  Get so consumed into the words on a page, the lyric in a song or the colours on a canvas that life is no longer due dates, to-do lists and morning alarms.
This is called therapy for the soul.

12. Follow your gut.
You know when you just feel like taking a different route home, saying yes to a new opportunity or make a change that could drastically redirect your life? 9/10 - trust your gut.
Whether you're making a lifetime decision or looking for direction in a time of need, like a magnetic pull, your gut will always steer you in the right direction and in trusting it you're trusting yourself.
If you can't feel it, you're suffocating it.  Find some time to get silent, clear your mind, mull over the question or problem at hand and let the direction come to you.  In the wise words of John Mayer on a twitter thread the other day, "the answers come before the test."

13. Have a plan, but don't be afraid to abandon it.
If we fail to plan we can most likely plan to fail, this is true, but keep in mind that life is what happens when we're busy making other plans.  Every now and then, ditch the to-do list, put the work down, jump on an opportunity when it presents itself and shake up your feathers.  Not only will you come back to your plan feeling refreshed and ready to get back at it, but some of the best moments of your life happen in the most unexpected places and times.  It's great to have a plan, but don't forget to also make a memory. 

14. Intentions, intentions, intentions.
The number one rule in taking nothing personally, find the intention. It doesn't matter if it's a stranger flipping you off on the way to work or a good friend letting your down - most of the time none of us have evil intentions.  Some intentions are to feel right and important, others are to protect and deflect or run away from problems.  Even the people who hurt us most don't realize their true intentions are really just hurting themselves.  Either way, it's got nothing to do with you so shrug it off, slap on a smile or better yet, ask them if they need a hug.
Be the all wise and knowing Dumbledore completely unshooketh by anything the magical world throws at him, even the dark Lord. 

15. You're stronger than you think.
You have made it through more than you give yourself credit for.  Stop doubting yourself, stop believing the worst of what makes you who you are, stop finding ways to break and instead find ways to grow.  No one needs to tell you that you're strong, you just need to feel it and believe it and you'll see yourself through.  

16.  Focus on what you can control
Let go of any attachment to the things you have no power over and instead channel that energy into the things you can make a difference in.  How kind you are to strangers, the kinds of foods you eat, the people you spend time with, the filter of perspective you put on the moments of your life, how much you worry, how hard you work, the kind of exercise you do, the kind of people you surround yourself with.  Make peace with the things you cannot change to make room to focus on the things you can.  

17. Wake up!
Right now, in this moment.  Where are you? What are you doing? Who are you with? What time is it? What day is it?  What can you hear, what do you see, what can you feel?
This moment right now is all that really exists.  The future, whether it be seconds or years, is yet to come.  The past has already happened.  All you can change, all you can do lies here in this moment.  Are you happy? Here's a quick way to find out.  Look up.
What do you see?
Is it lifeless, or is it colourful?
You have the paint brush, make sure you paint this picture in the words, wisdom and wonders that you want or the world will do it for you.  Take a deep breath and get to it.  This world is full of magic, it's yours if you want it.