2010 Redux - An Open Letter

Dear 2010, As the world around me prepares for New Year's Eves festivities to say a dastardly goodbye to you, I'm taking a moment to reflect: you have been a huge mixed bag for me. I can safely say there's never been a year where I felt quite so on top, and quite so low, all at once. Let me explain, 2010, why I don't hate you (but have a cautious relationship with you):

Here was 2010:

This year, I travelled a lot, particularly in the first half of the year. I finally got to see India, one of my "homelands". I went to Bali twice, Malaysia twice, and was in Singapore every 2-3 months on average. I was interstate so often (every 3-4 weeks) that my Australia wide salsa family has never seemed so close, or as wonderful. This was so nice, years of being in such a small scene have brought some of us industry leaders together in such a wonderful way, every trip though work based, has felt like a holiday with friends.

This year, I've had lots of visitors too, visitors that meant the world to me - Sheila for a month, my mummy when I needed her most, my Aunty and my cousin whom I adore oh so very much. Those visits inevitably left me feeling more and more like Melbourne and Singapore are both tandem homes, and like my life here wasn't isolated from my loved ones, but shared in lovely ways.

This year, I got injured a lot. A pinched nerve in my neck/shoulder at the start of the year, a torn ankle ligament mid year, and then the most devastating of all, a prolapsed disc that was pretty serious but luckily escaped surgery. I spent 4 months of 2010 either in bed, or in a catatonic painkiller-induced stupor, unable to drive, commute, work, dance or travel. It wasn't fun, it made me depressed, and has pretty much killed the dancing career I had. It really felled me, this injury, and I missed many events, including competitions that my teams apparently placed in (!!), half a best friend's wedding, and more. I was cared for wonderfully by my friends and S, but nothing in my life had prepared me for this. I'm still coming out of it - there are bad days and good days, but I can drive, I can walk, I can do most things now as long as I take it easy and slow - and for this I am grateful.

This year was when we moved into our "forever home" and for the first time ever, entered home ownership with my beautiful man - and it has funnily enough been in tandem the worst time of my life (injury) and best time (home!). Our relationship has grown incredibly through the entire process, and we go to sleep each night expressing to each other just how blessed we are to share a beautiful home, with each other.

This year, I truly learnt what it feels like to build a future with someone, have experienced true love, have felt that wonderful settled heart inside of me. I've learnt to live with teenagers which is an evolving journey. I've been welcomed wholeheartedly into S's family, a wonderful thing since mine is so strongly held in my mind! I'm slowly becoming stronger, and grateful that I have a beautiful space to recover in. I said goodbye to my bachelorette pad of 7 years - where most of my 20s happened, filled with so many incredible memories of debauchery, gatherings, parties, family time, cookups, and more, but moved into my forever home, what a trade!

This year, I decided having a job wasn't enough, and that having passion in my career was incredibly important. I had insightful conversations with some mentor-like people, for whom I must thank profusely - realising ultimately, what my strengths and callings were, I found the strength to quit my job and pursue my consultancy dreams instead. It's still slowly coming together, but golly, what a great decision - given the chance to work a job or help people fulfil their capabilities? I choose the latter. Haven't looked back.

This year, the quitting job thing meant that after 3 years of 17 hour days (day job and then business from 6-10pm every night plus weekends and travel) - I was able to sit back and evaluate. There was no reason to punish my body like that, and even less reason when my health was constantly in flux, my head and heart always a buzz of confusion, and my relationships and friendships suffered due to my absence. This wasn't the life I wanted, but it took stopping for me to realise that. 2010 was the turning point - I was going to seek the life I wanted without the mayhem.

This year, I learnt to care for myself. To eat right, to be inspired regularly, to see beauty in all around. To celebrate being a woman and my femininity, to understand my body better, to be more in tune with my emotions, my needs, and lifestyle. To be frank with loved ones, to seek healthier relationships, and have the energy to ignore ones fraught with unhappiness. It's made me a happier person, and I know this will continue now as it has become a way of life.

This year was somewhat drama filled - I was treated by some people from various parts of my life, poorly. I'd never felt so much like I was back in high school being bullied, but I reflect and am proud of my actions, reactions. Drama always happens, it's the nature of humans, but this year I felt equipped to handle it, with grace, dignity and some humour! I'm glad to be entering my 30th year feeling like I can take whatever any human being throws at me, because of my innate strength and belief in myself. I'm especially glad to have learnt the ultimate skills - of not hurting others just because they've hurt you. Of removing myself from the drama. Of staying professional.

This year, I was recognised in my dancing career in ways I never felt before. I'd received accolade and opportunities before that reflected this aspect of my career, but this year, something changed. Feedback from world-renown, respected people, came in droves. Positive affirmation that I was doing well in my business, in our school, in my own dancing. Invitations and offers that blew me away. That made all the things I sometimes have to deal with here in our small dance scene, worthwhile. That made all the ridiculous "tall poppy" type assertions that have at times been unfairly thrown at me, moot.

After so many years of being in the salsa scene, after exactly a decade from my first ever dance lesson, so many years of maintaining my outward exterior whilst in turmoil inside over the vagaries and politics of the scene. So many years of learning, trying so hard, and trying to teach well, all this affirmation was so welcome. The bonus was that it came from everywhere. Yes, we were doing something right. Plus, watching my students excel on a national stage, watching my school grow and watching my team explode with richness - this all was a gift.

This year, I've learnt where my support systems are, and am incredulous at just how far reaching and huge my network of love is. In various times of adversity, an unprecedented number of people from far and wide have supported me, assisted me, kept my spirits high, and generally left me wondering how it is that I could be this lucky. Thank you everyone. Truly.

This year, I've grown. This is all I can take away from a year that has been at once blessed and brutal. I've been humbled by the wonderful things that I've been fortunate to experience, receive, and have, angry and sad at the whipping that my body has taken, deliriously happy to have been so close to my family and friends, reflective upon circumstances that I couldn't change, and hopefully, through it all, been a pleasant person to know. (I take no responsibility for the moments when I was all painkillered up.)

This year, I've been enriched by the people around me, have blossomed through new life changes, matured through difficult circumstance. I have grown more into my own skin, and accepted a lot more of myself and human beings around me. I am happier than I was, infinitely so, despite physical circumstance. My heart has swelled, my brain has been nourished, and my life has developed in ways I couldn't have imagined or planned on 31 Dec 2009. And now that I'm officially almost that stupid number age that no woman wants to think about (hint, it rhymes with "dirty" for a reason) - it's certainly nice to feel like I'm coming of age.

Most of all 2010, you taught me a lot about being alive, and truly, that I can conquer anything. 2011, give me all you've got. I have no plans or expectations - your friend 2010 taught me the folly of that way of thinking! Just bring it, and bring it good!

xo

Shan