The End is the Beginning Reflections

As 2017 came to an end, I read many posts and blogs reflecting on the year. It is a natural way to do so as the year comes to an end and a new one begins. I join the many in this ritual this year as I share some of my highlights from 2017. On a personal level, there were many changes and growth opportunities during the year. Some tough moments to get through, yet there was a ton of light! Some themes emerged for me as I reflected on my past, immersed myself in the present and look to an even more memorable future. Overall though I think what has stood out the most in 2017 is the change I feel within me, around me and with those I interact with. Finding a healthy balance is a constant juggle for many of us.

A Few Highlights From 2017 - Miscellaneous Photographers

Gratitude. Learning. Giving. Love. Believe. 
Those words were a big part of 2017 and continue to resonate with me.

If we can wake up each morning, that’s a good start!

If we can be thankful for our health, our family, our friends, our work, the little moments in our lives and those in it, even better!!

While tragedies, wars and negativity in the world continued, I also saw a shift finally starting. A shift filled with hope, community and support for others, the #Metoo movement hitting home the most. It was a year where we saw Giving grow and I stepped up mine throughout the year. I saw and felt the words above more in 2017.

Gratitude. For me, I’m blessed to share my brighter moments and themes in my year below and boy did I need a better year! Gratitude. That definitely was my word of the year for 2017 without intentionally setting it. 2018’s Word of the Year is yet to be determined. Stay tuned as I am heading to a workshop this week to crystallise it. Can’t wait!

Life-Long Learning - Never Stop! 

Education and learning is something significant for me. For those that know me, they understand that I continually love to learn. Whether it is employment and HR legal concepts, product development, marketing skills, social media apps, reading up on history, current HR trends or human stories, learning is about growing as a person and never stopping this growth. I will always learn. It is part of my DNA.

Learning. In 2017, I finally finished off my last course towards my Masters of Law (official word on grade and completion yet to come).

Learning.  I also completed many career development courses, trying to discover what my next will be. If you are looking for change Careergasm offers a great online course. I attended HR conferences and spoke at the Canadian Payroll conference sharing and collaborating with others. I left my job in July to focus on my health and family (my mom not doing so well so that’s why 2016 was a little hectic getting her taken care of). This allowed me to focus on learning other things!

In 2017 I met a few new people who have already taught me something - my reciprocal mentor Lauren with whom I collaborate monthly and my new colleague Kristen who I immediately clicked with. Every day I pick up a nugget of news or info from colleagues, friends and family. I learn from my LinkedIn community weekly. I am re-learning when I spend time with our children helping with homework or reviewing a paper or project that had to be submitted. It’s amazing what we can learn when we take the time to converse, have meaningful dialogue and listen to others. The world truly is our oyster if we choose to look for the pearls of wisdom within.

Find some time to make learning part of your life, it can be as simple as picking up a book that teaches you how to knit, or blog, or bake a cake. Take an online course, research using the internet, listen to podcasts or watch documentaries on Netflix. It is all learning and it makes Life Work Well. 2018 Goal is to continue this life-long learning journey and I’ve already decided on two major goals relating to this - read 55 books and take a creative writing course! Working on my business Life Works Well is part of this learning journey as is writing my book on mentorship. Wow, 2018 is going to be funtastic!

Life-Long Travel - Plan those Trips!

Love. I love to travel. I have been extremely fortunate to visit special places and sights and explore the world. This is also a great way to continue Learning. When I was younger it was backpacking through Europe, with only student debt and some savings from my articling year, and some determination to take this once-in-a-lifetime trip. I soaked up every sight, the sun, the statues, the scenery, the styles, the simple ability to write in my journal. I loved the thrill of learning about each new place and its history and trying out the local food!

Yet, I have only seen a minuscule portion of this planet. My sister-in-law Paddy read somewhere that you should visit one new place every year. I love that idea. I love to travel. I always have and always will. This year I was blessed to be able to visit Vail, Colorado with my hubby, Tim, and ski for the first time in years. I was extremely proud of how I did given I was never an avid skier and in fact, had been taken down in a toboggan once many moons ago. Yes, those moguls aren’t friendly to some. Other then that one experience the times I have skiied I loved the gorgeous scenery, clean crisp air and the feeling of freedom exploring on skis. In fact, I’ve decided to take lessons with one of my friends, Tara, starting in a couple of weeks! Wish me luck on that one. Especially since it is the coldest winter we have had in years.

We started visiting Grand Cayman with family several years ago and this year we went without our daughter Katie (love love that island if you have never been). Katie was on a school trip to Italy and so we’ve added another fan of that fantastic country! Cullen, Tim and I were able to have a beautiful bonding time, and we all swam with the dolphins which were very cool.

Next Time I'm Up - Photo by H*Raiser

Gratitude. Our family was also blessed to spend some time in South Carolina this year, a place we had never been. We went before the Hurricanes hit and it is such a gorgeous part of the U.S.A. The beach near Isle of Palms was vast and you could ride bikes on it and walk for miles. So beautiful to wake up to the ocean, and sleep under the starry sky (which we did a couple of times until we finally went inside for the night). So peaceful, a tranquil part of paradise on earth. On another separate trip, I was able to work remotely and rest a couple of days in Kiawah Island, also in South Carolina with a similar landscape, tagging along with Tim to a conference.

Love. Family. My sister-in-laws, mother-in-law and niece went on a girls’ trip to St. Andrew’s by the Sea, another place I had never been, located in New Brunswick. It was a little rainy and chilly that weekend but it didn’t stop us from roaming the streets, trying out the local tasty restaurants, shopping and dancing the night away! We now have officially come to be known as The Plastic Hats, never dull with that crowd. Just ask my "sista" Karney who was the tambourine player with the band! I also went to Palm Springs with my friends from high school (our second annual), filled with laughter, shopping, fine dining and wine. I might mention my friend Janice has a particular love for Prosecco with lunch. I don’t recommend doing this often only on vacation with friends you have known for more than 30 years! She married into an Italian family although I swear she must have lived there in a previous lifetime. In fact, we likely knew each other back then as we enjoyed our espresso, prosecco and olives. For those curious about a comparison of Prosecco and Champagne learn here. In 2018 the Life-Long Travel bug and goal will most definitely continue as we plan out our year and decide where our “new” place will be! So excited!

Life-Long and New Connections

Love. Friendships. Following on the Palm Springs trip - the last two years my high school gal pals and I have finally had a bit more time to spend together. We were busy with careers, children and juggling work and life, and now most of them are almost empty nesters!! I have a way to go given our little guy is only 10 (yes on that note I may have mentioned I do everything late … better late than never yet another cliché that fits me perfectly).



It has been great to have these friendships for so many years as we watched our families grow and support each other through many of life’s ups and downs, losses of our dear friend Tracy, some of our parents, marriage challenges and health scares. Having more time with these ladies is definitely something that grew in 2017 and will continue in the years to come. That belly laugh and pee-your-pants moments are priceless! Sorry if that’s TMI for you, that’s how I roll sometimes. Also, friends from other periods of my life, growing up together, university gals and work colleagues that I’d lost touch with seem to have reconnected. Maybe it’s part of ageing, we have more time? Time is so precious you know. And I am beginning to understand the time flies saying.

Love. When I refer to friendships it also includes my extended family members; I am so fortunate to have the most amazing in-laws on all sides. My “sistas” who are married to Tim’s brothers, Tim’s Mom and sister Mary are phenomenal in so many different ways. We definitely lucked out all finding each other. I have also watched my sister Donna’s children grow up and are now starting their own families. These are the things that matter, making time for the people in your life. We’ve lost my father, stepfather and brother on my side so it’s sometimes been hard to keep the family glue sticking. It takes time and effort to bring family together but it’s worth it. Family is such a big part of these friendships.

We watch the next generation as they learn, grow, travel and live - future doctors, accountants, scientists, entrepreneurs, teachers and who knows! Seems they all have the life-long learning and travel bugs too! So much fun watching the graduates embark on new adventures. Our daughter, Katie, and nephew, Sam, will be next to watch in 2018! I attended a new year kick-off goal setting webinar on new year’s day and our host said it is a great idea to have goals for your family (not telling them what to do but hoping and encouraging them). My goal for Sam and Katie in 2018 is that they are excited to begin their university year with a positive outlook and ready to commit to giving it their best.

Meeting new friends and colleagues in 2017 was also a highlight. Relationships are so important in every aspect of life. We need people. Forget the robots - they might take over some parts of the world, but they cannot replace the connections we make every day.  The connections we make with those that have been part of our lives for years, or the connections we make with new friends, like my reciprocal mentor Lauren, or the women I have met through SheEO, or via social media (Kristen a life coach who is so kind and warm, and who I met and instantly felt as though I'd known her forever).

One colleague and friend that I met through my last job said there are people that come into our life for a season, for a reason or for a lifetime. I thought that was interesting; I get that now. I am blessed to have friends and family and to be able to give to others. Throughout this year I gave to a number of good causes with my finances and time, Jack.org, breast cancer, The Shoe Project, local Food Bank and others. Giving is good. In 2018 I will continue to give.

People need people. It’s that simple. Life Works Well with others. In 2018 I will work on nurturing the most important connections and relationships I have, with my husband, my children, my family and closest friends. In 2018 I will be open to new connections that will come into my life for a season, a reason or a lifetime. You never know who will inspire you or support you or lift you up or bring you light. Keep these people near and dear to you.

Gratitude. Learning. Giving. Love. Believe. 
Those words will continue with me into 2018 as will Kindness and Caring. 

More on those words throughout 2018. For now, I sign off being grateful for all that 2017 brought to me, for the amazing people in my life, and the ability to be able to do what I do. I look forward to 2018 and new beginnings. May we all find what we are looking and hoping for and some light. Life Works Well when you do.
Keep the Light Shining 

Helen, aka H*Raiser, is about to start a Movement. The Life Works Well Movement. Stay Tuned!

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