• Annabel Emery

Gift Yourself Gratitude

Updated: Sep 6

First of all; MERRY CHRISTMAS and soon to be a HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone! Thank you for a wonderful year of supporting my little head space over here. The comments, shares, likes and lovely messages keep an avid over-sharer feeling James Brown gooooood. So thank you, you're all legends.

Secondly, I hope that no matter how your 2019 turned out, you can join me in reflecting on all the wonderful things that advanced this year, rather than dwelling on the more sorrowful events that may have hindered your well-being this time round. It can be easier said than done, but your mental wealth may have a chance to flourish if you are able to remain grateful for all the good that came from 2019.

I'm not a 'let's all cover our eyes in cotton wool and be happy' type person; I'm a hardcore realist with a moderate dollop of optimism. I understand that we all have differing mindsets and because of this, some find it easier than others to remain positive during hard times. Most of us will experience some sort of depression in our lives, so it is important to remain open-minded to the levels of which we all experience it. BUT there are ways to ease even the most numbing thoughts and the most helpful that I found, was to remind myself often of the things that I am grateful for.


Determined to navigate myself out of the stronghold we've seemed to place on our annual reflections, I have decided against using the phrase '2019 sucked'. Because even though it felt like it did suck, it wouldn't be fair to paint my whole year with the same brush. 2019 deserves more than that, and so do I.

As westerners, it seems as though we have developed a tendency to measure our emotions alongside our calendar. "2019 was a rough year, I can't wait for it to be over" as if the entire 365 days were responsible for our negative feelings, and that the entry into 2020 will somehow solve all of our problems. Perhaps we say it because it gives us validation for our emotions and motivates us to make better decisions next time. We enjoy measurable success, and using time frames on emotional progression seems like an encouraging tool for personal growth.

But how is that pessimism towards the twelve months that we have just lived (and put time, money, effort and love into), going to affect the rest of our lives if we carry on tainting it as a 'terrible' year? What if every year for the rest of our lives, something catastrophic occurs? Then what?? I don't want to live to see 100 years old, then on my death bed look back at my earthly existence and think; 'gosh, 70 out of my 100 years on this planet were tragic' or 'could have been better'.

No doubt there will be dozens of mistakes made, regrets felt and sadness endured over a lifetime. But often, moments of trauma bring with them the great winds of change, and we all know that the stars cannot shine without the dark of night - and it's the same for humans. With every mistake, there is a lesson. When one door closes, another opens. With every loss or broken heart, there will be healing.

So, out of the last 365 days, how many times did you smile? laugh uncontrollably? cry with happiness? experience some form of elation or excitement? tick something off your bucket list? travel? fall in love (with a partner, a puppy, a cake... anything)? Consider these moments and be grateful for them.

I had many amazing events and opportunities this year. 2019 was a roller-coaster of tormenting emotions. Some pretty big life events occurred and left me broken emotionally, financially and sometimes physically. I've dealt with some huge set backs and lost a person so dear to my heart that I don't even know how I have managed to function. Devastation, grief, heartache, pain, battles with mental health etc - it all looks pretty grim when you put it on paper.

When your world seems full of chaos and despair, you might feel like you deserve to indulge in it and reflect negatively on the outcomes. And honestly, that's ok for a short while, but then you have to heal.


Focus instead on what good came of this particular spin around the sun. What happened this year that made you feel that little ball of fuzzy gratitude inside?

Looking back at 2019, I am grateful...

  • that my Essential Skills work visa was granted again by Immigration NZ, meaning that I get to spend another year exploring this incredible country.

  • that I have been lucky enough to call Queenstown my home for the last two years (and now a third!). Living nestled in the mountains is enough to fill anyone with gratitude.

  • for my partner in crime, with whom I have spent 19 crazy months experiencing life in New Zealand with. Thank you JJ.

  • that we were motivated enough to save up our pennies and purchase our camper van, which has allowed us the freedom to escape town and discover more of New Zealand on our days off (I LOVE YOU VANDALF)!

  • for all the like-minded and inspiring individuals that I have met and conversed with this year, who's time, encouragement and wisdom have helped me grow into alignment with my passions and beliefs.

  • for the opportunities that I have had regarding my illustration work. This year I launched my Etsy store, sold on craft markets and have had freelance projects on every month for individual clients. 2019 was a year abundant with creativity!

  • for both friends and strangers who have raised awareness and called to action to help save our planet. It has been a momentous year in human history for activism and fighting the climate crisis. Enlightenment and education have been big themes for my inner warrior.

  • for all the lovely people I have had the privilege of calling my friends. Living in a tourist town means that people are transient here, and though some friendships have been fleeting, they were worth every second.

  • for the financial opportunities that have saved me from my financial hindrances. Every time something went wrong this year, there has somehow been a saving grace. Thank you for watching over me whoever you are up there...

  • In the same breath I also want to thank all those that have demonstrated unrelenting kindness, by helping me out of sticky situations and for being my shoulder to cry on. There are many kindred souls who have shown me compassion beyond words this year.

  • that my work colleague (Sara) and boss pulled together to allow me the extended time off I needed when I had to fly home earlier this year due to a family loss and then still covered me for the holiday to Fiji that I had booked off prior. Meaning I didn't have to sacrifice one or the other.

  • I am beyond grateful that my parents flew me back to the UK so that I could give a proper, deserving farewell to my Granny Sue who passed away in April. I cannot believe how quickly time has drifted since then and I miss her so much. But I know that her life was FILLED with adventure and love and gratitude, even for the tiny insignificant things that she would deem 'oh-so-fabulous!'.

  • for the short time that I got to spend singing to ABBA in the car with my mum again when I eventually made it back to the UK. And for being able to reunite with my loved ones in my childhood town, whom I miss everyday.

  • for the leaps of faith that thankfully followed through.

  • that I have big goals and exciting plans for 2020 - all the motivation in the world to KEEP GOING!

  • for nature. For the mountain scenes I get to wake up to every day. For the smiley dogs I see on my hikes, for the fresh air, the moody lake and the starry nights.

  • for myself. This year I have learnt more about self love than ever. I am being kinder to my self, accepting challenges in order to improve how I am to others, being a YES MAN and trying new things at every opportunity. I have also taken more time to learn about my body and the benefits of training physically and transitioning to a plant-based diet. I trust myself more. I am opening my mind and educating myself in an array of new subjects. I am taking more time to SLOW down, create calm and harness inner peace.

There are so many other reasons to be grateful this year, and any year going forward. It is so important to reflect on what has brought abundance, happiness and purpose to your life instead of just focusing on what went wrong. Things will always go wrong, and if we're measuring it in years, then yes some years will prove significantly harder than others. But as time heals, we don't want our negative memories to overcome us and erase any of the goodness we experienced.

Looking back over the last 12 months, what are you most grateful for?

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