How do you measure a year in the life?
in blog posts, in cups of coffee.
The crazy wonderful thing about writing here is that I have a time capsule of thoughts, only an archive away. These are the highlights of 2016, the writing of which I am most proud, the collection that represents my year.
Although I plan what I will publish weeks and months in advance, sometimes I am compelled to introduce a new idea into the calendar last-minute, and it is often these pieces that are filled with the most passion. My blog post schedule is like my philosophy on finding purpose in life: do something until you feel the urge to change the plan.
Alan Rickman’s death shook me as if he were a true friend of mine, and through his art, he was and is. Like many of my favourite actors, I was introduced to him through Harry Potter, but his body of work represents so much more scope.
The first of my extensive planning guides was on How to Organise your To-Do List. I have been obsessed with productivity and organisation since childhood, and only recently realised that what may seem obvious to me is worth writing out. I hope it helps!
Besides a couple of master’s dissertation-writing pomodoro sessions fuelled by flat whites, the most focused I’ve been in a while was on a train to the Isle of Skye, in deep, serious discussion with Anna-Claire (aka Mansfield Snark) over which Taylor Swift songs best suited which Jane Austen heroines. This list is one of my proudest accomplishments of 2016, and possibly ever.
My two biggest business projects of 2016 were the relaunch of my ebook, Own Your Story to include an Addendum on Depression, and writing and delivering my Leading Lady course. Nothing makes me happier than hearing from students, telling me what they have accomplished through the course.
I have been trying to find my place in the arts for years: performing onstage was an integral part of my childhood, and while I knew I didn’t want to pursue a career as a practitioner, I was not ready to let that passion go. Sharing the intrinsic value of the arts is a life mission of mine (it’s why I did my master’s degree in Theatre and Performance Studies), and Leading Lady is my love letter to the arts through self development.
The complex thing about working in the self development industry is that my own life is an ongoing research project. To prepare for Leading Lady I committed to singing and practicing music more, a forgotten habit I now deem vital to my daily wellbeing.
I regularly reflect on what it means to be ‘a heroine in training’. Heroine Training means channeling heroines you admire and creating a character for yourself, all the while being more true to your authentic self. Being a heroine is not about putting on a costume, but about dressing to express yourself. Being a heroine is not about living a fairytale, but about being mindful of the story you are in. My alter-egos and the way I choose to dress them remind me of who I am and wish to be.
This simple but powerful message is the essence of ownership. A heroine’s actions do not require explanation. Period.
Another big project of 2016 was revamping my YouTube channel as Heroine Training television (HTtv). I’d been sitting on so many Harry Potter parody songs written years ago, and the Monkey encouraged me to share them. Practicing the guitar parts with purpose was a fun project that I intend to continue.
This is probably my favourite article I’ve written to date. It is dedicated to so many talented and beautiful women I have worked with, who have shared with me their insecurities. Vulnerability is confidence.
This wisdom, of intentional work and intentional breaks, is probably the most valuable lesson I learned from my Oxford degree.
Owning my identity as an introvert has been a key to adulthood. Like my experience with depression, I wish I had heard more voices on the subject as I was growing up. My video about what it means to be an introvert is one of the most important messages I can deliver.
A big theme for me this year is that feelings are real, and are ultimately what drive us. The character of Katniss Everdeen is widely misunderstood. Katniss is motivated not by social change or revolution. She is motivated by her core value in family, by an enraged urge to protect her sister. In the trilogy, others read her actions as political statements, when really she is acting on personal motives. She is a reminder that activism and politics are driven by personal desires, and I was thinking of this especially in light of the American presidential election.
Lately I have been turning to these motivational texts as inspiration for doing my own work. I find myself telling everyone to read The War of Art especially, and keep a copy in my already-too-heavy bag I tote around to my coffeeshop offices. Powerful writing reminds me of the importance in my own work, and my responsibility to keep articulating my ideas.
What’s coming in 2017
I will also be presenting my first in-person workshop on Hogwarts Houses and the Heroine’s Journey at the Granger Leadership Academy. I had been dreaming of working with the Harry Potter Alliance for years (it’s even on my birthday list!), so it was an honour to be invited. I hope to see some of you there this March!
This is my year of writing. I am finishing up my Life Lessons from Gilmore Girls book to send to publishers, and I will also be finding new ways to spread the values of Heroine Training through other publications. In the meantime, I will continue to write lessons for you here. I hope they help you on your journey.
I would love to know: what would you like to read about this year? Which topics have resonated with you most? What else would you like to see me cover?
Thank you for your thoughts, and thank you for reading.