Sana saïda! (Happy New Year!)

Happy New Year from EssaouiraBeing a slightly superstitious, half-Scottish lass, I was not able to wish anyone a happy new year until the year had actually begun. This didn’t stop all my friends here in Essaouira wishing me a “Bonne Année” or “Sana saïda” since about Christmas Eve. Many Moroccans don’t really understand the concept of Christmas, and so often the two festivities seem to roll into one.

Now that we are well and truly in 2014, I have been giving some thought to the year ahead. Inspired by Pauline of Tea in Tangiers, I thought I would share them with you…

1. Live the dream. Clearly, everyone back home thinks I *am* living the dream. I quit a well-paid job-for-life in dreary Scotland to live in the sun sipping mint tea and watching the sunset, right? However, giving up that stability, the steady income and the ready-made network isn’t easy. In 2013, I sought out a stable job, built up a new network and earned a steady income with the High Atlas Foundation. I replaced one institution with another (albeit a very different one). In 2014, I will seek to achieve the balance I came here for and carve out time for myself and my thoughts. This should be achievable now I am working part-time, have new colleagues on board and the confidence I can design the life that fits *my* dreams.

2. Channel my creativity. I totally get Pauline’s resolve to “to take control of all of my ‘bright ideas’ and make them happen instead of just talking about them.” After taking this test, I realise I am a “distracted creative.” Living in Morocco, I have so much inspiration flying around, I find it much easier to conjure up the ideas than actually put them into practice. This year, I want to actually start implementing some, starting with changes to the maroc-o-phile website and including a business idea.

Be the change you want to see in the world


3. Giving up. 2013 was a year of fresh starts, culture shock and challenge. Once I had got over the initial frustration, annoyance and disappointment that things weren’t going how I thought they should, I started to reflect. ‘Mindfulness’ has been the psychological buzzwords of the last year or two. Mindfulness means different things to different people and practitioners, but for me it’s about pausing, not getting carried away in the moment and asking ‘why,’: ‘Why do I feel like this,’, ‘Why am I reacting like this?’ My conclusion is that (probably among other things) I need to give up the past. Or, to be more precise, give up the negative aspects of the past. In truth, the only thing I have ever really failed at was my marriage, and I can’t take all the blame for that. I have had a successful career and I will go on to have another. I have a lot of skills, capacities and creativity and it is these that will shape my future, not nagging doubts or self-limiting beliefs based on a skewed interpretation of a select aspect of my personal history.

4. Changing for the better. As Ghandi said, we should “be the change” we wish to see in the World. Since participating in the BMW Foundation’s Young Leaders programme, moving to Morocco and getting involved with a non-profit, I have become increasingly interested in social entrepreneurship. I haven’t found ‘my’ model yet, but I am actively looking. Ideally, I would like the opportunity to work for a greater good with one foot in Morocco and one in Scotland. Watch this space for news!

5. Back it up, back it up, back it up! Although I plan to maintain my healthy interest in urban music and hip hop, my fifth resolution actually refers to my tech. We were burgled in 2013 in Essaouira and it has taken some time to mentally and practically get over it. Many documents and photos are gone for good. So, if you don’t agree with any of my other resolutions, please listen to me on this one: make sure your electronic files are safe! Copy them, cloud them, sync them or burn them. Just make sure you have a back-up!

Wishing you a very healthy, prosperous and happy 2014!

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