3 January | BY Andjelka Jankovic | Life
Must've been forces, that took me on them wild courses
2017 was the year of being my #bestself, living the word reverence, and discovering that my name means ‘apricot tree jewel fruit’ in Japanese. Winning.
I tried to not force things (2016 word: flow), finally understood what all the fuss is about gin (delicious), tried to find the perfect mustard (still looking), and landed an exciting job in tech and marketing (Uber Eats).
I did quite a few things alone – like travelling to Japan in cherry blossom season, hiking in Muir Woods, dining at Michelin star Aster in San Francisco with a copy of Love Is A Mix Tape – and learning how to navigate solitude like a pro. I had my own back. In essence, I’ve spent the last twelve months focusing on self-care and self-study to, as Ram Dass says, get my own house in order:
I can do nothing for you but work on myself… you can do nothing for me but work on yourself.
It has been the first year in many that didn’t have major heartbreak. I did have some unexpected fun as well as a few romantic disappointments. Key takeaway: thank them for their honesty and walk away. The other day I wrote: “I have gained more than I have lost” which I think best sums up that it won’t always feel good, but it will teach us something.
So, how will life unfold in the coming year?
Following my tradition to pick a word, spend the year living it – my word for 2018 is not what I expected, but I like it.
A state of transformation. Like butter left out on the bench. To feel ease. Relax high standards. To surrender. Go easy on expectations. To relinquish control. Melt in my own skin. To feel free.
Just because you are soft doesn’t mean you are not a force. Honey and wildfire are both the colour gold. – Victoria Erickson
In the spirit of year in review articles, here are 10 things that genuinely changed my life in 2017:
I discovered the Irish poet and philosopher John O’Donohue nine years too late. He passed away in 2008 and if he was still alive, I would move to Ireland just to spend time with him. His book Anam Cara, Gaelic for ‘soul friend’, introduced me to the ancient Celtic term which talks of a person that awakens your spirit, make you feel truly understood and at home. He writes that “one of the deepest longings of the human soul is to be seen” and how “touch offers the deepest clue to the mystery of encounter, awakening, and belonging.” The book is deep, profound and incredibly moving. An idea I think about again and again is how “possibility is the secret heart of time”. I urge anyone to read Anam Cara and find 50 minutes to listen to John O’Donohue’s On Being conversation with Krista Tippett, one of his last interviews before his unexpected passing, where he shares gems like “Music is what language would love to be if it could.” I even made a playlist about the book.
Getting Up At 5am
I made it my mission this year to wake up at 5am on weekdays. This was not an easy ritual to form, but 5am mornings are quite magical. You’re awake when everyone else is asleep, you see the sunrise, and you get a few more hours to yourself before starting the day. I use this time to meditate, exercise, eat breakfast and read a few chapters of a book. The catch is that early morning people have to make a few nighttime sacrifices for this to work. I try to be in bed around 9.30pm, skip out on TV shows, and limit late nights during the week – otherwise, 5am starts are very painful (especially when your cat wakes you up at 4.58am regardless). My next experiment is waking up at 4am a few times a week to write as apparently this is the most productive hour for famous writers.
This was not the year for dating or earth-shattering romance, but it was for friend love. In the words of Clementine Ford: “The best thing you can do for your self-esteem, your sanity, your sense of accomplishment, your happiness and your inner strength is to find yourself a solid girl gang.” Friends (and potatoes) are hugely important to my soul and I treasure my Girl Gang, Babysitters Club, Conversation Club, Sisterhood Circle, Ethnic Eats food club, guy friends, work friends, fur friends, and friends all around the world. I also started a lifelong friendship with my brother’s blue-eyed first born Zander, and as the only Aunty – I am going to turn him into a Bon Iver-cat-90s film lover before anyone else in the family gets a chance.
If you asked me to hang out on Sunday and I said I was busy, I was most likely lying. This year I experimented with an idea where I spent every other Sunday with myself. I would make no plans with anyone and go for a drive to the hills, have lunch and read, listen to a podcast and playlists, go to a yin yoga class, and generally just recharge. I love Rupi Kaur’s words that “you must want to spend the rest of your life with yourself first”. Having a Solitude Sunday is a way of making alone time spiritual and understanding yourself in new ways. After all, you will always have you.
Travel, Travel, Travel
Travel has always been my greatest teacher, and I will always be an enthusiastic student. In 2017, I said a big hearty yes to all kinds of adventures from solo (one month in Japan), to spontaneous (a surprise visit to Serbia for my brother’s 30th birthday), a few work trips (San Francisco, Sydney, Melbourne), a weekend with strangers (Donnelly River &Co retreat), and road trips with friends (Yallingup and Dunsborough). One of my favourite travel moments was spending four days at Kidera no ie, a renovated century-old boutique townhouse in Nara, Japan. Amidst the hostel and Couchsurfing life, I was looking forward to treating myself to a four day stay with a deep soak bathtub, two private gardens, and the best six-course breakfast of my life. When I booked, the Japanese staff (always gracious) were confused as it was the first time someone had booked a stay alone. They didn’t know what to do. After a few emails and calls they said: “Sorry we have to charge you for two people, is that okay?” and I said “Absolutely ” and had an outrageously wonderful time with two-hour nightly baths.
I know this sounds daft like ‘I love lamp’, but plants have changed my life. In lieu of living in a forest, I wanted to bring the outdoors in and make my room feel like one. Being a green thumb beginner is a steep learning curve and definitely not all #Instalove. Firstly, things die. I must be the worst millennial ever as I’ve already killed not one but two fiddle leaf trees. But I persevere, take pride in being a plant parent, and ask garden nurseries a lot of questions.
Cellulite In Random Places
As my friend Laura says, “this is your forever body” when you realise that you don’t fit into your early twenties clothes anymore. Hate to break it to you, but your late twenties is the age when cellulite magically appears overnight. It all started when I noticed cellulite on the back of my shoulder in triangle pose during a yoga class. And now on my legs, arms, ribs, and kneecaps. Seriously, who even knew you could get cellulite on your kneecaps? I am hoping the C-plague stays away from my boobs and back (because I love them), although one friend noticed it in her armpit (!) so I am pretty sure that no body part is safe. The one saving grace is that we all have it to some degree, which makes us all part of the same C-isterhood. If you are one of those people who doesn’t have any yet – enjoy your body, every square smooth inch of it, because you too will wake up one morning with cellulite in random places.
I’m usually the person standing on a cafe chair pointing Shazam to the speakers so I can add a song to my Spotify. This year I listened to nearly 70,000 minutes of music and made dozens of playlists to help make sense of life in lyrical form. Playlists for moods (Productive Melancholy), places (Porch In The Woods), travel (At Least My Heart Was Open), dinner parties (Kitchen Swagger), and projects (Bon Iver Baking). For anyone in a quarter-life clusterfuck, listen to Welcome To Your Late Twenties. Spotify and I are in a long-term relationship – the Discover Weekly algorithm is becoming more accurate and on point (like the time I cried to Ed Sheeran on a Monday morning in the car) with the more time that we spend together. Almost anything is bearable if you have the right soundtrack.
The Three Yes’
This year I did three 8-week courses with Elijah Tantra School in Perth with Chantelle Raven to learn about feminine embodiment, sensuality, and divine alignment. Woah, what a ride! It was incredibly self-enriching and confronting at times, as awakenings always are. My favourite teaching is The Three Yes’ – the idea that your greatest chance at true love and connection comes when your head, heart, and animal are all on the same page. Let me explain: the next time that you meet someone who you could get involved with, ask yourself: Are you turned on by their mind (head)? Is your soul on fire (heart)? And do you want to rip off their clothes (animal)? If it is not a yes to all three of these, then it’s a no. I find it really useful for making decisions now, as when reflecting on past relationships, I have sometimes only had two yes’ – and rarely all three. To echo Danielle LaPorte’s mantra – “If it’s not a FUCK YES! Then it’s a no”. A great self-reminder for not settling.
Public Library Card
I wear glasses now because when I was a child, I would stay up all night and read books pressed up to the window so I could catch the streetlight. In 2017 I (re)discovered the literary goldmine that is public libraries and used the monthly borrowing limits to my full advantage. Shout out to the writers and poets who I enjoyed reading this year: Rupi Kaur, Roxane Gay, Ram Dass, Anne Lamott, David Deida, Alain de Botton, Cheryl Strayed, Seth Godin, John O’Donohue, David Whyte, Banana Yoshimoto, Paulo Coelho, and Rainer Maria Rilke. Immersing myself in their magical world of words makes me want to write my own book, and I was glad to read in Stephen King’s brilliant memoir On Writing:
You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.
Also, I initially had eleven things, but ‘Eating Dinner for Breakfast’ is just so damn boring.
Looking ahead to 2018, I hope this will be the year that I finally make two ideas come to life: publish my writing (Welcome To Your Late Twenties) and create a podcast (Intellectual Intercourse).
Travel to Denmark (eat at Noma!), Greece, and Italy for my 30th birthday.
Explore the New Zealand wilderness.
Start a tea circle.
Find the perfect mustard.
Get into pilates.
Learn a new skill that is useful to others.
Dance more, judge less, be braver than ever, and soften.
What’s your word for 2018?
I fell in love with her courage, her sincerity, and her flaming self-respect. And it’s these things I’d believe in, even if the whole world indulged in wild suspicions that she wasn’t all she should be. I love her and it is the beginning of everything. - F. Scott Fitzgerald