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I’m an artist, self-taught designer, and educator who is hell-bent on teaching everyone how to get started with Islamic geometry.

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Beside writing super useful blog posts I also teach how to create Islamic geometric patterns

Is it already time to sum up the biggest lessons I learned in 2023? Wow, time flies so fast.

I remember last December when I was going around, telling people this would be the best year yet. 

Before diving into a retrospective monologue, I want to ask you one thing. Have you done your review of 2023 and found out what worked, what didn’t work, and what you want to do next year to make it the best year yet?

If not, follow along and let’s see if you can find some inspiration here.

By now, you should already know I’m rarely bored in life. My personality test says that I am an advocate.

If you have never done a personality test, I suggest you do ​this one​. I never felt more understood in my life than with that test result. Yeah, I know, I know, you don’t need a test to define you, but trust me, you will not regret it.

Anyway, as I said, I am an advocate, and this sentence summarizes me in the best way possible:

“We understand your creativity and your passion and your commitment to doing the right thing, but we also understand the dark side of your personality type: the nagging fear that you might not reach your full potential and make the most of your one wild and precious life.”

It still gives me chills. Indeed, I’m always about doing something, testing things, and having new experiences.

But when I stop and look back, no matter how different all the things I have done in my life are, I love that they all brought me to where I want to be. Who I want to be when I grow up.

So here are the biggest lessons I learned in 2023:

I’ve opened my own business

This is the biggest goal EVER. Last year, I decided to leave my job to dedicate my time to my art. And from January this year, I was officially self-employed.

During this year, I have:

  • Launched 3 courses
  • Started mentoring and coaching
  • Taught an in-person course

The best thing is that I could match my job income, which is huge for the first year of business. Alhamdulillah.

What I’ve learned is that I love serving others but also that I can’t continue being a one-woman show, and I’m highly considering opening an internship position.

I’ve grown to be a real team leader inside GCIA

Simply put, you just don’t get born with leadership skills. That’s something you learn in life by being with people. And also, I may say, being with people AND putting your ego on the side.

In any case, this is not a monologue around leadership, so I will not go into that. And I am still learning, so don’t think I know everything. But being a team leader has been definitely the best challenge of the year.

You might not know this part of me, but I am constantly scared of being outside my comfort zone, yet I always put myself out of my comfort zone. And I hate myself for that haha.

It feels like there is part of my brain that says “Let’s just do it. You’ll figure it out anyway” while the other part of my brain is sleeping. And when the other part of my brain wakes up, usually in the middle of the thing, it freaks out “Oh my goodness why did I sign myself up for this???”

And to be honest, I really love that about myself. I hope the other part of my brain sleeps more next year so I can do even the scariest things haha.

Travelled a lot 

This year I went to Doha, London, Rome, Manchester, and Bosnia. And I’ve figured out that I love being at home. HA!

I’ve concluded that I can travel for 3-4 days max, and then I just want to go home back to my routine. 

I might become like my grandma. Who cares! If I had a garden I would never leave home, to be honest. 

Indeed, this year we have started looking for a property to buy.

The downside

Now comes the not-so-funny part.

To make room for all of the above, here is what I haven’t done in 2023:

  • Trained: indeed I have gained 10kilos. Oopsy!
  • Eat as healthy as I wanted. Again, oopsy!
  • Painted. Oh, this one is heavy on my heart.

I’m an artist who has not had the time to paint. I mean, I did a couple (only a couple) of small postcard-sized paintings, but nothing more than that.

And this is absolutely the number one thing that will change next year.

More on that in next week’s blog post.

Enough for today. These are the biggest lessons I learned in 2023.

What about you?


Biggest lessons I learned in 2023

December 11, 2023

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  1. Cairo says:

    Hi Sandy.
    I really look forward to your posts. I know how much work running your own business is.

    A suggestion for a course: I really want to combine Islamic Geometry patterns in smaller card sizes for watercolors to give as gifts. I would love a class on that… and perhaps that will help you do more painting in 2024.
    Keep up the good work!

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I’m an artist, self-taught designer, and educator who is hell-bent on teaching everyone how to get started with Islamic geometry.
I've been in the game since 2016 and trust me when I say that one year from now you will wish you had started today.

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