2016 : Lessons Learned

Another year gone. Another year spent here on Earth. Another year of growth. As 2016 comes to a close, here are my five take-aways…

1.) Being present is tough.

My “resolution” for 2016 was to be more present….mostly in regards to the time spent with my children. Less time worrying about tomorrow, less time being fascinated about what’s going on in my social network, less time stressing about what I wasn’t getting done.

Being present is NOT easy! I still have work to do in “being in the moment”, but I made progress this year. I was more aware of my actions and attitude. I put my phone away and made conscious decisions not to check it (which is quite painful, really). I stopped to play with my kids, even if it meant prolonging the disastrous mess that was my house in 2016, and I tried my hardest not to worry about that which is out of my control.

Thank goodness for my little ones who demand my attention 24/7….they hold me accountable! They won’t remember if the house was clean or the laundry was put away but they will remember the time we spent playing, dancing and reading books.

It is my responsibility as a mother to honor this.

2.) It’s OK to let relationships go.

I think one of the most joyful, yet painful, things to go through in life is the evolution of a relationship.  Some relationships stand the test of time. Others slip away slowly. Others painfully and abruptly end. Some simply evolve. Life circumstances change. We grow up. We get busy. Our interests or priorities transform.

It seems like this was my year for the “friendship evolution”. While it was painful, I’ve learned its OK. It’s really OK to back off and let people go. Holding on to what “used to be” isn’t healthy for you or them. You’re both simply….different.

And once I got through the pain and truly felt OK with letting go, I was able to see the relationship from a 10,000 ft view. There is a reason they were brought into my life; they’ve help shape who I am. And then there is a reason we moved on. I’m thankful for the memories and I’m thankful for what I learned through them.

And, I realized that I can still care about them. I can love them for who they are and appreciate the journey they are on, even if it’s no longer my journey, too.

In the meantime, I’ve really appreciated the excitement of new friendships – it’s so much fun to find someone who just “gets” you. And there is nothing quite like the strengthening of old ones. I’m blessed with some of the best.

3. Having the confidence to leap before you see the net is super super scary.

“Leap and the net will appear!”

I feel like this has been playing over and over and OVER again in my head for the past 7 years. But it’s so dang scary. Where is that line between following your dreams, and making choices that have the potential to negatively affect others (i.e. my husband and kids)?  Why can’t we have a crystal ball that tells us, “YES! Please proceed!” or “NO you idiot! That’s a dumb choice!!”?! Ugh!fe33da69589b162ad4d8d9baa2197619

Part of me thinks that if I can’t get something out of my head, I need to go for it. I’m VERY thoughtful in the (major) decisions I make…I plan, I research, I read, I seek out information and opinions and then I decide. But I’m not afraid to try something new or go against the grain. I’m not ultra-conservative and risk-averse but I’m not really risky, either. I’m totally and completely moderate.

But I am afraid of failure. I wish I could be like an entrepreneur who isn’t afraid to fail…because they know that eventually, they’ll succeed. And they DO! How do you remain a realist and grounded, while still reaching for the stars and following your dream?

Drop me a line if you’ve got this all figured out, because I feel stuck.

4. The art of being mindful.

Mindfulness: “the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis”

I have always believed that our thoughts become our realities; that we are in control of our own destiny. So, I really started to work on my own thoughts in 2016. I started dabbling in meditation. I started reading positive affirmations. I wrote intentions for my “dream life” and started affirming it.

But most of all, I started to pay attention to what that little voice in my head was saying all day long. And it mostly revolved on me not being good enough. Not being a good enough friend, wife, mom, employee, sister, daughter, human. Mostly, these thoughts affirmed that I wasn’t worthy of love. “Not being good enough” and “unworthy of love” was my reality. I’m a perfectionist and my own worst critic.

I consider it a success that in 2016, I simply REALIZED I was doing this. Now that I am more mindful of my negative thoughts, my goal for 2017 is to nip them in the bud and begin replacing them with positive, empowering ones.

5.) Learning to keep my mouth shut.

Oh boy, this one was a doozy. It took me 31 years of life to REALLY realize that if I have an opinion or an idea, I really don’t have to share it. So, I blog instead! LOL. I blame it on my birth order and being the oldest 😉 Don’t get me wrong, I have a filter. I work in development and fundraising 101 is that the donor or prospect does all the talking.

But, I don’t always follow that rule with family, friends and co-workers. I can have an idea, but sometimes, mine isn’t the best. And I can have an opinion, but I don’t really need to share it if it may hurt someone I care about. And most of all, I need to look beyond myself to see someone else’s point of view; it’s not always about me.

There is no possible way I could say this any better than these two wonderfully insightful ladies, so I am going to quote Meg Davies and Jenn Locke at Demanding Joy:

“Sometimes we have to choose whether it’s more important to be right…or to be happy. Sometimes it’s better to keep our opinions, grievances, and complaints to ourselves in order to show love and respect to others who are important to us.

It doesn’t make you weak to bite your tongue when motivated by love. We can show love and patience instead of having to prove ourselves right if the issue doesn’t really matter more than the person and the relationship does.

It’s possible to authentically live your truth and let others live theirs at the same time. And it’s such a beautiful thing when both parties do this for each other — that’s how long-lasting, lovely relationships are created.

People we love are more important than just about anything. Let’s remember to choose our battles wisely.”

The crazy awesome thing is that ALL of these lessons will continue my growth in 2017. Thankfully, I was perfectly made by my Creator to be an imperfect work-in-progress and I can’t wait to build on the progress I made this year! (see, it’s progress that I can even admit that it’s OK that I’m imperfect!)

I am so excited for what 2017 will bring! I’m looking forward to a sugar detox, deepening my yoga practice, planting my first garden and more restful nights. I can’t wait for TWO Eric Church concerts, weekend family trips to our favorite small town get-a-way: Willow Lake, some much-needed time away with our friends (locations TBD) and some BABIES to be born to some very good friends (read: they aren’t mine! I get to snuggle them and let others enjoy the sleepless nights!).

Most of all, I look forward to celebrating small, every-day victories and making memories with those closest to me. That’s what life is really all about, isn’t it?

Cheers!

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