Saturday, January 4, 2014

Lessons Learned in 2013

I thought about writing a 2013 in review post, and then realized I neither have the time, nor the desire. So, I'm not going to. Instead, I wanted to reflect on what I've learned in 2013, and write some lessons that have come out of it.

In 2013 I learned that:

Camera phone pictures are nice, but camera phone pictures just don't cut it. I need to stop being lazy and get back to taking pictures with a real camera. I want to take quality pictures of my family and life. Maybe by the end of the year I'll have been able to save up enough to buy myself a real camera so I can record the precious moments we have on this earth in better clarity. :)

I cannot be lax in my health. I stopped working out in 2013. I stopped eating the way I know is the best for my body (nutritarian 'aka "Eat to Live" by Dr. Joel Furhman). I gained almost twenty pounds since the start of the year. That bowl of ice cream every night sitting on the couch doesn't taste nearly as good as being healthy feels.

What people say about you doesn't define who you are. This one has been a lesson two years in the making. I've had so many people try to define my actions for me, tell me what I've done and why I've done it. I have had people consistently put a negative spin on the positive things I tried to do, and the decisions I've made for our family. For a long time this depressed me, and held me back. Through the year(s), and listening to the council of others, reading great books, and reaching a place I never wanted to be, I'm happy to say I've made a turn-around. The only people that defines who you are, are you and God.

I'm walking away from other people's judgements and criticisms in 2014, and holding my head high.

“There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally.” ~Don Miguel Ruiz

I can still write. After taking back to teaching in 2012, I felt like I was giving up my dream of being a writer too. I wouldn't have time. I would be too busy. Yes, at first I was too busy. I had no energy at the end of the day, and I needed time to settle in. I learned that I can still teach, and write. I may not have as much time for it, but I still had time in the day to carve out and write. Learning this was so revelatory for me, it lifted such a huge weight from my shoulders that I felt like a whole new person. I managed to get a short story published, add another 5-6 K words to my 'grand project,' pound out 30K on another story, and another 15K on yet another story.  I can't say it any better than Umberto Eco.

The southwest is one of my favorite places on earth. After taking our two week road trip this summer across Arizona, Utah, and Colorado, I re-discovered the beauty in red earth, ancient dwellings, dear friends, and the journeys we take together as a family. The road is the place to be, to discover the amazing countryside that God blessed us with.

I can be a working mom and enjoy it. The first year going back to teaching after having children was more emotionally painful than I ever thought it would be. But as time wore on, the more I realized how my children were thriving, how our family was thriving, the more I allowed myself to really enjoy my job. There is still a part of me that is sad to admit that I enjoy being a working mom, but I have learned not to be burdened by the guilt that it brought.

Hearing the words "I'm sorry, you're father died," can knock you off your feet, and steal the breath right out of your chest. Both my grandfathers have already died, and I grieved their passing. But when they died, it was expected. They weren't doing well, and they had no chance of coming back from their Alzheimer's/Lewy Body Dementia. Was my father doing well? Not really. He hadn't been doing great since I was six. But his death wasn't imminent. I held out hopes that we could find a cure for him, that he'd rebound, that there'd be a medicine, or miraculously he'd come back to who he was when I was a kid. I have grieved before, but I feel like I've actually learned what grieving is now. I still have that hollowness in my chest, that horrible ache in my heart.

I grieve too, for all that we never were able to have together. All that his health problems took away from him, and robbed him, and us, of. I think I hurt the most knowing how hard his life was, and how lonely he was when he died. Despite being in a good home, despite getting calls and visits from his daughters - I know he wanted more from life. I grieve because I couldn't give him more, do more, and that all that we tried to do wasn't enough. I rejoice knowing he doesn't suffer anymore, but I grieve despite that. Despite knowing, and having assurance in seeing him in Heaven, whole and healthy. Despite all that, the years on earth that stretch between now and then seem so long. Too long.
Every moment we are given here on earth really is a gift, and we don't know when it could be our last. I don't want to waste another moment being angry, depressed, wallowing in my self-doubt, self-hate, self-anything. I want to focus on living life to the fullest, and taking every opportunity to spill love out to those around me.

2013 had some hard lessons to learn from, but despite the sadness, and grief, there was beauty, and strength, building of relationships, and nurturing of family, soul, and mind. I wish I could say I was grateful for all the lessons I learned this year, but I'm not. I'm grateful I'm here. I'm grateful for my family. I'm grateful for God, and love, and healing. I'm grateful for new years, new beginnings.

I am so ready for 2014, and the lessons I'll learn from this year, whatever they may be.