11 Essential Lessons I Learned In 2015

2015. I’m not even the least bit sad to see you go. I wasn’t going to write a New Year’s post for several reasons, three of which I will list here:
  1. After writing every single day since I started in March, I decided to take a much needed break. I took the month of December off and honestly, I feel a little raw and rusty picking up my computer again.
  2. I hate New Year’s resolutions. The whole concept of setting an extravagant and often unrealistic goal and then giving yourself a year to accomplish said goal does not sit well with me. I’ve learned that if I remain open and teachable, growth will naturally occur on a daily basis as a result of my continuing to stay present for life. Also, I’m a baby step kind of girl. Big, goals tend to frighten me.
  3. 2015 was hellacious and I initially had no desire to reflect (which for me, generally includes reliving the emotional experience) on the events that took place during this past year. However, thinking about not writing a New Year’s post has prompted me to reflect on this past year anyway, making this point invalid.

So here is why I decided to go ahead and write a New Year’s post: because PAIN IS MY BIGGEST TEACHER.

This year has been filled with tremendous pain- physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental. Anguish, if you will. But because of the pain, this year has also been filled with monumental growth. Here are a few highlights of what this year has taught me:

  • Happiness is not an outcome or a result. It is not a by-product of an event or experience. Happiness IS the experience. It is living right here, right now. Happiness can only be found in the present moment, not in the future nor the past. It lives inside of me; it surrounds me. And it’s access has only one requirement of me- that I show up. That I let myself be- just be- in the moment. In the experience. So I don’t miss out on the happiness.
  • I am not an expert on any aspect of my life and when I act like an expert I miss out on important opportunities to grow into the exceptional human being that God created me to be. I must remain teachable at all times if I want to become successful.
  • Grief is not linear. There will always be good days and bad days. I can’t expect to grow out of my grief. I must, instead, be willing to grow into my grief.
  • Self-care is so unbelievably hard; but it is absolutely indispensable. On any given day I have at least twenty legitimate reasons to not practice self-care. (I don’t have the time or the money, laundry and dishes are waiting, my kids need me, my husband needs me, my friends need me, my work needs me…) Here’s the thing though- there won’t be a ME to NEED if I don’t start taking better care of myself. And I’m not talking about extravagant, expensive, time consuming things. I’m talking about small, daily changes that can help to relieve stress. For example: painting, coloring, taking a bath, locking myself in my room for ten minutes of silence and taking a “mommy time out”, turning off the TV and doing a mindfulness meditation, going to bed 20 minutes earlier, not taking my phone to bed. Practical, do-able, essential for maintaining my sanity things.
  • After years of growth in recovery, therapy, and just plain life (i.e. learning how to be a functional adult) I still can’t always trust my thinking. I need others to help me sort through the noise that my head creates. Whenever I think I have a good idea, the safest bet is to run it by a few close friends who know me well. Turns out, the more I hear myself talk through these brilliant ideas, the less brilliant they become.
  • I still can’t trust my feelings either. Feelings lie. PERIOD. My feelings will never stop lying to me, regardless of how much self-actualization has happened. My depression and anxiety, even when medically managed, create realities that don’t exist. Acting on a perceived reality based on a feeling is never in my (or anybody else’s) best interest.
  • I am the only person that will advocate for myself. I can’t expect anyone else- spouse, doctors, friends, therapist- to do it for me. I have learned that persistence and preparation are key to getting most anything accomplished, especially when dealing with medical/health related issues.
  • Gratitude is a continuous practice, not a feeling. I am never going to feel grateful if I am not practicing the act of gratitude through mindfulness, observation, staying present and disciplining my mind to focus on the good that surrounds me. Even in the shittiest of circumstances, I have found that good always exists, I just have to find it. And once I find it, I must pay attention to it. I must hold onto it. The good is what gives me hope. It’s what pulls me through the muck.
  • People care. I can make up all kinds of stories in my head about how no one understands me and how I feel all alone but the truth is I AM NEVER ALONE. And just because people don’t understand, doesn’t mean they don’t care.
  • Communication can solve almost any relationship issue. There is no such thing as over-communicating. When in doubt, talk about it. When feeling misunderstood, talk about it. When feeling isolated, that’s right- talk about it! And if we start talking in circles, we can take a break. Get some air. Then talk about it again.
  • And last, but certainly not least, God is good, even when life isn’t. 

Now that I’ve shared some of my biggest lessons from 2015, I’d love to hear yours! We are in this together, friends.

Happy New Year!

 

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