what i’ve learned

i feel like this has been a big year. amazing things have fallen into place, while other parts of my life have taken me by surprise and gotten flung up in the air with abandon. i’ve read others’ lists like this and am always touched by how insightful and wise they are – we have a lot to learn from our own lives if we just take the time to listen. i didn’t want 2013 to go by without a little reflection, so this is my own small act of homage to everything this year has taught me. here goes:

  • in friendship, support is better than advice – i don’t say this as an absolute; everyone values different things when it comes to friendship. but this is what i discovered and ultimately articulated about my own: when i call up a friend, with good news or bad, whether hurting or elated, i don’t want a diagnosis and prescription; i want someone to join me in what i’m feeling, to remind me what i’m made of. my friends are my heartbeat because, with them, i am known. “a friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”
  • how to take care of myself – this year, that has meant: exercising, finding healthy foods i like to eat, giving myself permission to say no (instead of doing every favor asked of me), and setting aside sacred time each week to decompress.
  • how to comfort myself – this is different than taking care of myself, and that was a lesson all on its own. no matter how diligent you are about living right, things will still go wrong. what happens when it’s up to you to make yourself feel better? it’s ok if the answer involves netflix, chocolate, a strong drink, and/or a few angry journal scribbling sessions.
  • you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have– this lesson carries over from a health scare i had in 2012. what was then a seemingly slow-motion series of events (lump, doctor visit, ultrasound, probably benign, mysterious pain, doctor visit, biopsy, phone call, definitely benign) has now become a short story about understanding my strength. i am not invincible; i know it could all happen again but with a different ending. but because of how i faced the first fear, i have been irreversibly changed for the better, for the bolder. i know who i am in the face of uncertainty. i have proven myself to myself.
  • having strongly-held values is different than living according to them; setting a goal is different than working towards one – this is my current lesson, and it’s a work in progress, for sure. i have always prided myself on knowing what i want, but this year was a series of gentle wake-up calls that perhaps the way i was living was not in line with those end goals. how can i say i want to meet someone if i don’t set aside energy to date? how can i talk about being a full-time teacher “someday” if i don’t look into what degrees i need to get now? caring is not the same as doing.
  • i like work – yes, i might currently be sitting on my bed still in my pj’s typing this. however! that doesn’t mean i don’t gain an immense sense of satisfaction and contentment after a good day’s work. i was never one to define myself by my job, or my success by my professional accomplishments, so it was quite a pleasant surprise to discover how much work means to me: my job specifically, and my field in general. what i do makes me a better person, and i like that person a lot.

Be you, bravely

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