via Danielle Griffith-Jones – AVAC
I know, I know, the title of this is so cliché, even I flinch when I read it and I wrote it. But 2013 has been the first year to serve me some real “kick in the face” lessons or maybe this was the first time I had truly stopped to reflect on my year. It is due to this reflection, I have learned what I will say are some pretty hard core life lessons. I feel the need to share my lessons just in case someone else out there is feeling like me at the end of 2013. These are the lessons I learned that got me through:
Appreciate your family, friends and support system in general.
And when I say appreciate them, I don’t mean appreciate what you think they are or what you think they should be or do, just appreciate them as they are, for who they are and what they bring to your life – if you can’t think of a reason to appreciate a person in your support system then maybe they shouldn’t be a part of it. This lesson came to me in multiple ways this year, whether it was an unexpected cancer diagnosis for my madre or losing our first “baby boy” Simba or watching my sister struggle to let a friend go – it was these “kick in the face” experiences that made me truly appreciate the support system I have in place. Those people who lift me when I am not strong enough or leave me alone when they know I can’t emotionally manage a sentence. It also helped me to identify and eliminate those who do not bring anything positive to my life. This lesson showed me the people who appreciate me for who I am and what I bring to their lives. It is with loss or the threat of loss that you reflect and take inventory of those special people. So take some inventory and keep the ones who count and you can count on. Let them know you appreciate them and what they bring to your life.
Allow yourself to feel what you feel
I found it easy in this year of chaos to get lost in the logistics and “turn off” what I was feeling about the challenges the year had provided me. I found it very easy to get caught up in focusing on my moms treatment, checking in on her daily, getting lost in late night work, trying to be strong for others, and making sure I was doing just about everything possible to avoid feeling anything about what was going on in my life. The sadness/stress/anger would bubble up from time to time and I would have these epic crying sessions where everything I was trying to turn off, would come flowing out of me, usually in the form of tears. It was during one particularly epic shower crying session where I realized in my attempt to not feel sadness, I was also making it impossible to feel other things that bring joy to my life. I had turned it all off. I made a decision, I was going to feel what I was going to feel, experience it, let it come and then let it go. It was when I decided to do this that I started to feel true grief for the loss of Simba, Shana’s loss of a friend and for the loss of our life ever going back to the way it was before my moms’ diagnosis. It was with this sadness though that I also allowed myself to feel, joy every time our baby boy Wyatt moved in my tummy, see the amazement in the eyes of my son and nieces when they saw something for the first time, laugh a real soul-warming laugh with a friend or loved one. When I stopped using the excuse of “busy”, I got to feel some real feelings, with sadness or anger also came love, happiness and wonder.
This lesson by far is the most generic. I mean I start with a cliché of a title and then end with “Be thankful” – what kind of blog is this???? I know it is another cliché but something I know without a shadow of a doubt I was not doing until this year taught it to me. Jeff, my partner, made me realize that I need to be more thankful. When everything was coming down around us, he would vent and then say; “it could be worse” or “at least we are a team and can get through this together”. Without actually saying it, he made me see I needed to be more thankful. Even when everything was falling apart around us, he would be thankful because it REALLY could be worse and it wasn’t… at least not yet any way J. Once I realized I wasn’t as thankful as I could be, I started to notice the things I often took for granted; time spent with my mom, the 8 amazing years we had with Simba, Shana’s life being touched by an amazing person. I started to discover I often wasn’t thankful for things that truly bring meaning to my life. It was this “kick in the face” lesson – amazing moments with friends, family and loved ones can be fleeting and overlooked as the day to day – you just can’t allow it become day to day because one day it won’t be anymore. Be thankful.
So here’s to saying farewell to 2013 and to welcoming a new year of lessons! I hope if you have faced adversity through 2013 that this testimonial at the very least, provides you with the comfort that someone else out there struggled too and survived. It is during this struggle, I found the depth of my strength, the amount of love and support I have in my life and finally to be thankful for the struggle because it makes you more aware of who you are and what you have.