2016 was not an awesome year for me.
I’d say it was my hardest yet.
Now, “hard” is a relative term, because the truth of the matter is, in 2016, I had a friend whose baby passed away. I had another friend who lost her battle with breast cancer…at only 36 years old…leaving behind her 2-year-old son. I had a friend find out her husband was having an affair. THOSE things are HARD. My “hard” does not compare, and I won’t try to act as though it does. Because “hard” IS a relative term though, I will hold to my initial statement that the year was hard for ME… it was MY hardest yet. I don’t necessarily want to delve into all the reasons it was hard, but what I DO want to delve into is what I took away from it.
The sucky reality of life is that you tend to learn and grow exponentially more during the hard times, than you do during the easy times, and because 2016 was something less than dandy for me, I learned quite a bit.
I learned that you can CHOOSE joy. You can quiet down all the competing emotions you have within you, and you can CHOOSE joy.
I learned that far too often I turn to “broken wells” (ie: other people) to quench a thirst, and fill a tank, that was never intended to be quenched or filled by another person.
I learned that one of the best gifts you can give your husband is to just let him be him.
I learned that I can only fix me.
I learned that you can load your dishwasher and run it at night, and wake up to clean dishes in the morning, and that that makes a morning go infinitely smoother. You can also prepare your coffee the night before and have it waiting for you in the morning. That REALLY makes a morning go infinitely smoother. You can even crack your eggs the night before, you guys.
I learned that I have major control issues, and I seriously need to let them go.
I learned that emotions do not have to dictate actions.
I learned that some things take time, and you don’t really need to try to speed up the process. Just let time do its thing.
I learned that fear is far too often my motivating factor. I hesitate to do things that I ought, because I’m too fearful. Just as often, I act in ways that I ought NOT, because fear is driving me.
I’ve learned that my kids thrive way better with more action and less talk, but that I tend to err too much on the side of all talk, and no action.
I learned that people weren’t lying when they said that “three is the hardest number of kids you can have” #truestory
I learned a new definition for the word “love”
Love: Unselfishly choosing to care for someone. Committing yourself to acting in THEIR best interest, even above your own.
I also learned that love isn’t/isn’t always/doesn’t have to be/is more than just a mushy feeling. It’s a choice, a verb, a thing that is acted out.
I learned that instead of trying to escape what’s hard, it’s so much better to just LEAN INTO what’s hard…embrace it, allow yourself to feel it, and then grow from it.
I learned that you actually don’t HAVE to bathe all three of your children at the same time, thereby committing yourself to the most terrible 15 minutes a person can ever experience. You can actually bathe them at DIFFERENT times, and in doing so, begin to diminish some of the feelings of terror that you have come to associate with the words “bath time”. (Why it took me four years to learn this, I have no idea).
I learned that a lot of freedom comes from recognizing that which is in your control, and that which isn’t. Differentiating between a situation you should do something about, and a situation you need to just let run its course. Understanding what tasks YOU were made to do, and what tasks you need to just be ok with letting other people do. Identifying what roles you are meant to play, and what roles you are not.
I learned that most of my “bad behavior” can be traced back to incredible selfishness.
I learned that age 35 isn’t nearly as pretty as age 25 was…BUT that it’s probably prettier than 55 will be, so I should embrace it. More importantly though, I learned that eventually it’s ALL gonna go to hell, so it’s better to not place too much value on outer appearance anyway.
I learned that the verse people always spout out at weddings “love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perserveres” is more than just a poetic thing to say…it’s actually something that you are going to need to DO.
I learned that you shouldn’t hold too tightly to the good times OR the bad times. When things are good, enjoy them, but know that they eventually will probably change, and that’s ok. Similiarly, when things are bad, you can remind yourself that it won’t stay bad forever, but while it is, you may as well learn and grow from it.
I learned that you can pop a cork out of a wine bottle using a shoe.
Last but but not least, I learned the difference between iced coffee, and cold brew. Because I’d been wondering about it for a long time, so finally, I Googled that crap.