2016 was quite the year. It felt long and drawn out. It certainly was not an easy year… I faced many challenges this year and hit so many different emotional lows. I made bad decisions. Not the “I don’t know any better” bad decisions either. These were the “I know this isn’t the best decision but let’s roll the dice” type decisions. I held on too tightly to people, whom I should have let go, and I let go of things and people that I should have grasped tightly with my heart strings. I gambled with my faith and I overstuffed my ego. I also challenged myself and made it through some rough patches with some newfound life lessons that I would not trade for the world. Everything has unfolded in the most perfect way….I leave 2016 with the following lessons:
- I can do it: Whatever it is- if I want it badly enough, I can, indeed do it. I quit smoking this year. I survived the mice infestation of 2016. I survived heartbreak. I can do it. Whatever it is. I can do it.
- I am not cool anymore. I used to be the cool mom. Not anymore. I now have unwritten rules that I should follow if I know what is good for me. Rules like do not dance. Ever. It used to be “don’t dance in the car” or “mom, not at the hockey rink”- you know when friends are around? But now, dancing in the privacy of my own home somehow embarrasses my teen daughter. And let me tell you-I can dance. So wtf? When did I become a mom mom? I say things like, “Molly, that shirt is OTC.” FYI: OTC means “off the chain” in my world. I think it is clever, cool and a little hood. But my kids… not so much. I am not the cool mom. I am starting to wonder if I ever really was? I am afraid I will always be 28 in my own mind.
- Weight is just a number. I did the atkins diet and bought ketosis strips. I carb-cycled. I attempted to stick to a 1200 calorie diet. I did spinning 4-5 times a week for a few months. I tried everything I possibly could to lose weight. Sometimes my newest fad of a lifestyle would last a month, other times a week, sometimes not even an entire day. For this entire year, I worried, obsessed, struggled with and tried everything to lose weight. I caused myself so much stress, worry, self-hatred, over my weight and these ridiculous diets. And guess what? My weight never fluctuated up or down, more than about 8 pounds. Those times when I would sit and eat an entire box of chocolates after a 3 course dinner at Chili’s three times a week? Still within the 8-pound range. So let it go. Weight is just a number. I am actually defined by my character and my soul, not my physique. It takes a lot of work to undo this obsession with weight, but I am working on it- I look in the mirror and compliment myself on something character-based as a reminder that my looks and weight are not what define me. I want to be and feel healthy, but I do not want to crazy binge diet and obsess over caloric intake for one more day. Because I am still me. And that scale, well, it is hardly moving anyways. 8 pounds up with a steak and potato diet is just fine with me.
- Politics Do NOT Belong in the Work Place. Most people who discuss politics are passionate about their stance. So much of one’s political stance is based on personal beliefs, upbringing, life experiences. Politics were openly discussed at my place of employment this past year. It made for a very uncomfortable and awkward work environment. I did my best to remain neutral or completely absent from any political conversations, but at times it was impossible. I toyed with merely agreeing with what others said for a while and that worked but it felt… wrong. Was I “drinking the kool-aid?” I was lying, I know that much. I was not being true to myself. However, the workplace and politics do NOT mix and I was stuck between a rock and a hard place. Eventually I let my opinions be known…. I was sick of people coming into my office and unknowingly insulting me. One poor history teacher finally got a mouth full from me and what ensued was a heated, yet fun and intellectual debate about abortion, the death penalty and cold blooded murder. I went into a long, but well-supported and very well-presented (if I do say so myself) argument defending my stance on all of the above. We both somewhat enjoyed the heated discussion as we challenged one another, but it was not professional and it was neither the time nor the place. Politics do not belong in the work place. End of story.
- Life is short. I lost a beloved aunt this year to cancer. She left behind 8 adult children, 8 of the most wonderful and faithful young adults I have known. She was taken too quickly and left a hole in the hearts of many who loved her dearly. The funeral was a beautiful ceremony that ultimately led me back to Sunday mass, but more importantly, awakened in me an awareness of the brevity of life. I also have several friends who were diagnosed with cancer throughout the year. I watched a poignant and heart-warming movie titled “The Heart of Christmas” with my children about a toddler who was given 4 weeks to live. It left us with a new attitude-we wanted to live each day as if we only had 4 weeks to live. Suddenly, I did not care which pants my son wore to Sunday mass, what time they went to sleep, or how long it took them to get settled and buckled in the car. I actually proceeded as if one of us- not even sure which one- had only 4 weeks to live. The pace of my day was slowed. There was more laughter and I love yous and less scolding and no yelling at all! I have started to say out loud to myself and my kids, “4 weeks to live.” That is enough to remind me that our loved ones could be ripped out of our lives without notice. Every second matters. Make it count.
- Get out of God’s Way: Shit, how many times do I have to learn this lesson? I get in His way. A lot. I think I know better. I want what I want when I want it. I am a superb justifier. I manipulate pretty darn good, too. This is the exact reason for me making those gamble-type decisions- the not-so-good even though I know better decisions. Whatever the bad decision, it would somehow, in my mind, bring me -some sort of instant gratification- more money, stress relief of some sort, excitement, more sleep, less work… I took the easy way out. I said let me handle this because God’s way takes too long. When I take over for God, things get messy. I absolutely must get out of His way. The only way to do this is to do the next right thing, pray, and wait…
- God is doing for me what I cannot do for myself: I already knew this, of course, but this past year it hit me- God does this in many ways. That job I didn’t get? That guy I thought was the one that is currently so NOT the one? God took those things off of the table for me-they were not part of His plan for me. If I had it my way, I would have both the boyfriend and the job right now.. I would never have given these things up, but I did not have to. God took care of it. And I have to let Him. These things that hurt me and that do not make sense to my mortal mind? These are all part of His plan. I need to not lose sight of that. I am so lucky to have Him doing for me what I cannot do for myself.
- In Pain There is Growth: So, I hit some emotional lows. Quite a few actually. I cried a lot this past year. I felt alone often. I questioned God and I got angry with Him. I had very little gratitude at times. I wanted to give up. In some ways, I did give up. But what happened? God’s will prevailed. Each emotional low brought me to my knees. Desperation brought me closer to God. The relationships I wrongfully let go of came back to me and were strengthened and now are more honest and loving than ever before. I am stronger than I ever thought I was. I am empowered, yet humbled. I am ready to fight harder than ever, to be more self-aware, to hold myself more accountable and to trust God fully. My job is simple. . . I simply do the next right thing, pray, wait and trust God.
. . . .Here is to 2017. God Bless. If God brings you to it, He will see you through it.