What I Learned in 2011

I hate the idea of New Year’s resolutions. My brain just doesn’t work that way. I believe in holding yourself to standards and goals but only when you’re ready, not when the calendar says you should be. The start of the new year is very refreshing, a new way to mark your accomplishments and plan ahead. But it’s all to often the bright shiny object that loses its luster too quickly.

Instead of hanging all my hope on the year ahead, I like to look back and see what I learned from the year passed and how I can grow with the lessons – fortunate or not – that life threw my way. If you aren’t learning, how do you expect to change yourself? Life is about moving forward, not covering it up and starting over.

#1 Grandpas getting sick doesn’t get any easier to handle the older they get.

#2 Just ask if you don’t know – there is no such thing as soup cream. Realizing there could be a texting error in your grocery list could potentially save you several minutes wandering aimlessly down the soup aisle.

#3 I found a great escape . . . a small dose of sunshine that reminds me how sane I actually am.  Jersey Shore and Real Housewives will never get old. And that’s okay.

#4 I rediscovered books this year and gained more confidence in my professional self. I learned the importance of self-reliance and becoming a tireless seeker of knowledge. Reading is knowledge. Knowledge is confidence. It’s just what I needed.

#5 I was burned by an employer I trusted too much and I promised to never let it happen again. I am amazed at how much others will take advantage, but I won’t forget.

#6 I understand that old people die. But you will never be ready to lose your grandparent, no matter how long they’re sick or how many birthdays they’ve had. Judging by my mother’s loss in her sense of self and identity, losing a parent will only be harder. I’m so thankful he was at my wedding. And cry that he’ll never see my babies.

#7 Connecting with like-minded women has been one of the most important things I’ve found in my 20s. Refreshing, inspiring and exciting for the soul and the mind.

#8 Fifth place will never feel good enough. I hurt for him when he loses. He loves it so much.

#9 “We all bleed red. We all taste rain. We all fall down and lose our way. We’re all the same.” Sometimes people don’t see this and you can try your damnedest to show them but they don’t. It’s never easy to give up. But I’ve learned sometimes, you have to.

#10 This year my parents went through more pain than I have ever seen them in. I learned they are human beings, destructible, sometimes they second guess themselves, other times, they need reassurance. Sometimes you need to take care of them, initiate the phone call, tell them you love them and offer them a hand. They want compliments, love and to be bragged about just as much as you do as their child.

#11 We did a deviled egg toast and missed him dearly.

#12 Holidays are hard when you get married and make a home far away. As much as I love and miss my old traditions, I know things will never be the same. The old life is fading – some pieces are holding on and some have long gone. I look back with sadness that they’re no more but I also know, that new traditions are starting and I’m so excited for them. The transition period is shitty, hard and beautiful all at once.  I have to remember to focus on the beauty of the “new door”.

#13 Losing a pet . . . that one is hard to swallow but something I have to understand. It tears me up.

#14 Job hunting tested my character and self confidence. I had to really dig down and figure out just how freaking awesome I really am.

#15 Oklahoma Thunder was NOT inaugurated in 1967. Sonics were. This kind of pissed off will never go away.

#16 I learned to like my coffee black, eat sushi and make gravy from scratch. I also learned to care about reading and watching the news every day.

#17 I finally understood I had to let some friends go. You can grow a part from your childhood and still be fond of the people and things that made it what it was. While this scared me at how far away childhood has become, something changed in me. I saw myself let a little piece of that go. It’s scary and amazing all at the same time. It’s nice to talk about where you’ve been but nothing will ever beat talking about where you are going.

#18 All the things I thought my parents “just knew”, aren’t intuitive. You have to make an effort to learn the basics in life. Like what you should really get done when you change your oil, how to make chicken soup when your husband is sick or what medicine is best for the current ailment. And you know what, it’s okay to be proud after each small feat you do on your own.

(I had to text mom this picture because I was so proud of myself)

#19 At 26, I still love birthday presents like a little girl. I just don’t enjoy the number that comes with them.

#20 Chesney’s belly is indestructible – dark chocolate, Swedish fish and face wipes are nothing. I’ve learned to call the vet and freak out a lot less this year.

#21 I realized my choice in souvenirs are a great insight into where I am in life and how far I’ve come. I’ve gone from key chains to shot glasses to coffee mugs. . .

#22 Cancer will forever chill me to the bone – no matter who, no matter when, no matter where. It will never make sense.

#23 I learned that if you wear a pretty red bow in your hair when you are forced to play in your husband’s flag football game, you get yelled at a lot less.

#24 To be misunderstood is a great tragedy in the face of personal growth. It’s confusing. Trying. Sad. You have to make the  choice to live misunderstood and know you’ll never be able to really get across your hurt, anger, love, care, trust, etc. or live according to others’ threshold for the truth and continue on, painfully unnatural. You have to find a balance or make a choice as to whose feelings you want to live for.

#25 All of us – the strong, weak, talented, smartest, the have-it-all’s – we all want to play the victim in our own way. The “right-to-be” wrong rears its ugly head so easily in human nature. We’re all guilty of it so maybe we just need recognize each other and their contributions more . . . no matter how big or small.

#26 From my parents’ arms to my husband’s arms . . . I’ve learned to trust my heart, let go a little and really enjoy the life I’m building. And that letting go, even that little bit, doesn’t mean I care less. It means I’m finding myself. As an adult, as a family, as a wife.

#27 Closer to 30 than to 20 this year, I’ve realized I’m doing a good job in my 20s. Though I may complain about them, I know I’m using them to learn and grow and find myself and my dreams. To get the job I love and marry the man I want to have babies with. I’ve seen people get stuck in their 20s . . .staying closer to the person they were in college or even high school. I used to feel left out …left out of the fun and left out of important relationships. I’ve come to understand that I’ve moved forward through failure, I didn’t let myself get stuck. All those times of doubt, not knowing myself, feeling left out and friendless…they weren’t all for not. Not even a little.

So, however you chose to ring it in – whether it was making a promise to yourself, setting goals or following a passion – Happy New Year. What were your resolutions?