lessons learned, 2014 edition.

GEG-featured-imageSpotted these words last week from blogger Mandy Hale: “I hope you find some time to get really, really quiet….to sit silently in front of your life and contemplate how magical it really is, before we turn the page and greet a new year.” I like the sound of that. And I realized…thanks to my parents, I do just that every December. Sometime around the century-turn, my mom and dad requested that their children each write them a letter reflecting on “lessons learned” during the previous 12 months. So, for about the last 15 years, my brother, sister-in-law, husband and I have all gotten quiet, sat silently, contemplated our lives, and turned out the resulting Lessons Learned letters. Here’s my list for 2014, minorly-abridged (some things are a tad too personal for the blogosphere, you know?):

  • Things happen for which there is no explanation. The sooner one can accept this hard truth, the better.
  • For many years, I’ve placed too much security in and excessive value on my interactions with certain people. This needs to change.
  • If you go to Austin by yourself for a writers’ retreat, you might get a little writing done. You also might overbuy on treats from the nearby Central Market.
  • I try hard to be authentic in my speech and actions. I expect others to do the same. Not everyone does.
  • People will say/imply that they are in relationship for the long haul…and then they won’t be.
  • When several close friends fall away, you may feel there is something inherently wrong with you; when several other close friends insist that there is NOT, you will try to believe them. If you instead alter your perspective and consider that God may be directing you into a sort of necessary wilderness – a place of deep growth – the loneliness will be easier to accept. Welcome even.
  • As much as I crave for others to express affection for me, when everyone pours it on for my 40th birthday within one weekend, while appreciated, it will also reaffirm the fact that I do not enjoy being the center of the attention.
  • Friends who see you at your silliest and saddest, most honorable and most wicked, and still pursue relationship are The Very Best Kind.
  • If you text your doctor and therapist and tell them you are in despair due to not sleeping for four nights in a row, you will be a priority patient and land a spot in their offices within hours.
  • It’s hard to pursue relationship with anxious people when you yourself struggle with anxiety.
  • Care for yourself. As much as others love you, they can’t know every desire of your heart or the depth to which those desires extend. No one can care for your spirit like YOU can.
  • Dealing with grown-ups acting like children turns out to be good prep for dealing with children acting like children.
  • If you are going to wake up at 6am EVERY MORNING, you might as well write something.
  • Anger is perfectly acceptable. But if you sit with it too long, it turns to bitterness and resentment. No sense in staying there. Move along.
  • Really glad I didn’t go to Europe for seven weeks with three children under the age of ten.
  • Loved having seven weeks with my girls while the boys traveled. Loved us all being reunited.
  • While your handyman husband travels overseas, the yard sprinkler will fritz out, the city will deliver a citation for “low-hanging vegetation”, and a hailstorm will pummel your one-and-only car.
  • Don’t try to outrun the hailstorm.
  • Having a 10yo playing baseball means you’ll be cheering him on wrapped up in a blanket this week and sweating in the bleachers the next.
  • Your 7yo will take a gymnastics class, seem older and more independent, and it will freak you out a bit.
  • Having a curly-haired, dimpled 3yo living in the house will be an endless source of entertainment.
  • Surviving hard circumstances and relationships will show you that you’re stronger than you might have initially thought. Even if circumstances remain the same, you can allow yourself to be transformed into a more content, compassionate, forgiving being. This sort of change is painful, which, I suppose, is why many people resist. But after observing this sort of metamorphosis in others (and the very beginnings of it within me), I think this is where I see Love in its most complete form.
  • Some folks really wanna micromanage the details. Let them. While at times their behavior may annoy, it also means one less thing you have to think about.
  • If you hear a teenager say things about herself out loud that you think about yourself inwardly, you will carefully consider the advice you give her, knowing that if it holds true for her, it holds true for you. Are you willing to take your own advice?
  • It takes time to build trust. If you break someone’s trust, it will take more time to rebuild it.
  • Practicing yoga might incite prolific crying.
  • There is a time to homeschool; there is a time to public school.
  • The Japanese Gardens in Fort Worth are worth every penny for admission.
  • A relationship with a close friend will present you with the (heartache-inducing) opportunity to figure out where exactly you’ve been placing your self-worth all these years and question why you have esteemed the approval of specific people for so long. This event will make you contemplate those in your life who extend the hand of welcome – grace – even when, especially when, a relationship is in a delicate spot. Because of your own experiences of receiving grace, you will think a lot about how to be a person who offers it to others.
  • I could live in New Orleans. But only in certain neighborhoods. And not during summer.
  • You will drive into the heart of Dallas sick and sleep-deprived to pick up a friend from the airport so you can talk in the car for three hours uninterrupted on the way back to Abilene. It will be one of the highlights of your year (and you will tear up typing that into your Lessons Learned letter).
  • I’ve spent so much energy getting to know other people. Maybe it’s time I get to know myself.
  • Watching Abilene’s Christmas parade from the 2nd floor of The Wooten might beat watching the Macy’s Parade from a condo overlooking Central Park.
  • My life partner isn’t perfect but he’s pretty perfect at helping me handle life.
  • The simple practice of looking at strangers and praying for them (“May you know love and peace. May you be free from suffering.”) will change the way you feel about strangers. In a good way.
  • When your heart tells you to wait…WAIT.
  • Healing takes time. time. time.
  • Today, I believe.

4 thoughts on “lessons learned, 2014 edition.

  1. Hi Jana! Love reading your blog. You are a great writer. We were friends of your parents some 30 plus years ago ! You and your brother were youngsters. Haven’t seen them since y’all lived in Shreveport . We still live on Longview. Please tell them hello for us and sorry we lost touch! Keep up the writing.
    Paula ( and Joe)!!

  2. What a lovely assortment of lessons to learn! I especially like the practice of looking at strangers and praying for them. I do something similar (when I remember). It always calms and brightens my day.

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    the same unwanted rehashed material. Excellent read! I’ve saved your site and I’m adding your RSS feeds to my Google account.

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