Tuesday, December 31, 2013

BFLY'S TOP TEN.....Lessons Learned in 2013

There are many things I've learned throughout this year,
but this is a compilation of the top ten.
These lessons were eye-opening and life-changing......

1.) DO WHAT IS BEST for you. I felt so much guilt for wanting to move out of my home and my hometown, leaving my daughter, granddaughter and grandmother behind. One part of me believed it was selfish of me to take my support away from them but the other part of me needed to be selfish, in order to give myself the love, care and support I desperately needed. I'm glad I made the move; my spirit has been so much better for it.

2.) MENTAL HEALTH is of the utmost importance. Losing my brother to suicide and battling my own depression has brought the issue of mental illness to the forefront of my life. This year, I became stronger in my fight and more optimistic about my future. I am very conscious of the way I think and behave towards myself. I must maintain a healthy mental outlook, and I aim to do so, by any means necessary. 

3.) GOOD PEOPLE do still exist. Early this year, I took a much needed leave of absence from my job. At the time, I only had a few days' worth of leave credits I could apply towards my 30 days off. The amount of potential income loss was significant, but it was worth the stress relief I'd get from not having to go to work. I applied for our time donation program (where coworkers could donate their own leave credits towards my absences) and hoped I'd receive a few days, at least. About a week into my leave, I received a document stating that most of my leave would be covered by coworkers' donations and I would only lose a day and a half of pay. My God, my God......what a blessing that was!

4.) EVERYTHING HAPPENS for a reason. I was reconnected with someone I hadn't seen in over 10 years. He wasn't anyone I had ever had any romantic interest in but, I opened myself up to the possibility. I developed an intimate relationship with him and believed it would be a long-term partnership. We had good, fun and meaningful, times together but they would be short-lived. When I realized it wasn't going to work out between us, it took a while for me to accept it. I was disappointed but I knew I had to walk away. My hopes for us were shot down but I knew the reason for his coming into my life had been met. I left the relationship as a stronger and better person; and grateful for the lesson the experience taught me.     

5.) LETTING GO is mandatory. As parents, we worry that our kids are not listening to us; that they will not heed our advice or follow our good examples. So we tend to hang on to them, for dear life, fearing that they cannot live productively without us. Sometimes, our children choose paths we wouldn't necessarily choose for them, they do things we don't agree with and they disappoint us in various ways. Even so, they do listen; they make good choices and do things we approve of and, even, are proud of. One of things I worried about most was my daughter being on her own with her baby. I thought I'd be getting frantic phone calls from her, or relatives, saying I need to get back because she just can't do it. But, I haven't received one such call since I moved. I've been visiting with them for the holidays and, I see for myself that she is doing well. I am proud of the mother she is, the young woman she is becoming and the personal growth she displays. Her housekeeping and home management is on point and I can return to Charlotte knowing my daughter is doing A-ok without me.

6.) FAMILY/LOVED ONES are not to be taken for granted. The drama and chaos that often comes with being part of a large family or circle of friends can cause one to want to get away and stay away. When I moved, it was a relief to be away from it all. I wanted to be one of those relatives who only returned home for holidays and special occasions. I wanted people to miss me when I was gone and appreciate me when I come back around. Now, I see that being away from the drama and chaos also means being away for the love, support, camaraderie, friendship and fun. Them missing me means I'm missing them and the appreciation goes both ways. While I am glad to be distanced from people & situations that have been stressful in my life, I'm not so sure if I want to be that loved one 'reserved for holidays and special occasions.'

7.) LOVE is an action word. This, I already knew but things that happened this year made it clearer. I've experienced. or witnessed, the love lie in many ways, from individuals I didn't expect it. Friends who have been around for decades and relatives who have been around for life have shown up (or not) this year in very unloving ways. It's sometimes hard to accept that the people you want in your life are not good for your life; that the people you thought would be around forever have now run their course; that the ones you'd give an arm for can hardly give a damn for you. They may say they love you but those words don't mean a thing if what they do says they don't.

8.) LEAPS OF FAITH are necessary for growth and change. Deciding to leave my job of 7 years (which provided a decent paycheck and good benefits) and move to a new city/state with no new job lined up required much thought, a good plan and strong sense of faith. Though this decision was one of the riskiest (and some may think, stupidest) I've ever made, I submitted my 2 weeks' notice with no worries. I packed up my belongings with no hesitation. I drove down the highway, away from my hometown of 40 years towards a place I had only been to once in my life, with no fear. I've lived in Charlotte for almost 5 months now, and though it hasn't been smooth sailing, my life has changed for the better. Being in my new environment has been conducive to my continued personal growth and has strengthened my resolve to take another leap of faith and another and another......

9.) ONLINE DATING is not for me. There are many people who have found love via an online dating site so I know it is possible. However, the virtual dating scene isn't for everybody and I'm one of those it isn't for. Through my experience, I learned that my time and energy would be better spent on face-to-face interactions.

10.) SPENDING HOLIDAYS with family is something to be cherished.  I was dead wrong when I said, spending holidays with family is overrated. This year, I was set on 'doing something different' for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I had shared those times with the same relatives all of my life so I figured it was time to change it up. But, when the holiday season approached, there was nowhere else I wanted to be than with my family and friends. Thanksgiving was full of so much love, good times and laughter and Christmas Eve/Christmas Day was filled with incomparable joy. Although I may 'do something different' in the future, I will never again discount the value of spending the holiday season with the family I love and friends I cherish.

What are some of the greatest lessons you've learned this year?