What I learned in December

A new year is upon us. For myself and many of my friends, we have high expectations of it being a respite from 2016. We are hopeful and encouraged and energized by the thought of new beginnings. As one of my friends declared, “It’s GOT to be better, right?” Yes, Melissa, it does.

I love the daytime on the 31st. I do soul-searching, self-reflection. I write out my new plans. I go over things that didn’t work out, look for new solutions, write out goals, think about trying something new or perhaps re-commit myself to things like exercise. The whole process energizes me. I wonder if others do this as well and what are they writing and thinking and planning. The thoughts of a clean slate puts me in a state of nirvana. That being said, we all can start anywhere, any time; it doesn’t have to be at the beginning of a new year. We just need to do it.

I already have my new book for daily meditations ready to go at the bedside. Last year I read a religious book with daily meditations titled Jesus Calling. This year it will be Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening. There will be more poetry in my life; my daughter bought me a book of poems when she was here a few days ago. I am honored and excited for this to be the first one I read in 2017. I smudged my apartment today with white sage. I learned about the practice while working with a volunteer group in Seattle. This will freak out some of my friends; they will see it as weird. It may not be for them, but I think it will work for me. I’ve taken in so many new elements and aspects of various cultures this year and in that behavior, I’ve expanded my knowledge and my mind. A great gift to myself.

 I learned a lot this month. And I also had reminders of things already learned.

I learned that healing takes a very, very long time. I am still in that process.

I learned relationships (whether family or otherwise) can wither away without some sort of nourishment. And that makes me sad.

I learned you have to let things go, otherwise, it is hard to move forward.

I saw again, the value of nature on my psyche. I came back from my trip to Belize rejuvenated. Relaxed but energetic. I’m already working on my next trip to be in nature.

I learned through talking with others and deep self-reflection the word FLOW for the following year just won’t do as my word for 2017. Badass will be my mantra instead.

I learned you can do more than you think you can do. Like spelunking, climbing up mountains with the aid of tree roots and vines. Making it through the first semester of a grueling MFA program. Living in India. Crawling over very large rocks, with the wrong kind of shoes. Scooting on your but through a narrow passageway in a pitch black cave. Moving on after losing what you believed to be the love of your life. Having faith when you almost lost someone very dear to you. It goes on and on. You put one foot in front of the other, like I did in the jungle in Belize.

I learned how lucky I am. Having been to two developing countries within less than a year, I see how spoiled Americans can be. I learned we can live with much, much less than we do. There is opportunity for growth in that realization.

I was reminded again of the deep love and devotion and support of my two children, who were there for me when my world temporarily fell apart. The same goes for a handful of friends.

I learned my favorite color is still green.

I learned that this world is so large, so diversified in its flora and fauna. God truly is quite the artist.

I saw again that the hardship of others is so widespread, whether here or in other countries, and it feels very good to help.

I was reminded that trust must be earned.

I almost lost one of the most important people in the world to me. I was reminded how precious life really is and that God does answer prayers

There are no coincidences.

The demons of others are often catastrophic. People suffering need our understanding and acceptance, not judgment.

I learned that try as we may, some people just don’t want to be in our lives. I learned it’s about them, not me. And I need to let those people go.

I was reminded nothing is certain. We can really only count on ourselves.

I learned leopards don’t change their spots.

I learned life can be a blast even after the most yuck of a year.