For me, 2017 was a year of inviting and accepting paradox. I believe (and perhaps this is a little “woo woo” but it’s how I feel about it) that life is always sending us lessons: the sooner we listen, the less painful it will be.
The biggest lesson I feel that life has taught me in 2017 is that many times, the action, attitude or belief I’m looking for lies on the razor edge of paradox. As we say goodbye to 2017 and hello to a new year, I want to share some of the paradoxes I have come to accept (often the hard way) in 2017.
- Say AND instead of But. Say YES instead of No. Whatever follows can be the same: ‘and’ and ‘yes’ open up your life to more possibilities, and when a NO is required, it is stronger.
- Slow progress is not the same as no progress. AND Sometimes, you have to sit down and get something done.
- Sometimes it’s okay to just let things go. AND sometimes it’s okay to not let things go
Thoughts on Happiness (these may not be true paradoxes, but they’re worth considering)
- My actions and attitudes affect other people’s happiness, AND it’s not my job to make other people happy
side note: I’m not responsible for my children’s happiness AND I can create an environment that cultivates their happiness
- I am happier when I set an intention and follow through with it
A few thoughts on help
- It is not cheating to ask for help
- Secure yourself before trying to assist someone else
Lessons from an ugly wart
Feel free to skip this if you think non-contagious skin conditions are gross.Back story: Shortly after my second daughter was born (2 years ago) a wart appeared on my left finger. In that time I have tried tea tree oil, garlic, duct tape, Dr. Scholl’s Wart Remover, specialty wart removing soap, apple cider vinegar, etc. to get rid of the wart. As we begin 2018, it is still sitting on my finger.
I feel like this wart has taught me several important lessons.
- Just because something is there, doesn’t mean you have to give it your attention
- Ignoring things does not make them go away AND most things will go away in their own time (whether you want them to or not)
- Sometimes it’s worth the effort to make a doctor’s appointment
Be and love yourself
- Engage in person
- No one else has to care about your passion AND it’s okay to share your passions with other (because enthusiasm is fun)
- You need to have a budget for underwear
- Do things you love because you love them, not because other people approve of them.
(For example – I have loved being a part of the 3:30 Project: reading my dear friends’ posts and putting my thoughts on a variety of topics into words was one of my great joys of 2017. I’m grateful to you for reading them, and I would have enjoyed doing this without a single reader all year.)
- Take care of your body because you love your body
This was a revolutionary idea for me. It came to me one day when I was thinking about my exercise routine and getting in shape, and how hard it all is. I lamented that my husband wakes up an hour or more before me 2-3 days a week to get his work out in. I was jealous of his discipline.
Then, I was struck with a realization. It was as though the heavens parted and the angels sang: I realized that he works out because he loves his body. Not in a vain, self-absorbed way, but in a genuine way – he wants to get the best out of himself and be his best self for me, for our kids, for our business, for our students, etc. And he knows that he is better able to be his best self when he exercises.
The more I thought about it, the more mind-blowing it was. I realized that for as long as I’ve been “out of shape,” I’ve been trying to hate my body into something acceptable. I wanted to deprive it of bad food so it would be good. I wanted to sweat out the fat so that I wouldn’t look like a fat cow.
But, when I think about my possessions: The ones I like, the ones I love, the ones I treasure – I treat them well. I dust the bookcase I made with my grandparents the summer between 7th and 8th grade and treat it with a wood polish to preserve it. I use bookmarks in special books so I don’t have to dog-ear the pages. I carefully hand wash and dry my favorite coffee mugs, so they’re not damaged in the dishwasher.
What if I treated my body like that?
- You don’t usually get to solve a problem just once.
I tend to think that with tasks in my life – getting in shape, sticking to my budget, playing with my kids, having a good day at work – that if I could just get it right once, I’d stay on track.
But, I’m beginning to appreciate that it doesn’t really work that way. You’re never going to get one haircut and never have to worry about your hair again. You’re never going to take a shower and not have to worry about keeping yourself clean anymore. You will never brush your teeth once and for all. These things just come up again and again. So, whether it’s a problematic behavior from my kids, going grocery shopping or a bedtime routine – I need to accept that most problems don’t stay solved.
- We must find a way to live our lives like we’re going to live a long time, and as though our lives could end at any moment.
Perhaps it was because of my 30th birthday. Perhaps it’s because my daughters are growing up so quickly, and I feel the passage of time so acutely. Perhaps it’s because my dog is getting older and I feel like we may not have many years left with her, but I put a lot of thought energy into mortality this year.
Taking the time to remember how fragile we are, and how precious life is has been helpful to me. It helps me remember to tell my daughters I love them. I try to always leave them on a positive note (just in case). And, it helps me keep my frustrations in perspective (this too shall pass).
But at the same time, we could have a long time left on this earth. If I live to be 100, then I have 70 years left. That is a very long time. It’s hard for me to keep both things in my mind. I still have time for many things, and the only time I have is now.
Thank you for joining us in the 3:30 project this year. It has certainly been a place for growth, joy and fun this year. I cannot wait to see what 2018 holds for us all!
Happy New Year!