What I’ve learned

Happy New Year’s Eve!

2017 is coming to an end and I can already see 2018 peeking in from around the bend.

In all honesty, in many ways, 2017 sucked. We had a huge loss in our family. I was really disappointed by some people and that was hard. Many times, I even cried.

But

2017 was also the most transformative year of my life. I learned so much about myself, my goals and my tribe.

I cannot possibly count or name all that 2017 has given to me, but a few things stand out, and I want to memorialize them here. Because that is what I do. I’ve learned that writing is so important to me.

Last year I wrote this piece for The Mother Co about my own New Year’s Resolutions and I am really proud to say that I kept them (mostly)!

Here is the update.

The piece above focuses on “saying goodbye to mom guilt” and that has been the hardest thing to shake. I still have it. I’ve learned that guilt is one of the things that causes me the most anxiety, and so I am working very hard to assuage these feelings. But, despite the fact that I am still a member of the “guilty moms club” I did manage to fulfill the rest of my more concrete resolutions and below I will share both my goal and its result:

1. Make an effort to form deeper connections with my friends; fortify the village. 

This. I have done this. As I have said many times, especially recently, the people who are in my life today are here for a reason. They are the good people. Many of them have seen me at my worst and they still love me (or, at least, accept me) and I have made an effort to reciprocate the kindness and care that they have shown to me.

I spend time with fewer people but I spend more time with my people. The equation works out perfectly.

2. Find awe. Look at the sky on a clear night. Swim in a natural body of water. Go Outside. 

Check! I have, quite literally, stopped to smell the roses. My own roses! I have gotten my hands dirty. I magically turned into a gardener! And, most recently, I made snow angels with my kids and husband, staring up at the sky, and because I was wearing sunglasses I could keep my eyes open. This was the first time I’d ever done this. I was able to just look up at the white sky and watch the individual flakes as they fell down onto my face and the world around me. It was stunning.

3. Pamper myself. Whether it is by doing a face mask at home or being treated to a luxurious day at the spa, it feels good to feel good. For me, I like to splurge on manicures. I feel confident when my nails look pretty and I will never turn down those free back rubs.

Not only did I pamper myself (and yes, having nicely polished nails does make me feel good and perhaps that is a silly, vain thing to say, but it is also honest) but I got to do so with my best friends. I took a spa trip with just my girlfriends and we got luxurious treatments while drinking hot cocoa (after a few trips down an enormous waterslide). I also started to really take care of my skin. I made myself a priority.

4. Ask for help. Childcare, therapy, an extra hour of sleep…whatever works. 

All of the above. It is still hard for me to ask for help, but I have done it. I have called friends and family members and said the words, “I need help.”

I also still go, regularly, to a psychologist, psychiatrist and dietician.

So, now we know that I can keep a resolution, but what did I really learn?

Here is What I’ve Learned in 2017:

1. I’ve learned so much about superheroes, Star Wars and sabers (of the light variety). And even though this, in and of itself, is noteworthy (STAR WARS, PEOPLE!!!!!), there is a deeper meaning here. I’ve learned about these things because these are the things that my son loves. And his passion and enthusiasm for superheroes, villains, Kylo Ren, etc. has made me enthusiastic about superheroes, villains and Kylo Ren. Because I am enthusiastic and passionate about my son. In 2017 I learned that my postpartum depression did not impact our bond. I even shared my postpartum story with him (the 3-year-old-appropriate version, of course) as my way to apologize,

I guess (see above re: mom guilt). Although he is a total daddy’s boy and although his sister is his favorite person on the planet, am the one to whom he comes when a boo-boo needs to be kissed or a snuggle needs to be given.

2. I’ve learned to never say never.

3. I’ve learned to advocate for my children in a way that I had not anticipated. Though we all want to keep our kids safe and happy 100% of the time, we cannot. Now that my daughter is in 2nd grade her needs have really changed. We can talk about real things and while that is awesome, it can also be daunting; emotional; big. As I explained to her the other day, I cannot solve all of the world’s problems for her. And, even the ones that I can solve, I might choose to let her figure out on her own. As I illustrated to her (via metaphor), if it is drizzling lightly outside, I will let her put on the hood of her jacket and get a little wet. She needs to learn that she can. If it is pouring, I will run to her with a metaphorical umbrella. She now knows two salient things:

When she is in trouble she can ask for help and, many times, she has the power to help herself.

4. I’ve learned that music is not just a hobby for me, but that it feeds my soul. I lost my music for a spell, and it had an impact on me. But, thanks to a lot of support and some varsity level friendship, I’ve now found my music, again.

5. Ok, so this is an embarrassing one, but if I am being honest about what I’ve learned then I need to share. 2017 is the year in which I learned that “its” is the proper way to spell the word, unless it is a contraction, short for “it is”  or “it has” and now you know that I did not know this before, despite the fact that I call myself a writer. I always thought that “it’s” could show ownership. Like, “The blog’s author was embarrassed by it’s mistakes.” It does not.

So as the writer of this blog IT’S somewhat mortifying to admit my longstanding misunderstanding; I don’t blame the English language for ITS odd rule that doesn’t really make sense to me, but apparently “it” is a word that does not get to show possession with an apostrophe.

6. I have learned to take red flags seriously. Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt, but once more than one red flag goes up so do my antennae and I have completely changed my boundaries and the way I regard my relationships. I have learned that I am capable of standing up for myself in ways I never thought possible.

I have learned that I do not stand for injustice.

7. I have learned just how “not alone” I am.

8. I have learned how to do psychological research, cite sources in the Chicago Style and attempt to create an index. All of that is to say that I have learned how to write a book.

9. I have learned just how important it is to feel appreciated at work. I have learned about the power of gratitude, both expressed and received. I have learned that the morale of any business comes from the top down (well, I kind of knew that already, but this year really cemented things for me) and that when you have a job that is making you feel more sad than happy, perhaps it is time to look for a new job. I have learned that positive feedback goes a very long way and that everyone deserves to be recognized for the good that they do. Because a lot of people do a lot of good.

10. I have learned that when I start a sentence with, “To make a long story short,” it is NEVER short.

11. Back to the grammar table, most recently, in coming up with the title for this post, I learned the difference between “I” and “I’ve” in a situation like this (meaning “What I learned” v. “What I’ve Learned”), as, because I am referring to a very specific period of time (2017) that has an end date (at midnight, tonight) “What I learned” seemed right, HOWEVER, since I am carrying these things into the present and cannot classify them as being completely in the past I opted for “What I’ve learned” as I have learned things that I will most certainly take with me into the present and future. Also, I am not 100% sure that I did this correctly, so I apologize. I did my best. I’ve done my best. See!?!?! It’s hard!

And that, my friends, is what I’ve learned.

So, what are my resolutions for 2018? You’ll just have to wait for the next post to find out. And that is not just a cop out–I really do have them–but I have learned that some things are worth the wait.

Thank you for everything that you have given to me this year. You, dear readers, are amazing. I am endlessly grateful.

Happy New Year to you and yours.

See you in 2018!

xx,

B

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