Sunday, December 30, 2018

In The Spirit ~ A Year Behind Us, And A New One to Embrace

With the new year only a few days away, I thought it would be great to open a discussion of what this day truly means.

Really, New Year's Eve is simply a celebration of the new year to come. But on some levels, it's much more than that.

When I was in my thirties, probably around the time I had my children, I saw New Year's Eve in a much different light than giving us yet another excuse to party and consume too much of the things we shouldn't be. It's an opportunity to reflect on the year past with all of its highs and lows, good and bad moments, heart elating and heartbreaking times as well as all of the speed bumps we've had to endure. And it's also a day to see how we can, if possible, deal with 'what was' and use that to guide us to 'what will become'.

Many of us write resolutions, which I talked about yesterday. This is a great way to look inside of ourselves and tweak a few things to either take us in a new direction or make the path we're already on even better. And as long as you don't make huge promises of change that most of us ultimately break, creating attainable mini-goals spread out throughout the year is a perfect way to stay on track of what's most important to you as well as keeps the inspiration and motivation alive.

As with several other people near to me, 2018 was tough. I'll be so bold as to say it was one of the toughest years I've ever had to face...on many levels. But, as with anything, rather than throwing that tough year behind and stamping it 'done', we need to be wise enough to see what we were supposed to learn during any hard times and be brave enough to take those lessons forward to achieve inner peace. That's what reflection is.

With my children's inspiration, I created my small list of goals I hope to achieve in the new year. I created my list with the realization and acceptance of situations I faced in 2018 in the following areas:

Health is the number one priority. There are, literally, millions of blog posts and articles out there preaching this, but I discovered in the worst possible way how very true this is. Being healthy isn't just about what we put in our bodies or refuse to. It's about paying attention to what you're body is telling you and giving it every nutrient it needs to function to the best of its ability. And this includes not just physical health, but also mental, emotional and spiritual health. If we aren't healthy in every way, we are in no position to be parents, spouses, siblings or employees.

Focus only on what you have the power to change. Trying to change other people or situations is exhausting and takes away from what you really should be focusing on...you. So in reality, the only things you have the power to change are within yourself and how you deal with, react to or what you choose to surround yourself with. I will be true to who I am and what I want in my life and let the rest go.

Accept that each of us is an individual, but that you don't have to embrace others' life choices. This is an extension of the above realization. There will always be people whose life choices are very different from our own. Regardless of what some may think, we can't 'mold' or 'shape' someone else into the person we want them to be. Choice of change has to be that person's decision, not yours. But in no way do you have to embrace that other person's life choices if they go against your own personal views, whether that person is a friend, family member or significant other. I will hold true to my own morals, ethics and beliefs and surround myself with those who are in the same place in life I am and who have similar goals. I will surround myself with those I aspire to be, rather than being dragged down by those whose life choices interfere with my own. These choices truly do make a difference both in how you see the world as well as influences the decisions you make.

Accept that no matter how well I plan things out, life will throw in a curve ball or two. Life isn't an easy journey. It's not supposed to be. Imagine how the world would be if everything was always happy, if we always got what we wanted or if things always went our way. How are we supposed to learn and grow from that kind of world? Hiccups happen. I learned not to allow myself to stay still for too long after being knocked down. Doing so is giving up, in a sense. It's not always easy to get back up, but now I take a hard look at everything involved that gets me down and do what's in my power to be steady again. It could happen right away, or it could take weeks or months. Do what I can, when I can, and not be hard on myself when I have weaker days.

Have positive ways to cope with stress. Fortunately, I've always had creative interests to turn to when things got rocky or a little difficult to deal with. Unfortunately, however, I have also turned to maladaptive ways of coping which, in the end, did way more harm than good. The effects of working through stress or anxiety using distractions that feel good (eg: creative interests, volunteering in a charity close to the heart, fun time with children or animals, etc.) lasts a lot longer than turning to habits such as smoking, drinking, doing drugs or other similar actions.

Take tiny steps in solidifying your future. Many of us live life in the moment. Which is good on some levels as it makes you appreciate being given the gift of another day. At the same time, we are never sure if we won't wake up to that 'another day' so making sure what's left behind is in place as well as we can reduce a great amount of worry. I was snapped into the reality that doing what I can to create a solid future for my four children is very important. I now know that not only do I have to do everything I can to be healthy and strong while I'm still here, I also have to think about what I can do to create those same things for my children. It creates a much-needed peace of mind for everyone.

These are a few of the main reflections I made from my experiences in 2018. Whatever my journey is in the new year, I'll take what I've learned and continue to move forward as long as I am meant to.

What are your reflections on 2018 that will guide your own resolutions?

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