And, since I last posted, I had a milestone birthday- 50! At one of our many family gatherings, one of M's cousins came up and wished me a happy birthday and then said, "Welcome to the second half!". My immediate thought was "Oh, crap! It's half over." But, on second thought, it was "Oh, wow! I have another half!" (as I fully envision living like this to age 100 :) ) I am so glad for second thoughts!
As the year 2015 ends and 2016 rolls in, and as I enter my 'second half' ', I have been thinking about what I've come to know as being true along this 50 year road. So, if you're interested, this is what I know:
1) You must take care of yourself. No, it's not selfish. It just makes sense and it must be a priority. As I'm sure you know, you only have one body and if you don't take care of it, it will eventually crap out on you. For me, as my kids got older and more independent, I began making the time to get healthier. Reading about nutrition, making the time to exercise on a daily basis and knowing when it's time to visit the doctor has changed my life over the past few years. And because of this, this year, especially, has been a good one as far as my health is concerned. And if my health is good, I'm able to be a better mom, grandma, wife , teacher, etc. I just wish I had made it a priority sooner.
2) You must "Let it be". So, good year for my physical health, not so good for my mental health. This year has been a real test for my mental stability and a few times I've felt like I was losing ground. But, recently, with a little help from this and my mom, I had an ah-ha moment. I realized that if I am wallowing in self pity and whining about the unfairness of life, other people in my life are going to be dragged down with me. And you know what? Whining and wallowing doesn't change a thing, anyway. It won't make people nicer, it won't give you the long or even the equal end of the stick, it won't bring about a 'thank you' or an 'I'm sorry' and it won't suddenly turn a situation from crappy to good. You just have to let it be. Sometimes things just have to work themselves out and it may take a while. Let it be. Letting it be is the only way to get past a tough situation, because very often, whatever has happened has nothing to do with you, so it's out of your control. It's a hard lesson. Can you tell I'm still working through this one? :)
3) You must live your truth.- Don't live your life according to someone else's rules- whether those "rules" are from your spouse, your parents, your kids or your best friend. For me, getting an education is what gave me the tools to make my own rules and live my own truth. The experience forced me to think outside of my own little world and make connections. Getting an education led me to a career that I love. I believe I am here on this earth to be a mother and being a teacher allows me to extend that role beyond my own kids. It is my truth. Getting an education enabled me to form my own opinions about politics and religion- topics I was really confused about for most of my life. My parents never forced their beliefs on me and my siblings and that left us free to form our own opinions, not just follow their lead and their "rules". My opinions on these topics are definitely not popular opinions, but they are my opinions, formed over many years, through many experiences and after much thought. They are my truth. And knowing them can only be likened to standing on a piece of very solid, unshakeable ground. And that comes in handy sometimes!
4) You must practice gratitude. Over the past four months, I have been to three funerals. In two of those cases, the people who passed away had committed suicide. The most recent was a woman I have known for many years and I would say that our lives were parallel in many ways. It affected me in a huge way, as I know how it feels to go through many of the things that she had gone through. So, I had a rough few days grappling with this in my head. I mentioned it to my mom and she responds, "Time to count your blessings". Those words are what it took to get me out of the funk I was in , as I realized how right she was. Practicing gratitude, counting your blessings- whatever you want to call it. It's huge. When things seem to be spinning out of control and it seems like nothing is going your way, stop to remember everything good about your life. Chances are, it will be a pretty long list.
5) You must live in the moment (words from my 20 year old) and look forward, not backward. Looking backward often involves regret and regret can be poisonous. I know first hand about this. Forgiveness in general is important in life. But forgiving yourself is even more important and probably, for most people, much harder to do. Everybody makes mistakes and some of us are harder on ourselves than others. M and I have had many conversations about this. And I know, now, through many trials and tribulations, that moving on from the past, forgiving yourself and appreciating what is going on right now and looking forward, optimistically, to the future is the only way to have a peaceful mind.
6) You must hold space for the people in your life. This has been a biggie for me since I've had an empty nest. I wrote about it here, last year, and thought I was succeeding in this area, especially where my kids are concerned. But, I found out that everybody has to be given their own unique level of "holding". The space you are holding for one child might not be the same amount of space needed for another child. Lesson learned (from my child whose motto has always been, since the age of two, "I can do it myself!"). I realize now that the "holding space" concept may take some practice, but it will be well worth the effort.
Wow. That's a heavy list. So, to lighten it up a bit, maybe just remember the words from 95 year old Maia, from the link above, " ...simplicity and work and enjoyment" are the keys to a long, happy life. Good advice, don't you think?
So, that's what I know. For now, at this moment, anyway. I'm sure I'll know a lot more after the second half! And, although I know these things now, it still takes a lot of practice to live them each day, so I am in no way claiming to be an expert on any of it. It's just what I know. That's all :) I'll leave you with some images from the last few weeks. Happy New Year!
|The Kristkindl Markt at Blumenhof was the unofficial start of the holiday season for me. I shared a space with MK Designs and Photography and had a great time.|
|Our humble, little tree.|
Christmas at home with my kids and grandkids, minus one, who couldn't make it this year :(