1. Expect the unexpected.
2018 took an unholy delight in shaking things up, throwing things out, and lobbing meteorites from out of nowhere. It was disconcerting, upsetting, depressing, and exhausting.
What I learned: Take nothing–and nobody– for granted. Remember that nothing’s ever always–including the bad times. Decide what’s really important, and save my energy for the big battles. Pro tip: learning (the hard way, in my case) to be more flexible in my thinking has been an enormous help.
2. The world doesn’t end if things don’t go my way.
It sure as hell felt like it at the time, though. And I wasn’t a gracious loser. I took each loss and frustration as a personal affront, banging my mind against obstacles like a fly against a closed window, certain I could find a way out/around/over if I just thought about it long enough.
What I learned: Some things are worth fighting for, some aren’t, and some, no matter how much I want them and how hard I try, are lost causes. Sometimes I just have to accept the disappointment du jour, let it go, and move on in a different direction.
3. Too much media news is hazardous to my (mental) health
Yeah, I know, I’ve written about this before. And I fell off the wagon ‘way too many times in 2018. I couldn’t turn loose of the the thought that I had to stay on top of absolutely everything so I could be prepared for whatever was headed my way.
What I learned: The difference between actual news, news-as-entertainment, and outright propaganda. I also got a refresher course in how much better I feel when I do step away from the never-ending yadda-yadda and and become an active participant in my own life. (P.S.–Nothing came to get me as a result of ditching media news. Plus I slept a lot better.)
4. There’s a lot to be said for lowered expectations.
Speaking of sleep, I lost big chunks of it in 2018 to useless worrying about things over which I had no control. I was already exhausted when I dragged myself onto the daily hamster wheel and by the end of the day I had as much energy as a dead squid. Chronic exhaustion provided me with ample opportunity to berate myself over all the things I couldn’t seem to get done at home because I was too damned tired.
What I learned: A lot of that sleepless worry was a direct result of immersing myself in media news. When I stepped away from it, I slept better. And here’s a bolt out of the blue: being tired isn’t a crime, or a character flaw. It’s simply the mind and body begging for a break. (There are these nifty things called naps that are incredibly helpful. )
Regarding my home stuff, I realized the only one who was handing me impossibly demanding to-do lists was–wait for it–me. So I eliminated items from my appalling collection of “gotta-do’s” and replaced them with “wanna-do’s” like read a book or poke around the thrift store. And my life began to feel less like an endurance contest and more like something worth living.
The world has never turned just to suit my convenience and it ain’t about to start now. So I’ve re-adopted a tried and true old mantra that’s particularly appropriate to these turbulent times. It’s seen me through a lot of tough things, and I’d like to share it with you:
“God (of your understanding), grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”