“I love the person I’ve become, because I fought to become her.”| Kaci Diane
As 2020 wraps up, it can be easy to think of all the challenges we faced and even disappointments. While it’s beneficial to reflect on what obstacles we’ve overcome, lessons learned, and trials endured, what’s most important is acknowledging the growth we’ve all made. While some days just felt like surviving, other moments made us laugh, and in the end, we all were reminded how fragile we all are and what truly matters. I took the above photo on the London Eye, which was like a dream and is a memory I cherish, especially with not being able to explore the world right now. I also wanted to take a moment to commend those who inspired me and challenged me to reflect on who I am. While I enjoy marketing and blogging for companies, giving life to others’ dreams, this personal blog of mine is close to my heart, and I enjoying sharing truths that inspire me to be a better being inside. Here are a few realizations I learned that I hope might help you as well.
IT’S ALRIGHT TO FAIL. No one is immune to this human trait. When we think of personal failure, we might think of fear, sadness, shame, and heartbreak. While it’s alright to admit our mistakes or wish we made a better decision, failure pushes us to grow. We need to accept failure as an opportunity for learning, gaining knowledge, character, bravery, courage, and strength. One of my favorite speakers, Brene Brown, states it eloquently, “The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear to be more whole or acceptable, but our wholeness, even our wholeheartedness actually depends on the integration of all our experiences including the fails.” So, be vulnerable with others, share your struggles and challenges. It will endear the right people to you, and connections are made stronger by the vulnerability. No one attains perfection, so open yourself up and accept your failures. If you can reflect and learn, then you can move forward stronger.
FIND A CAREER THAT INSPIRES YOU. I am a huge advocate of finding work that fulfills you. While waiting for a dream job isn’t realistic, look for something you can be proud of. For years doing marketing and sales, I worked myself to death, worried about my titles, salary, career choices, but in the end, if you dread going to a job every day, you are wasting precious time. In this challenging job market, with sometimes limited options, I found I had to get creative. Meaning, I walked away from what wasn’t fulfilling me, even though it meant taking a large pay cut. I chose to not to be my own boss, but look for opportunities that didn’t suck the life out of me. This has included being a barista, dog walker, florist, hostess, wedding planner, being in retail, and finally, where I found my real passion, freelance writing. Yes, it meant juggling schedules, maybe swallowing my pride, but in the end, I could sleep better at night, enjoy my free time more, and be proud that each position I worked was helping me be happier. It’s never to late too take a different path, learn a new skill, go back to school, apply for a career you’re curious about, but the bottom line is doing what makes you happy. Worry about your character, not your reputation. Your character is who you are, and your reputation is what others think you are.
GET OUT OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE. While it can be tempting to stick with what’s comfortable, growth requires continued education and challenging ourselves to become better. As many of you struggled with as well, remote learning comes with a massive set of challenges, but I learned a great concept from my daughter’s school counselor that was profound. She had the children visualize a Yeti. In doing so, it strands as a reminder that although we may not be able to do something now, it just means that we can’t quite do it YET. But, if we don’t give up trying, we can get there. With that attitude, anyone can achieve incredible things. No matter how difficult something appears, how many times it takes you to get where you want to be, always keep working at it. A great way to integrate the power of YETI in all you do is to identify where you’re using the word can’t. Using yet instead brings hope, ignites a can-do attitude, and is a more encouraging environment. You must be willing to learn from your mistakes and persevere. We must develop more patience and belief in ourselves. Remember, life is a journey where there’s no room to give up. Yet is a powerful word that means an implied time, still, even, or nevertheless. Have no fear of perfection or success; it’s something that can never be fully reached.
ASK FOR HELP. All of us deal with trauma, pain, heartache, wounds, addictions, anxiety, depression, and challenges in this complicated world. Know it is alright to get professional help, knowing it takes strength and is a huge testament to you as a person. Everyone has a breaking point, but not everyone is aware that it is a choice to remain broken. Getting help for stress, anxiety, depression, and mental illness isn’t easy, but it takes more energy to repress it than to get to the root cause and work at healing it. Getting over a painful experience is sort of like crossing monkey bars as a kid; at some point, you have to let go to move forward. Sadly pain moves through a family until someone is ready to feel it. The earlier you can dig into your issues, the easier it will be to make changes in your thinking. Therapy isn’t about blame or excuses; it’s about understanding who you are and what you can be done to be happier and be more in control. There’s truth in the statement, “Unpack your baggage, so your kids don’t have to carry it.” Lu Hanessian. In a recent counseling session, my therapist listened to my words describing my chronic nightmares I was suffering from PTSD. She patiently listening and simply said, “You are a warrior.” It made me stop, and I was at a loss for words. But, her stating that also reminded me that I am powerful. Yes, I have endured much I wish to forget, but I keep fighting, and that’s all the matters. That’s what I want to pass onto my daughter. It’s never too late at any age, phase in life, relationship status, or any other circumstance to get help to be a better person.
SELF-CARE IS MANDATORY. A great quote I read recently was, “Self-care is not indulgent. It’s a discipline. It requires tough-mindedness, a deep and personal understanding of your priorities. A deep respect for both yourself and the people you spend your life with.” Tami Foreman. Every single person needs it every single day. While I have always enjoyed journaling, as a writer, this pandemic required I take it to the next level. It meant no matter how tired I was, writing down my thoughts, and more importantly at least three things I am grateful for each day. I even tried a new approach with my daughter and purchased a journal we shared. It was time away from devices each evening before bed, to listen to each other and express our thoughts. A skill that can never start at too young of an age. I also got into the habit of using a meditation app before bed. It was a reminder I needed to breathe, calm my mind, and take charge of my thoughts. Burnout can come from resentment of doing everything for everyone but yourself. Preventing it is about knowing yourself well enough to see what you need and when it’s time to do something that makes you relax, smile, and enjoy life. Know it’s alright to say no and set boundaries. Make sure to also move your body every day in whatever way you can. It isn’t about weight; it’s about your health. Everyone is different from what refreshes them, but daily take a few moments to fill yourself back up.
EMBRACE YOUR IMPERFECTIONS. A friend trying to provide comfort about my divorce recently shared a powerful concept that can be very helpful when overcoming many stressful life events. It’s the centuries old Japanese art of Kintsugi. While most of us would throw away a broken vase, teapot, bowl, plate, or other household items, this art form takes precious broken pieces and repairs them with a lacquer mixed with gold, silver, or platinum. The technique consists of joining fragments and refining the piece. As a philosophy, it treats the breakage as part of the pieces history, rather than something to disguise. It’s an essential metaphor for healing ourselves that sometimes in repairing things that have broken us we can actually create something more unique, beautiful, and resilient. Each of us are works of art with individual stories.
BE ADAPTABLE IN YOUR LIFE. A great analogy I read the other day was to look at a palm tree as an example. Paradise can be where you’re planted, so make the best out of where you live. Stand tall in the world, don’t compare your growth to others. Grow alongside others who rise up with you. Find the light even when things don’t feel sunny; there will be both good and hard days. Use your resources to help nourish the community. When you are feeling your lowest, do something positive for someone in need. While this might seem a bit basic, there is truth to this concept. In nature, nothing ever stays the same; change is constant, so we must expect the same in our lives. So, here’s to those who have the strength to lift up their roots from underneath them and plant their wounded hearts to face new light.
In conclusion, I’d like to end with a message from the inspiring Maya Angelou, “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.” We all had a lot to handle in 2020, but let’s not forget to remember the blessings, positives, and memories that were made. Who knows exactly what 2021 holds, but know we have much to look forward to, and no matter what, there will be good times to be had. Try to be grateful for life each day and know we are all a work in progress.