Wednesday, December 31, 2014

More than fourteen things I learned in 2014

"Wow, what a year."
---Writer cat, Gus Bonifant
With my entire being, I adore Christmas. I shake off stress, I smile, I hum, I hug and whistle off-key on purpose.  

Every 12/1, I slide papers and projects to the side and clear my schedule of all but essential appointments. I'm patient in heavy traffic and find the good in trying people. If I feel cross, I get over it. I tell people why I love them and leave 100% tips all over town.

I spend December panning for the best memories and this year's take was rich: an actual songfest around the piano (a few glasses of wine into the evening between us, but never mind), gifts that surprised someone into silence more than once, and cozy gatherings of people eager to be in each other's company. 

But enough is enough.
"You're welcome."
At the supermarket yesterday, and for the first time in six weeks, I didn't hear Madonna singing "Santa Baby" or yet another version of "The Christmas Song." I heard "Dancing on the Ceiling" by Lionel Richie.
 Good, I thought. Bring it. Bring all those other C+, tepid tunes from the seventies, too. Bring "Silly Love Songs, "Sad Songs" and "Reminiscing."
It is the big December morning after.

The refrigerator is full of foil wrapped items that are probably not "okay to eat" now, the unlit tree looks resentful, and the finally-silenced Christmas CDs are stacked and ready to be put back in a drawer which we will forget about immediately.  I am off restaurants for now and in fact, I believe I am actually craving raw vegetables today.

As our full house empties of people eager to get "back to normal," cheerful, easy spirits have gradated into the focused, all business mindset of jobs to do and places to be. New energy has begun to push us forward and the new year waits like an unopened gift.  

For now, and with hopes that you too, are remembering moments you could only imagine thirty-one days ago, I have been panning for the best things I learned – or practiced again – in 2014. 

Most of them have something to do with attitude. Not because attitude is important, but because attitude is everything.  

Herewith:

RELATIONSHIPS
  • The best  relationship advice I heard this year came from writer-friend, Dr. Margaret Rutherford , a therapist who suggests we can end many of our relationship problems with one question which is hereBottom line:  stop personalizing things that have nothing to do with you.
  • If you're hurt, bring it up. If you're irritated, let it go. We don't forget hurt. We won't remember irritation. 
  • The tiniest kind gesture can turn someone's mood and attitude around for a very long time. Think of that power you have. How  would it change your life to turn your own someone's mood and attitude around for a very long time?
  •   Let people make you happy. Let them go to some trouble for you. When someone offers you something to make your life nicer don't hand it back with "No, you don't have to" or by downsizing a compliment.  Accept the offering if possible, say thank-you and mean it.
  • If they ask for it, forgive people for things they didn't do on purpose and can't fix now. And if you've wronged someone, apologize.  "I'm sorry if you're upset" doesn't count.
COMMUNICATION
  • When people give you unwanted advice, they aren't telling you what you don't know, they're telling you what they have learned. It's better to say "I can see why you feel that way," than to tell them they're wrong. You're both likely right.
  • A mind can only expand by making room for the other side of things. You won't sacrifice your own point of view by understanding someone else's. Bonus points if you say this:  "So what you're saying is..." and then paraphrase correctly.
  • When your gut feeling fights with your wish to be agreeable, defend your gut feeling.  It will give you back your bravery and with it, the confidence you need to do everything better.
  • Don't interrupt. Everyone does it. Everyone should stop. I know someone who, when he interrupts, actually puts a knuckle to his lips so he won't keep doing it. Let's be like him.
PARENTING
  • Don't punish yourself for the times you dislike parenting, or even the kids themselves when they're wretched.  Nobody is likable all of the time and our good and bad feelings exist to make us appreciate both. When they're most trying, you'd still walk into traffic for them and that's what counts.
  • Embracing who and what our children are becoming can't happen without being willing to grow ourselves. It's one of the myriad ways they give back without knowing they're doing it.
  • If you must  dwell on parenting mistakes of the past, don't forget context. Remember that there were circumstances which coalesced to make you into that huge jerk that you became for that brief time. Few people wake up and say, "I think I'll be a huge jerk today."
  •  Be grateful that all of your parenting mistakes weren't worse and admit  them to your children.  Someday they will make their own mistakes, and they'll want to tell an approachable, knowledgeable person about them.  Be that person.
  • The worst thing entitled parents teach their kids is how to be liked by a small population of very tedious people and vice versa, how to alienate large populations of people worth knowing.
PERSONAL GROWTH
  • Don't ignore parts of yourself that you don't like. Fix them. Don't call the puzzle done when there are still pieces under the couch.
  •  If you're aging and fear you're losing your looks, don't disappear with them. Remember: there were things about your nature and personality that made your mother love you when your teeth were too big for your face and you were cutting your own hair. There probably still are.
  •  It's better to understand powerful things that only older people know, than cling to what you think you have in common with younger people.
  • Be your own buddy. You have a 24/7 voice inside telling you the truth of things, including what you deserve. Don't let others talk over it. Don't confuse fear which hurts, with truth, which heals. It's time to find that inner peace you've been making fun of. It works.
  • We shouldn't say we don't care what others think of us. Everyone cares about somebody's opinion. It's learning to ignore the right ones that frees us.   
Thank you for visiting in 2014  and helping me grow the blog. It is Worth Mentioning that many of you brought friends this year in numbers which surprised me into silence and I love you for that.

But mostly, I cherish the possibility that in some way, I've made your day, or any part of it just a tiny bit nicer.

Be loving, be safe, be happy in the coming year.

Love,
Susan

Here is my picture of the last sunrise of 2014
Everyone may be a writer, but clearly,  not
everyone's a photographer.




5 comments:

  1. ...taking what is that best in us, with us into the new year, and therefore the resolution is living growth instead of a check box. Nice

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    1. Dale, thank you for being so steadfastly supportive of this blog; I wish you a new year that is your very best yet!

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  2. Awesome post! I love the advice and my favorite is the one you mentioned first about not everything being about us. I have a friend that I wish I could tattoo that on her forehead! Hope you are coming to BAM in March. Would love to meet you! Teresa from NanaHood.com

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    1. Thank you Teresa for the visit and the comment! BAM is a possibility. Hope your year was and is very special. Enjoy!

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