What I Learned in 2014

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What I Learned in 2014 (listed in the most random order)

Age is simply a number. Since turning 50, this reality has become all the more
apparent. I don’t feel radically different but I am grateful for the accumulation of
sights, sounds, tastes, fragrances and experiences which have molded and
enhanced my life. I rejoice for each year.

It is best and wise to treat most people as if they still
have a 10-year-old heart.

No matter my age, I am not immune to having my feelings bruised.
I am trying to remember this as I move about life or when I think my
joke or pun is too hysterical not to share but risks someone else’s  tender heart.

My affection for children and young
adult literature has been rekindled.
It’s been a joy hosting a 5th grade boys
book club this year. I have loved diving into their world
and reading books which appeal to them. I have learned some
profound lessons reading YA books over the last few years.

Lowering a goal can set you free or how to exhale when
you are a recovering perfectionist. I set a high reading goal
on Good Reads this year, mainly to track my reading. However,
whenever the tracker would say I was ahead of schedule, I
gave myself a high-five.
When it showed I was behind, it irritated me. After a few months
of self-inflicted torture, I decreased the goal and it made all
the difference. The goal was reached and surpassed, with joy
not burden.

The more I accept the way I am made instead of warring
against it, the better I care for my self.
I’ve always wanted to be the life of the party. I have always
wanted to be outgoing and energetic. During some chapters
in my life, I was extremely outgoing and volunteered for
everything. I was also exhausted and burnt out.
In my 30’s, I wanted to wish months away at a time.
I was suffering from an extreme need to please and fatigue.
I am learning to accept my calm demeanor and understand my
need for solitude. I am better for it and the people
around me benefit from my taking care of the true me.

Leaving/Changing churches is never easy.
Especially when it is not the first time.
Admitting the challenge it has been and the pain
that remains has been both liberating and excruciating.
I have felt a deeper cavern than I anticipated and
have needed God to tend to this heart space.
January will mark a year in our new church and I am
allowing myself the time needed to grieve and reestablish
footing. I am not jumping in towards service or even
joining groups until my heart has settled down.
I am going to and staying in church because
I still believe in it even when every cell in me tells
me to run and go to brunch instead.
If nothing else, I revel in the collection of friends
who remain in my life despite no longer sitting in pews
together. Rejoice!

We say what we know.
I believe God is tender.
I have been paying attention to what I say and write about
God, even in the lines of emails.
I say God is tender a lot.
I love this because I need His tenderness when the world
can be littered with bitterness.

Bird watching is good for the soul.
You know how they say, watching fish in an aquarium
will lower your blood pressure?
They do say that, right?!
I believe watching all the varieties of birds outside our dining
room window feasting at our bird feeders
brings heart rest.
I look forward to this any time of the day activity
and I feel as if I am doing my part to care for
the bird kingdom.
However, squirrel appearances have the opposite effect.

I think Gwen Stefani and I could be really good friends.
Did you watch The Voice this past season?
Who knew Gwen was one part rock star/
fashionista and the other part weepy mama coach.
She made watching the season even more fun.
Ever leaf through celebrity magazines containing
sections entitled “Celebrities…They’re Just Like Us!”?
(I promise, I won’t tell.)
“They pump their own gas!” (Unless they live in Oregon).
“They drink Starbucks!”
“They take their kids to the park!”

“They walk!”.
Well, now I truly believe Gwen Stefani and I are alike.
We both cry as we watch people reach out and catch
their dreams.
Yep, she’s just like me 😉

Staying connected in relationships, doesn’t just happen,
it requires an intentional effort.
My friend Karen and I have met monthly for years. We would never
leave our time together without getting out our chosen style
of planner and setting our next date. We got out of the habit
and MONTHS went by without seeing one another. We
are now back on track and have seen each other monthly for the
past several months. We always marvel how quickly a month
passes. Thank you Karen for this reminder and keeping us
connected. It has helped maintain our precious friendship
and this habit has spread to my other friendships as well.

I am thankful for friendships which allow me to
sit in the midst of questions unanswerable.
Each one of us has different opinions and views.
There are many answers but each one must
be sorted out for the rightful owner.
There are also questions which stand alone,
unanswerable.
It has been a rich gift to have friends who
gather around tables with me to chat
about life filled with a multitude of questions.
Sometimes it is most important and sacred
to inhabit spaces with a compassionate,
listening ear than armed with seemingly
easy answers to life’s hard questions.

I think tolerance has lost its intent
and meaning.
One of my adult daughters doesn’t like broccoli.
She tolerates it when I cook it for the family.
When I say she tolerates it, I mean she
bypasses it and does not allow the broccoli
any opportunity to mingle with her chosen
delicious items on her plate.
This is what tolerance has begun to
feel like to me.
By definition it is supposed to mean simply
a willingness to accept others.
This word is tossed around so casually
it seems to mean to allow others to
exist without extending any invitation
onto our plates or into our lives.

I think we can do better than
simply tolerating others.
Let’s fill our plates with an array
of portions from different and delectable
cuisines and allow our taste buds
to experience new flavors.
We need to mingle our preferences
with what we have customarily
distanced ourselves from.
There’s always hope.
My daughter now likes Brussel
sprouts, still not begging for
broccoli but like I said, there
is always hope even for adults.

Relinquish was a wonderful
and challenging word to
guide and inform 2014 for me.
Relinquishing is difficult for people
who likes control and perfection.
I don’t know anyone like that but
I would imagine it would be quite the
strenuous task 😉
Yet even in the most straining moments
when self-talk is the only way to pry my hands off
of a situation or a person, I discover relinquishment
is the way to peace,
to joy and
an arrow pointing
towards loving people more deeply.

I still love writing and blogging.
No surprise if you have read to the end
of this lengthy post.
I know even if my scribbles remained
in the shade of journals alone,  I would always write.
I am happy to have a sliver of the online
universe here at A Work of Heart.
I continue to be humbled by any moment
spent by someone reading the collection
of words here.

Thank you so very much and Happy New Year!

I am linking up with others revealing their
2014 lessons with Emily Freeman.

If you are not reaching for a pillow after traversing
my list, you can find more here.

 

 

 

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9 thoughts on “What I Learned in 2014

  1. Karen L says:

    Hi Helen,
    Thanks for your reflections and for You! It has been amazing to have our once a month connection. You are a friend I would enjoy talking with every day…but realistically, not going to happen. We CAN be intentional about once a month…I so appreciate your words and your heart. Love you!

    Like

  2. This post really resonated with me and I felt we were on the same page. Being in your 50’s is freeing. At least, that’s what I’ve discovered. (I’m almost 52) I always try to read a little children/YA lit. I too learn lessons from them. Have you tried the Redwall series for your 5th graders? One of your points that really stood out for me was the one about tolerance. I’m not sure that you meant this exactly but when I read it I thought of the people I’m tolerant with and that’s not really loving them. Tolerance is not love. Good insight! I’m glad I found your site off of Emily’s. Wishing you the best for 2015!

    Like

  3. Mimi!
    Hooray for the 50’s!
    Such a great suggestion about Redwall.
    I always wanted my daughters to read that series
    but they weren’t that interested. Could be a perfect
    selection or even just for a read aloud.
    So often when I press publish, so many other
    thoughts run through my mind. I could have
    written so much more about tolerance.
    The slant was towards those we don’t know
    BUT I definitely have been convicted in my own
    life when I am just tolerating someone I know
    I love. You are so right, it is all about love,
    bottom line.
    Thanks so much for heading my way and for
    leaving a comment.
    Happy New Year!

    P.S. I just stopped reading a book after wading through
    about 135 pages and it was just making me so sad and
    kind of down. I picked up the second book in a YA series I
    am enjoying.
    Now I am smiling and laughing and I feel such a weight lifted.
    Not that there aren’t heavy YA books but perhaps my
    spirit needs to feel lighter and not weighed down.

    Like

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