I have no intention of using this space to whine about all the things I have lost, or how I have been hurt and betrayed. Instead, I plan to share with you all, the many amazing truths I have discovered in the midst of pain, anger and uncertainty. I have been truly blessed with a (mostly) supportive family, a few real life friends, and an amazing circle of "Facebook Friends", (with whom I am emotionally closer, and who understand and accept me better than anyone I have ever known), and on the days I struggle to hold it together, there is always someone to remind me of my true value. Their support has held me up in the moments when my own strength starts to fail me. But those moments of weakness have become few and far between. The older I get, the more at peace I feel with the person I have become. Every hardship, every failure, every betrayal, every pain...they have all led me to the person I have become...this survivor.
A long time ago, I gave up on New Year's Resolutions. Not only are they usually unrealistic, but they tend to lead us to believe that if we fail, we have to wait until the next time the ball drops to make changes and improvements to our lives. I prefer to believe that we can make changes every minute, of every day. But I can't help but feel reflective as we wrap up another year...especially a year that has brought such monumental changes to my life. So here are some of the most valuable lessons I will take forward, into a brand new life, all of my own choosing:
1) If someone has said or done something to hurt me, it is my responsibility to let them know. It is my responsibility TO MYSELF, to stand up and say, "It's not OK to make me feel bad". I can't expect anyone to read my mind, any more than I can read theirs. (Even if I'm really good at it.)
2) I have the power to choose who is worthy of my time. As a mom, my kids are my top priority. They are my reason for breathing. They are the focus of most of my actions during the course of a day. I don't have the luxury of lots of free time, so if I have managed to devote any amount of time to someone who does not appreciate it, or who takes me for granted, I have the power to choose to NOT waste my time. It's just too precious.
3) I DO NOT have the right to expect others to behave the way that I would. However "right" I may think I am, my "right" may not be EVERYONE'S "right". If I want people to respect my choices, I have to first respect theirs.
4) I will be accountable for my own actions. I will not offer half-hearted apologies that start out "I'm sorry I hurt you, BUT..." There is no BUT. No matter what you have ever done to offend me, I can always choose to stand up for myself, and NOT behave in a way that is spiteful or vengeful. If I expect to raise responsible, courteous and kind children, I have to be the example. No excuses.
5) I will NOT make excuses for my kids. I will help them to understand their own responsibility to, and consequences for their actions. Making excuses, ("Oh, he's just being nasty because he's tired and cranky..."), leads them to believe they can do whatever they want, or hurt whomever they want, as long as they have a good enough excuse. Whatever has happened to them, whatever has been said to them, I will make sure my kids know it is OK to stand up for themselves, but IT IS NEVER OK to treat people badly. NEVER.
6) When I wake up in the morning, (after usually having very little sleep), and I feel the sadness of loss and failure creeping up my throat, I have the power to CHOOSE to feel happy. It's really that simple. It may not always FEEL that simple, but it is. I can sit and cry over whatever has NOT worked out the way I had hoped, or I can force a smile, (which has scientifically been proven to fool the brain into believing we are happy...), and steer the course of my day in the direction that keeps me feeling happy. My choice.
7) I will give careful thought to my words and my actions, and I will be confident in being myself. I WILL NOT change who I am, or "curb my enthusiasm" to comply with another person's expectations.
8) I will NOT have unrealistic expectations. Expectations, in general, are the greatest killer of relationships. All relationships. Friends, siblings, romantic...they can all be derailed by expecting others to behave in a way that does not naturally occur to them. I will also NOT comply with the unrealistic expectations of others. I can be thoughtful, and kind, and make some compromises, but I WILL NOT be less than who I am to please others, any more than I expect others to be less than themselves.
9) I will remember to say please and thank you. Especially when speaking to my kids. Telling my kids to use good manners is NOT as effective as SHOWING them the use of good manners.
10) I will offer compliments to random strangers. I always felt it was thoughtful to tell people they do a good job when they do, and we all know how good it can make someone feel when we tell them they look nice, or we appreciate their choice in fashion. But until I began to compliment folks on a regular basis, I never realized how good it would make ME feel!!! So yes...for totally selfish reasons, I will compliment the people I encounter during the course of my day.
11) I will not allow the pain of past failures to drown out my hope for what the future may hold. There is always hope. Always.
12) When all else fails, and the day seems to be lost, I will dance. I'm just going to dance my way through it all. Crappy events and crappy people will not suck the music out of my soul...if I let them. Dancing always reminds me that even in the hardest times, we can always do SOMETHING to change how we feel in a given moment. I'm going to choose to dance.
There are lots of reasons I should feel sad. There are lots of reasons I should feel angry. But those are NOT my only choices. Happy and dancing. That's how I will spend the rest of my life. Because I get to choose.