I’ve been reflecting for the past several weeks on everything that’s happened in my life during 2014. It’s been probably the most up and down year of my life in a decade, filled with changes. It’s been one of my busiest and most memorable, too.
Last year on New Year’s Eve, I would have been thrilled, elated, and in some ways dismayed to have learned what 2014 had in store for me. I knew I would celebrate my first wedding anniversary, and that I would continue building my career while fighting a sometimes debilitating illness.
But little did I know I would be appointed to the Foreign Service, become an American diplomat, receive my first overseas assignment and begin studying Russian. It was a hope, and a dream, and in 2014 it became reality. When I achieved it, I received one of the greatest gifts I could have ever imagined – not to mention one I’d worked towards for three years.
Also this year, more than 150 new colleagues and associates have come into my life, both at Peace Corps and at the State Department. It’s staggering, really. I have endeavored mightily to get to know each of them a little, to the extent possible, and also to let them know me, each in whatever way seemed a good fit. I have been lucky to be exposed to so many different kinds of people, and to try and learn a little from each of them. I hope that I have been for them at least a bit of what I sought to be – by turns a resource, a friend to walk the road with, a problem-solver, a comforter, a jokester, a secret-keeper, an encourager.
I’ve just returned overnight from a trip with my husband to California and Nevada to see my family for the holidays. I am so grateful for the people who know me and love me and for the time we spent together. I don’t know when I will be able to visit home again (2017?), so I think it’s normal to spend more time than usual contemplating what it means to me to be there, in my authentic place, the place that shaped me.
Like everyone else around the holidays, I suppose I have also been trying to process and reconcile all of the events of the year into something digestible that I can understand and live with. The narrative has been nearly impossible for me to articulate though, despite my best efforts, and probably not necessary to share anyway.
I’m left with a sense of quiet peace, curiosity about what 2015 will bring me, and what I will use the time to build.
As I toast with champagne in just a few hours at midnight and the new year comes marching in, I will remember the lessons I have learned (and relearned!) this year. I will embrace them with gratitude and humility.
Here are a few thoughts on those lessons, in no particular order.
– Forgive yourself for the times that you can’t be everything you expected to be.
– Be as peaceful, present and as mindful as possible in your life. Decide what kind of life you want to have and pursue it vigorously, rather than just letting life “happen”.
– Be intentional with your decisions, and take responsibility for the outcomes.
– Don’t be afraid or too jaded to take a chance on someone. They could be a person just like you. Because everyone has been hurt and treated unfairly. Absorb that pain, and don’t pass it on. Let the cycle stop with you. Be a lionheart.
– Never ask anyone to give you something that they don’t (or can’t) give themselves.
– Toxic friendships are energy vampires and unreciprocated investments that will leave you drained and sad. See them for what they are, and end them, so you can use that energy for more productive things.
– If you are a woman who does not want children, don’t apologize for it. You are not cold, unfeminine, damaged, without purpose, or missing some essential piece of your humanity. Live the life YOU were meant to live, and don’t be pressured into someone else’s Lifescript.
– Beware of trolls who only come around when they want to be fed. Once they’re done eating, they don’t care if you’re hungry too.
– When someone dies, mourn them. The pain is the tradeoff for having the depth of a relationship with them while they were here.
– Trust is not a function of how much someone deserves to be trusted. It’s a function of how much you trust yourself to deal with the consequences of their actions.
– When you’re anxious about something, ask yourself what the worst possible outcome could be. Chances are it doesn’t deserve that much attention.
– Don’t be afraid to reach for the stars. Sometimes you end up with a whole handful!
– Every day isn’t as fresh a start as January 1, but every day is a chance to change things for the better!
A peaceful, prosperous and healthy 2015 to one and all! May 2015 bring abundant blessings and new challenges to all of us.