Reflections on 2018

As 2018 is coming to a close, I find myself reflecting on the roller coaster year my husband and I have had.  In hindsight, we matter-of-factly faced each challenge as it came up; collectively, though, the sum of difficult events now seems more substantial.  Between us, we endured a broken shoulder, three surgeries, a biopsy, and a lost job, in addition to the unexpected complications of still being in the sandwich generation. 

It should be pretty obvious that I’m anxiously anticipating the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve.  At least there is the plausibility that next year will be less tumultuous.  A little smoothness would certainly be welcomed!  On the bright side, though, there are always lessons to be learned and personal growth to accomplish during those troublesome times.  In fact, there can truly only be real growth with some amount of discomfort.  Having experienced a year that was riddled with challenges, I had ample opportunity to expand and to learn…

Be careful what you wish for. 

It may sound like just some saying that was randomly coined for those who believe in metaphysics.  But I can honestly say that this thought process held true for us this year.  Case in point:  I had been lamenting the fact that I hadn’t had time off to rest in ages when, BOOM, I slipped on the ice and fractured my shoulder (giving me plenty of time off, though definitely not the way I had hoped.)  And then, after my husband complained frequently about his dissatisfaction with his job, that job was stamped out (again, not exactly in alignment with our plans.)  These, and the other adverse events we encountered, may have had nothing to do with our subliminal and conscious wishes, but it still seems likely that we somehow influenced those circumstances with our thoughts.  I’ll try to be more aware in the future.

Extend reciprocal courtesy

My husband has always supported my decisions regarding work.  When our kids were growing up, I worked part-time with a flexible schedule so I could be available to them as much as possible.  I also worked on straight commission for a number of years as an Interior Designer, so my income could never be counted on for budgeting.  When he recently lost his job, only a few short years away from retirement, we both had strong feelings of anxiety about how things would turn out.  There were times when a distressed comment was on the tip of my tongue, but I managed to act with grace, knowing that I had always been gifted with the same.

Perspective is important during crises

The past 10 years have been the most difficult of our 35-year marriage, due to the struggles and threatened well-being of a family member.  There have been some periods of time that were so frightening and dark that I didn’t think we’d make it.  Surviving those traumatic times has made things like lost jobs, broken bones, and benign biopsies feel like child’s play.  We will all experience varying degrees of adversity in our lives.  The way we choose to respond depends largely on our ability to keep things in proper perspective.  Sometimes we have to hit that proverbial “rock bottom” to understand what is and is not bearable.

Stay strong and positive

I don’t want to beat a dead horse here.  We’ve all heard, ad nauseum, about the benefits of seeing the glass as half full.  But in really challenging times it’s tempting to succumb to self pity and fear.  When we allow ourselves to indulge in those emotions, it’s easy to get stuck there.  From personal experience, I know that wallowing in negativity has absolutely no constructive outcome.  It really only generates more of the same and creates inertia.  (Do not, however, confuse true depression with circumstantial sadness.  It’s important to seek help if we are genuinely unable to redirect our thoughts.)  For many of us, though, a purposeful decision to flip the switch from doom and gloom to capability and affirmation will get us out of a slump.  Sometimes the physical act of getting up and doing something deliberate can change our mindset for the better and begin a positive domino effect.  We are almost always stronger than we think.

Keep living

If there is one piece of advice I want to share, it is this – don’t put your life on hold waiting for circumstances to change.  Of course, there are exceptions when we must set our priorities accordingly for a period of time.  But most often it doesn’t serve us to give up our goals and dreams while we wait for someone or something to change.  If I could recover all of the hours, days, months, and years that I spent worrying and obsessing over things that I ultimately had little to no control over, I could have moved ahead with my life and used my gifts to contribute more.  Maybe I had to go through the process exactly as I did to get to where I am now.  But the takeaway is this:  we each only get one chance at life, and to waste even part of it is truly regretful.

9 thoughts on “Reflections on 2018

  1. Great post! I always try to remember this: that which doesn’t kill us makes us stronger! Walking through the fire teaches us to persevere and helps us to endure the next circumstance in a better light! Love and hugs sweet friend!

    Like

    1. You’re absolutely right, Benita. As we get older and experience difficult things, we are becoming wiser and more resilient. Thanks, dear friend, for reading and for your thoughtful comments! Hope you’re having a great December so far!

      Like

  2. I lived that year for 10. It was like groundhog day. I married young and by the time 1998 rolled around I had 2 beautiful children, a husband that hadn’t worked in years and a 6 figure / 60 hour a week job that I hated. What little time I had to spend with my kids was overshadowed by stress, exhaustion and never ending arguments with their father who had become a stay at home dad by default (and who was only 12 years old himself). I felt trapped and angry but unable or unwilling to make the changes needed.

    In 1999 a series of disastrous events I would never have imagined in my wildest dreams created a domino effect that would change my life forever. It was a difficult time. There were many dark days without even a glimmer of light, epiphanies and new hopes, then more challenges – always from left field.

    I believe that we all come here for a purpose with specific intentions and commitments to meet and assist others on their paths as well.I believe that there is a part of us that knows of these plans that most people cannot consciously connect with (including me). If for whatever reason we stray too far from the chosen path the universe straightens our course. Thoughts do create reality. It isn’t woo woo, it’s quantum physics.

    Also because we do have contracts to help others we often find ourselves (at least temporarily) in situations that are not of our choosing. It’s kind of like when you run into someone and feel like you have known them forever yet had never met. You may have agreed to meet and help each other for 5 minutes or for a lifetime, but still play an important part in their path (Celestine Prophecy, later a movie with Tom Hanks). You should never regret any of your actions because you really don’t know how what seemed negative to you in hindsight may have assisted another.

    The trick is to know when that contract is up.

    My life today looks nothing like it did in 1998. I am so much happier now. Keep the faith Julie, you are exactly where you should be and you are being led to an amazing new you.

    Like

    1. Oh, Roma, we must be sisters in some sense! You have quite a story, and it’s so great that you have used your experiences for learning and growth. What we went through in 2018 paled in comparison to what we went through over the past 10 years, so it’s apparent that I have learned some valuable lessons. I would never wish some of my experiences on anyone but, at the same time, I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am now and I wouldn’t have the fabulous people in my life that I do! Some life lessons we have to learn the hard way. But when we do, we are forever changed for the better.
      I love how you mentioned that we have contracts to help others, whether it be for 5 minutes, a lifetime, or even if we don’t know we are helping. I do believe that all of the blessings I have earned through a difficult journey were worth the pain, and I hope that I can pay it forward. I’m so grateful to have met up with people like you – it keeps me on the path of wisdom, connection, and gratitude. I hope your 2019 is blessed with even more light, hope, and love!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Julie I have always tried to be a positive person. But sometimes even sunny me has had to buckle up and face the music. I have found that my health suffered greatly from all the anxiety and so I made it my business to always see the glass full. Sometimes family members have accused me of being too much of an optimist but that is how I choose to live. I hope that it also helps you.

    Like

    1. Mary, it is so much more productive to be positive and hopeful! I grew up in a contrasting tornado of anxiety and negativity covered with strength and resolve to keep moving forward. After many years of living with that fight-or-flight response, I learned to let a lot of things go and to try to live with more ease. I have also been accused of being a “Pollyanna” but I’m perfectly ok with that!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s