I sometimes hear people openly wishing the year to end, mentally erasing it as though it somehow had ‘disaster’ written all over it from day one. Whilst 2016 might fall into this category for me (for the record, it is probably the worst one yet) I would never want to completely remove it from my life or memory, because it is without a doubt, the year that has taught me the most.
If you follow my blog regularly, you might have read the first six things I’ve learnt this year. To follow are the remaining six. I haven’t shared on here too much about my 2016 but you might want to read this post from my former blog. It’s been a momentous year that’s for sure!
7. I discovered that gratitude is a great antidote to worry.
I began to write lists of the things I was truly grateful for and regularly run through them in my mind. No matter how small, there’s always something to be thankful for isn’t there?
8. I finally accepted that I do not control my destiny (or that of my children).
I think the bit in brackets is probably the hardest ‘pill’ I’ve had to swallow this year. If you’re a parent, you will understand the huge impact that this sudden realisation that you cannot change or influence what happens to your child, has.
I spent many sleepless nights and agonising days overthinking the ‘Why?’, only to realise that sometimes there is no answer to that question. Let’s just say that this realisation took me a little longer than it should have done but I got there in the end.
9. I learnt to appreciate people (but not rely on them).
Although I also need time to myself on occasion, I am energised by being around people. I therefore seek out new friends at every turn (my husband would say too many ‘turns’!) and treasure the existing ones wholeheartedly.
This year, more than any other, I have learnt who my true ‘constants’ are and they have been an absolute blessing to me in so many ways. Too many to record here.
I will never take friendship for granted again and I’ve re-discovered what a huge impact little acts of kindness can have when given at the right time.
10. I discovered that mental illness is one of the most misunderstood, under-resourced fatal diseases in the UK right now.
I remember reading once, that when your heart is stirred, enough to make you feel an emotion so strongly that you can’t ignore it, that’s your passion and you need to act.
I know that my daughter’s experience and mine as her mother, will be something that is eventually used for the good of others. Right now I’m not sure how or when, but I’m ready for when the path becomes clearer.
11. I ended one blog and started another.
When I started 3 Children and It four years ago, I fell in love with blogging almost immediately. Six months in and I couldn’t imagine every stopping. Blogging has brought me new friends, a better understanding of myself and a way to remember the good (and not so good) times.
But this year I began feeling increasingly uneasy about my original outlet. My children are getting older and having their photographs and personal anecdotes online for all to see, no longer felt right.
Could I give up blogging altogether? Of course not! Writing has become a lifeline for me, one that I couldn’t imagine ending just like that. So in September I began this personal space which is more about me and less about family life. I’m finding my way and putting less pressure on myself to be a success in the blogging world. It feels good.
12. I learnt to trust (the hard way).
I’m one of those people who likes a ‘word’ for the year – it helps me to be focused, more aware of what’s going on around me and intentional about my year ahead. At the beginning of 2016 I chose the word ‘Trust’. My goodness, what a lesson in trust this year has been!
If you didn’t know already, I’m a Christian. This means that my life is underpinned by a faith in God, who I could not live without. I do believe that God sometimes has a little chuckle at our plans.
‘You want to learn the meaning of the word trust? Here we go!’
It probably wasn’t quite like that but I’ve certainly learnt to lean on God more than any other time in my life, this year.
* * *
I could go on; in fact I have no idea where to end this!
I could tell you that I am walking proof of the cliche ‘what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’. I could share the somewhat frivolous realisation that blonde hair really doesn’t suit me!
But above all else, this year I have learnt that whilst making plans is is an important exercise, having those plans shot to pieces is the biggest learning curve ever…and perhaps something that is necessary to facilitate growth.
Although I wouldn’t claim to ‘not change a thing’ about this year (much of it I would change in a heartbeat) I simply have to focus on the positives. God never promised an easy life, but He did promise to grow and strengthen us through the hard times. I know for certain that He has done that in my life (and my daughter’s) this year.
Here’s to a brighter 2017 for us all, full of good health, happiness and love. And remember…you are stronger than you think.