As I bid farewell to thirty-three I have been reflecting on how I have grown this past year. We alway track our children and their development and as they grow from year to year, but somewhere along the way we forget to track our personal development. Ok, we do have annual reviews that discuss our professional development and many of us take stock of our physical status and capabilities, but I am talking about our mental and spiritual growth.
So often in conversations we discuss how life has changed or how we view situations differently than we did in our 20s or in college, but what has actually changed in us to make that true?
Reflecting on a few of my current feelings, I realize that last year I changed. The usual expat process of transition; saying see you later to family and friends and settling into your new routines is tough. We love this life, but it is not without heartache. Each move holds lessons that, if learned, will make us stronger and better at life.
Last year was especially bittersweet for our family as we had 6 months between posts abroad back home in Virginia. We cherished every moment with our family and friends, because we knew that season was short and may never happen exactly like that again. In the spirit treasuring that time with the people we love, I almost missed out on making a wonderful new friend. My parents live in a great neighborhood and my mom was convinced that one their neighbors would be the perfect friend for me. Thankfully it worked out and Kelly and I became friends and shared some fabulous times together before both of us moved away in the summer and I know we will see each other again. Lesson learned, keep your heart open to new friendships in all seasons.
In addition to the expat life lessons, parenting is one of the great refiners. Parenthood revealed to me that I don’t like to ask for help even if I am drowning. Receiving help is tough for me, because I grew up as a military brat and we pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and move on, as the saying goes, and I am stubborn. So this life lesson has been taken bit longer to learn than others. Thankfully I have been blessed with people who are stronger at saying “I will help you” than I am at saying “I’m ok.” In the past year, I literally had to go through situations where I need to ask and receive help at least once a month. Now I can truly say that I will accept help when it is offered and although I still struggle with it, I will ask for help. I also had an epiphany about this that really made me get over myself. When we don’t let people to help us, because we think it selfish to ask, we are actually selfishly not allowing them to fulfill their calling and share their heart with us.
The other excruciating lesson that I am having to learn over and over is about overcommitting. It is like a compulsive disorder that makes me raise my hand when people ask for creative help! AHHH! I get involved and the perfectionist in me rears her ugly head, and there am at 2:00am working on my laptop, because a full night of sleep will come when my kids are raising my grandchildren and my to-do list is clear. Seriously, when I am in and I am all in, especially when it comes to photography and design. This last weekend of thirty-three however I made a decision to not put myself in this stress-filled space again. I am happy to report I just put my hand down, I’m actually sitting on it. I may actually be graduating from this course and moving on to conquer time management, ha!
As you can see thirty-three was bittersweet and I grew up a little bit more. I learned to say no, and yes, to enjoy my people, to grow my circle of people, and learn from each experience good and bad. Now at thirty-four, I hope to be a better wife, mother, daughter, friend, puppy mom (eek!) creative, and entrepreneur. My birthday wish this year is for all of us to be more joyful and laugh often, even at ourselves.