They day has finally arrived – the last day of the year! How auspicious this day is and how much emphasis we put on the turning of the calendar. Everywhere you turn, there are Top 10 lists and countless articles on making resolutions and learning how to keep them. So, as we sit right on the precipice of 2011, staring down at all of the possibility of 2012, I choose not to make resolutions but, instead take this moment to look back, take an inventory and identify strategies for moving forward and doing things differently, if necessary. I suggest that we actually do this often throughout the year but, as we close out a year, it seems like an ideal time to do a year in review and see what we can learn about ourselves.
For me, 2011 was both transitional and transformational. I believe that life is a journey on which there are a series of stops and, ultimately, one destination when you have completed your trip. So, I choose not to look at the legs of my journey with regret but, instead, see them as roads I have traveled. And, like with any excursion, sometimes we get lost, make wrong turns, need to back up, reroute or sometimes even head back home and start over again. In 2011, it might have felt like I had to head back home when I thought I was much further along in my travels but, upon reflection, I actually only made some wrong turns and had to course correct. I feel pretty confident as I look back at my tour for 2011 that I am actually further ahead on the road than when I started and, for that I am grateful.
I marvel at how intensely painful certain situations feel when we are experiencing them in the moment. Yet, when we look back at them later on, we can hardly remember how difficult it was or how much we suffered and struggled. We (and when I say “we”, make no mistake that I am actually saying “I” – but I’d like to believe we are all very similar and in this together) get very caught up with the crises that we face and, sometimes they are worthy of our laser focus and sometimes we cannot look away or move beyond because we cannot see how these situations will become a blip on our radar and were probably not worthy of such anguish. It is challenging to maintain such perspective when we are in that moment but I believe we have the ability to reflect, even when right in the thick of the pain, fear, anxiety, struggle, that will allow us to recognize that “this too shall pass”. That was an enormous lesson for me this year. I learned how to have more confidence in myself and, as I have mentioned before, I learned how to be with my pain and discomfort rather than trying to run away from it for fear that it would consume me. I developed a belief that nearly every challenge can be resolved with a course correction and, in many cases, the next road we take is far more scenic and provides many more opportunities to stop, look around and grow.
I love to share my experiences and perspectives because I am a simple journeywoman who continually picks us bits of wisdom along the way. My hope is that my experience provides insight or inspiration to others who, in their own travels, confront their own obstacles and hopefully find strategies to endure and work through the struggle. To me, life has no meaning if not to be able to share and interact with others so we, together, can enjoy the journey in a more meaningful and significant way. I have spent many years fighting the tide and trying to avoid the roadblocks and challenges that seem to be deliberately put in my way. What I have learned is that the obstacles are part of the experience. I hate the expression “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger” but I cannot deny the truth in the statement. Our strength comes from the adversity we face. Our learning comes from our mistakes. Without our foibles and wrong turns we would never know what the other roads look like and never imagine that there was a different pathway because they would have never appeared on our map.
I recently said to a friend that I became close with this year that I was surprised we had not appeared on each other’s radar before now. We have lived in the same town for many years and had many common friends. However, for some reason, while we might have orbited around each other for a while, we never came into each other’s lives. I know, for certain, that choices I have made over the past year – seemingly hard choices that I struggled with – allowed me to be in a position to have met this friend and develop a powerful and meaningful relationship that might, otherwise, not have happened. Was it destined to be? Perhaps. Or, perhaps, I had to continue along on my journey and tackle the challenges and decisions to get to this part of my path and develop this relationship.
So, as I sit on the edge, dangling my feet over the giant chasm that exists between 11:59:59 on December 31, 2011 and 12:00:00 on January 1, 2012, I want to acknowledge my fellow journeymen. I am blessed beyond belief with PEOPLE. The cast of characters that color my life are what provides my life with richness and dimension. They are the ones that enable me to take the hard curves, the giant craters and huge bumps in the roads I travel down. They make me laugh and make me cry and make me grateful that I get to travel down these paths, however narrow and scary they may seem at times. When I look back and take my personal inventory what I can say for certain, for the first time in my life, is that the people in my life are what I define as my success. For we will leave this earth with nothing but the impact on others that we leave behind.
To all of my people, near and far, I say thank you for all that you bring into my life. I try to thank each of you individually but, if I cannot, know that you are all part of my journey and I hope that I am helping to make your travels a bit easier. To everyone else, I wish you a very joyous new year and look forward to sharing more in 2012!