January 2, 2024

What 2023 Taught Me.


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On New Year’s Eve, I like to reflect upon what the year has taught me.

Life is filled with ups and downs, trials and tribulations, and moments of enormous joy that bring much happiness.

Here are some random thoughts to share as we slide on into 2024.

On living 

Don’t ever waste time cleaning your house if you get an opportunity to have some fun or be there for someone else who may need your support. We don’t know what tomorrow will bring and I can assure you that if it all suddenly came to end, I doubt you’ll be thinking about your sparkling sink or dust-free shelves. Cherish the moments because we are blessed with each and every one. Choose wisely.

On advice 

Some feel the need to give advice, make suggestions, and offer you unsolicited wisdom on how you should be living your life. Know yourself. When you do, you won’t be offended by the “well-intentioned” people who may think they’re offering sage guidance. You’ll take what you need, if you need it, then leave the rest. Learn who has your best interest at heart, who only has their interest at heart, and how to recognize the difference.

On work

My motto used to be work hard, play hard. Now it’s work hard, rest harder.

Each of us places a unique value on work and some of us derive great pleasure from working. It is not only for the money, though money is a necessity, but can be for a plethora of other reasons.

I love to work. It gives me a sense of purpose and provides structure to my week. It is a productivity that results in a sense of achievement. It offers a chance to learn and grow, to challenge myself and collaborate with others while solving problems when faced with obstacles. Maybe it’s because I’m fortunate to enjoy what I do, but even when I’ve worked a variety of side jobs over the course of my life—teaching, bartending, cashier, office work, and more—I liked to work. Some view work as a chore, a dreaded thing they have to do. And that’s okay. But if you love your work and it is an important part of your life, yet not life itself, enjoy it.

On love

Love comes in so many forms—partnerships, friendships, family, marriages, and pets! But the most important love may be the relationship you have with yourself. Self-love isn’t selfish, it is necessary. It is from where all other forms of love start. I am flawed and imperfect, but I won’t give up on myself even on the days that I want to.

And if it’s romantic love you’re looking for? Be sure to choose a partner who is honest, considerate, caring, and communicative. One who prioritizes and commits to the relationship. One who chooses you, every day, no matter what they have going on in their life. Only then will your heart be full.

On family

Be grateful for the family you have—and that can be the family you’ve built, not the ones you’re related to. Count your blessings. We have lost most of the loved ones closest to us, and this year, it was felt profoundly. Maybe because I’m getting older. Maybe because our family is getting smaller, and my parents are getting older. Those who take it for granted, you’ll never know what it’s like to want that and not have it. I am blessed to have the family I have and cherish every moment.

On friendship

This year shed light on my circle of friends, the true ones revealing themselves while the others faded away. Friendships can shift and change, but the true ones grow through that and deepen over time—even when they don’t speak often. Life does get busy. People get married, have kids, care for elders, or simply decide who they want in their life and who they don’t. Time does tell.

What I learned is sometimes you need to be the one to stop reaching out and working to keep a relationship alive. It takes two, or more. Build a group that says what they mean and means what they say—those who follow through and those who are sincere. Don’t be afraid to lose the others. You’re more alone with them in your life than without them.

On giving back

If you want to find happiness, give back—looking for nothing in return. Volunteer. Help those in need. Get involved with your community. For those dwelling on their own unhappiness and sadness, reach out and do something for someone else. It’s hard to wallow in self-pity when you are helping others. Channel that focus on something productive and you may just find that happiness is a byproduct.

For me, this is a priority in my life. Few of us have the time; we make the time. Few of us have the energy; we manage our energy and spend it on activities that make a difference. If you can sit and watch TV, or endlessly scroll social media, you have the time.

On gratitude

Live your life with gratitude because there is always something to be grateful for. I am grateful—but that doesn’t mean I don’t get bitter, or grouchy, or resentful, or plain old pissy about little things. I do. And I often do. What’s more important is that I allow myself to feel the feels, sit with the bad attitude, find a way to work through it, then reframe—and this in itself I am grateful for!

When we sit back and listen to the things we complain about, most are trivial and unimportant. I have a roof over my head, food on my table, clothes on my back, and a job. Life is good.

On the future

Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Some things I can control, but most I cannot. There is a saying, “man plans, God laughs.” My plan is to simply show up each day and take life as it comes. The older I get, the simpler I want my life to be. My mindset is minimalist. My needs are few, and my wants are those that can only be felt in the heart, mind, and soul.

And on that note—wishing you a new year filled with good health, peace, and contentment!


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