12 Things I learned in 2012

So here we are at the end of 2012.  Again, I am not going to make any resolutions or promises.  I am looking forward to 2013 with hope and faith in a brighter and better 2013.  I have always tried to start the year with a positive outlook, champagne or no champagne (looking forward to the bubbly but keeping my fingers crossed we will pop open a bottle tonight..).

If we lose hope, all is lost.  Let’s welcome the new year with open arms and a wish that things will be better.

I’m compiling several lists, and here’s my first: 12 things I learned in 2012 which have brought me to where I am right now.

It has been a rewarding and fruitful year despite the challenges.  I still feel fortunate not to be mourning any loss or suffering brought on by the many events that had brought so much pain to others.  I have had my own struggles through the year, but I’d like to think I have held my head up high in trying to get up again from each fall, and moving forward  beyond the challenges I have faced.

I am here in my kitchen on the breakfast counter, watching cable on the  iPad  and looking forward to welcoming the new year later on the sofa, watching the ball drop.  I have taken the stress out of the new year’s eve preparation by offering up a dinner of pre-cooked ordered-from-the-Filipino-bakery sweet ham or lobsters steamed fresh on my own stove.  The latter won initially but we have now made a reservation at a favorite restaurant which is in all likelihood offering a special New Year’s Eve dinner.  8:30 at Erawan.

But back to the learnings from the previous year..

1.  “Work” translates to a paycheck, it is not the be-all and end-all of life.  It is a place to earn a living which you leave behind when you walk out the building.  It is best to do one’s job without expectations and you cannot be complacent about things being great between you and the boss despite the accolades, the praise and your dedication to your job.  In the end, it’s how much (in dollars) that translates to.  I enjoy my work but don’t look to it for friendship although I have been fortunate this year to find some colleagues who have become friends.  It is good to have a job, and to have friends at work makes it a bigger blessing.

2.  Self expression is one’s best therapy.  I discovered art journaling in a deeper sense and hope to continue this in 2013.  I used to think I best expressed myself in words — but the previous year has taught me that I have other ways and means to find an outlet for my thoughts and emotions.  Here’s to more layouts, more art, more self-expression in 2013.

3.  People change, and while we cannot do anything about that, we can either accept it and cope, or just pull away and move on.  I, too, have changed a lot in the past year and while I have fallen several times over, I’d like to think those experiences have made me a better person.

4.  We’re all human beings with a tendency to make mistakes, but mistakes are part of growing up.  It is how we pick ourselves up again after the fall that we take that matters in the end.

5.  Change is constant.  It is uncanny how many of the things I thought, believed in and felt in the first part of 2012 are totally the reverse of what It think, feel and know now.  But we adapt, accept, and do the most and the best with what we have.

6.  To forgive is never easy, more so when it it is forgiving yourself.  We are our harshest critics and judge — I know I am of myself — but I continue to try.  Perhaps, Joel Osteen said it best in Sunday’s sermon when he said we must tell our hearts to beat again… to find that passion.. to find that reason to go on.

7.  We have to learn how to seek happiness and choose happiness, because it is not something that will just fall in our lap.  Some have been fortunate enough to have found it but to be happy is a choice we make for ourselves, not for others.  If we do not choose it, we will not have it.

8.  Life is short.  So many people have lost their lives in the many tragedies of 2012, both natural and man-made.  We never know if someone will push us off the subway ramp, if we will find ourselves in the wrong place at the wrong time, or if our bodies are growing things they are not supposed to.  We have to learn to cherish each day and try to live as if it were our last.

9.  As Lou had reminded me, some people walk into our lives to stay, and some are simply passing by.  We have to take that as a fact of life and just go with the flow, so to speak.  We can only make decisions about whether or not we stay or we go, not if others choose to do the same or not.  I have seen friends who come and go, and friends who have always been there through the passage of time — even between long lulls of no communication.  I am grateful for those friendships that have stayed strong, and grateful for whatever I had learned from those who have come and gone.

10.  There are things I simply have no control over, and if I let go and just leave those things be, I will find myself getting frustrated less.  I can teach myself to just let things pass.. have the things I hear go in one ear and out the other.. to hold my tongue instead of saying something in retort just to end the conversation.. to just be.  To stay still and just be and not do anything.

11.  It is always good to have an open heart to welcome new people into your life.  Friends pop up from the most unexpected places.. like people who stray into this space of mine, and whose space I stray into out in the blogsphere.  Friends come in all shapes and ages, and I have learned a lot even from those who are much younger than me.  The younger ones think they learn from us, but in truth, we learn much from them as well.  I know I have, like from a young man so full of hope for his homeland, and “MD (med student)”  facing his first year in med school and hoping to make his town a doctor richer in a few years.  Or that young lady who writes as part of a class assignment but whose straight-from-the-heart posts about the essence of living show a very positive outlook despite her setbacks early on in life.

12.  Counting your blessings will pull you through the worst of times, and magnify the joy of the happy moments.  I had long ago taught myself that looking at what I have instead of pining for something I don’t gives me an arsenal of courage to keep going.  While it is true that I still find myself thinking about the grass on the other side of the fence as being greener in my moments of weakness, I pull myself back down to earth and I just have to look at my son to find a million reasons to be thankful.

So as I say goodbye to 2012,  I wish that my heart let the non-happy thoughts and feelings go so I can make more room for happiness.  It is my hope that 2013 will bring in more joy, less failures, and see a better and wiser me.  The way things the previous year had gone, it cannot go any other way.  I look forward to the sunshine and not the darkness, but I don’t fear its coming because I know that soon enough, the sun will rise again.

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