As 2012 quickly comes to a close, I have been reflecting on the events of the last year…and what I have learned from them. Yes, even at 49 ½ , I’m still learning…from my mistakes, my successes AND--better yet--from others’ mistakes and successes.
As I look toward January—and marking EIGHT years of being single—I have to admit that I have certainly learned, grown, experienced and ENJOYED life more in the last eight years than I did in the previous 40. No doubt about it.
I am so happy about where I am in life right now—physically, emotionally, mentally—I think it’s exactly where I’d always hoped to be. And I know that it's because I kept trying, kept going and never never never gave up.
Here's a list of what I’ve finally realized in the last year...
a compilation of what I’ve learned over the last eight.
1. Life goes on. No matter the heartache you experience. No matter the financial crisis. No matter losing your home, your job, your spouse, your dog…it goes on. The sun comes up the next day. The trash man comes, the mail is delivered and Target is full of people looking for something to buy. Bills still come. You’ll get hungry and need a shower. The world doesn’t end because you are sad. It just keeps going on. I know that sounds somewhat depressive, but, I assure you, it’s really quite encouraging. No matter your failure, no matter how many times your heart is broken, no matter how much money you have (or don’t have!) in the bank…life goes on! And there are tremendous opportunities in every day to start over, to move forward and to find a ‘new’ normal in your situation! In the last eight years I have moved six times, the most painful was the loss of my beautiful home. I have been asked to leave a job I truly loved. At one point—in just under a month--I had lost my job, my home, my neighbors, my car, my church…my identity really. I laid devastated on the floor of my room at Extended Stay America and FOR THE FIRST TIME felt what people who commit suicide must feel…that it’s hopeless! I had lost everything and didn't have the will to get up off that floor, much less get up and go find a new life. I cannot begin to tell you how very happy I am that I did, indeed, get up off that floor and start a new life. (I think I was hungry.) Life has gone on…and it’s been OH so good.
2. You’re responsible for your happiness. Period! It's time to admit that it’s not your parents’ fault, your kids’ fault, your husband or wife’s (or FORMER husband or wife’s) fault that you are unhappy, broke, depressed or unemployed. You MUST put the past behind you and realize that YOU are the only one who can change YOU. You are the only one who can make yourself better! You MUST stop blaming anyone or anything or any situation for your unhappiness. I don't do pity. If you can complain about it, then you can do something about it—you’re half way there just identifying the problem! I am here to tell you that you CAN change! You CAN be where you want to be in life! But you HAVE to stop blaming, complaining and making excuses for your problems. Get up off the floor and start living for YOU! The new year is a GREAT time to leave ALL the old crap behind! Once again, let me assure you…life is good. But you have to work at it, for sure.
3. Less is more. Eight years ago today, I was living in a 3,200 square foot house—JAMMED with furniture, electronics, clothes, books, knick knacks, kitchen gadgets….collections of collections--tea cups, Santa Clauses, THOUSANDS (literally!) of CDs and DVDs (and laser discs!) and record albums and ‘collectable’ lunch boxes and magazines and board games and sheets and towels and…well, you get the picture. I moved out of that house with my laptop, my iPod and the clothes on my back. When I went back to ‘get more’, I just took my dishes, a couple of Tupperware bowls, the Christmas ornaments…and, eventually, my (prize!) photo albums. Of course I had bought all new stuff at that point too. But over the next FIVE moves, I started moving toward having less and less. This last move made me really see what I ‘needed’ and how crazy it was to keep so much ‘stuff’! Movies and music can all be stored electronically…no need to have ANY CDs or DVDs really! Books are available electronically AND at the library…why would I STORE so many?! How many plates can I possible use? How often did I drink from those tea cups? How many pair of pants can I wear at once? Don’t even get me started on the Christmas décor…I live in 900 square feet now…a couple of dozen Santas STILL seems like too many! All that to say…I have very little now. And it's STILL plenty for me to live life to the fullest. In fact, I would gladly argue that life is simpler now because of this. I have less to take care of, less to store, less to wash, less to worry about…and my house is very manageable. And, contrary to what the world would have you believe, my life is quite feasible with just three pair of jeans a few sweaters and a couple of great dresses.
4. Get a handle on your money. Pay your bills on time. Get out of debt. Stop shopping (do you really need that?) Save money for a rainy day! Eat at home. Make your own coffee! Have people over for dinner rather than going out. Stop buying things! Turn off the lights. Put on a sweater or get another blanket! (I try to keep my utility bills under $10…!) Sell what you don’t need! Borrow things rather than buying! Mend/fix/repair/polish rather than ‘needing’ a new one! Maintain your car. THINK before you spend.
I can’t tell you how many times I have drooled over the Macbook Air…but come on, this computer works GREAT! Having never been the one who took care of the finances pre-2005, I’m somewhat proud of where I am today financially. I work hard and know where every penny goes.
I’d much rather spend my money traveling.
5. Find the GOOD in every day. There really is always something good in every day. Six years ago, when I started my blog, I did so PRIMARILY so that I would LOOK FOR something good to blog about every day. I never wrote about being alone or being sad or having to get up at 4am to go to work…I was determined to FIND the good in ALL of those situations! I blogged about the joy of eating cereal for dinner while watching the Dodger game! I blogged about being at a job where I could see the Pacific Ocean every single day. I blogged about going out with friends and spending time with family and figuring out where my next vacation would be. I suppose it was really a “fake it til you make it” prescription toward happiness. Or at least a lesson in perspective. But it certainly worked. And I'm still finding the good. And it's much easier to find these days.
I am so happy. I love and I am loved. I am full of life and laughter and lots of HOPE.
It's never too late to live happily ever after.
Happier ever after too.
Happy New Year