Last year, 2017, was the “Year of Me”. . . This year, 2018, is the “Year of Kindness”. Throughout 2017 there were lessons learned that directly contributed to the kindness theme for this new year. I’d like to share a few with you.
I’ve never been good at resolutions. I’m not sure why, but they never appealed to me. But at the end of 2016 I wanted and needed to do something to counter the sadness, pain and disappointment I felt. So, after reading Shonda Rhimes’ book Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person I decided to focus on “me”. After all, we are the creators of our reality right? We determine what happens in our lives by the actions, reactions or non-actions we take. So I focused on me. Which forced me to focus on my family, friends and immediate circle of influence.
When you decide to do something like that, there are going to be lessons along the way. My mom always told me “you don’t have to make your own mistakes, you can learn from someone else’s.” So I’ve decided to share some of the lessons I learned last year (and some I learned right before).
Lesson 1 – You are not alone
You are not a singular entity. I know it sounds weird, but it’s true. No matter how much you’d like to think that some things you do will only affect you, it’s not true. You are connected to those you love and those you come into contact with regularly or randomly. The decisions you make for yourself always affect someone else so decide wisely.
Lesson 2 – Taking time for yourself is wise
I love going to the spa. I love the solitude of the space and the ability to fully be taken care of so I started getting a quarterly massage. Why? Because when I’m not connected to myself or taking time for myself, I’m not very good for others. I’m more irritable, withdrawn and resentful of the people around me. So whether it’s taking half a day at the spa, thirty minutes to read a book or 5 minutes to close my eyes and breathe I count it all “me” time. I enjoy it and then allow myself to continue in all my responsibilities.
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Lesson 3 – Be fully yourself
Do you ever feel strangled by your own need to say, be or do something? Then, instead of getting out of the situation you put on a mask, robe or aire? Yeah, stop that. Authenticity is when you tap into yourself fully and allow that person to express themselves. It’s a journey I began in 2017 and will continue along my journey. The more honest I was about myself, what I wanted, didn’t want, liked or disliked, the freer I felt. “Authenticity” seems to be a buzzword, but there are so many truths in simply being yourself and embracing who that is. It’s something that will grow, but to begin try siting with yourself for five minutes without distraction. Focus on the moment and see who and what develops.
Lesson 4 – Forgive, yourself and others
There’s a quote from the Buddha that says “Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and hoping the other person will die.” It’s incredibly true. The more I decided to release my anger toward any situation, circumstance person etc. the better I felt, the clearer my purpose was and the more authentic I could be in any given situation. The more I released my critical self talk, the better I could express myself. Forgiving is one of the hardest things to do, but it’s so necessary to moving forward in life. Sometimes it’s as easy as just whispering “I forgive you” and walking away knowing you’ve let it go.
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Lesson 5 – Stay open
Stay open to love, kindness, understanding, counsel, critiques, people, places, foods and everything the Universe has to offer you. Stay open to being fully yourself and present in your life. In every situation you have the opportunity to decide how to react. Take the time to think, consider then act according to the authentic person you are and stay open to the lessons. There’s opportunity for growth and learning everywhere but to see it, you have to be open to seeing.
Lesson 6 – Allow your greatness to flow
Lastly, one of the biggest lessons I learned was to allow my greatness to flow. To not only offer and give my best self in all situations, but to allow others to give and offer themselves in return. Receiving is one of the hardest things we do. We feel, at times, that it shows we’re in “need” or “weak” or “incapable”. Funny thing is, all those things may be true. We may actually be in need, weak or incapable of doing for ourselves in a given situation, but it doesn’t make us less. Once we begin to realize we’re all connected and to help one is to help many, allowing the flow is easy. Today may be my turn to give to you, tomorrow may be your turn to give to another. Keeping the flow going, making sure that when we’re in a position to give we give, and when were in a position to receive we receive graciously.
It’s this final lesson (there are others, but we’ll stop here) that inspired my 2018 theme of “Kindness”. 2017 ended with my breast cancer diagnosis, an amazing trip to Turks & Caicos and deciding, moving forward, how I was going to keep my theme. . . I’ll talk about that next time.
For now, I hope these observations have helped kick start some of your own. What lessons were triggered for you while reading this list? I’d love to hear your ideas on how focusing on self can actually heal and mean embracing others.