Tomorrow is my 34th birthday… and as I look back on my 33rd year I can’t help but reflect. Here are 33 things that l learned in my 33rd year around the sun.
1. Apparently…. I’m extreme. At the beginning of this year, I enrolled in two very in-depth personal growth courses AT. THE. SAME. TIME. Like who does that?! And in my one my sessions, my coach told me she knew she could always count on me to follow through or bounce techniques off of because I was extreme. I laughed until I cried when she told me this. Because until that moment I didn’t see it. But now I’m just owning it! ;)
2. How to just be. I feel like this has been one of the hardest lessons I’ve ever learned. Let me be straight... I’m a do-er. I do things, many things, and usually multiple things at the same time. (hence the 2 personal growth courses at the same time). But, in April I attended a 10-day Vipassana Meditation Course. 10 hours of meditation a day for 10 days. That’s 100 hours of just being. It was hard, it was uncomfortable (both mentally and physically), it was an experience.
3. To play. I feel like play has been a lost art for adults. To engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose. I’ll be honest... this isn’t something I used to do. But I remember when I read one of Brené Brown’s books (I forget which one. They’re all good. Just read them all. 😉), she mentioned that in her research she discovered that wholehearted adults play. The concept was as foreign to me as it was to her. Everything I did, I did for a reason. But I made FUN a core value this year. Which means now I play. And let me tell you, it’s pretty freaking amazing!
4. That happiness is a choice. In the midst of overwhelmed weeks and to-do lists, I can choose to be happy or I can choose otherwise. In the past, I have told myself that I will be happy when I achieve this or get that. When I just finish school, I can be happy. When I just lose the weight, I can be happy. When I’m on vacation, I can be happy. The list goes on... I realized how I react and the mood I wake up in is a choice. Today, I choose to be happy.
5. I am not alone. If you have ever suffered from depression, I think you can agree that it can be extremely isolating. I have a very close and supportive family. But the years of struggling with depression have compelled me to keep them at an arm’s length away. This past year I let them in, truly. I received their love and let myself feel their support.
6. That the clunking noise my car makes is not old age…. Let me start by explaining that, I really hate the whole car thing. I like being able to drive around at my free will but when it comes to knowing anything about cars… I can put in gas and check my oil and well, that’s about it… Yes, I grew up on a farm, but I spent the majority of my time with the cattle and not in the shop with Dad. I innocently asked a friend of mine a question about my steering. He took it for a test drive to troubleshoot it. He came back with a diagnosis and told me I should probably take care of the clunking noise as well… my response “what clunking noise?” As I relayed the info to my father over the phone, I could hear his head shaking and his remarks to turn my music down once and awhile. My defence was “I just thought it was getting a little creaky like people do when they get old...” Needless to say, he wasn’t impressed… 😂
7. That I can love my body the way that it is. This was a big one for me. True acceptance doesn’t happen overnight. It’s taken me 33 years to reach this point. And I recognize that some people never do. But fully accepting yourself as you are is the greatest gift of all.
8. Forgive. Forgive not because they deserve forgiveness but because I deserve peace. Forgiveness is hard. But holding on to past pain is even harder. In Chinese medicine, the liver is considered the “seat of anger.” Holding on to anger can literally affect our health and our ability to detoxify not only our bodies but our emotions.
9. Lean in. When I struggled and wanted to give up, I leaned in. Lean into the discomfort, it’s where the healing occurs. This was a hard lesson. Because when you struggle the last thing you want to do is lean in. I know that for myself, running away – figuratively and quite literally with the amount of running I used to do – is a far more comfortable solution at the time. But when you lean in, you allow yourself to be present with what is coming up for you. You allow yourself to view it in a new light and it softens. And eventually dissipates. (when in doubt lean in)
10. It’s okay to say no. I stopped being a people pleaser. For the most part. Stepping into the “no” when I really didn’t want to do something was really the most liberating feeling of all. Choose discomfort over resentment. If you’re a Brené Brown fan, you may have heard that before. For 32 years I lived in resentment that someone “made” me do something. But really, it was a choice that I made. This year I made a different choice. The discomfort of telling someone “no” is short-lived when compared to the resentment I would feel afterwards.