Sunday, January 3, 2016

life lessons learned in 2015

I've felt some guilt over stopping my 31 Day Series (of Soul Spas) right smack in the middle back in October. But, when I stop to think about it, I did what I needed to do to take care of my own soul. (How ironic.)  I had guests (my cousins!) that visited from Sweden in the Fall and I needed the time to concentrate fully on them! And, oh, what a joy and a delight their visit was!

Then, one thing led to another and well, it's just harder to return to writing the longer I stay away.

So, I welcome myself back to blogging today!! Hi, me! And, I give myself permission to begin again. 

Today I'm linking up with Emily Freeman for her What I Learned link up that she usually has at the end of each month, but this time it is What I Learned in 2015 since we are at the end of one year and beginning of the next. 

I've found my mind wandering more to the future and things that I want to be or do in 2016. I see this as a good thing. Saving for a future post.

But, sometimes we're so in a hurry for the next thing that we don't take time to ponder where we've been. Here's a look back at some huge and not so huge lessons I learned in 2015.

Door County Wisconsin at sunset

1. live without regrets. 

My husband asked me on New Years Eve if I had any regrets over the past year. And, without really taking time to think about it I said, "No, I don't." 

Wow. This quick answer surprised me a little. Don't we all have regrets? Oh yes, we do. But, when I think about the past year, I can honestly say I did my best in many ways.....with my self care, relationships, boundaries, general health, marriage, parenting (adults). 

What a blessing it was to say that I had no regrets about 2015. That is the grace of God.

2.  dare greatly. 

By now, if you've read my blog for very long, you might know that I'm a huge fan of Dr. Brene Brown's work on shame resilience and vulnerability and being brave.

In April I went to NYC to meet a group of seven gals that I met online through the Brene Brown e-course, The Gifts of Imperfection. 

It was a risk! I was afraid to fly alone. I'd never flown somewhere totally alone. I'd never hailed a taxi. But, I did these things and it was huge. These women mean so much to me, each one with her unique personality and gifts. 
What a blessing that trip was in so many ways. I dared greatly!

3.  release.

Sometime last early spring, our 22 year old daughter, who had a part-time advertising job and was living with us, declared to us that she wanted to go to England for one year. Gulp! 

She has always had a soft spot for England. Probably spurred on by Dr. Who and Harry Potter. Thanks a lot, guys!!  So, she found a Gap Year program through UKUSA and Youth for Christ, where she'd go and live with a host family for a year. She had to raise the funds. She had to get a passport and a volunteer visa. She did. all. the. steps. and she left August 28th. 

I had a few months to get prepared for this idea. But, at first, honestly, I didn't think it would really happen. Really? But, it did, and it is. She's been there for four months now. She's learned all kinds of English words for things like "dust bin" instead of "trash can". She's met some very kind and loving folks and she's gotten to minister to youth at the church she's assigned to. She's also a TA in two different schools and works in a variety of classrooms. 

God is giving me the grace to release this girl, my youngest, into her calling. And, she's brave. And she loves Jesus. And, she's sharing her gifts. This mom couldn't be more proud.

Right after Thanksgiving our son, who lived with us for awhile after graduating from college to save money, moved out into his own apartment. Another opportunity to release. 

I released him to college. Now, I release him into his new life in his own studio right in the middle of downtown. 

Release is a good word.

4.  patience with self.

A year ago and more, I was all 'gung ho' about downsizing to a much smaller house. You know, simplifying. I was looking forward to an older home with gleaming wood floors, fresh gray on the walls, white trim. A lovely, park-like yard. 

For several years I'd been hungering for "new". New to me that is. 

But, I discovered so much mental and emotional blocks during the aftermath of the move and really for the whole year. 

Not as many walls to hang my things. My wall things didn't seem to go in this house. I felt like my creative confidence in making this house a home had gotten left in the last house (that I was more than ready to leave). 

I couldn't understand this and for months silently chastised myself for not getting curtains made (some still aren't) and for not hanging things on the walls. 

But, sometime in the Fall, I decided that my soul needed to do some work somehow before these things could easily fall into place in this new space. 

I've given myself permission to go at a slow and steady pace and it's made all the difference.

5.  art, imperfection, curiosity and permission.

Last March I took a three part acrylic painting class at my church. I invited my mom to take it with me. 

I remember the first night. The instructor said, "just do whatever." Are you kidding me!!? Do you know how intimidating and terrifying it is to look at a blank canvas having never done any "real" painting and being told "just start". 

It was a little maddening, and when I look at the pic on my phone of my first brave try at mixing some colors, it's a literal mess. 

Then, I took a Kelly Rae Roberts online class on mixed media painting. I wrote about this in an earlier post, but the first time she wanted us to paint with our hands I got emotional. It's like I had to give myself permission to make a mess with paint! 

I can't begin to tell you the lessons I've gained from beginning to paint regularly. Imperfection is encouraged, not shunned, stay curious, give yourself lots of permission. These are huge lessons both on and off the canvas!

6. birds and wildlife bring joy.

Right outside the window where I sit and drink tea each morning are three bird feeders and a bird bath. Sitting in silence watching the birds come to eat and bathe is a ritual for me. 

Watching them brings joy and a smile to my face. Their freedom and trust encourage me. I'm so glad I take the time to sit in silence and see who'll stop by on any given morning.

I even enjoy the squirrels who try to steal the birdseed and the occasional stealth deer at night that comes by for a snack.

7.  seasons.

I've been reminded in 2015 that things, events and people may be for a season. When the season is over, I need to proceed without judgement or regret into the next one, letting the curtain drop behind me as I go. It's only in letting go that I can take hold of what's next.

Blessings to you, friends, in this brand new year!



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