2020 Hindsight (Words to Live By)

Definition of twenty-twenty hindsight

the full knowledge and complete understanding that one has about an event only after it has happened

I am not a resolution person, but I do believe in goal setting. And more than that, I believe that knowledge is power. I’ve come out of 2020, like many of you—wounded, weary and (hopefully) wiser. In the midst of all of the uncertainty of the past year, I’ve collected these tidbits…lessons learned in a year that no one could have anticipated.

Chase your stars fool, life is short. —Atticus Time is finite. Everything has an expiration date. I’m not a YOLO person, in fact, I actually hate that phrase because it connotes a sense of recklessness. Living life fully and chasing your dreams does require risk, but I don’t believe it has to be reckless. 2020 has taught me to live more fully in the present. Don’t just pause, but stop. Look people in the eye, listen more, (respectfully) speak your mind and remind yourself that you’re stronger than you think.

Everything you go through grows you. —Unknown Related to these wise words is a quote from Nelson Mandela, “I never lose. I either win or learn.” Life is hard, hearts get broken but how we respond to these things sets the course for how we move forward. Growing pains hurt and are often uncomfortable, but it’s vital that we learn to grow with grace.

We repeat what we don’t repair. #speaklife Most of us choose NOT to deal with emotions, past hurts, traumas, and especially grief. While this strategy may work in the short term, we all know that suppressing those feelings only causes us more pain in the end. And in worst-case scenarios, burying those hurts can cause us to act out in unhealthy ways and hurt ourselves or others. Be honest with yourself. Sometimes you have to rip off the bandaid to truly heal.

I am the kind of person who will restart a song because I got distracted and wasn’t appreciating it enough. —Unknown I’ve been known to do this…a lot! As I age, I realize more and more the value of giving something or someone your full, undivided attention. It’s harder than you might think, but worth it in the end. Always.

Stand close to people who feel like sunshine. —Unknown In parenting circles, a common rule of thumb is to make sure you know your kids’ friends. Children are greatly influenced by their peers and research shows that attitude is directly influenced by the five people you spend the most time with. To some degree, these same stats can be applied across all age groups. That being said, choose wisely. The company you keep has a direct correlation to your happiness and well-being.

The way we treat people we disagree with the most is a report card on what we’ve learned about love. —Bob Goff This is a tough one. I wholeheartedly believe in extending grace and kindness, but this is easier said than done. In today’s cancel culture and divisive political climate, it’s important to remember that no one moment or phrase defines any one person. We are all multi-faceted, complicated, imperfect people who make mistakes. How we respond to one another in moments like this exposes our true character.

Be careful who you trust. Salt and sugar look the same. —Unknown I thank God every day for the gift of intuition. While I try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, I have learned many times over that not everyone has your best interest in mind and that not all intentions are good. Guard your heart.

No response is a response. —Unknown No response is hard and difficult. No response is rejection and hurt feelings…and no response is in fact a response. Despite our best efforts, we don’t always get the outcomes we desire.

Anger is just sad’s bodyguard. —Unknown I’ve noticed two dominant emotions during the past year…sadness and anger. I had never given much thought to these emotions as a pair, but can clearly see the connection now. Dealing with loss, having to hear “no” and living in fear of the virus has caused a large number of us to become defensive and mad. Viewing this anger as a result of sadness and disappointment helps us to see each other differently and respond with sensitivity.

Gut feelings are guardian angels. Listen to them. —Unknown I think women have the hardest time with this lesson. We’ve been taught to be nice and make nice. This is all well and good, but don’t do it at the expense of your well-being, peace of mind or safety. Trust your gut!

it is no small thing / to sing in the rain —courage Humans are resilient, 2020 has taught us that if nothing else. It may take a while, but don’t give up on yourself or a situation! What a testimony it is to learn to “sing” in the rain!

Grief is learning to live with someone in your heart instead of your arms. —Unknown This has been the hardest lesson. One that I’m continuing to learn, understand, and struggle with on a daily basis…my mother is gone from this earth but continues to live in me and in all those who loved her dearly.

Praying blessings, purpose and joy abound in 2021.

Cling to what is good… Romans 12:9

Rated “M” for Mature (Or Maybe Just “O” for Old)

We age not by years, but by stories. ― Maza-Dohta

There’s a big difference between “growing up” and “growing old.”  Each process garnering its own tension (and with any luck,) eventually leading to some sense of solace and peace.  Still it seems that in today’s culture, “growing old” is definitely the greater evil.  In fact, I listened to a podcast recently that basically laid out just how taboo aging has become (I realize the mere mention of the word “podcast” clearly ages me as well!)  Let’s face it, at 40something I’m way past the “growing up” stuff.  So I guess this just leaves me mired in the murkiness of “growing old.”  Sigh.

Honestly though, I’m finding more happiness than heartbreak with each passing year.  It’s not necessarily fun watching the wrinkles and the gray hairs appear, but mentally and spiritually I feel like I’m in a good space.  A place I wouldn’t trade for being a teenager again (I’m still apologizing to my mother.)  And as tempting as it sounds, going back to my college years just doesn’t appeal to me as much as it used to.  They say you’re only as young/old as you feel.  And as a self-proclaimed “old soul,” I figure I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Still, crossing onto the other side of the BIG 4-0, I strongly believe I’ve gained some insight.  While I haven’t exactly reached curmudgeon status (I’m working on it,) I certainly classify myself as “old enough to know better,” “wise enough not to fall for that” (again,) and filled with enough “I told you so” stories to write a “how-NOT-to guide.”  Hopefully this makes me “M” for Mature, but more realistically, most would just rate me “O” for Old.  Still, I will not be deterred.  So whether you asked for it or not, let me drop a little wisdom here…because I just might know something.  Perhaps even something worth sharing….

  1. There’s nothing like sleeping in your own bed.  As a kid, I hated going to sleep.  I thought it was a huge waste of time.  Add to that my overactive imagination, frequent nightmares, and night owl tendencies…and it becomes clear that sleep was not high on my priority list–EVER.  Still, I have really come to value the power of a good night’s sleep.  I especially appreciate sleeping in my own bed.  To be honest, I have a really hard time sleeping anywhere else.  Something about MY pillows and MY blankets.  This is a safe haven.  No TV in the bedroom. No scrolling through Facebook or watching Netflix in bed for me.  When my head hits the pillow, I’m out.  Beautiful, peaceful and restorative slumber…in my own bed.  I’m all about it!
  2. Moisturizer is your best friend.  I have always made it a priority to take care of my skin.  Never EVER sleeping in make-up (especially mascara!)  Always wearing sunscreen (something I had to learn the hard way after acquiring a horrible sunburn while working a car wash fundraiser in high school.  Ewww…blisters.)  I’m a Noxema girl and a sucker for its eucalyptus scent.  A family member suggested wearing night cream as well as day cream after college graduation.  Great advice…I am eternally grateful (so is my skin.)
  3. “Respond more.  React less.”  Not my quote, but a great little ditty nonetheless.  Basically, the idea is that we take a moment to process a situation, instead of just going off on someone.  In a world where every feeling is justified for its mere existence, there is something to be said about thoughtfulness.  Look, I’m not talking about being a spineless, doormat…instead let’s hash out our feelings before we broadcast them.  It could save face and maybe even some stress and heartache.  “When we respond, rather than react, we actually communicate from our highest principles and deepest desires.  Reactions on the other hand, come straight from our most shallow anxieties and fears.”  –Hal Runkel
  4. Be generous.  It’s such a human tendency to want to keep things for ourselves.  Some of us do it out of greed or maybe even fear.  Others can’t let go of things because of guilt.  We all have our own reasons, but I have found that generosity is its own reward.  And it’s important to remember that giving isn’t necessarily limited to money either.  Being generous is about a willingness to offer time, energy, attention, advice…the list could go on and on.  Putting others above yourself is Biblical and a little goes along way!
  5. Seek out healing people and places.  There’s no substitute for peace.  As a twenty something I remember meeting a woman who absolutely made the hairs on my arm stand on end!  She was an older woman, polite and wonderful with kids, so when this gut feeling struck…I had no real explanation for it.  In fact, I felt guilty every time the feeling came on.  After some time, I was able to figure out exactly what was going on.  She had an energy that just didn’t jibe with mine.  Her jumpy, antsy disposition made me feel anxious.  Her energy level actually drained mine.  It wasn’t about judgement, we remained friendly, however it was just a gentle reminder for me (all of us) to seek out people who lift us up, people who help us to be our best self, and whose company is soothing to the soul.  You don’t have to be BFFs with everyone on the planet.
  6. Look deeply.  This is a new one for me.  An idea that has just become very important to me in the last year or so.  You see, my kids are growing so fast.  As hard as it is to believe, they actually change in some ways every single day.  This is exciting and completely terrifying!  They say “don’t blink” and wow, that has never been more true.  The idea of looking deeply extends past my children, too.  Sometimes I walk in my front door and just stare at my living room (piles of kid shoes, backpacks everywhere, bulky baseball/softball bags, etc.) and realize I am blessed.  Sometimes I chase down the “deer moon” on a summer night (ask my kids about that one!)  Often, I take photographs of seemingly mundane things just because I don’t want to forget the moment.  If you catching me staring at you…please consider it a compliment!
  7. The grass is never greener.  I know that’s not exactly how the idiom goes, but it’s the truth.  I cannot think of one time when this has EVER panned out.  I’m not into comparing myself to others.  I don’t want what you have, I’m too busy to play that game.  It’s not healthy and it will get you absolutely no where.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a tough one.  The green-eyed envy monster is for real.  And it will wreck your day (and even your life) if you let it.
  8. You can say “no.”  They never tell you this.  From the time we’re babies, people are always telling us “no.”  “No” you can’t have that, “no” you can’t touch that, “no” can’t do that either.  But no one ever tells us that we can say “no,” too.  “No” I don’t have to go along for the ride.  “No” I don’t have to sacrifice my well-being and happiness just to appease you.  “No” your choices don’t have to be my choices.  You get the picture.
  9. Laugh often.  I love sitcoms and comedies.  I honesty live to laugh.  I also have a strange sense of humor and value sarcasm.  Just a look or an odd phrase will have me in giggles.  “Smiling really is my favorite” (ELF.)  It probably helps that I’m easily amused.  Life really is too short not to spend a good chunk of it laughing.  It’s a funny world we live in…seek out your own joy.  And when you can’t find anything to laugh about…laugh at yourself.  It’s humbling and good for the soul.
  10. God is everywhere.  “Life in real-time is messy.  The fingerprints of God are often invisible until you look at them in the rearview mirror.”  Levi Lusko is the author of this quote and it has really shaped how I view the world.  At 42, I already know that God is all around us…what a blessing it is to purposefully seek out His presence on a daily basis.  It sounds lofty and maybe even hard to do, but it’s possible and so incredibly rewarding.  The more we tune our spirit into seeking out His hand, the easier it becomes to discern His handiwork.

None of us can turn back time (although I’m willing to spend a small fortune trying-lol!)  And while the world is telling us that 40 is the new 30, I’m not so sure I buy it…at least not wholeheartedly.  I can’t help but think of so many who exemplify aging gracefully and I just pray that I can grab a little bit of that for myself…all labels aside (especially “O.”)

Gray hair is a crown of splendor; it is attained in the way of righteousness.  Proverbs 16:31