What I learned in 2013

I don't really love New Year's. Involuntarily, I correlate it with the end of the Christmas season and it leaves me melancholy. While I understand it's a time to reflect on beginnings along with the potential of another year, it's also slightly sad. Likely not for everyone; maybe I'm just a little odd. Oh well, it takes all kinds of kinds. 

The few days before January 1, I start to contemplate all the things I will need to change. The resolutions start materializing in excess. Eat better, exercise more, worry less, save more. Be more comfortable in my skin, learn something new, abandon bad habits. The list goes on and on. Then I get a whiff of realism and acknowledge that while I can improve in many ways, the Francesca of 2013 wasn't so bad either. I learned quite a bit too, as I hope to do every year, as long as I live.

I learned that circumstances are never static, but rather always evolving. When too many decisions are lumped together, it can become overwhelming, even anxiety provoking. Tackle one issue at a time, when you come to it. 

Second guessing makes us human. Vulnerability too. According to researcher Brene Brown, vulnerability makes us more worthy of receiving love. 

On the topic of love. Cherish it. But also realize it is not always easy. It takes patience and compromise. 59 years of compromise looks something like this.

If an environment isn't bringing out the best in you, and you have the opportunity to change your circumstances, leave.  I'd rather be a happy wanderer, than left stagnant and withering in a toxic place. 

I cannot always be certain where I will be, with whom, and doing what... but the winding road makes for a more eventful journey.  And at the very least I can imagine how I'd like to live, who I'd like to be, and go in that direction.

Food tastes better when it is shared with good people. Scratch that. Steaks from Keens are phenomenal regardless, but doubly wonderful when eaten alongside good people, after a night of ice skating. And always order the bacon appetizer.

  • Don't judge everything from a moral vantage point. I am entitled to feel a certain way or react negatively without myself or my opposition being wrong.
  • Fatigue, discontent, impatience, and sadness happen. And then they pass.  
  • I am not entrusted with ensuring anyone else’s ultimate happiness. I can only control my own.
  • We must be content to experience things for ourselves. The world is ours for the living. We are not exactly alike any other human being on this planet. There is no need to feel like you have to completely align with anyone’s sentiments.
  • There is almost always a gray area.
  • I learned a 35 year old and an 85 year old can be the best of friends. Friendship doesn't conform to parameters or limiting conventions.
  • Arguing is necessary and helps to forge stronger relationships; especially with people you care for.
  • Sometimes you just have to change your tune, and move on.
  • If you have two cats, you can handle a third.

I moved back home to New Jersey and have reconnected with family in a big way. Barbecues were abundant. I learned to play darts. I had a garden, leased a truck, and had my own Christmas tree. I reacquainted myself with slope intercept form as an Algebra tutor. I sang again, learned some HTML, and made ravioli from scratch. I found a new job where I learn daily, like school without the student loans.

I have always known the little things have a way of being the most special, but this has been especially evident of late. I will cling to this notion because I feel very strongly that when we value the smallest of blessings, contentment is truly ours.

Cheers to 2014, and the lessons learned this past year and every year prior.