Depending on who you listened to, 2017 was either going to bring growth and new beginnings or even greater trouble and turbulence than 2016. I was hoping for more of the former and less of the latter, but alas, that was not the way it turned out.
Except in a way it was – it was just that I had to wade through the turbulence to achieve the growth and new beginnings. I grew a lot in 2017, and here are the five most important things I learned:
When times are bad, you find out who your real friends are. And they aren’t who you expect.
My mother became ill and died in 2017. And not much later, both of my dogs required expensive surgery. No one can do anything to change these events, but friends will make time to call and check on you. Friends will bring you dinner and a bottle of wine and listen patiently as you download. Real friends are a constant and visible presence in your life; they don’t just leave you sad faces on Facebook. And I don’t care what anyone says, there is nothing wrong with a good food hamper.
Focussing on the small demands of life help to keep you moving.
Regardless of your circumstances or what you feel about them, there are many small needs to take care of. Like clean underpants and dishes. These tiny tasks keep you moving; once you have washed the dishes, you have to dry them and put them away (or turn them over). And then maybe you will clean the sink, wipe down the benches, and take the rubbish out.
Tiny achievements set the stage for bigger ones.
Tiny tasks also build momentum for more important jobs. Maybe as you walk past your home office with the rubbish, you will notice that somehow, your home office turned into a pigstye. You might bring some order to the chaos (and another trip to the bin), answer some correspondence and start doing something about bringing in some money to pay the mortgage.
When times are tough, you need beautiful things around you.
When your life feels like a prolonged assault, beautiful things will sustain you. Maybe that’s flowers on your desk, an inspirational painting on your wall, or a cashmere blanket to curl up in. It can be anything, as long as it shields you from the ugliness that surrounds you.
It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, or how long you stay down, only that you stand up again.
The world won’t grind to a halt if you fall, it’s far more likely to trample you underfoot as it rolls on over the top of you. You will be bruised and crumpled like Wile E. Coyote when you get up, and you will have a long way to go to catch up with your Road Runner. But only when you crawl back up to your feet will your whiskers uncrumple and your fur smoothe out. When you start looking towards the future, inspiration will hit, and you will be back at the ACME company looking for the latest in innovative Road Runner traps. If you don’t get up, life will never improve.
There is no doubt that some years are more difficult than others, but thankfully all things come to an end and 2017 is one of them. Somehow, I managed to finish my book. Some days, I just wrote a word or two, others I would be lost inside it for the day. But something wonderful grew from my suffering, and I choose to believe it will help others when they need it.
Thank goodness some are already predicting a happy and prosperous 2018!
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