I can see clearly now, the 2010s are gone…
Phew! This past decade has granted plenty of opportunity to see through fog, wade through murky waters, and basically spend countless days in the cloudy haze of survival. Literally, I can claim the entire decade, as I got pregnant in 2010, went on to have four children, moved cross-country, and experienced some pretty big life changes and challenges. The cognitive and emotional effects of pregnancy brain, mommy brain, sleep deprivation, utter exhaustion, overuse of social media, major life changes and general stress certainly took a toll on my clarity and well-being. I imagine you can relate.
Yet here we are, a new decade upon us, and now is our time. This is our year. 2020. The opportunity to see things more clearly, to feel things more abundantly, to live more fully, experience more presently, enjoy more wholeheartedly, and love more compassionately.
This past decade, along with those prior, has paved the way for this new decade. Every experience, both good and bad, has led us to where we are today. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but here are 20 life lessons I’ve learned over the years that may indeed help us all see a bit more clearly as we grow into our 2020 vision.
1. Take Care of Yourself.
Hands-down, the best stress-management, weight control, skincare regimen, physical health and emotional well-being can be chalked up to self-care. Trust me; I’ve tried every way around it! Those things we let fall by the wayside in times of stress are those we need most in order to be our best selves. Eating nutritious foods, drinking plenty of water, moderate exercise, and getting enough sleep are key. There are no quick fixes. Add in some meditation and you will be well on your way!
2. You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.
Simply stated, we all take on too much. We are highly capable of doing so many things, yet the consistent gripe is that we are over-loaded and feel like we’re constantly failing something or someone. It’s time to prioritize what’s most important, do a really good job at those things, and add in a few extras when we feel like we’re on more solid ground.
3. Some people see the world in black and white, some wear rose-colored glasses, and others see various shades of gray.
Surround yourself with all of them. It’s beneficial to hear varying perspectives on issues, to see all sides and ways of thinking. Frankly, certain situations call for particular types of people. Whether you need a quick, straight-forward answer, a dose of optimism, or an in-depth analysis, you know whom to call!
4. See and be seen.
Notice that tired mama at the park, reach out to friends, help those less fortunate. (Here are some ideas.) Even the tiniest smile can make the biggest difference in a person’s day. On the flip side, let people see your own struggles as well. Whether you speak to a friend, family member, or a therapist, don’t go it alone. For the small and the big, we can help one another.
5. The only constant in life is change.
6. Sometimes you thrive, sometimes you survive.
There are so many different ways of saying this, because it’s inevitable. None of us are immune to those hard times. Rest assured, when you are in the valley, going through a phase, in a season, they do come to an end or lessen in severity. Ride the good waves, roll with the punches, and when you do find yourself in one of those more challenging periods, consider some of the advice in this post and reach out to others, don’t be so hard on yourself, practice self-care, and let people love you through it.
7. Time marches on.
You know the saying in parenting, the days are long and the years are short. As challenging as raising four young kids has been, I can’t believe I’ve lived an entire decade as a mama! Time only seems to speed up as they get older, and every day I’m heeding the warnings people barrage you with as soon as you give birth: cherish this precious time!
8. Take that trip.
Stop waiting for tomorrow, because tomorrow is never guaranteed. Kids can travel. You can do it. Replace toys with classes or chances to see the world outside of their four walls. Whether you have the funds or need to save, the benefits of experiences over things are worth it.
9. Maintain an open tribe.
You don’t have to be friends with everyone, but be open to anyone. It’s so sad to see grown adults revert back to high schoolers, developing cliquey groups and excluding people from conversations or activities. The truth is people are in your life for a season and for a reason, and they won’t all be “your people” in ten years. We are all evolving; moves happen, life happens, kids grow, interests diverge. Continually meeting new people, expanding your connections and being open to others will help make this great big world feel less lonely. That said, do let go of toxic relationships.
10. Make room for the important Yeses.
Learning to say no is an essential skill. Read: The Year of No.
11. If something sounds too good to be true, it is.
People and things can be fake. Beware and be careful with your wallet and your heart.
12. You do you, boo.
Stop worrying about external pressures and what others think. Get rid of the shoulda, woulda, couldas. Do what makes you happy. The truth is, most of the time, others aren’t giving the things you’re stressing about a second thought. Dr. Seuss said it best:
13. Let it go.
Follow the advice from one of the most popular princesses from this decade. Stop holding on to guilt, anger, regret, or whatever is holding you back.
14. Trust your gut.
Call it your gut, mother’s intuition, the divine speaking to you, but generally speaking, if you listen to that feeling, it’s giving you the right answer for you at that time.
15. The serenity prayer is for all of us.
“Grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change, the COURAGE to change the things I can, and the WISDOM to know the difference.” Enough said.
16. Raise the children you’d like to know as adults.
It’s easy to point out the faults when we see entitled, over-indulged, irresponsible kids. Instead, let’s turn those pointer fingers back towards ourselves and do something about it. It starts in the home. Teach your children respect, independence, accountability, kindness, compassion, and whatever essential traits you see in a positive, productive member of society.
17. It takes sacrifice.
In order to live the lives we yearn for, it takes sacrifice. It means prioritizing things by urgency and importance. It means saving money towards specific things and operating within a budget. It’s doing things you don’t want to do because you have to for the betterment of the future. It’s delaying gratification. It’s putting in the time and energy (and if you want it badly enough or it’s important to you, you WILL find the time!)
18. Let love in.
Martina McBride’s song title “I’m Gonna Love You Through It” has been sticking in my mind lately. I find myself whispering it in my head when hugging my two-year-old daughter mid-tantrum, when consoling my son, when someone is frustrated or anxious about something. The harder part for me is letting others do the same for me. However, we really should all love one another through it!
19. Put the phone down.
It’s truly amazing what can happen when we put our phones down. Read more here. On top of the shocking magnitude of time we’re wasting on our devices, the research on what we’re doing to ourselves with the overuse of technology is terrifying. Let’s strive to reduce screen time across the board and replace it with real human connection!
20. Respect yourself, others, and the environment.
When I was teaching, we had one classroom rule, and it was this. If you think about it, pretty much anything falls into one of these categories.