"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending. " Maria Robinson
Anyone who really knows me knows that I don't celebrate my birth 'day.' I push the envelope as much as I can possibly get away with, and turn it into at least a weekend-long celebration, if not even more.
Since the big event happened just this last weekend (and it was a good one!), it is still fresh in my mind. After the balloons came down, the presents were put away and the trash taken out, I got to sit quietly and reflect on what my big a-ha's were during this past year. Here are 5 that I came away with:
1. Communication is key. Without it we are left with misconceptions, faulty assumptions and disconnection. Be sure to understand yourself and what you are trying to convey. Work hard at understanding others and what they need. So much is lost in translation without doing the hard work of active listening, building clarity and sometimes, having the difficult conversations. While often not initially easy, if you can create the space and care enough to communicate honestly, wonderful things can and will surely happen.
2. Change is inevitable and healthy. No, this one is not exactly rocket science. A billion volumes have been written about embracing change, and I've used it as the basis of many a presentation. But the simple fact is that none of us arrives at the next stage of our lives as the same person we were at the previous stage. Life somewhat demands that a different "you" will be there. That is how we all grow in our abilities to both achieve and contribute. You might as well enjoy the ride. A famous Chinese Proverb says, "Be not afraid of growing slowly, be afraid only of standing still." Growth can only come from stepping out of the familiar and into the new.
3. There's a big difference between acceptance and tolerance. The trend toward a greater acceptance of those individuals (i.e. humans) who have different ideas, come from different places and represent different religions is a healthy one indeed. None of us has the market cornered as being the only correct representation of humanity. An open mind and an open heart go a long way to building bridges of understanding, compassion and connection.
On the other hand, it is the toleration of disrespect, blatant unkindness, toxicity in relationships, and abuse of every kind that has to stop. We look the other way. We absorb it in the name of keeping the peace. When we do that, we not only diminish ourselves, but allow harm to come to those in our care. It takes a heavy toll and exacts a substantial price. Make yourself a promise that when or if you see someone exhibiting behaviors that disregard or diminish others, you will confront it, maybe not to conquer it, but simply to not let those types of actions go unchecked.
4. Stay connected with those whom you care about most. In our busy lives it is all too easy to have an excessive amount of priorities. If everything on your 'to do' list is an A, then you really have no priorities at all. The act of choosing means that some things both get, and deserve, more of your attention. Those people who uplift you, support you and encourage you are your priorities. Relationships need quality and consistent attention to flourish. If you don't water the flowers in your garden, they will eventually wither and die. The same will happen to your relationships. Break out the watering can generously and frequently to 'water' the relationships you want to keep. Demonstrate that they are a priority in your life with the gift of your time.
5. In all things, choose faith over fear. Fear is paralyzing. Faith is uplifting. Choosing fear allows what you hope to avoid to drive the choices in your life. Choosing faith means that you are using the power of your intention to create the life you want. The foundation of achievement lies in optimism and faith that engenders you to be able to take bold actions. As Basil King mentioned, "Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid."
It was a good year and I had a fun birthday celebration. And I hope that the lessons that I learned last year will make this year's trip around the sun even better.