Happy New Year!!
January 2, 2016
What a year it has been! On the one hand, it seems like it wasn’t that long ago Kenny and I were having our last dinner together at Lisa and Gary’s; and my last dinner as a free man. On the other hand, that seems like an incredibly distant event: and almost like it happened to someone else!
In many ways, this has been an amazing year. Some things were as expected but the majority of it was an unforeseen journey. I am decidedly not the same person I was a year ago and yet, in some ways, I am a better version of the person I was a year ago (or at least that is what people I trust are telling me!).
I expected to learn a lot this past year but I really had no idea what that meant. I’ll try and explain some of those key learning’s and hope they make some sense. I also want to stress that one of the things I have learned is that all of these are a work in progress and take practice. I find that exciting because I know I will never be perfect at it and can always look forward to being better.
For the first time in my life, I think I have been totally honest with myself. I have always had an image of myself and how I wanted to be perceived. I guess that is true of a lot of people. As a psych major, I am well aware of cognitive dissonance and yet that did not stop me from convincing myself that all my thoughts and actions were consistent with whom I thought I was. Well, this year I got better at calling BS on myself. And surprise, surprise, being honest with myself allowed me to be more honest with those I love – and through this blog with the rest of the world (well, at least the tiny part of the world that is actually interested!).
Being honest with myself required that I learn to pay attention to what is going on in my crazy mind that always seemed to be spewing out thoughts (and generating related feelings) at a million miles a second. So I learned to slow down and be present and question some of those crazy thoughts. And what do you know? Patterns start to emerge and I realize, “Hmmm that makes no sense. Where does that come from and what is it based on?” I am trying to master my mind rather than being its servant. I’m not always successful but I’m a lot better than I was a year ago but just recognizing an irrational thought and where it comes from is huge!
One other bit of learning that has helped me ‘master’ my mind is that I don’t have to always be doing something – and before it seemed like I ALWAYS had to be doing something! Otherwise I might get bored, or – gasp – have to really think about why. Now I know it’s OK to just be. I am not as good at this as I would like to be but I find that there is a direct correlation between taking time to just ‘be’ and figuring out what is going on in my head. Even just taking a few minutes to breathe and pay attention seems to make a big difference over time.
I am also getting better at not expecting things to be a certain way and not to let my happiness depend on a certain outcome. This is a really tough one though because I have always had a certain sense of entitlement. “I did this” or “I accomplished that” and therefore this SHOULD happen and I am only going to be happy if it happens. I have found this to be a destructive way of thinking not to mention that it can also lead to disappointment! I find I am much happier if I just do good things with no expectations and find happiness whenever I can in whatever situation I find myself in. My goal is to let “quid pro quo” go!
I have really learned this year the value of relationships and love. I realized this before but my appreciation for this has increased geometrically and it has had a profound impact on my priorities. Words really cannot describe how fortunate I am to have the people in my life that I have. Everything else pales.
I have learned that the only thing I can really control is my attitude and how I perceive things. Geez I used to be such a control freak. And now I can’t control anything and I don’t want to! I’m OK with what is. As a friend of mine here says, “you’ve embraced the is of isness.” (really, he says that a lot)
And it took me a while but I have learned that fear (and its cousin’s anxiety and worry) are useless. If you can do something about it, do it. If you can’t, why worry? Every time fear pops it’s nasty little head up (and it does), I tell my mind, “stop that!” (in a Monty Python type of accent of course – one DOES have to make it fun).
OK enough of the learning! The real test is how well all of this will translate out in the “real” world with it’s cornucopia of stimuli! I’m optimistic – and I managed to use ‘cornucopia’ in a sentence!
Before closing, I want to thank everyone who sent me Christmas and holiday cards! Loved them all – especially the one from all my friends and colleagues at Glaukos (thanks Paulette!)! And many thanks to those who have sent me books recently: Sharron Walker, Susannah Werner, Gala Struthers, Bart Kessler, Mur Brown and Marcie Heitzmann!
Have a great 2016 everyone!!!!!