Lessons Learned

memoriesAs we happily stick a fork in this year, oh, I mean, bid adieux to 2014, there’s no limit to the “year in review” retrospectives surrounding us. The Top News Stories, the Best Commercials, Time Magazine’s Top 10 Photos, the Most Influencial People, In Memorium of Those Who Passed, The Biggest Natural Disasters, and on and on. Mixed in with all of these moments of review are our own personal inventories of the year. Was it a great year? Why? Was it a lousy year? Why? How did we change, what did we accomplish, what would we do over? And, naturally, next come the Resolutions for the Year Ahead. We start our goal setting, our personal improvement plans, and consider how to make the next 365 days “the best ever.”

I’ve never been very interested in re-living the high’s and low’s of the past 12 months. I mean, they just happened, I was there, and honestly some of them I’d rather put behind me. I would be far more interested in hearing about the Top 10 News stories or 10 Ten Hits of, say, 1983. That I’d get a kick out of. But re-hashing everything we just did? No thanks.

As for New Year Resolutions? I’m all for setting goals, aiming for improving our lives, and being healthier and happier. But laying out specific resolutions, like losing 20 pounds by February, or meeting Mr. Right, or getting every home project completed in six months — those are just nifty methods for setting ourselves up for failure. How about setting more realistic, simple goals like “be thankful today.”

I’ve read several lists over the past few days on Social Media that are either retrospective of the past year or resolution-setting for the next 12 months, and they are philosophically thought-provoking.   Deep thoughts and posturing to make us take stock and promise to be better humans. These lists are lovely and encouraging, especially as we hope for good things to come. But geez, it is a lot to take in, and truthfully, I’m already pretty exhausted. It feels like an awful lot of pressure to re-examine where I’ve been, or what I should be doing moving forward, all before that fancy shiny ball drops in Times Square.

Then today I saw a blog post from the fine folks of Brains on Fire, and it took a slightly different approach. The writer posted 6 Lessons Learned. I like that. Lessons Learned. Simple. Helpful. Because we are always learning something that we can carry with us. So I decided to consider a few lessons I’ve learned this year as a Real Woman who has grown increasingly more mature, and hopefully wise, in the past year:

  • Buy the shoes.   If a pair of shoes are calling your name, look adorable, are priced right, and will make you happy, buy them. So what if they will only go with one outfit, or you already have five pairs of black pumps? When you wear them, you will be happy, and happy looks good. This works for whatever your “thing” is. If not shoes, then bags, or bracelets, or scarves. If you can give it a good home and love it, buy it. One word of warning: if it means making a decision between paying the electric bill or buying the shoes, leave them on the shelf. Even with shoes, I will admit that too much of a good thing can be hazardous.
  • The dishwasher will never empty itself. There are some chores that will never be taken on by others in your household. Let it go, and just accept ownership. Instead, delegate other activities like taking out the trash or handling the recyclables. Besides, you know they wouldn’t put everything away the way you like it anyway.
  • Be obnoxious and take lots of photos. It doesn’t matter if the teenager complains and makes a grumpy face, or the friend screeches about “looking horrible.” Take the photos anyway. Some day, some where, many moons from now, they’ll appreciate it. And as a side benefit, your memory isn’t strong enough to remember everything without visual clues. You’ll appreciate having them too.
  • There comes a time when heavy sweaters are no more. Any Real Woman under the age of 40 may not understand this one, but trust me. There is no use in keeping those heavy wool sweaters in your drawers as you head closer to menopause. They are only taking up space. You will never again want them on your body.
  • Make friends with the grocery store. Ah, this has been a hard lesson for me. I’ve hated grocery shopping for a long time. But lately, I’ve been taking my teen son with me, and suddenly it has become much more entertaining. Watching someone who likes to eat every two hours walk into a mecca that sells all the food he loves, puts a whole new spin on the adventure. Sure, it is still time-consuming, financially stressful, and a rather arduous chore. But it could be much worse – we could have nothing, or be required to go foraging in the wild. Besides, the people watching can be excellent.
  • It’s ok to go to bed early. My usual mode is to keep going into the night, scratching stuff off that To Do list, scurrying my way into exhaustion. But lately I’ve found out that if I actually listen to my body, and go to bed when I’m tired, the world keeps turning. Nothing falls apart while I sleep. And go figure, I feel better the next day.
  • Life would be dreadful without BFF’s.   There is just something rather amazing about having Real Woman friends in our lives. They understand, they accept who we are, they are supportive, and wow, can they make us laugh.   When we hit the rougher roads in our lives, that is when we find out who is truly caring, who’s got our back, who is there for the best and worst…and those are the ones we need to hold on to. And guess what, within this lesson lives one that is even harder to learn: it is ok to ask for help. It is ok to take off the Superwoman cape and ask for a little help from our friends and loved ones when we need it. I haven’t quite mastered this yet, but I’m trying. Maybe it will make my top 10 list next year.


To all you amazing RW’s out there, thank you for being there, and for your loyal readership this past year.  As you ring in the New Year, may it be a happy and healthy one for you. And may you be able to pick out a few lessons along the way.



About Real Women

A "real woman" mom, wife, worker, friend, sister, daughter....
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