2017 has been, as all years are, full of ups and downs.
On New Year’s Day, my family started off the year in a stable financial situation for the first time in about five years.
At the end of January, I was able to go to Florida for a conference where I became a certified Positive Discipline instructor. This was not something I would have ever predicted I’d be doing.
In March, Number 4 swam her butt off and achieved a goal she’d been working toward for eleven months. She was the fastest 100 backstroker in the state in her age group. Since I was her coach, this was a pretty fulfilling accomplishment for both of us.
In April, I was feeling so hopeless about my marriage that I was contemplating ending it.
In June, my husband unexpectedly lost his job. For six months we enjoyed financial stability. And then, just like that, it was gone. Again we find ourselves in some very difficult financial times. Very difficult.
In July, I quit drinking. Not because of one, specific, really bad incident and I’d reached a low, but nothing even close to good was coming from it either.
In August, I took an amazing and much needed 36 hour trip to the Jersey Shore with the kids. It was one of the best times I have ever had with them.
In September, my husband and I found a really good marriage therapist who we both actually like. Our problems aren’t solved, but at least we have some hope.
In November I changed the way we have been eating meals, and I began reconnecting with my family around the dining room table. It’s probably the best thing that has happened to our family this year.
In December we had all the kids home on Christmas morning for the first time in four years. It was a white Christmas, and it was perfect.
Then just a couple days later I discovered some health issues that may require surgery. Nothing really life threatening, but, you know… the prospect of having my uterus removed is kind of a bummer. (More on that in 2018).
There were more ups and downs. But those are some of them.
And here is the thing.
It’s not just 2017.
All years are full of ups and downs.
2018 will be just as much of a roller coaster as 2017 was.
Maybe the roller coaster won’t climb quite so high. Maybe the dips won’t be quite so low.
Maybe they will be more extreme.
But one thing that’s guaranteed is that none of us are gonna just coast along a straightaway.
And for some reason, this was the year I realized two things:
1. Practicing gratitude changes the way I view whatever part of the roller coaster ride I am on (in a good way).
2. It’s taken me 48 years, but I finally genuinely understand that I can’t control the way people act. I can’t control what people say. I can’t make people get it, and I can’t make people acknowledge or accept responsibility for anything, really. The only thing I can control is how I react to any given situation and the degree to which I am willing to examine my own thoughts and behaviors. Which inevitably brings me full circle back to the first realization. Practice gratitude and all will be well.
So things may not be perfect. Things may not be how I envisioned them. Things may not be going the way I’d choose for them to go if I were able to write the script.
But things are what they are. And perhaps they are going the way they are supposed to go.
I can fight them.
Or I can be grateful for them, take what I need from them, and learn from them as I strap myself into the next round of the roller coaster ride and use all that stuff from the year before to navigate the ups and downs of 2018.
So on this new day of this new week of this new month of this new year, I’m gonna go with the second option: practice gratitude and look for the lessons and opportunity for growth that life is inevitably gonna give me.
I’m grateful for what I’ve been given in 2017, and hopeful for what’s on the way in 2018.
Happy New Year, Everyone!