I learned a lot this year. It just doesn’t feel like it because translating “what I’ve learned” into “things I’ve accomplished” feels really disconnected. But for the fist year since George died, I have had glimpses of happiness and tranquility. So:
the main thing if you’re coping with loss: it takes a long time before you start to feel any better.
And it’s supposed to look linear, sloping gently upwards, but it’s more like a messy, unspooled ball of yarn. How do we feel today? Anywhere from fine to despairing.
So, what I learned this year:
- Solo travel. I discovered I love to travel. I did a Paris immersion tour (but only wrote about my pick up artist) and a tour of Sorrento. George didn’t want to travel, but I do. I love having something to look forward to, especially something that doesn’t bring back memories or invite comparisons to the past. (I go to Spain in the Spring).
- It is so Hard to Write a Book. it is really, really hard to write a book when you only write short articles. I have an agent, but no publisher. I thought using a great editor would help me get published, but it didn’t. This is a Herculean task and I don’t know that I can do this. But, the educational part: Better to try than to give up and suffer regret. A codicil, I thought being published in national magazines would provide contacts and writing jobs, but it didn’t, at least in my experience.
- I Hate Online Dating. We treat our prospective amours so much worse than we’d treat anyone else. Partly because there’s no accountability and an endless supply of disposable people. But also because when we date, we’re over-invested. We expect our new person to be everything we want, ever so much. And when they’re not, they have betrayed us ever so badly. I’m done with being “out there” to receive whatever detritus gets lobbed at me. I’m back to being an old-fashioned Lady with firm, iron-corseted boundaries.
- I Had to Let Go of Resentment to be Happy. I wrote about that here. In brief, I had to let go of the idea that other people were making me unhappy. In truth, I was making myself miserable with my own anger. Losing George is pain, but there’s no one to blame. Giving up a negative outlook is super hard; however, and always a work in progress.
- Reaching Out and Saying “Yes.” This is the first year I had a tribe. And it took yoga to do it. When I was beyond lonely, with very few friends, I did yoga. And it made a huge difference in coping with loneliness. It also taught me to reach out when I wanted company. And to agree to do things outside my comfort zone, like retreats in close quarters and paddle board yoga. Which made for a much better year.
- Home Decor. Fixing up your space is really cheering. I think I cornered the market on decorative pillows. (There’s a few in the photos above). Redecorating is a great place to start if you want to improve things after suffering a loss. It’s not a cure though, just a jumping off point. If I’m happier in my space, I can focus on other stuff.
- Our Country is Divided. I never thought we’d elect Mr. Trump and I was shocked that people saw him as a solution, or even an alternative. I read a few liberal papers and none of them saw this coming. I am looking for news outlets outside my bubble. Worse, what I thought was sanity is just one viewpoint. I need to be aware of views beyond my own even I disagree.
- Be positive and open to change.
- Write the book and do something with it. Then, move on.
Now I want to know what you learned this year. And what are your pledges for 2017. (The comments section is fixed so talk to me! I miss you!)