12 Months, 12 Lessons Learned
It has been a crazy year and there are many things that I've learned about myself, my son, my life, other people. You name, I've experienced it. Here are twelve life lessons that I've learned that have made me a better person.
- Everything that happens to you is a life lesson – The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly. All these things force you to grow, move outside your comfort zone and move forward. As humans, we only have one path and that is to go forward.
- Live each day for the gift that it is – It is so easy for us to get caught up in thinking about tomorrow. We put off until tomorrow things we can do today. Don’t delay, for tomorrow is never guaranteed.
- Do not sweat the small stuff – For the same reason listed at the end of #2, let things go verbally and emotionally. I was blessed to have time to prepare for Theresa’s death. Not everyone is that fortunate. Do not be the person harboring sadness for life because of one foolish thing said.
- Grief changes you, forever – I should have known this already. I lost my dad in 2003 and the first time I had the Divine Liturgy said for him in 2010, the wave of emotion caught me by surprise. The reality is we will never stop loving those who we have lost. Don’t feel guilty for that or try and change it. The human heart has a tremendous capacity to love and there is room for many people in it. People are not replaceable, and love is not mutually exclusive.
- Get life insurance – Oh, the stupidity of me on this issue. We had life insurance that was not being paid via an automated withdrawal. With all the chaos in my life I missed paying it, missed the letter that it was lapsed and they cancelled it. When Theresa was diagnosed, she asked how much insurance we had and I realized the answer was $0.
- Don’t waste time on things that don’t better your or make you happy - Life is too short to not be happy. If there are things or people in your life that do not make you a better person, eliminate those things.
- Take pictures and video – The greatest thing that Ryan and I have done over the past year is watch home videos, look at pictures and remember all the memories they represent.
- Don’t try to win over the haters – I have a picture taped above my desk at work that says “Don’t try to win over the haters – You’re not the Jackass whisperer” Walk the path you choose and don’t let anyone tell it’s not the right one. Remember, you aren’t the Jackass whisperer.
- We are stronger than we imagine – I remember when Theresa was first diagnosed and it became a terminal condition. I thought, how in the hell am I going to juggle a demanding career and an Asperger child alone? Well, I can tell you that not only did I juggle it, I crushed it. We are thriving and living life.
- Do not try and numb the pain – One of the smartest things I did was to swear off alcohol in the months after Theresa’s being born into eternity. I read this advice once and can say, it is priceless.
- Write letters to those you love – How our world has changed. We used to write cards and letters to those we love. Now, it’s text messages, phone calls. Why not write these down so someone can print them and keep them forever? These things are priceless gifts to those who receive them.
- We are not made for this world – in John 15:19, Jesus said “If you were of the word, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” This life, this world, is not our ultimate destination. We are destined for life in the Kingdom. Whatever you do, whatever you strive for, keep that destination in mind.