A year ago I was still in my 30's.
A year ago I felt like I was in my 20's.
A year ago I thought, pssshhaw, I won't have any problem getting a job.
A year ago I thought a positive attitude would see me through anything.
A year ago I thought, I'm about as thrifty as I can get.
A year ago I was afraid of confrontation.
A year ago I cared a lot about what people think about me.
2009 was one hell of a year for me. I turned the dreaded 4-0. I'm not sure I can put into words how much I've changed in the last year, but cleaning up the old posts on my blog brought it home to me. A year ago I was silly, naive and immature. I think I've aged about 10 years in one. The generation of Americans that I fall into has never really experienced tough times like these before, so they've come as a big shock. I always assumed (that dreaded word) that if you really wanted a job, you could get one, and that anyone who didn't have a job was just lazy. It's amazing how assumptions tend to bite you on the ass and come back to you as lessons to be learned.
I always assumed as well that no matter what went wrong in my life, I would be able to fall back on my own brand of faith and my positive attitude. This year for the first time I realized that having a positive attitude isn't always enough, as evidenced by the break down I had in the bath tub one morning. Pretending doesn't make everything better, and sometimes we all need a little help to get by. Better living through chemicals!
I remember thinking, and even posting, a year ago that I lived a very thrifty lifestyle. I learned in this year that I was lucky to be brought up by a parent who lived through the great depression, who instilled in me the lesson that you do not always have to have new and that you can always find ways to economize. I learned that I can live without cable t.v., even though I remember trying to make it just one weekend last year, and failing. I learned that I can get by with a lot less, and still be happy. In fact, there is even a kind of pride to be found in getting by with less and realizing that doing without this means that I can still have that. And I am one of the lucky ones, I still have my house. I know there are many out there who had/have it much worse than I do.
This year I learned that I can take a job that I would never have dreamed of taking a year ago, and I can do my best at it, and I can even learn from it. I've realized that no matter what situation you find yourself in, handling it as gracefully as possible, doing your best, and learning from it will make it a lot easier to accept.
This year I have realized that life is too short and full of too much crap to put up with crap from other people. I have realized that if someone doesn't bring joy to my life, then I don't have the time to be around them. That sounds cruel, but in the past I have put up with a lot from people I thought of as friends, because I thought that was what friends do. This year I learned that real friends don't do that. Real friends don't put conditions on friendship and they accept you for who you are, warts and all.
This year I realized, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks about me. As long as I am happy with me, that is all that matters. I am flawed, I'm still learning from my mistakes and probably will be till the day I die, but I've worked hard to get to where I am, and I am happy with me - flaws and all.
My glibly given advice to others has always been: be happy with what you have - and- you have to make your own happiness. I'm trying to take a little bit of my own medicine and find happiness in what I have, but it's a bitter pill and I'm still having to work at getting it down. And yet it is during the tough times that we learn and grow the most, and I am grudgingly beginning to see the truth in that now. Bear with me, I see the sun coming back.
P.S. I'm sorry, but I had to turn on comment verification. Apparently some bot got all hot & heavy with my comment section and ruined it for everyone else. I'll turn it off again in a few weeks and see if it goes away.