With Thanksgiving Day a great time to reflect and count your blessings, I started to reflect on situations that I have experienced over the last year that were tough, yet they were also times I learned more about myself and what I was capable of. So in the spirit of thankfulness and gratitude, here are my top five “learning opportunities” I am grateful for from 2013.
1. Sudden disruption of plans – your carefully laid out plans suddenly hit road blocks and execution of those plans is not possible. You are faced with abandoning all hope of success or finding another way around the block. How many times has this happened to me this year? More than I can count, yet I learned a great deal about myself while I navigated through to a resolution. I don’t like to let things go unfinished. Okay, there is that cable knit sweater that has been half completed in my knitting basket for 10 years, but when it comes to work issues, I want it resolved. I’ve come to realized I can’t fix everything.
2. Perpetually angry person – no matter what the issue, this person finds a way to be pissed off about something. It could be an acquaintance, a co-worker, or a relative (let’s hope we choose our friends more carefully), but they can pull you into their anger situation in nothing flat. I find myself getting upset about something and later wondering why I was so upset. This year I learned to practice the art of questioning compassionately. It’s really more listening than talking. I ask more questions and give fewer opinions. As with most things, it’s an ongoing practice, and I do better sometimes than others. Just don’t get me started on the ERA.
3. Hope springs eternal – when you want something to be true more than anything else. I won’t say I go after hopeless issues or projects, but there are a few on my list that could fall into that category. It’s the hope that your favorite baseball team will win the World Series, even if they haven’t won in 97 years. Or watching a female state senator filibuster a bill in the statehouse for 11 hours that you know is going to pass anyway, but you cheer her on. I am gaining back my hope for the hopeless and I like it. I’m grateful for those situations that have inspired me this year.
4. Don’t wish worst – years ago I was in the habit of saying, “what’s the worst thing that could happen?” and a co-working would shout at me, “don’t wish worst!” I read Brene’ Brown’s The Gift of Imperfection this year and I realized I do a lot of what she calls “Fear of the dark”. When something joyful and wonderful is presented to me, I think about how terrible I will feel if (when) it goes away. I was practicing for the worst. While somehow that made me feel a little more in control, it also diminished the joy. What a wonderful weight has been lifted off my shoulders by acknowledging this and practicing enjoying the moment.
5. The joy of imperfection – another gift from Brene’ Brown this year. I had to admit I am a perfectionist. I denied it for years, but I do try to make things perfect – not for excellence but so I will not be judged by others harshly. I want to please my friends, my boss, my mother, my husband, well, you get the idea. My biggest problem is I suck at it. The more I try to get things perfect, the more I mess up. So this year I started to practice I’m imperfect and I’m Enough, the theme of a 6 week course Brene Brown is doing with Oprah on the internet. I am calling myself a recovering perfectionist and I hope that will ignite more creativity and risk taking in my life. I know excellence will follow.
I also want to give gratitude and thanks to all of you who have supported Jae Lynn and I as we launched Ask Ajna this year. I especially want to thank:
Carrie Shearer, who has edited many of my blog post (not all – those typos are mine alone) and did it with care and respect for my perfectionist nature
Stefanie Newton, who designed our web site and keeps the site’s lights on – so to speak, and is always available to help us with technical problems, even if they are not hers
Marsha Clark, who is always quick to respond with requested advice and support
Roger Cartwright, who loves and supports me and my work and gives me great ideas for blog post
Last, but not least, I am so thankful for my partner at Ask Ajna, Jae Lynn, who is able to see the vision of our work with me. It is so nice to have someone who understands the language I speak.
Do you have your list of gratitude and thankfulness written? Share with us on Twitter, Facebook, or Youtube, #thankful #grateful.
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