Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 Raw Realizations in three C's

Goodbye 2013.
Many will wax poetic about you. I have no grand messages or brilliant declarations. This past year has been an awakening of the deepest parts of my soul. I want to grasp and positively use the pain of this awakening. I don't make resolutions but I do plan to keep moving forward with my life goals. The words written here are for my own reflection and renewal. Perhaps someone else will find truth or an insight that might bring healing.

My 2013 has been navigated in less than perfect circumstances. I have been fully bent but not broken. I have arrived at some raw realizations as a result of 2013. So here they are in three words (with a few explanations):

Change. Early in the year, I moved again to a much bigger city. I changed jobs. I changed industries. The change became even more difficult as I recovered from a lingering illness that caused extreme fatigue. I survived a car accident. My car was totaled. My mom died. I've felt alone and misunderstood as toxic people appeared out of nowhere and seemed to be everywhere. Through it all, I have discovered I cannot negotiate life alone. We all need encouragement and love no matter how strong we appear. My husband and my sister, Connie, have loved me consistently and been a source of unimaginable support. And that's all you need--one or two people to love you like crazy. I know I have changed this year.  I have become more aware of suffering and unspoken pain. It has moved me from being concerned generally about others to being concerned viscerally for them. Through my own changes, I am more thankful for family and friends who love me even when I have not been easy to love. We all need wind beneath our wings...corny I know, but listen to the words of the song sung by Bette Midler here, it is real to me in so many ways.

Cry. When we are born we cry. When someone dies we cry. My mom died in August of 2013. I cried a lot. I cried more than I expected. And even months later, I find it difficult to control when or where I might start crying. I have cried around people who could care less that I was crying. I have quietly cried in the restroom stall at work. I've cried sitting in my car in the parking lot as I see an old woman navigating the grocery store. Tears are starting to form just writing this. So what. No one can determine how you will grieve. You are forever changed when you lose your mother. You possess a new gravitas once you have lost both parents. After talking with others who have lost a parent and been through the grief process, I am told it will get better but will never go away. So I cry when I need to.  It cleanses my soul. It allows me to bend and not break. If you see me somewhere crying in 2014, just hand me a tissue or give me a hug. I'll do the same for you.

Consider. During this tough year, I had to seriously consider how I would react to adversity and who I would be on the other side of it. I think about reactions, behaviors and communication styles frequently for purposes of continuous self-improvement, but it took on new significance this year. As I try to gain clarity around my dissertation thesis, I have been reading a lot about psychological capital. I wonder how and why some people thrive in certain environments and circumstances while others crumble. The concept of psychological capital is one of the best explanations I've found. According to Luthans, Youssef & Avolio (Oxford University Press, 2007), psychological capital is defined as "an individual's positive state of development" and is characterized by hope, efficacy, resilience and optimism. Here's how the researchers define those characteristics:
Hope. Persevering toward goals and when necessary, redirecting paths to goals.
Efficacy. Having confidence to give the necessary effort to succeed at challenging tasks.
Resilience. Bouncing back when beset by problems and adversity.
Optimism. Making positive attribution and expectation about succeeding now and in the future.

Hope, Efficacy, Resilience and Optimism. HERO. I seek to have these HERO characteristics as 2014 unfolds. Yeah, I want to be a hero. Maybe even a superhero. I want to be more considerate of others. I want to overcome pettiness. I want to trust more. I want to have a good belly laugh at least once a day. I want to dance more.I want to have honest conversations with authentic people. I want to get on with a life that energizes my soul. I want to help others find meaning and make meaning.  2013 has prepared the way. My faith reminds me there is joy and possibility awaiting in 2014. I will seek joy with open arms and a changed heart.

Sydney, Australia 2014. Bringing in the New Year!
Goodbye 2013. I am better, not bitter. I'm bending but not broken. Thank you for three C's and the raw realizations. Welcome 2014. I seek new adventures and a pure joy that reverberates in the presence of others. Be kinder. Be gentler. Someone needs that from you and me.  We are more than conquerors. We are over-comers. Go!

Happy New Year. Leave a comment for me below. Let's learn from each other.