18 Lessons I learned in 2018

This is my final word about 2018.

At least on this blog.

Was 2018 really that bad?

Maybe.

But 2016 will always be the worst year of my life.

There was a lot of negativity in 2018.

And some very hard lessons.

I am grateful for those lessons because pain brings growth.

I absolutely refuse to carry that into 2019.

At the beginning of 2018, I felt like the year was going to end very differently than it began.

2018 started with the funeral of a good friend (followed by two more, one of which was my grandmother.) I also lost an old high school friend in July.

I traveled every month except July. Austin, Boston, NYC, Philly, Chicago, Madison, Milwaukee and Ohio. I spent a lot of time in Maine and it has felt good to be home.

I suffer from wanderlust and traveling has been good for my soul. It’s been part of my healing process.

It was a year of reunions. I saw my cousin three times and I saw my Chicago best friend three times.

And the year ended with a fabulous wedding between two amazing friends.

I am leaving with this list of 18 lessons I learned.

In no particular order-

Kerry’s top 18 lesson from 2018

1. I have come far from my early days of grief.

2. The Paw Patrol can fix anything. No job too big, no pup too small.

3. Forgiving people really is for me. A quote that reasonated with me was that by not forgiving, it is like you are drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. The offending party doesn’t care how you feel. In fact, they may enjoy that you are upset. So forgive and let to.

However…

4. Forgiving someone does not mean you grant them absolution for what they did. It just means you’ve let go of the anger for yourself. It doesn’t mean that the offending party is off the hook.

5. You are not entitled to anyone’s loyalty.

6. Be careful who YOU are loyal to and who YOU trust. No one is entitled to your loyalty and trust but don’t be stingy to those who do deserve it.

7. Let go of friends who took me for granted and don’t respect my boundaries. And that’s okay.

8. Boundaries are everything.

9. Truly appreciate the friends who are supportive and continue to truly be there for you.

10. I am an empath. Not to be confused with empathetic. Empaths absorb the emotions of those around them. It’s overwhelming at times. You have to work out your emotions vs others.

11. Empaths attract narcissists and I need to avoid narcissists.

12. It doesn’t matter where I go, Bryon will find me. He even found me on what would have been our 6th wedding anniversary while I was waiting for my lunch at a takeout window at a clam shack on the Maine Coast.

13. It’s amazing how much a 4 year old can teach me.

14. I need to stop trying to please people. Some people will never be satisfied.

15. It is important to love yourself.

16. Everyone is free to make their own choices You are only responsible for YOUR choices and no one else’s.

17. I can’t do the fake and superficial thing.

18. I am officially out of give a f*cks. I have no f*cks to give. All out of f*cks.

I do not know what is in store for 2019 but I am ready! It’s going to be a good year.

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My 2018 goals

How is it already January 5th?  

Like, we are almost done with the first week.  And I haven’t even written a New Years 2018 post.

Why is that?  Well I attended a lovely wedding, put up my Christmas tree and then I got sick.  Bronchitis to be exact.  I was so sick for two weeks.  Then it was Christmas and New Years week.  And then I went to a funeral in Maine.  I will write more about the Holidays and the funeral next week.  I promise.

As the calendar year changed, I did some reflecting.

2016 had been the worst year of my life.  I really hope that that year keeps the title because I can’t imagine what could be worse my husband having surgical complications, spending 5 months in the ICU and then dying.  

2016 was a year of survival.

I was happy for the calendar to change to 2017.  I did a lot of healing that year.  Even though I spent a lot of that year still in a fog, I still tried to live my life.  Even if it was going through the motions.

I had a lot of ups and downs but I was in a better place at the end of 2017 than I was the beginning of 2017.

2017 was a year of healing.

I was excited to see 2018 come.  I hope to continue this year trajectory.  I also have a feeling that a lot of exciting things will happen this year.  Things are going to be very different by the end of the year and in a good way.

I want 2018 to be the year I start living again.

I have been working on some goals.  I am writing them down here to hold myself accountable.  I may visit these goals monthly or quarterly to make sure I am on the right track.

I also want to note that this isn’t a complete list.  This is just the highlights.  I am always adding goals all the time.

Home

My biggest goal for the home is a monstrously large goal.  I need to declutter my house. My late husband was a saver, I was a saver but not as bad and my daughter has a lot of toys.  I am always looking for lost items and tripping over stuff so it is time to clear out. Since my daughter is living, I feel that Barbies Dream House gets precedence over Bryon’s possessions that I don’t have a use for.  I have attempted to clear out some of his items but I am always overcome with sadness.  I know he doesn’t need these items anymore but every time I get rid of something of his, I am reminded that he is dead.   I have avoided this task.  But now it is time.

My minimal requirement for this goal is to donate on box or trash per week for a total of 52 bags/boxes.

Fitness

Before I got hit with the bronchitis/holidays/funeral trifecta, I was having success at a local gym called Metabolic Meltdown.  I hope to return to class 4-5 times a week.  

Bronchitis has also done a job on my lung capacity so I want to start Couch to 5k again and be running 5ks by the spring.  My stretch goal is a second half marathon in the Fall.

Writing

I lost my inspiration for awhile.  I think that was due to a funk that lasted from Bryon’s deathaversary in August until a few days before Christmas.  I think I have my inspiration back.

My writing goals are:

Write 2-3 blog posts a week.

Begin writing my book.

Submit at least 5 articles for publication.

1-2 YouTube videos each week.

Spirituality

I want to continue my journey on learning how to love myself and others.  I can’t fully give to others until I take care of myself.  I would love to fall in love again but I want to be in a good place before I make any commitment.

I want to read one book a month on self love.

I want to learn how to meditate this year.  I have trouble focusing on nothing.

I want to read at least one book a month on spirituality.

Write in my gratitude journal daily.

I am hoping by the end of 2018 that I will be less angry with God.  Less angry enough that I may start going back to Sunday Mass.  I miss the traditions.  Faith was a huge part of my Bryon and my relationship and I miss it.  I also want my daughter to be raised in the same faith that I was and the same faith that Bryon and I had intended that she be raised in.  But I am still very, very mad at God right now.  Maybe it is time to delve into the religious based grief books that have sat unread on my nightstand.

Interpersonal/Self Respect

It’s sad that these two are lumped together, but for me that is how it is.  

My biggest Interpersonal/Self Respect goal is to continue to remove toxic people and situations from my life and to be open to positive, supportive and loving relationships.  Life is too short to be hanging out with the wrong crowd.

I am done tolerating people saying insensitive things to me.  In the past, I have tried to brush hurtful comments off.  I have rationalized that the people who make these comments don’t know a clue to the magnitude of my loss though many think they do.

I am also done with people who tell me how to live my life.

Widows are not weak.  They are not dumb.  

Widows DO NOT need to be told how to do any of the following:

Parent their children.

Manage their money.

What they should do with their house.

When they should date.

When they should have sex.

And most importantly, widows DO NOT need to be told how to grieve and how to cope.  A large part of a widow’s life is grieving and coping.  They don’t need to be told how, especially by someone who has not lost a spouse.

I will be distancing myself from people who try to tell me how to live my life.  I have been through Hell and survived.  I am not a delicate flower.

I also don’t like drama. I thought I left it behind when I graduated from high school 20 years ago. It ruins my Zen.  So I will also continue to steer clear of drama because it is a waste of time and life is too short.