|The view an hour short of the summit of Loma Del Pliegue Tumbado
|Menu board for a restaurant in Arequipa, Peru. Note the fifth item from the bottom.
Always appreciate your travel companion. They’re paddling as hard as they can. Be aware of their limitations, or their circumstances. Be patient. Be kind. And don’t judge them harshly when they don’t meet your expectations.
In 2015 when Hubby and I travelled to France for a month, he’d just weathered a very difficult spring with a major shoulder injury, several misdiagnoses, and with the prospect of complicated surgery when we returned home. I knew he would not be at his best. Much like I was not at my best during my trip to England this fall, when I was still grieving my brother’s death, and so was easily fatigued, weepy at times, and unable to handle the stress of travel with my usual good humour.
|The view from the bridge over the Little Bonnechere River
|Me, Mary, her little brother, and his new kitten, on the way to Colca Canyon, Peru
|Sometimes you just need a little positive reinforcement from your friends.
|That day back in 1989 when Hubby became Hubby, so to speak.
Hard work, and the satisfaction that comes from doing a job to the best of your ability, can be its own reward. Or the corollary of that, financial remuneration is not the only compensation for one’s work. Money is not the only measure of success.
Since I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve thought often about whether I should “monetize,” accept money for posts, or place ads on the blog. And I’ve decided that it’s not for me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t begrudge other bloggers making money from their work. It’s just that making money is not why I started writing a blog. I don’t want the hassle of keeping track of that end of things, nor do I want to spend my time doing so. My blog is a very important part of my life, but it can’t be my whole life. Otherwise, if I ascribe to Hemingway’s idea (and I do) that “to write about life first one must live it,” then what the heck would I write about if all I did was work on my blog? So I’ve decided to look for other ways to achieve success with my writing. I don’t know what they are yet. I’ll have to get back to you on that.
Be grateful for what you have. I learned in 2017 how privileged I am to live the life I do. How grateful I should be, how grateful I am, that I “won the birth lottery,” as our American friend so aptly said that night in Ollantaytambo, in Peru. I’ve been lucky enough to have had a rewarding career, which has allowed me to retire, and be financially stable enough to do pretty much what I want to do. Like travel to places in the world where I can meet people who can teach me to feel gratitude for what I have.
I guess the most important thing I learned in 2017 is that you never stop learning about yourself. I knew that already, of course. But I’d become a bit complacent. I thought I had myself all figured out. Ha. Turns out you can learn all kinds of things about yourself in your sixties. About self-confidence, and how it can be shaken by small things. About your judgement, about recognizing when you’ve been wrong, and the feeling of a weight lifted when you simply admit it. It’s okay to be wrong. The world doesn’t end. Sheesh. What a relief.
The other thing I’ve learned this year is that confrontation won’t kill me. I have always ascribed to something that my sister told me years ago: we can’t control the behaviour of other people, only of ourselves. And to that end I always, always look to myself first in dealing with any problem or difficult situation. As a teacher in the classroom, as a head in dealing with my department, as a wife, a friend, a daughter, a sister, whatever role I’m in, I always look at my own behaviour first. This can be a good thing to do. It forces us to look critically at ourselves, to not blame others first, and helps to avoid unnecessary conflict and confrontation. It’s good for teachers, principals, and bosses or leaders of any kind to look to themselves first. It’s also a good thing to teach kids to be responsible for their own behaviour, to not blame everything on someone else.
But taken too far, this habit can force us to bear the burden of guilt for every situation. And allow us to escape confrontation that might be necessary. It can turn us into “pleasers,” as a friend said to me recently. And I have always been too much of a “pleaser.” I had no trouble facing conflict in the classroom. And while I didn’t enjoy it, I would not run from confrontation in my department, or in other professional capacities. But on a personal level? Well, that’s a whole other kettle of fish. But this year I’ve learned that after examining my own behaviour, I am able to call people out, to say: “Nope that’s not my fault. Your behaviour is unacceptable.”
Yes, folks, I’ve learned I can do that, and lived to tell the tale. Ha. In fact, it feels wonderful. At sixty-one years old, five months away from sixty-two, I think I’ve just learned to stand up for myself. Wrinkly neck and all.
I learned plenty in 2017. I know I’m not alone; I’m sure that many of you have learned harder lessons than I have this year. Today I did a quick search on-line to see who’s writing about what they learned this year. Joanna Goddard asks the question “What Did You Learn This Year?” on her blog A Cup of Jo, and gets all kinds of interesting responses. On Man Repeller, Megan Velong writes sensitively about what she learned about herself this year as she coped with infertility issues. And there’s this article: 2017 Was the Year I Learned About My White Privilege, which is a really smart and honest analysis of how the political and social issues of 2017 have changed the mind of a self-confessed “smart-alecky conservative.” Seems that lots of people are life-long learners.
So, that’s about it for 2017, my friends. Tomorrow is another day, and as Scarlett O’Hara didn’t say, another year.
I wonder what we’ll all learn in 2018.
What have you learned this past year my wise and wonderful bloggy friends? Do tell us. Pretty please.