A Look Back – Three Things I Learned in 2019

I had a big milestone birthday this year, the big 5 – 0, as they say. This is big actually, if you think about it, 50 years alive (and hopefully thriving) on this planet. That is pretty amazing.

And one would think that at 50, the learning slows down, there’s not much new information to acquire unless of course I’m back in some type of formal education setting. Well we know that is not true at all! Approaching this life with a sense of wonder, a keen desire to continue to learn, an open mind to discovery, is a key ingredient in maintaining a youthful life.

So, with a sense of humbleness and gratefulness, I share the top three things I learned this past year:

  • Trees are really important: Duh, right? I may be late to the party on this one, but I’ve learned a lot about how important trees are to our planet, our environment, our ecosystems, our well-being. I’ve known for years trees are important but this year, I was finally paying attention. One book I read was called: The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben. It was eye-opening and sometimes heartbreaking on how we’ve treated our life-giving forests as a commodity at our own disposable and not as a diverse, integrated, important, alive community (the irony of holding a book, made with paper, from trees, is not lost on me). I’m so lucky as I get to spend lots of time in the forests – and now I have a new wonder and deep appreciation of each and every part of this complex ecosystem.
  • People are really important: I look at my circle which includes family, friends, colleagues, neighbours and I’ve discovered these people are my forest. These people are my trees. They are part of a system that supports each other. They are sturdy, resilient, providing shade when needed, providing strong foundation when needed and allowing me to walk my own path, standing vigilantly by but never getting in the way. They nourish and feed, they are life giving, they are integral to my well-being. Recently I was talking with a friend that I had not spoken with for a while and I started to say I was sorry for not being better at staying in touch and she said “Nope, let’s not do that. We’re connecting now and that’s perfect”. Sometimes our people are on the other side of the forest, but they are still there – solid.
  • Letting that sh*t go is important: Back in May I wrote about Wu Wei and the art of loosening our grip, a letting go so to speak. This year has been one of letting go. Letting go of things that no longer serve me like the teenage-angst-anger-is-my-middle-name diaries I found in a box I’ve been hauling around for over 30 years. It is a weight lifted, letting those hard-to-read diaries go, letting that anger and spite and ferociousness that I am no longer carrying go out into the abyss. Also, loosening my grip on my frustrations around more injuries that derailed my exercise and recreation program and learning to accept what’s working in the moment and that each day I work towards healing and getting stronger. Letting go of the constant nagging at myself about my weaknesses, my kryptonite. Letting that go allows me to focus more positive energy on my superpowers, my soul-igniters, the stuff in my wheelhouse, this sh*t that matters.

So here I am, at 50, with a lot of great life lessons already learned (thank goodness). And honestly, 10-fold more on the horizon. No matter what age you are at right now, I invite you to spend time as the days grow shorter and nights longer, to consider what you might have learned in this past year and approach next year with a sense of wonder of what you might discover next.

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better. I do better.” –  Maya Angelou

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