"A beautiful day begins with a beautiful mindset. When you wake up, take a second to think about what a privilege it is to simply be alive and healthy. The moment you start acting like life is a blessing, I assure you it will start to feel like one. Time spent appreciating is time worth living." — unknown
February 9, 2017 – 6 months ago, my life changed forever. August 10, 2016, nearly an exact six months earlier, I already thought my life had changed forever.
First, I lost my job in August of 2016. I had not been unemployed since the 8th grade and next thing I know, I find myself unemployed with a mortgage and student loan bills coming in. This was not something I was prepared for but I survived it and came out of the predicament only better for it. Then, once I thought my life was back to normal, I got hit with a brick from left field — mom was diagnosed with cancer. But the real curveball, she passed away 10 weeks later. Living through both of these events (without getting any grey hair 😊) have taught me some immensely important lessons that will be with me the rest of my life.
The first lesson came shortly after getting over the shock of being unemployed — there are more important things in life than a job. Sure, we've all heard this, but to what extent do we listen and understand it? One week into my unemployment, Tom's grandmother was in the hospital with a ruptured appendix, being unemployed allowed us time to spend with her and listen to stories about her and her family. It also allowed me to be there for Tom's sister when she tore her ACL and needed rides to and from appointments, or just someone to keep her company. Getting rid of a 60+ work week allowed me to remember how important it is to spend time with family and friends.
My lack of work also enabled me to enjoy our vacation to New Hampshire last fall to ring in my 30th, without working through it (which is what I did days before loosing my job when I was on vacation celebrating my friend's 30th). And fortunately I was able to land a job offer about two months later (and then still have six weeks before my start date due to background checks and such to actually relax). Having this time to finally enjoy life again, to even have a life outside of work was big. I forgot what it was like to have free time, to prioritize myself and my family. I learned it quick enough to ensure that my current job allows me a separation and balance between work and the rest of my life. I'm very fortunate to be at a company that values personal time; it allows me to work from home two to three days a week and to be home every evening with Tom to take care of our house and spend time with our friends.
Another lesson I have learned is that people will surprise you — people you think will be there and people you didn't expect to come pouring out of the woodwork in your time of need. You find out who your true friends are. You remember who is there when you really need it – not the person who shows up for a party, but the person who drops everything any hour of the day to be a listening ear, or the person who hops on a plane to fly halfway across the country to be with you for 36 hours.
There so many others lessons I have learned and it's hard to put it all into words. While I have, what I hope is the hardest year of my life, behind me, I think I've come out the side in a much better place. I am happy and relaxed. I spend time with people that really matter. I spend time in the quiet of my own home alone with no one but the cats. I have learned to take a break and really detached from work — to enjoy vacation, and to take them more frequently. But it all boils down to putting your self and your values first and foremost in everything you do. I know that my family, whether by blood or friends who have become family, is the most important thing to me and I will do everything to make sure my relationship with these people does not take a backseat to any establishment.
I knew that turning 30 last fall was a sure sign that I was truly an adult — no more claiming that "oh I'm only in my 20s, I'm not really an adult"… I knew that would somehow click and make me feel older, but I never thought I would learn those lessons the way I did. Life has sure handed me some lemons, and I hope the lemonade I made tastes sweet. 🍋
So lesson learned, and take it from me, YOU are what is important. Your own happiness is the upmost priority. And no one has the right to stand in the way of you living your life in a way that leaves you proud and satisfied. This past year has impacted me in a way I didn't know possible and I am forever changed from it. I hope these lessons don't stray far from my mind and that I continue each day forward being the best me and doing what's best for me and those I love.
"Dear Past, thank you for all the lessons. Dear Future, I am ready." — unknown