What have I learned this past year?
You’re not ready for change until YOU – in your own time – are absolutely 100 percent ready. When that moment happens, it is abundantly clear.
Hug your kids. Watch them, enjoy them – even when you’re tired, in a rush, or having one of those days when you wonder why the hell you signed up for this mom gig.
Don’t limit yourself. It’s amazing what one is capable of when the phrase “I can’t” is sent on a permanent vacation. Having self-doubt is OK; it can lead to critical thought about how to accomplish a daunting task. Embrace those doubts as a means to accomplishing that big or scary goal.
Choose to see the best in others. Be empathetic and understanding to less-than-perfect, or downright ugly moments. One never knows what burdens another is carrying; an act or gesture of kindness to a seemingly undeserving recipient can have a hugely positive impact, and ripple effect.
Celebrate and be proud of small victories. We, as women, and mothers, don’t do this often enough. Share that little thing that went right in your day, even if it feels silly to do so. That totally rad classroom Christmas party you helmed…finally cleaning out that closet you’d avoided for two years…you ran three miles without stopping for the first time ever…share it. Positivity is infectious and you never know who you may inspire.
Be honest with yourself. That doesn’t mean berate and be overly critical with yourself. Just take a look at things that aren’t as you’d like them in your life. Or a time when you reacted poorly to a situation. You don’t have to make yourself feel terrible about it; just look at what happened, and think about how to better handle the same situation.
It’s OK to acknowledge when things are not OK, or to blow off some negative energy. There’s a huge difference between being a constant Debbie Downer versus talking to that trusted friend or relative on a bad day, or after a slew of many bad days. This is another thing moms are so hesitant to do; we need to get past that “mom guilt,” though, and realize it’s OK to cry on a shoulder, or rant about something, if it’s something we’re struggling to hold in and bury. Unburying it, and letting it out, is very freeing. Freeing it lightens the load a bit. It may not totally free the weight, but it makes the load slightly easier to manage.
Be giving. Even if it’s not convenient, or not in the way you’d ideally help others. It’ll come back to you when least expected, and most needed and appreciated.
Carpe Diem. Opportunities don’t usually come with a big sign that says “Hey! Awesomeness ahead!” One of my favorite movie scenes ever is at the end of “Dumb And Dumber,“ which ends with the two main characters lamenting that they just have to keep their eyes open for their lucky break after directing a busload of bikini models looking for personal assistants on to the next town. Totally cool experiences and opportunities often occur serendipitously, when you’re not looking for them. Don’t shoot down an opportunity because you hadn’t been thinking of it, or it popped up at a less than opportune moment. Being open allows you to meet people, see places, and do things you’d never dreamed of, and those can become important, defining moments in life.
I don’t pretend to be an expert on anything. I certainly don’t do these things all the time. But I’ve learned that good things happen – as a mom, a competitive athlete and a human being walking this planet – when I try to follow the above. Don’t let anyone tell you it’s naïve or Pollyanna-ish. Love, kindness, empathy, well-reasoned and constructive criticism and celebration will always trump negativity, cruelty and glass-is-half-empty-ism.
Whatever your obstacles and challenges were in 2012, may they strengthen you and bring on a powerful new 2013. And those little moments of peace, love and harmony? May you cherish them, and remember them fondly as you set out to make new memories.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Karah Levely-Rinaldi is a Grand Junction mom of four and an ultramarathon runner