Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What I Learned in 2014-Being the Best Me

I recently read a blog post called, "14 Things I Learned in 2014," by one of my new favorite upcoming authors-Kelly O'Dell Stanley. If you haven't heard of her, you will. Her book, "Praying Upside Down" is due to come out sometime this spring. Anyway, I "met" Kelly on Facebook through a mutual friend, and I love her writing. 

Kelly's blog was among several others on Emily Freeman's Link-up (for those readers who are not bloggers, that's where bloggers share their blogs, meet other bloggers,'s like a blog party!). The party theme? Let's Share What We Learned in 2014.

I decided to read some of the other blog posts there to see what others had learned in 2014, and it inspired me to come out of hiding this week (I'd vowed to take the week off), and write about what I've learned.  So, here goes---the things I learned are highlighted and underlined:

One of the most important things I learned in my little blog-world is that 

there are literally hundreds of thousands of bloggers out there! 

I had no idea of how to grow my blog, how to "get more followers," until my friend, Kathryn Ross introduced me to link-up parties. These wonderful people host a weekly "link-up" where you can share your blog, read other posts by like-minded bloggers (and sometimes not-so-like-minded, but still amusing and interesting), make new friends and gain followers. I've made some wonderful cyber friends through these link-up parties, and have learned a lot from other bloggers--things about blogging and things about God. When you see "sharing this with..." at the bottom of my blog post, I encourage you to click on any of the links to read other wonderful blogs!

In the midst of all of this cyber galavanting, I learned that 

a lot of people have written a book.  

I was envious at first. Why did everyone have a book and I didn't? Well, because you haven't written one yet, silly! 

You can't be jealous of something you haven't yet done. 

I felt angry, but then I realized that I was angry at myself for not following through on the dreams and desires I've had since I was a little girl---dreams of writing a book, of being an "author."

So I researched. I asked questions. I learned about self-publishing. I learned about traditional publishing. About writing a proposal vs. writing the (non-fiction) book. And I learned that 

I am a writer. I always was a writer; that's who I was designed to be. 

I am still learning about self-discipline. That's an ongoing lesson...AND, some of those peoples' books are pretty darned good, like my current favorite, Laura Boggess' "Playdates With God"

I learned that 

if you want to be promoted, promote someone else. 

The best way to get something is to forget about getting it by giving. Put your goal aside and help someone else reach their goals. I've heard it said that the best way to find your way out of grief is to help someone else. Helping someone else gets your mind off yourself. And when you get your mind off yourself, the envy, depression or whatever else you felt someone don't matter anymore. Before you know it, you're actually happy and rooting for that person.

For some reason, hiking became my absolute favorite thing in the world to do this year. I don't know why. I've always enjoyed it, but this year I discovered all kinds of new trails within an hour of my home. It was as if a whole new world opened up. Through the NY/NJTrail Conference

I learned about trail-making, about trail maintenance and about trail-blazing. I learned how to correctly read a trail map and on New Year's Day, when the Hubster and I go out for a holiday hike, I will learn how to properly use a compass.

I learned that I am afraid of the creatures of the night, and that's the real reason I don't like camping. And I learned that I have a deep desire to hike the 72 mile stretch of the new Jersey section of the Appalachian Trail, and to do so will require facing a lot of my fears, only one of those fears being the creatures of the night. 

I'm strangely excited. I've always loved an adventure. A year ago, I would have thought I was out of my mind (my kids and my best friend think that I am. My son referred to it as, "this thing you're going to do."). Hubster and I just bought a tent and are making plans to tackle that 72 mile hike this summer. Yeah, I know, summer is really hot, but other than right now, summer is the best time for me to take time off work. Camping is one thing; camping in 20 degree weather is quite another. Summer it is.

My first time on the AT
stirred the desire to do more.
This year I decided to simplify my life. I said no to a lot of things that I'd previously said, "Oh yes! Thank you...yes!" to. Things that I actually enjoyed, but took up a lot of my time. I started staying home, and 

I learned to enjoy my husband and the time we share. 

More than that, 

I learned to enjoy being with myself without having an agenda.

Simplifying my life allowed for de-cluttering of my life and my time. Simplifying and de-cluttering made me realize my priorities. I can breathe. I can see and hear people. I can make time, not find time. I can care. Simply put, I can. No longer do I frantically say, "I just can't!" In a world that measures worth and efficiency by how much you do, I measure it by how much I don't do and how much I pay attention to what God wants. In a world that seems to commend busyness, I decide to relax. It is how I discover what I truly want in life. I believe it is how I discovered my two favorite things to do this year: Write and hike. In both of those I learned that:

I can do what I set my mind to do.
I can rise to a challenge.
I can conquer the rock scrambles and the word scrambles through Christ, who gives me strength.

One of the most important things I learned in 2014 is that 

I cannot be anyone but who I am. 

Maybe to you that's not big news. But for someone who has tried all her life to live up to what I thought everyone else expected me to be, well, that's pretty big.

I learned this a long time ago, but this year, in fact, only recently, did I really "get" that 

every person is uniquely who they were meant to be, quirks and all.  

We can spend our whole lives pretending we have it all together when we are not even close, trying to live up to some ideal worker/parent/friend/Christian/fill in the blank... that exists only in our mind, only to discover that that person really doesn't anyone. No one is perfect, except for Jesus Christ. So not only should we not dump on ourselves because of our "flaws," we ought to accept everyone else...with their flaws and quirks. Personally, I would rather spend time with someone who is comfortable being themselves than someone trying to be someone they're not. Wouldn't you?

 If we could all just be a little kinder, we could diffuse a lot of anger and hurt.

I learned a long time ago in the theatre world that while you may be better than some, there will always be those who are better than you. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others and just be who we are. Quirks and all. We're all quirky. We can strive to attain perfection, but it will never come. 
This is my best me...haha!
I've been told that that role captured the real me.
So just be the best you that you can be. If you can learn that, you will find amazing freedom!

(Come on, you had to know that I'd throw you a curve ball somewhere in here!) 

Blessings Along the Path in 2015!

Sharing this with Emily Freeman, Faith Filled FridayThe Weekend Brew, Sunday Stillness


  1. I really enjoyed this post. You learned some valuable lessons this year, some that I can gleam from. Happy New Year. I look forward to getting to know you better in 2015.

  2. Thanks Barbie. I enjoy reading yours as well. See you over at the Weekend Brew (if I make it) this weekend.