Friday, January 1, 2010

Lessons Learned (and Observations Made) in 2009

***Please forgive my aging eyes.  My keyboard seems to be acting up.  So, despite my obsessive-compulsive checking and rechecking over this document, there may -in fact- be some misspellings.***

Many of you are already familiar with my end-of -year tradition, not of setting resolutions which will be long-forgotten by early spring, but of reflecting on the year past, and the morsels of knowledge to be learned from its events.  I realize, however, that part of my yearly "Lessons Learned" tends to reinforce or reiterate lessons already known.  Thus, I add the "Observations Made" to the title this year. 

Going in to its 5th year, I believe, my tradition has sparked others to create their own list.  I welcome your thoughts, observations, and lessons; or simply your comments on MY list.  Part of the fun of me composing this is reading the responses recieved in turn.  So, if you feel so compelled, I'd love to hear from you.  :o)

I know for many of you, 2009 was less than stellar, greatly due to the economy.  Others of you were struck with illness or loss of loved ones.  And my heart is certainly heavy for you all.  In spite of all the woes, I must say that this was perhaps one of the best and most rewarding years for me, due solely to our newest addition, Carol Elizabeth.  That's not to say that this was an easy year, by any means; I learned some tough lessons along the way.  However, overall, Tim's and my life will never be the same, and we are forever grateful for that. 

...I digress.  In no particular order, here are my lessons learned and observations made for 2009.

1) Guess how much I love you?  There is a children's book by the same name, that tells of Little Nutbrown Hare (child) and Big Nutbrown Hare (parent), and Little's attempts to demonstrate how much he loves Big, only to be one-upped each time.  I always remember reading this to kids, pre-Carol, thinking that it was just a competitive game for the parent to continue to one-up the child, and borderline MEAN!  Afterall, the child is simply trying to show how much he loves his parent. But no matter how much he loves them, his parent seemed to love him more.  I finally get that -- it's not a cruel form of competition; parents just love their children that deeply.  Perhaps children are not meant to understand how deep a parent's love goes, until they join the club themselves.  I remember reading this to Carol when she was a few weeks old, and finally understanding it.

2) Look out for yourself  Unfortunately, I learned a few tough lessons this year.  When it comes down to saving yourself or letting the blame fall unfairly elsewhere, people will almost always let it fall elsewhere.  I had the displeasure of being thrown under the bus in the professional world in a few instances, and realized what was happening too late.  By the time I really opened my eyes and saw the situation for what it was, it was too late to even defend myself.  I was under the bus.  So, no more!  Keep your eyes open and strike quickly, especially if you may potentially be on the line!  That is a tough lesson I take with me from 2009.

3) MySpace is GoneSpace, Twitter is for the birds, but Facebook is where it's at.   This year, I deleted my rarely used MySpace account, opened -but seldom used or fully "got"- a Twitter account, finally opened a blog account AND remembered the password, and became even more addicted to FB.  It is amazing how one social networking site can potenially CONSUME you!  I remember stringing thoughts together in my mind, and then remarking only to myself, "that would make a good FB status update."  Oh.  My!  Yet this one site has reconnected me with people whom I would have never found otherwise: old elementary school friends, fellow teachers from past schools, old diving friends, "kids" (now fully grown and most out of college) for whom I used to babysit, and countless random others.  But this whole social-networking is tricky: you may know what folks are up to, and feel that you are still connected to them.  But in reality, you may not have seen said friend in -say- over a decade or more!  So, be careful in distinguishing social-networking "friends" with the real, tangible friends with whom you see face-to-face. Further, we now seem to live in a society that DEMANDS that you know what people are up to.  Heck, you can snoop online to see how much people paid for their home, and/or see what it's worth.  (Yes, there's an app for that.)  Having said that, I am reminded that you have to be hyper-vigilant about what you share, and with whom you share.  YOU have control over how much or how little people can snoop about you.

4) Post-pregnancy situps, or any abdominal exercise, is hellish!  At least at first. Enough said. 

5) Prayer: to put it mildly, it is theapuetic.  It comes in all forms: prayer, meditation, reflections, affirmations.  Call it what you will, when put in place, it can really help to put things in perspective, and gather your thoughts as to what is really important in life.  ...I bet you thought I was going to get on a holy soap box, didn't you?

6) Life is both fleeting and precious.  Every neighborhood had that one family that always welcomed their kids’ friends into their house, and their friends’ friends, who in turn became their direct friends. That family had an understood, open invitation to come and hang out. That family always enjoyed the company, and always had multiple guests. That family served as surrogate parents, and later surrogate grandparents, to many a child over the years, and kept those children close to their hearts. One such family in Dunwoody was the Galatas family. And Mr. Galatas was always at the center, smile a-fixed on his face, welcoming his children’s friends, and eventually his children’s friends’ children.   Equally important, though, Mr. Galatas (“Papa G” to many children) encompassed FUN, from his hobbies to his very fiber of being.  On the occasions that my husband and I would go over to their house (typically around a holiday or birthday), the atmosphere was always just that: fun.   His sudden passing took everyone by surprise.  To find some consolation, he passed away amidst what he so enjoyed: being around his family and friends. So, here’s to you, Mr. Galatas! Although I may not have known you nearly as well as many others did, you have touched my life, just as you have countless others, and we will all take with us the little life lessons that you and your family encompassed: enjoy life.  Another boy in my life reminded me this summer how precious life can be.  My friend Melissa, spent her summer in the hospital with her sweet baby Bryan.  I won't go in to all the details here, but through lots of prayer and support, he pulled through.  With a diagnosis of Atypical HUS, an extremely rare kidney disease, he will have long-term treatment needs, but he pulled through and is now that same sweet, SWEET happy boy I met back in the spring.  By the grace of God, he avoided dialysis and ultimately a transplant.  If you'd like to learn more, go to, or  

7)  Hi, my name is Barbara, and I'm addicted to my iPhone.   Hi, my name is Barbara, and I'm also addicted to Facebook. There. I said it. (Happy, Tim?). For more elaboration, see #3.

8) Move on!  Going along with Lesson/Observation #2, there are situations you may come across that give you knots in your stomach.  No matter how awful they may seem, when you come out the other end -better for the experience- you cannot dwell on the past.  Live, learn, and move on.  I spent countless nights unable to sleep, dwelling on a situation that has already passed.  I cannot change what has already happened.  I think being the bigger person means moving on.  Dwelling on bad situations only gives the other person power, knowing that it still dangles over your head.  So, this year, I have reinforced the lesson that you learn from the past and the present, take those lessons with you, and then MOVE ON!

9) Babies are heaven-sent! It was once hypothesized to me that babies come straight from God in heaven, and are therefore "fresh" from talking to and being with God. I'd like to believe that this is true. After experiencing the bliss of a newborn, I strongly feel the truth behind such a theory.

10) 30 is the new 20  And if this is the case, does this mean that I got pregnant in my teens? As my twenties are rapidly fading before me, I sit back and think of how quickly this past decade went!  I am one of those folks who was born at the beginning of a decade (or end, depending on how you look at it), so as each decade rolls to an end on the calendar, so does one of my life.  My twenties have been a wild, wonderful, tough journey; and I certainly wouldn't change a thing, as it has all gotten me to where I am today.  And I am so blissfully happy with my life at the moment.  So, here's to you 20s, I will savor the remaining 8 months of you that are left, and embrace my 30s with joy.  (Ask me how I feel about this again, as the end of August approaches...) 

11) All the mommy stuff:  I could actually write a whole other entry just about all the "Mommy Stuff" I've learned and observed this year.  So, I will just give the gist of just a few nuggets here.  (Perhaps future naps will be devoted to that entry.)  In no particular order:
*always park near the cart return;
*there is no such thing as hugging, kissing, holding, or loving a baby too much;
*Murphy's Law and Motherhood are in cahoots!
*naptime is just as critical to mommy as it is to baby;
*I only have ONE baby, while others out there have multiple children.  Therefore, my ONE baby is just not a big "challenge".  It's all a matter of perspective. 
*all caregivers should invest in a good, heated back massager;  
*Mommy Guilt is inevitable, no matter how good or how bad your situation;
*babies don't care if you get the flu; you still have to be their mommy;
* no baby wants her face wiped.  Ever.  No matter how much crud is caked to it;

 I could go on and on and on.  Instead, I'll leave room to elaborate at another time.

...and on that note, I come to an end. I welcome any responses, either commenting on my lessons or observations, or your OWN lessons and observations.  As always, I look forward to reading what YOU have learned and observed the last 525,600 minutes of 2009. 

Happy new year, everyone. May 2010 be exceptionally well and comforting to you all! 

(P.S.  For a "year-in-pictures", see this note on my FB account; I put up a picture from each month of Carol's life.)

No comments:

Post a Comment