25 Incredible & Important Things I Learned in 2017...My Midlife Wisdom for This Last Year
My life changed drastically this year. Drastically!
Well, I guess I should say that I changed my own life drastically. I made a huge life decision last spring, and there was really only one (or two) happy persons about this: Me. And Mr. V. Actually, Mr. V. was CERTAINLY happy, because he wants me to be happy. And that in itself is a lesson I learned about having and valuing a great husband.
As I reflect back on this last crazy year, I realize I have learned quite a few new things! It's not true: That you can't teach an old dog new tricks. Well....I am here to tell you: You CAN. I am an old dog, and I have learned quite a few new tricks this past year! Yay!
And I'm just going to say, there is a book that I think everyone needs to read: Essentialism, the Disciplined Pursuit of Less. This book gave me the courage to do things this year I never would have done. The author uses economic principles to help you figure out your life. I LOVE this book!
FTC Disclosure: There are affiliate links scattered around this article. If you click through and make any kind of purchase, I may receive a very small commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions are my own. Thank you--Heidi
Here are some of the things I've learned this past year:
1) You need to be HAPPY in your job, where you spend most of your time. Also: You HAVE to be TRUE to Yourself.
Yes--this was a lesson that took hold of me during a meeting with friends this past year when we were discussing the current state of affairs in our chosen career field. Keep in mind...I had LOVED the job I had for literally decades! I especially loved aspects of it that I miss terribly now.
During this get together with my friends, I was stating the fact that I no longer believed in what I was being told I had to do on the job due to political and pedagogical changes in my field. My philosophy about my job was completely at odds with the reality I faced every day. It's really hard to live untrue to yourself and your beliefs.
This disconnect was ruining my life...taking my joy...and turning me into a person I swore never to be. So...I decided I'd make myself happy by leaving my well-paying life career to do something else. Even though my income is not consistent like it was before....I am HAPPY. And it is SO worth it.
If you can do this at all--you need to try to find a job or career where you can experience joy in whatever it is.
Was it scary? You may be asking--- HECK YES, it was terrifying. I guess I just got to the breaking point, though, and I realized I finally had to DO my life. I had to risk failure in my new endeavors. I had to risk potentially making a terribly wrong decision.
And....this decision I made? There was NO going back, due to the nature of my retirement income. So, when I finally did make this huge life changing decision, I knew there would be no going back. Ever.
I just held my breath! I just took the leap! I just closed my eyes tight and did it! And so far, it's been one of the best things I have ever done. I'm still working out the bugs and growing my blog, and I can say without a doubt, it is an adventure!
2) You CAN change your life, and not everyone changes with you.
Is it hard? Yes. Do your relationships change? Yes, for me they did. Does everyone understand or "get" it? Nope. Not at all. And you sure can't change others' opinions. BUT...You CAN change your own reality.
3) Attitude: It's all about attitude.
If your attitude is bad....well, so is your life.
If your attitude is good...well, so is your life.
Actually I learned this lesson back in my teens, but it's good to mention again. And if you can't change your attitude from negative to positive within the current constraints in your life, then it is certainly time to change whatever is holding you back.
Looking upward is a physical action I learned can really help you change that baditude to gratitude!
4) Making a decision to move away from agony (even if that agony feels "safer") to relief can be a GREAT decision.
Maybe you are struggling with a bad relationship. Maybe you, like I was, are being forced to do things you don't believe in. Maybe you are being disrespected by someone over and over. Maybe you are a country person living in the city (been there, too).
Friends, there are all kinds of agonies in life. And I know many would say to just put up with them, and sometimes you have to for a season or two or more. But honestly, I truly believe....If you are living in agony, you owe it to yourself and the people who love you to make some positive changes.
Nobody deserves to live their life in pain.
5) You have to live in alignment with your belief system.
This one and all of the above are somewhat related, but that doesn't change the fact that they are true. Maybe I'm dwelling on these related lessons because this was the BIGGEST and BEST lesson I learned this year.
6) Just because you are choosing something outside the "norm" does not mean it's wrong.
Besides that, the "norm" keeps changing. It doesn't mean it's right. It doesn't mean it's wrong. I've learned this year that doing the normal thing doesn't always mean you're doing the right thing, or at least what is right for you.
Marijuana was just legalized in our state. I was horrified at first. But I have this friend, and he has been dealing with pain for many years. He started using CBD oil a while back, and was experiencing relief. Well, when marijuana was legalized, he now is able to use it legally. He is moderate with his consumption, and it is just to help him manage his pain.
Who am I to judge? Or anyone else? I am just very glad he is experiencing relief, and the manner in which that is happening is legal....although, so are opiates....and that is a discussion for another day.
And there is us. Mr. V. and me. And our crazy life.
I'll just say: People do not "get" our life. We live outside "normal." Even though pretty much everyone agrees there is NO normal....we live far outside what most consider a typical life.
This hit me when Mr. V. and I were introduced at a community Christmas party as the "people with the farm." As though this were the strangest and most odd thing. Reactions were laughs, scoffs, even. And may I even say some eye rolls from folks who know where I stand on herbalism, commercialism and processed anything.
And Mr. V. and I looked at each other and smiled. We love our life.
7) Security is a myth.
There is no security, my friends. I've spent most of my life trying to reach that place...and I fully believe now that security does not exist in our worldly realm.
Do you know where security DOES exist? Absolutely? It exists in my identity with Jesus Christ and the Grace we are given. And Hallelujah!!!!
But here on earth? Nope.
When I learned this lesson, it made it easier for me to take drastic action with my own life.
8) I do not have time for people who are rude, mean, unappreciative, or time-suckers.
I just don't. We have a neighbor, and he is really and truly a wonderful man. I absolutely am SO glad that he and his wife are our neighbors. But that man can TALK! For a VERY long time!
So, even though I really enjoy the conversation (at times) and even though I am grateful that such nice folks are our neighbors, I just have to be careful about my time management and kindly cut things a little short here and there. And not feel badly about it.
And mean people? Or rude folks? Or people who are seriously unappreciative of the things you do for them? Forget it.
At my age, I have learned that spending time with another human being is a privilege, and that time should be positive and happy....or it's just not worth it.
9) Friends do not always want what's best for you.
I should actually say that friends don't always KNOW what's best for you. That would be the better way to phrase this lesson.
10) If you are being judgmental, then it's because you need to examine your own beliefs and possibly make some adjustments.
You probably don't know everything you need to know, and everyone has their own backgrounds and contexts and values.
I love that old saying, "Don't judge a person until you've walked a mile in their moccasins." True Dat.
11) I am quite sure I am becoming a LOT more introverted the older I get.
12) Society is changing at an incredibly frightening rate of speed. Is this my age? Or is it truth?
13) My skin needs a lot more water than I give to it. Hydration is a New Year's Goal for me.
I'll be setting an alarm throughout the day to fix this bad habit of not drinking enough good water. Otherwise, I will forget.
14) Mr. V. and I need a vacation REALLY badly.
Our life up here on the mountain used to feel like a daily vacation, and in many many ways it still does. But the fact remains: Mr. V. and I do not get away together, ever. Definitely not for longer than a night to visit family.
We really need to re-evaluate this aspect of our marriage and try to make a plan to get away for several days.
But when you have a homestead, with lots of animals who need caring for....it's super hard to leave. That's a fact. And I have to figure out a way around this issue.
15) You can grow more in a year than you realize or give yourself credit for!
Wow. When I compare the "me" that is today with the "me" that was a year ago.....Un-REAL. That's all I have to say about that. And it's a GREAT thing.
16) You need to take care of the little stuff....or it becomes BIG stuff.
This year, I learned to declutter. And what I have realized is that if I don't consistently stay in declutter mode, then all of a sudden, I have a HUGE mess on my hands that takes me a long time to clear out. Just declutter as you go!
This lesson probably applies to a lot of areas, too.
17) Sometimes you grow out of your friendships. And that's ok.
18) It's a good thing to take a risk, even if you are NOT a risk taker. Especially if your happiness is in the balance.
19) Animals are AWESOME!
Well, I've always known this...ever since I was a little girl. Animals are like your babies. They are your friends no matter what. Animals give SO much more than they get in return. Most animals are just natural anti-depressants. When you spend time watching your animals and spending time with them....how can you be sad?
They have social structures just like people. And most of the time, they love you! And they show it too!
I think people who mistreat animals are HORRIBLE folks. I'm not talking about people like us, who raise our animals with kindness, care, and love---and then slaughter them for meat when it's just time to do so. Nope. I'm talking about the abusive kind of person.
And the whole, "What?! You kill your pets?" issue? Well, this goes back to Lesson #10. I think a whole lot more people in our modern world REALLY need to do some research and learning about our current food industry. Seriously.
It's disturbing when you are in a conversation with a person who tells you, "I only buy my meat at the grocery store so I can be sure it's clean." WHAT???!!!! Ugh. I have learned to bite my tongue and at the most tell them to PLEASE watch Food, Inc.---at the very least.
Sorry for the rant! :-) And that's all I'm going to say about that too.
20) You should always be learning something new and applying it in your life.
Never stop learning. This is actually another lesson I figured out a long time ago, but this year, it hit me again, when I changed my career path. Oh. My. Goodness. I learned so much this year!
Besides continuing my herbalism studies, I've taken several blogging courses, read a ton of books (like always), and am in the middle of a photography class for the iPhone. My head has felt like it's about to explode at times this past year!
When you stop learning and growing and experiencing new things....you stagnate. I've always been a person who takes courses and is in the middle of new hobbies, growth, and learning. But I see people out there...people who for whatever reason don't find this important. And I kind of feel bad for them. Guess I better revisit Lesson #10 myself. I'm sure they have their good reasons.
21) You NEED friends.
22) Your spouse should totally be happy when you are happy...and not so much when you're not. You're a team, after all.
I am SO blessed and fortunate that I finally found the best man in my whole life, and that he married me. Soooo blessed.
23) Your Rear End Really Does Spread if You Sit on It All. Day. Long.
Well, ok---writing is sedentary. Even though I do get out to do animal chores every day, still. Sitting (or even standing) to write doesn't make for a healthy, happy body---and yes. Fanny spread is real. This is the year of changing this problem.
24) Babies of any kind are life-affirming, too cute, and fun to have around.
My son and his beautiful wife gave me a third grand baby nearly a year ago. I've not been able to travel to meet her yet, and that just kills me. But I just love, love, love seeing her pictures, how fast she is growing, and I can hardly wait to hold her!
But. Even though I can't see my grand children every day like some lucky folks, I DO get to see baby chicks, ducks, turkeys, and goats! Not to mention all the wild life babies up here where we live: elk, deer, wild horses, burros, and much more! Babies remind me that life is ever new!
25) Great friends and a support group are absolute necessities in your life.
If you don't have a support group, you need to develop one!
Healing Harvest Homestead would not be where it is today without this network of wonderful people, who over the course of this year, have become such great friends. Even though I have never met them in person....they are SO important to me.
We have lifted each other up in hard times. We have encouraged one another. We have helped pull each other up into new levels of growth in our blogging work. I love these ladies (and man). As this year ends, our little group is celebrating daily by sharing successes, setting goals, and making good changes on our websites.
And while I'm on this tack, I'd just like to give a BIG shout out to my faithful readers, social media followers, and newsletter subscribers. Healing Harvest Homestead would be absolutely nothing without you friends. I am SO grateful every time you leave comments, email me with questions and advice, and read my newsletters. I love that we are creating a growing community!
It gives me such great joy to try to bring value and goodness into others' lives. That was actually one of the best things about my previous job, too. And I guess it's the thing I missed the most. So, I just thank you for being here from the bottom of my heart!
Final Thoughts About 2017:
What an incredible and interesting year! Some things are not as good (like I don't go horseback riding nearly as much these days because I am so much more busy now), but most things are WAY better (I am building a business and a life that I only dreamed of before)!
I am bad at balance. And as I take the lessons I learned in 2017 with me into 2018, not only will I continue to strive for more growth personally and in our homestead, but also for BALANCE. I want to work out again and become healthier through exercise and meditation. I want to continue to grow my prayer life and my relationship with the Father. I want my marriage to continue to expand and grow more beautifully. And of course, I want to continue learning and sharing that knowledge and experiences with you.
Lessons learned lead to new goals!
As 2017 is edged out by the emergence of 2018, my hope is that you will all grow too! Grow in joy, knowledge, skills, and love.
Readers, thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing, commenting, and being part of this journey. I wish you knew how much I appreciate you!
P.S. I hope you'll get signed up for the newsletter if you haven't already done so! I'll be sending you free eBooks (using herbs and essential oils plus how to get your homestead started no matter where you live), AND you'll get free tips and information not found on the blog!