Lesson I learned about myself in my Best.Year.Yet.

Strive to be kind first.

As we enter the last week of this year, I can’t help but pause to reflect on the year it’s been for me. I labeled 2017 as my Best.Year.Yet, and it certainly brought a lot of hype and lessons throughout the 12 months. I admittedly think (and hope) we can do better so look out 2018! (stay tuned for my next blog coming this week)

I am in a learning process….learning about myself, the world around me and the people who inhabit it. This may sound funny since I’m in my (early) 40s and have of course been learning lessons along my journey. But I feel like I’ve really started paying much closer attention to my life the past few years. I wish I would have done it earlier but perhaps, like most things in life, I needed to come to experience many lessons to appreciate this point. This may not make sense to some of you, perhaps it sounds like aimless rambling from a woman avoiding dressing for holiday festivities. (ha)

This year brought more lessons about myself. I honestly love learning new things about myself! Both good and bad (yes, we all have the ‘bad’). The good lessons remind me of who I want to be and that I’m on the right path. The not so good shows me what I need to work on and perhaps change. None of us are perfect. There is always something to better.

I definitely was reminded this year that a big lesson and continuing goal is not ever settling for less than joy, love and kindness in my life. I am so very grateful to be alive. Every day. Being a 20-year bone cancer survivor is a blessing, not one I ever take for granted.

But I have at times taken being happy for granted, being naive to think others sought joy, love and kindness as much as I do. I have at times been sucked into believing that I’m obligated to stay in certain situations or keep certain people in my life who aren’t bringing the best out of me, nor my life. I can not imagine my life without kindness and joy in my heart. So anymore, I don’t apologize for being picky who gets my time, energy and emotions. I try to believe the best about someone, perhaps giving too many opportunities. And yet, I keep optimistic about the world. I know I can’t control other people’s behaviors, emotions or decisions, but I can control my reaction to them and what energy I give. There will always be a touch of sadness, disappointment, frustration, impatience, even heartbreak, sometimes brought on by people close to you. We are human, after all, and this is life. I commit to bringing joy, love and kindness to the lives of those around me. Isn’t life so much happier with those goals?

There is a song for every emotion!

I’m stronger than I sometimes give myself credit for. Who would have thought I could bike across Iowa, or add more than 1,500 miles to my total? Me, a bone cancer survivor with a titanium rod in place of her femur. So many lessons this cycling journey has brought, and so many wonderful people to my life. Who knew pushing myself to a biking goal would result in my body getting back to athlete shape and dropping not one but TWO clothing sizes this year? Who would have thought surviving cancer and my dad’s death from cancer would lead me to travel around the state and to Washington, DC to advocate for cancer survivors, sit on survivor advisory councils, contribute to an international cancer support site and more? Truthfully, these moments still surprise me. I’m learning to have more courage and faith in myself….thanks to what I’ve been through in this lifetime – from my cancer diagnosis and journey to my dad’s diagnosis and death to relationships that broke my heart to losing friends to cancer, disease and circumstances to all the other little and big moments that led to this path. These moments certainly shaped me into the woman I am today.

This is life. The beautiful, ugly, heartbreaking, hopeful, joyous days. And while this year didn’t bring all of my wishes and goals as I hoped, my romantic, optimistic side is still full of hope that the next chapter of my journey will do just that. Isn’t that life? This beautiful, unknown, sometimes messy, often filled with detours, learning journey.

Wishing you all the happiest of holidays with your families and friends!

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