New Castle News

December 30, 2013

Lisa Madras: Taking time to reflect on a year of growth

Lisa Madras
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE —

Another year is coming to a close, and those of you who know me know that I can't resist a good year-end wrap-up, as trite as it may seem.  I'm a huge fan of retrospection, and as long as you don't cross the line into wallowing in the past, it can be a significant learning tool for moving forward.
 
We've asked ourselves a lot of questions this year, and I hope that like me, you've really thought about some of them, and used them to learn more about yourself and perhaps even guide yourself out of a dilemma or two.
 
I feel like I have a little advantage in that I HAVE to answer the questions, what with it being my job and all.  I'm nothing if not human after all, and I do like to eat and pay the mortgage.  So how lucky of a thing is this for me, that I get to earn a living and make myself a better person all at the same time?  I complain a lot, but once I get past the surface rubble, I realize that I'm very fortunate indeed.
 
This past year was one of incredible growth for me.  It was certainly one of the most miserable physically, as I've been battling health issues that brought with them pain beyond my scope of tolerance and a loss of the vitality I'd become used to.  But like every battle, this one came with a lesson, too-- take nothing for granted.
 
Throughout the year, even though it was a difficult one, I also managed to leave a toxic relationship, go back to school, and get my house looking like a Good Housekeeping photo op.  Okay, I'm lying about the whole clean house thing, but the lesson here is priorities.  Nobody can do it all, and sometimes you have to let things go in order to get better things.
 
I survived my first year as a "forty-something" and survived my child's first year as a teenager, both of which were oddly similar for some reason.  Probably because we were both a hormonal mess.  Perhaps the real accomplishment here is that my younger child survived the year with the other two of us.  (Here's to eight-year-olds with a sense of humor and a cast iron will!)
 
I've learned that there are many things I don't like about my life that I'll never be able to change.  And I've learned to accept those things.  I've learned that there are things about my life that I don't like that I CAN change, but that I have to actually put in the work to change them.  And I've learned that change, at least for me, can come with a whole bunch of curse words and psycho moments, but it's still always better than stagnation.
 
And here's the great thing about looking back at the past 365 days as the calendar year approaches the next-- you get to take stock of everything that you did wrong (and God help me, for me it was a lot!) and everything that you did right, and make a plan for what you're going to look back on at the next new year.  Then you decide to  make a change, or stay the same.
 
For some people, these plans are just empty words-- resolutions made in the excitement of champagne and celebratory kisses, only to be swept up and discarded with last night's confetti.  But we know better, don't we-- those of us who keep asking the questions, and keep asking more of ourselves?
 
We're the ones that are changing the world, one person and one promise at a time.
 
Happy New Year, my friends... make it a wonderful one.  You know what to do.