At the end of every year, my therapist (who graciously came on the pod for one of my favorite interviews) walks me through a year in review. This practice has given me much-needed perspective, and I highly recommend trying this exercise during these cold winter days that are made for deep reflection.

Together we look back on and list:

  • what I’m most proud of accomplishing,
  • who had the greatest impact on my year and those accomplishments,
  • which important relationships improved the most,
  • the smartest decisions I made,
  • the biggest risks I took,
  • the most loving services I performed,
  • where I still have unfinished business,
  • what was left unsaid,
  • and my greatest lessons.

Although nature says we’re still in hermit mode and real rebirth begins in the Spring, it’s important to take time to step back, reflect on and process all of these shifts, give gratitude, and acknowledge the new ‘knowings’ we don’t always stop to write down.

Today, I want to share my list of lessons here in case any of these resonate as you look back on how far you’ve come and prepare for what life asks of you next.

My Greatest Lessons of 2021

1. It’s much better to face a painful truth (and thus, be able to take action from a place of awareness) than to be haunted by the pain of running from it.

2. Self acceptance is something we’re all inherently entitled to. But self-esteem is not necessarily a given that we can conjure up from thin air and self care. It must be built and earned through action and character. “Self-esteem comes from esteem-able acts.”

2.5. Responsibility is a wonderful way to build self-esteem. In this lens it is a gift — a gateway, a path — not a burden.

3. Life’s just not worth living when you’re only living for yourself. Sacrificing for those you love and being of service to others brings a pleasure much greater than your own.

4. When I’m feeling like sadness is just happening ‘to me,’ it’s often that I’m thinking too much ‘of me.’ Contributing to a purpose bigger than my own interests and connecting with community (outward) is a much better remedy than face masks and self care (inward).

5. The most sacred things in life are the most important to keep private. If everything is shared, then nothing is sacred. I’m still finding balance here, as some stories deserve to be told.

6. Prioritizing connection over outcome is the best way through even the most intimidating tasks and conversations. “How connected can we be?”

7. Feeling even just a little bit better is usually as simple as doing the thing you’re resisting most.

8. Creating order around you through plain old chores is of the best ways to bring order within you. 

8.5. The repetitive or mundane “time-wasting” tasks we’re increasingly trying to automate can actually be a potent form of medicine.

9. The right commitment will deepen your sense of freedom rather than stifle it, because there is freedom in security. One does not exist without the other.

10. Boundaries. are. love.

11. When you’re confused, it’s okay not to speak or act as they will end up being words and actions of confusion. It’s not okay to stand still, either — so your task is to clear your mind and seek to understand the confusion.

12. We waste so much time focusing on finding a solution to our problems, when we should be spending that time clearing our vision so that we can see the problem more clearly. When your goal is to truly see and understand the problem, the solution is undeniable. Life is more about seeking to understand, then it is about seeking to solve.

13. The most interesting thing about you is how interested you are in others. There is no need to offer entertainment when you offer presence and allow entertainment to unfold.

14. Tending to life can bring you the deepest sense of happiness and strongest connection with your ancestors – whether that’s plant life, animals, children, or elders.

15. The greatest gift your animal friend will teach you is how to be a better leader.

16. It’s enough to do the work you can, from wherever you can. Just make sure you do something.

17. Sometimes we’re so full that we just need to be empty. After all, a room is only useful when it’s empty — not when it’s packed. Rest creates empty space, where we can finally examine what needs to be examined.

18. The smallest dignity-building act, as simple as making your bed, can have a ripple effect on the way you walk through the world each day.

19. Some trauma can’t ever be “healed” — instead you learn to live with it, you learn to thrive despite it, and you change the meaning that it gives your life here and now.

20. Sometimes we simply don’t have the energy to show up as our best selves and be curious, kind, or present. Knowing and openly communicating your energy limits protects you from acting out of integrity, and protects your relationships.

21. When you’re comparing two trees, you can’t truly see the beauty of either. When you see life as a competition, you walk around blind. ♥

If any of these clicked for you, please let me know and share yours below — and with that, I wish you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2022 🙂

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