Things to Do - 10 Things I Learned this Year (2017)

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On Friday A Cup of Jo posted about yearly lessons, which made me think about my own 2017. Funny how we spend so much time coming up with resolutions for the next year and maybe not enough looking back seriously at the past year.

Here are some things I learned, in no particular order:

1. Kids need to leave the nest. I think I always believed this, so in some ways it isn't a new lesson. But part of me secretly hoped that if Dan and I created this wonderful environment, full of family book clubs and crazy vacations that my kids would never want to leave.

But this year, their friends became really important to all of them. After five weeks in Europe, they all begged me to limit next year's vacation to 2 week (I'm caving at 2.5 weeks). F went off to summer camp for 10 days and barely seemed to notice we weren't there. Now that they have phones, the girls spend hours calling/texting friends. T has been "adopted" by two of his best friends' families and on weekends is rarely home. One of the moms sent me a photo of her 4 kids at Zoolights and T was next to them - all with their light-up ears.

Some of this has been hard. I miss them. And I'm slowly learning that I have to take the moments when they come rather force them to occur.

2. Grief is not predictable. A few weeks ago a good friend from college died. I had not seem or really heard from him in almost 20 years, but a few days prior to his death he tagged me and 10-15 other people in a random Facebook message full of photos of cocktail napkins. The next day the whole account was removed and I learned through Facebook he had passed away.

Honestly, I'm still not quite sure how to process this. But Dave's death brought back memories I wasn't aware I had and the past all of a sudden seems like something right next to me. As if I could open a door and just step into it.

Perhaps this is how it always feels when death comes without resolution. As horrible as it was when my father died (and wow, was it horrible) I never felt like there were things I needed to tell him, nothing was left unsaid.

Whereas with Dave the thought that he died without knowing how much our friendship meant to me - it has been tough. My last year of college, Dave and I were inseparable - bartending together, leaving shifts at 2 am and going out for breakfast/staying up all night, watching stupid movies together (remember Spice World?), etc. And then I graduated and moved and there wasn't really anywhere for a friendship like that to go. Through the grapevine I learned that life wasn't going well for him - struggles with addiction, an inability to ever really "adult". I'm not sure what I could have done to help. But still, so much left unsaid.

3. Women's stories need to be told. From Cat person, to #metoo, to the Neapolitan Novels to Harvey Weinstein to the Women's March to rereading Lives of Girls and Women - I feel like I spent 2017 hearing voices that I've never heard before. And new words that didn't exist (mansplaining, male privilege). And so much of it resonates with me. As if something I've been told to keep silent for so long (how silly women are, how trivial their thoughts) is all of a sudden everywhere. And it's bold and real and controversial and (not to over cheese this) but seriously AMAZING.

4. Running a business is hard work. Even though I've owned Darcy Troutman Photography for a few years now, 2017 was the first year it became more of a full time job than a hobby/part time gig. I spent the last four years learning to be a photographer and I'm realizing that I need to spend 2018 learning how to direct my business forward - dealing with difficult clients, itemizing everything, better email response and client guidelines, marketing to my "ideal" client, etc.

5. Kids come pre-programmed. As an only child (and only grandchild on one side), I'm still a little in shock about how much my kids differ from each other. Hard to believe they all grew up in the same house, with the same value system.

6. I don't understand America or what it means to be an American. Not that I ever did. But this year more than ever - I'm at a loss. The country is way more racist than I ever realized. And hateful. And while I haven't become an activist by any means, I'm more likely than ever to share my opinions and to speak up. Having a voice matters and I need to use mine.

7. Marriage is hard. And wonderful. And full of constant surprises. Dan and I are not the same people we were 12 years ago, we're continually re-meeting each other. And trying to grow together. Neither of these things is easy, but they are both worth it.

8. One vote really does make a difference (not sure what I'm talking about? read here).

9. Warm fuzzy socks make everything better.

10. Don't Stop Believing has stood the test of time. It really is a great song. And no matter how often I've heard Body Like a Backroad this year, I still sing along. Every time.


Anyone else want to chime in? What have you learned this year?

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