By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. Confucius
It’s a natural tendency for me…this desire to sort of wrap things up before moving on to the next thing. Packing up the big things, sorting through the bits and bobs, making sense of what’s there. Discarding what’s broken. Preserving the important pieces. The end of the year is no different for me.
Over the course of the past several days, I’ve been revisiting 2016. And then earlier today, looking through my Lightroom catalog. A couple of things immediately stood out - the first being how incredibly grateful I am for the gift of photography in my life. Seeing the faces of my loved ones, remembering the little moments of magic and joy…it just made me so happy.
The other thing about seeing the year at a glance like that was that it also helped me to see some of the major themes that emerged this year. And although I'm not really one for living in the past, I do believe that it is beneficial to at least acknowledge the lessons and gifts that were part of the story of this year. Here are ten that really stood out to me.
This was the year that I watched my girl bloom and grow into a young woman. Feeling all the joy and pride at her successes and accomplishments. Feeling all the heartache at her disappointments and frustrations. I imagine this will continue to be a recurring theme in my life. One that I embrace wholeheartedly.
This was the year that I continued my pursuit of finding joy my ordinary life. To pay attention, to be present, to be a witness to trail magic – “the unexpected and sweet happenings” that offer welcome relief in what can often be a difficult and challenging journey. It’s a tall order and much easier said than done. But oh the delight when I get it right.
This was the year that I fell in love with David Austin roses. Their lovely layers, their heavenly scent…the surprise of learning something new about my garden. The surprise of learning something new about myself.
This was the year that I became the boss of my to-do list. It meant learning to say no – saying no to my inner hustle. Saying no to the voice of obligation, expectation, comparison, and perfection. I am still very much a work in progress here, but just gaining some awareness in this key area of my life feels like a major victory.
This was the year that learned to see shadow in a new light. To appreciate appreciate the mood and drama it lends to a photo. But also, learning to acknowledge the role it plays in my own life. And rather than avoid or fear the darkness, I am taking comfort in knowing that it will point me in the direction of the light.
This was the year that I fell in love with memory keeping again. Thanks to my Project Life album and other scrapbooking projects, I am finding new ways of telling new stories. This kind of memory keeping is everything I love about photography and writing, but with the added element of crafting something. It’s sort of the sweet spot for me…a connection between my head, my hands, and my heart. And it just makes me so, so happy.
This was the year that made time for friendship. I am so blessed to have so many wonderful friends. And getting together with my girlfriends, whether it was meeting for dinner or a weekend getaway, was always a bright spot in my year. Nurturing these relationships is so good for my soul and continues to teach me the importance of downtime and play.
This was the year that I rekindled my love affair with the golden hour. During those times that I felt frustrated or overwhelmed…those times when my heart was hurting...rather than stick my head in the sand via netflinterestagram, I instead grabbed my camera and set off on a golden hour walkabout. And in the process I found space and solace and peace and light.
This was the year that I remembered what it was like to live in an in-between season. To experience discomfort of a rebuilding year. To appreciate the delicate the beauty of the right now rather than pushing for the next thing or mourning the thing that was. To live with uncertainty. To remember the grace that inhabits these kinds of middle places and to have faith in what will surely come together.
This was the year that I said yes to adventure. I said yes to getting uncomfortable. I said yes to expanding my horizons. I said yes to letting off the brakes. This was the year that I said yes to flying high.
It was a good year. And I am grateful for its blessings - those that were obvious at first and those that revealed themselves more gradually. Now I am ready to take what I have learned and step boldly into the new year with a little more grace, a little more courage, and little more wisdom.
What lessons and gifts are you taking into the new year?
Until next time,