Brave Lessons #29

Here we are, wrapping up the last few days of 2019. I’m not sure how the year passed so quickly, but it certainly did.

I had great intentions and plans, and sadly, so many of them went awry.

In spite of that, or maybe because of it, I’ve heard a number of valuable lessons this year.

This quote certainly speaks to what’s in my thoughts and on my heart today.

I’ve written throughout this year about being brave; about stepping out beyond a comfort zone, trying new things, speaking up and speaking out. But I think one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is to be real.

In a world that encourages people to show only perfection, I think there is a great deal of bravery in being real, in being flawed and imperfect, and human.

Goodness knows I’ve got my share of flaws and imperfections. More than many, I’m sure.

But I try hard to stay upbeat and positive and keep my life tidy, at least from the outside looking in.

This past year has been anything but tidy or organized. So far from it.

I had grand plans to write two new series that never materialized. Books I’d planned to release months ago are being published in January instead. And then there are all the projects at home still on my to-do list.

I’ve struggled with the things I didn’t accomplish. The things that went undone. The things that make me feel like a failure instead of a success.

None of that is how I usually operate, but it’s been a most unusual year.

What, exactly, threw me for a loop isn’t any one thing, but the accumulation of many things. Things that I haven’t shared, but feel like I should today. I had bold, beautiful intentions for 2019… so today I’ll open my heart and tell you why they didn’t happen.

My year began with my mother being diagnosed with dementia. The doctor’s original diagnosis was that we basically had until Christmas with my mom. I’m happy to report she is doing much, much better than anyone anticipated, but her health (and that of my dad who is her caregiver) has been a top priority this year. I’ve made far more trips to see them in 2019 than I have in past years combined. We’re trying to celebrate all the special moments with my parents that we can while they both are able to to enjoy them.

Also, It seems this was the year for me to be sick. I don’t get sick all that often, but I when I do, it is often debilitating. I had the flu twice this year along with two major allergy attacks that left me unable to do much other than sit on the couch and wait to feel better. Not the most productive way to spend my days (and in one case almost three weeks).

Thanks to a dear friend sharing details about a lifestyle change she pursued that allowed her to drop almost 100 pounds, I decided to give it a try. I started the first day of spring and have happily lost 50 pounds since then (and CC has lost 40 pounds, too). That’s a great thing and one I’m super-excited about! However, losing that weight meant learning a new approach to preparing meals and even learning about fueling our bodies instead of feeding cravings. Since this girl LOVES chocolate, ice cream, bread, and pasta, the learning curve wasn’t quick and easy. The struggle was very real!

In April, my niece and her husband welcomed a bouncing baby boy whom we all just adore. I can’t even begin to describe how much I love sweet Baby T and spending time with him. So any chance I had to go see him (he lives 3 1/2 hours away), I took it. He’s only going to be a tiny bundle of sweetness for such a short time and that time is so precious. I cherish every moment I got to spend with him and his folks this year and don’t regret a moment of it – even if it meant I had less time to write.

From years of experience, I should know if we start a home-improvement project to take the estimated time and quadruple it. A simple project of getting new carpet morphed into painting the office, living room, guest room, and hallway, not to mention shopping for furniture, arranging for delivery (which was not an easy task when you’re trying to get an antique couch shipped across the country), and getting things set up. We actually purged a bunch of stuff we had in storage, repurposed several items to be used in different areas in our home, and hauled several loads of donations to our favorite charity in town. I love the way everything turned out, but that is a month out of my life that disappeared in a blink.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, my Dad ended up in the hospital not once, but three times before he was transported to a larger hospital where they kept him for several days. He’s doing fine now, but it was scary at the time and then there were dozens of phone calls trying to set up a care system to help with Mom and meetings with home health professionals. Instead of wrapping up the last of my Christmas books as I’d planned, I ended up taking them with me on a vacation we’d had planned for a year. I had to sneak in moments here and there to try to get my work done.

So there it is. I’m not making excuses about why things didn’t go according to plan this year. But I’m keeping it real and encouraging those of you who struggle with being perfect to just let perfection go. None of us is perfect. Not a single one. So learn to accept the challenges, admit when you need to take a step back, and give yourself grace for living your best life one day at a time regardless of what that day might look like.

As you say goodbye to 2019 and welcome 2020, I hope you do so with courage, determination, a soft heart, and the bravery to be yourself.

Happy New Year, my friends! May it bring you blessings and joy beyond measure!

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22 Responses

  1. Thank you for being so honest and open about your year. I needed the encouragement and wisdom today that you shared in the third to last paragraph.

    My mother had Alzheimer’s and was a widow at that point. I became her caregiver and as she worsened we moved her into our home. I will keep you and your mom/dad in my prayers. It isn’t an easy road at all to watch a loved one fade away. Sending you love and prayers.

    1. Thank you, Barbara! It isn’t an easy road but one we are learning to journey.
      And sending encouragement your way for a beautiful, blessed day and New Year!

  2. Love what you’ve written, and I absolutely agree this has not been the year I had expected for myself either … That makes two in a row now. I already know 2020 is going to be filled with challenges, hopefully at least some of them will be happy ones. I’m trying something new (not saying I’ve been entirely successful, but I’m trying 😉 ) and that is to do my part, to do the right thing, and let God manage the outcome, whatever it may be. Now to figure out what my part is! Also, how to set boundaries, how to not over commit and recognize when to say yes but also when to say no, and to take time to just “be”, to enjoy the life given to me and not to feel like every minute has to be packed with being busy. (And then to fight the temptation to go too far into laziness!). Ahhh, life is an interesting adventure, is it not?!? Happy New Year to you, Shanna, wishing you many blessings!

    1. Hi Shauna,
      Oh, I so appreciate what you shared! To do the right thing and let it rest at that is such a great thing to strive for! And setting boundaries and learning to just be are things I definitely need to work on, too.
      Hoping 2020 brings you a bounty of blessings! <3

  3. I’ve struggled this year watching my parents’ health decline. I can handle the physical work, but I’m struggling mentally. I’m praying they hold up during 2020. My parents have always been my best friends, and have always helped me get through tough times.
    I think courage is my word for 2020 as I have several hard things to face, and I’m the world’s biggest wimp.
    Shanna, we are blessed to read whatever books you’re able to write, and will wait for new books – put yourself and family first. We aren’t going anywhere. We love you and everything you write. Take care of yourself! I’ll keep you and your family in my prayers.

    1. Thank you so, so much for your kind words, Lynette! I’ll be thinking of you and your parents and sending prayers your way for their continued health and for you to have courage. I think you are much, much stronger and braver than you give yourself credit for!
      Love and smiles! <3

  4. Shanna- You have had a rough year, but congrats on your new lifestyle change and weight loss. You look amazing I loved your photo you posted from Vegas. You both look amazing.
    Do not fret about what you did not get done, praise yourself for the extra time you spent with your parents and Baby TJ. Those are the important things. You will preserver in 2020, as I think we all will. A new decade for new challenges.
    I love you dearly and thank the Dear Lord above for having our paths cross.
    May you and Mr. CC have a grand New Year!
    Love you, Tonya

    1. Oh, thank you, Tonya! I so appreciate your sweet words and your sweet friendship. You have been such a blessing to me! Sending you and your mister many warm wishes for a fantastic 2020! <3

  5. Shanna, thank you for sharing your struggles with us. My mother also has Alzheimer’s and has been in a care facility since last December. While my two brothers live in New England and visit regularly, I see her perhaps twice a year. I call her every Sunday but it’s not the same. She is 92 and her physical health is now declining as well. Despite how we appear on the outside to others, we all struggle. My husband is experiencing some health issues related to his diabetes, and though we try to eat healthy, I just love bread way too much!
    I often quote the Serenity Prayer to remind myself I cannot do this alone…I am sending it to you with my love. Please know I am only a click away if you need a friend.

    God grant me the serenity
    to accept the things I cannot change;
    courage to change the things I can;
    and wisdom to know the difference.

    1. Oh, Jo-Ann!
      I’m so sorry to hear your mother has Alzheimer’s. It is just such a horrid disease and so hard on everyone, especially loved ones. My heart goes out to you all. I’m like you and talk to my mother every Sunday, but it isn’t the same.
      I hope your husband’s health issues resolve. And bread… what a delicious downfall. 🙂
      Thank you for sharing this prayer. It’s one I think of often, too.
      Sending love your way and prayers for a new year full of joy and blessings.
      Thank you for being such a sweet, dear friend! <3

    1. You are too kind, Glenda! I feel like I got soooo far behind on everything, but thank you for being so sweet and for your friendship! Love and hugs! <3

  6. You are such an inspiration, Shanna! I can definitely relate to watching well-laid plans go to the wayside. Keep that positivity going, and may this next year be your best yet!

  7. Shanna,
    So sorry to hear about your mom, it is a heart breaker for all. Your parents are one of the best. I will be praying for courage and strength for all of you. Many warm memories of them. Love, Aunt Kathleen

  8. Happy New Year! My year’s never quit play out to be what I had planned for the new year. Things just happen and we can only do the best we can! Hugs and love sweet lady! Congratulations on your weight loss!!

  9. Oh, Shanna, I am so, so sorry. I’ve had quite a few years like yours. My grandmother died from dementia and my mother is beginning to notice memory losses, so my sisters and I have been a bit worried. Always know I’m here if you need someone to lean on…I’m a really good listener. I hope 2020 is better for you and your family.

    1. Heidi,
      I’m so sorry you lost your grandmother to dementia and are starting to worry about your mother. Praying she doesn’t have it!
      And thank you for your kindness and friendship. Blessings to you and your family for 2020!

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