Thinking….and Thanking!

2011 has been QUITE a year! With highs such as the publishing of my first book (thankfully a bestseller) and lows such as my erratic heart rhythms and high financial stress, I am actually ready for 2012.

Parenting this year has not been easy, either. With a little boy transitioning into puberty right before my eyes, and the homework struggles and adjustments to my disciplining strategies, I have seen it all this year – at least, that’s how it feels! I cannot help but feel that the struggles, pain, disappointment and highs this year were intentional. I had the “classroom” feeling all year long. I was taking mental notes as each experience presented itself. What can I change? What steps must I take to make things better for me and my son? What are healthy risks, and what are foolish steps?

This year forced me to put my big girl jeans on and face myself in the mirror. I had to confront and handle habits or situations that I would normally ignore or think of blaming someone else – before they wrecked our lives.  Facing my fears, challenging myself to be more accountable, and FORCING myself to count up my expenses vs. income so I can identify my particular issues, were all lessons learned. Even as I taught my son a few life lessons, I heard my own voice ringing in my mind when it came to how I managed personal situations.

This was the year of the paradigm shift for me. Anything that used to make me comfortable does not work for me anymore. The “Ignorance is Bliss” phenomenon is old now. There is an insatiable hunger to learn more about “life”, more than I’ve ever had before. My former world of comfort is no longer real.

As I step into a new year (which also begins a new decade for me and for my son), I am determined to THINK and to THANK. It’s easy to criticize yesterday’s (or yester-year’s) decisions and stay locked into the past. We all experience losses and it is okay to cry and mourn about it, but honestly, if most of us look over our lives, we have PLENTY to be thankful for. I made some careless mistakes, but thankfully they did not affect vital things we needed.  I felt stuck and wandered in a circle (or so it seemed) for a few months, but with the help of a few people who are close to me, I can finally feel and see my way out!

Another reason for me to be thankful is that I did not have to make funeral arrangements for anyone in my family this year. In fact, I am VERY thankful for this. My church has buried many people this year; one most recent was a 2 year old who was allegedly killed by her father. I am thankful that God has kept many of our minds through unspeakable tragedy, pain, loss and disappointment.

I want to encourage everyone to sit back and reflect on what you’ve experienced this year. Every failure, every test, every triumph, new connections coming and former connections severing – review all of it in your heart and mind. Learn every lesson from each scenario. The situations you faced were prepping you for what’s to come! I believe with all of my heart that 2011 was my “set-up” year – Set-up for Success! If I did not face my fears nor learn some lessons this year, then my future would not be as bright. I am still in preparation mode, but I am wiser now than I was at the start of this year.

I challenge you to THINK….and THANK!

Have a Blessed Christmas and a “Knock-‘Em-Dead” New Year!

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