Lessons Learned and My Vision for 2018

Dara LevanBlog11 Comments

It is -12 degrees right now. Yes, you read that correctly, and that’s without the windchill! I’m sitting on a worn, oversized chair that holds many fond memories. White-speckled Vermont mountains stand in the distance. I watch, without warning, as the wind whips snow into a cyclone of powder. The intense gusts leave as quickly as they came. And the weather outside is as complex as my soul’s current climate.

We shout “Happy New Year” as the clock strikes midnight every December 31st. And each time, I wonder if this phrase encompasses what people are actually experiencing. It’s been a challenging, tumultuous year in the political, global, and personal arenas for many.

This is my last blog entry of the year.  Since I post every Sunday, I’m publishing it just hours before 2018. Please join me on a journey as I review one of the most impactful, inspiring, and intense years of my life.

Reflective. Grateful. Nostalgic. These are just of the few feelings I’ve experienced this week. One of my resolutions last December was to write again. For years, I’ve scribbled and doodled for about a month or two, and then life whisks me away in its blizzard. Journals filled with blank pages are bound and hiding like bears that hibernate during winter.

REFLECTIVE. I finally did it. Every Soul Has A Story launched in early August. It’s only been five months, which chronologically seems insignificant, yet it’s been indescribably transformative. Each of you has supported and infused me with courage to “put myself out there.” My heart still races and palms sweat when I hit “publish.” As I’ve written before, bringing you into my spiritual and emotional home scares the you-know-what out of me. And that’s why I know this is just the start of reconnecting with my passion and purpose.

As I carve niches for recent reflection, waves of melancholy have seeped into these pensive pauses. I think about those who have departed, whether physically or emotionally. At times, it’s as if someone has hijacked my heart as I process the promises to self that I’ve fulfilled or have not.

Although it is hard, I’ve been going inward. I ask myself tough questions and listen for the answers. When I seek answers, I visualize a serene, still lake. I observe my reflection, and the quieter I become, my soul softly speaks. And as I listen, a vision for the coming year has become increasingly clearer.

GRATEFUL. Ah, yes. Some of you may say this word seems to be overused lately. I respectfully disagree. I’m slightly (ask my kids!) perfectionistic, particularly regarding verbal and written communication. There are certainly synonyms for it. However, none are quite as precise. I am grateful for the pain, lessons, and learning I’ve experienced this year as well as the previous ones.

Gratitude has always been an integral part of my daily life. I choose happiness. I choose to find the positive in situations that may seem unbearable. I love the phrase “Instead of why me? Try me!” I am grateful for those who have shown me who they are again and again. Many of you have been a collective anchor holding me steady when I needed it most during inclement, stormy weather. You know who you are, and I deeply appreciate you. I love you beyond words.

And I am sad but grateful for those I’ve let go or who’ve chosen to leave. I wish them well. I send love from my heart to theirs as they continue their own path that no longer intersects with my own. Thank you for the lessons that have impacted how I choose to live. I’ve also begun to accept that two opposing emotions can and often do exist.

So, what and when was the shift? Like thick fog on a humid morning, self-doubt has gradually dissipated. I started to take my own advice and quietly let go of anyone or anything that’s polluting my personal environment. I have spent my entire life guiding, lifting, and supporting others. And I always will. But I had moments this year in which my physical body shut down, and it was time to listen to the warnings before they became permanent problems.

NOSTALGIC. Every New Year’s Eve, I embrace the love of my life as we watch the ball drop. With each passing year, I’m even more smitten with this man I’m blessed to call my husband. (Quite frankly I wanted to write an entire blog about him, but he’d be mortified. So I will wait for one of the books I will soon publish!)

I used to think this night was a ridiculous, raucous, and heathen-filled holiday. People of all ages often drink until they hurl. Others spend an exorbitant amount of money on overpriced dinners. I found the whole idea a yearly excuse for normally sane humans to act like total fools and behave irrationally.

In 1997, I said “yes.” Tonight marks the 19th anniversary I became engaged to my best friend, forever love, and lifetime partner. I think of that moment and how New Year’s Eve is now one of my most cherished nights. During the first five years of our marriage, we hosted parties to ring in the new year. As babies were born, we all fatigued and could barely make it until 11 p.m. (I quickly learned it didn’t matter how much I baked or how much chocolate was strategically placed in every corner of our home. The sugar buzz only lasted so long.).

So we switched to celebrating with festive New Year’s Day parties. We now have two teens with whom we delight celebrating together on family trips. I soak in the love from each other, our children, and our friends who celebrate with us. My heart is full.

In the 365 days and 525,600 minutes of 2017, I learned:

To slowly trust new people who’ve entered my life.

To think less and feel more.

To listen the first time when someone shows you their character.

To continue appreciating the smallest moments.

To celebrate everyone and everything.

To know that I can and will gracefully handle anything thrown my way.

To say no without apology (I’m still working on this one!).

To consistently practice self care and accept it is not selfish—it is self love.

To live each day with conscious choices and purpose.

What’s stirred your soul during the final days of 2017? What have you learned? What will you release? What will you embrace?

One of my favorite poets, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.” His wise words continue to resonate today. We have free will. We can live our truth rather than avoid or repress it. The choice is ours.

I encourage you to write or draw your vision for the upcoming year. Resolutions sound so final, and we are often disappointed in ourselves for “not losing the 10 pounds” or “getting the promotion” or whatever you’ve committed to doing. A vision is progressive and process-driven rather than a steadfast goal. We are all works in progress! I wish you a fulfilling, authentic, meaningful, and intentional 2018.

11 Comments on “Lessons Learned and My Vision for 2018”

  1. Dara – Your expression and articulating your feelings and emotions is so moving! Your writing is so special as you are! May you, my friend, have a wonderful celebration tonight and tomorrow, too! I am happy and fortunate to have you in my life! ❤️ Joy

    1. Joy,
      Thank you for reading! And your words truly touched my heart. You are a gift to us all! Huge hugs and warm wishes for a magical 2018! Dara

  2. Your blog is udderly fabulous! ? Wishing a happy and healthy new year to you Dara, the husband, and the delightfully celebrating teens!

    1. Thank you, Sammy! I appreciate you reading! And thank you for your sweet wishes. To you, too! D

  3. You are ending the year with the best post of all – a reflection of your journey and growth in 2017. I’m so proud of you and grateful for our friendship. Have a wonderful NYE celebration my friend! ❤️

  4. This is the first blog I have read of yours and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Thank you for your positivity!! You are an inspiration!!

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful writings.

    May the new year bring health, happiness and fulfillment to you and yours.

    Jodi :))

  5. This is the first blog I have read of yours and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Thank you for your positivity!! You are an inspiration!!

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful writings.

    May the new year bring health, happiness and fulfillment to you and yours.

  6. Nicely written. Thank you for being so genuine and heartfelt. A happy and healthy new year to you and yours! ?

  7. Thank you for your honesty, transparency and for showing us so much of yourself. Your authenticity is what makes you so special (at least to me!) And thanks for inspiring us to celebrate the lessons of the past year and think about how we can be even better version of ourselves this year.

    Can’t wait for the book!!!

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