There’s a meme flitting across Facebook. It’s the decade meme. It’s a look back at the past decade. Some do it with photographs. They post a photo from ten years ago next to a recent one. Others post about their activities and accomplishments during the past decade. Still others post about what they learned in the last ten years. That’s what I want to share with you: lessons of the last decade.
The Past Ten Years
When I reviewed the decade, it overwhelmed me. This is me in 2008. We went to Dauphin Island with my brother and his young family. We shared a beach house.
This image brought into focus all the changes the past ten years brought to my family. It has been a decade of difficult changes.
I could list all the things that happened, the changes and the emotional rollercoaster this past ten years has been. But… when I thought about how my family and friends and I responded, I realized I learned some lessons. Lessons that may be of value to you. So let me share my four lessons of the last decade.
Sometimes what we call love isn’t love. And no, I’m not just talking about lust. Sometimes we mistake love with affection, with like-you-a-lot, or we-have-so-much-in common, or we-love-the-same-things. Sometimes those mistakes can grow into real love. And sometimes, they can’t.
Love means exposing one’s vulnerabilities to someone else. It’s attention and support and caring from friends and family. They were there during some of my most formidable trials.
Love morphs and grows and changes because we change. We age, move, marry, divorce, or change careers. Then there are the changes that love undergoes when one’s spouse experiences tremendous physical, mental, and emotional duress. The wonder is that growth and change make love stronger.
And there’s always room for more love for one’s spouse, or child, or grandchildren, or friends.
I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.Mother Teresa
Many people define acceptance as it applies to otherness. Acceptance of folks not like you is critical for everyone’s wellbeing. Accepting a person for who they are does not mean you agree with them or you are like them. It’s that you accept that no one must be and think the same.
My next lesson of the decade taught me about a different definition. It’s more than acceptance of others. Another type of acceptance is a different kind of openness. Acceptance of self. Accept that you can’t do it all. By being open, accepting—help comes in many amazing ways. There are some who spread word about your books, some who give gifts big and small, and some who give the most precious of gifts: their time. Learning to accept these things was difficult. Sometimes they had to be sly. But I saw what they did. And my gratitude for family, friends, and acquaintances whose gifts enriched me overflows.
“… human beings are stronger together. Relying on someone else is not a sign of weakness; it shows strength that you’re able to accept that you need help.”Dove Cameron
One of my lessons of the decade was about patience. According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, patience is a lot of things. See the definition here.
Um, I complain. I get testy under provocation. And I sure as heck want things to go more quickly than they do. I’ve made improvements, but patience is not my strongest attribute. Learning patience is a process. A process tested heartily by this past decade.
And I have learned something. Patience is more than the act of being patient with someone else. It’s more than giving oneself time to heal or learn or grieve. Patience is being patient with oneself. It’s allowing oneself to make mistakes, to take time-outs, and to have a tantrum when emotions get high.
Oh, this one is so hard for me. Maybe, like me, your parents/teachers/school/church taught that pride is a sin or selfish.
But pride doesn’t have to be all ego, arrogance, and self-absorption.
The last decade has taught me that pride can be your quiet strength. Pride can help you take that next step in your life’s journey or in your work.
Pride in a big accomplishment is one of the easier things to do. But learn to take pride in the small steps along the way. Those steps take courage and strength and determination. Be proud of yourself for more than actions—for making it this far, for being true to yourself. Those are things to be proud of. Those are your hidden, your quiet strengths.
This is a recent picture of me, a reminder it wasn’t all bad.
I’m certain the 2020s have more challenges in store for me and my family. But my 4 lessons of the last decade give me hope that I will learn and grow through the next decade, too. I hope you found some value in my lessons. And I hope you also had a decade of learning and growing. What did you learn? What are your hopes for the next decade?