My Four Lessons of the Last Decade

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.

Image of Lynette M. Burrows walking on along the ocean with her three dogs. Nemo, a salt and pepper schnauzer, Cosmo a mix breed, and Astro a Yorkie.
Sadly the two larger dogs, Nemo and Cosmo have crossed the Rainbow Bridge. But Astro, the smallest dog, is still with us.

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.

Other Lessons

Other lessons I’ve learned can appear in my recent posts, Are We Having Fun and Life is Like Plumbing and an older post, The Difficult Week that Wasn’t So Bad

This is a recent picture of me, a reminder it wasn’t all bad.

Image of Lynette M Burrows and her grandson sitting behind a table of her books and absorbing more lessons of the past decade.
My grandson and I at the Local Author’s Fair this past weekend.

Looking Forward

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? 

Practicing Patience–Do You Make These Common Mistakes?

We learn, from a very young age, that being patient is a virtue. We treat impatience as a weakness. And procrastination is the big bag flaw. Many of us spend a lot of time beating ourselves up because we are too impatient or we procrastinate too much. Yet when we’re in the thick of things we often cannot tell if we are being patient or waiting or procrastinating. Not knowing the difference leads to thinking we are practicing patience when we are making common mistakes.

What Patience Doesn’t Mean

The definition of patience appeared in last Monday’s post. But the definition doesn’t help us practice patience much. Learning what patience is not is a start.

Patience does not mean to passively endure. It means to be farsighted enough to trust the end result of a process. What does patience mean? It means to look at the thorn and see the rose, to look at the night and see the dawn. Impatience means to be so shortsighted as to not be able to see the outcome. ― Elif Shafak, The Forty Rules of Love

We often define impatience as the opposite of patience. Its definition is the quality or state of being impatient. Well, that doesn’t help much. But we get closer when we examine the definition of impatient: “not patient, restless or short of temper, intolerant, anxious.”  But is that all that impatience is?

Mistaking Impatience as a Fault

According to Psychology Today, impatience “is a very particular mental and physical process that gets triggered under specific circumstances, and which motivates specific kinds of decisive action.”

The article explains that when we have a goal, and it’s going to cost us more than we thought to reach that goal, we experience impatience. That impatience may lead us to find more efficient ways to reach the goal. Being impatient may cause us to change goals and make us successful. While impatience can be a bad thing, efficiency and success aren’t bad.

Is Patience Procrastination In Disguise?

We judge the value of patience as positive and the value of procrastination as a negative. The definition of to procrastinate is “to put off intentionally and habitually.” Anyone hear “lazy” in that definition?

Mistaking Procrastination As Laziness

In practice, procrastination is goal avoidance. This seems odd. Why do we avoid something we’ve identified as a goal?

Yes, sometimes someone else, a boss or leader, sets the goal but usually, the job is something we chose to do. So why goal avoidance?

Often the goal has a negative aspect—If you don’t quit smoking you’ll die of cancer. Or it’s a vague goal you don’t know how to approach or the goal is too big and you fear (sometimes with good reason) that you’ll fail. The fear and anxiety that develops create that avoidance reaction.

Try to NOT think about a white polar bear for 30 seconds. Setting such an impossible task makes the white polar bear larger and more difficult. Think what it does to an already too large or too vague goal.

Thinking Impatience and Procrastination Aren’t Helpful

Yes, even impatience and procrastination can be good things.

Impatience motivates us to reduce the costs of reaching our goal or to switch goals.

Procrastination, if used productively, gives us time to reflect on our whys. Realizing that we’ve set the wrong goal or we need to change goals is important.

Learning to set specific, reasonable, and actionable goals is not an easy thing to do. Commitment to goals is an intensely personal thing. So your goals methods may not work for someone else.

If you need help learning to set goals, learn how to make S.M.A.R.T. goals or try this Goal Trainer. Need help making writing goals smart? Try this site.

When we’re impatient or we’re stuck in a pattern of procrastination there are some questions to ask ourselves.

  • What is my goal? Is it specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound?
  • What did I think it was going to cost to reach this goal?
  • What do I now think it will cost?
  • Is there a way to reduce the costs of reaching this goal?

Practicing Patience

Making patience a habit takes practice. Learning to use impatience and procrastination to move you toward your goals also requires practice. Will you make these common mistakes even after practicing all these things. Of course, you will. We all do. Every day. But knowledge is power. Learning these things helped me. Did it help you?