Twelve Lessons From 2015

For my first post in the New Year I thought I’d share with you some of the things I learned in the past year.

I firmly believe that life is all about the lessons. (I’ve said that before on my blog.) Some of them come easy, some not so easy, but like it or not, they still come. And thank goodness they do. 2015 wasn’t what I’d call a spectacular year, but there were some very precious moments sprinkled along the way. Lessons were learned (or sometimes came a second or third round as lessons often tend to do.) All we can do is deal with what’s presented to us and be thankful that we have a lifetime to try and figure it all out.

So here are twelve of the lessons that came my way last year. One for each month. Hopefully, there is something here that you can identify with.

1. The story isn’t finished simply because you think it is. Last year I finished the same novel about three times. This year, I hope to finish it only once. *Note I said hope.

2. Insensitive people don’t intentionally do hurtful things. In fact, they usually don’t take the feelings of others into consideration at all. What’s more, that’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Either accept them for who they are or give up being their friend. They probably won’t notice either way.

3. The only thing better than the birth of a new grandchild is the birth of two. I mean, why settle for one when you can have two I always say?

4. Not everyone will appreciate the things you do for them—true story. I’m not complaining, just stating facts. If you can’t do something for others simply out of the goodness of your heart don’t bother. Expecting praise for the things you do only puts a price tag on your good deed. Try doing something anonymously for a change. That’s when you truly know you’re not just looking for praise for those kind deeds of yours.

5. A good book will teach you a lot about the person you are. If you don’t think that’s true, join a book club, open yourself up to discussing topics you’ve never discussed before. Find out what your thoughts are on various issues, how they make you feel, what your thoughts and ideas say about you as a person. You might be surprised or even amazed!

6. Some people you just won’t like in life and they won’t like you. Believe me, it’s not the end of the world. For years, I was unwilling to admit when I didn’t like someone. These days I’m more honest with myself. We can’t possibly like everyone we meet. But so what? There are plenty of people out there to like, people who bring a smile to your face or a warm feeling in your heart. Cherish them.

7. You can’t be everything to everyone. Seriously, take care of yourself. Fill your own cup first. Fill the cup for others with what’s left over. That’s not being selfish it’s being realistic. There’s only so much one person can do and do well.

8. Even a new computer won’t make dial-up any faster. Rural Nova Scotia—what more can I say?

9. The email comes when you least expect it. Funny how we can spend time waiting on things, hoping for things, and then right after we give up on it, poof , something totally unexpected arrives, maybe even better than what we’d hoped and planned for. I had a few wonderful surprises this year that totally came out of left field. (In fact, as I write this, I just received one such email…Blows my mind…go figure!)

10. We are given just so many days in this life. Use them wisely. 2015 saw the loss of some people in my life who were far too young to leave us, but instead of spending our days mourning their loss we should honour their lives with the happy memories we shared with them. Sometimes this is easier said than done.

11. There are far too many books on the planet and you can only read so many. Sad but true. Each year my TBR pile seems to grow. Too many good books, people. Too many good books!

12. Sometimes you just need to let go. That’s a difficult one. Letting go of the things we have no control over takes some doing, especially when we allow that “thing” the power to tie us in knots. Letting go gives us freedom and peace, but it often takes time for us to come to that place.

So there you have it; some of the lessons I learned in 2015. Of course there were many more than the twelve I’ve listed and no doubt many more that I failed to recognize as being lessons at the time.

I hope 2016 is a memorable year for you, a time for you to grow and learn and come to appreciate the lessons that come your way.

Did you learn any great lesson in 2015 that you’d like to share?

Why writing is kind of like riding a bike.

Have you ever seen an advertisement offering bike riding lessons? Nope, me neither. Sounds a bit silly. I mean, who would pay to learn how to ride a bike, right? More importantly is it even necessary? My kids learned to ride bikes when they were four. I remember watching my middle daughter hard at work one day, picking herself up again and again. “How do I keep my balance?” she asked. “It’s just something you have to learn,” I told her. At the end of the day she had it mastered.

Back when I was nine, and just learning to ride a bike, my older sister told me what to do. She showed me how to get on, where to put my feet and hands, and how to stop. A piece of cake. At least it looked that way when she went tearing down the road as fast as those pedals would take her. Trying it myself was a totally different story. Remembering to pedal while not steering myself into a ditch was challenging enough, but the most challenging of all was keeping my balance. Mind you, I ended up with a few skinned knees before it was all over and palms bit with gravel stones. Yup, we lived on a dirt road.

But I was determined. I knew it wasn’t something that was beyond my capabilities. Everyone I knew could ride a bike. It was child’s play, after all. So I set out to learn, secure in the thought that I would. It was just a matter of time. Practise, practise, practise. It was the only way I was going to learn. My sister could show me as many times as I wanted her to, but she couldn’t do it for me. You can’t teach someone balance. It something you understand through doing.

It’s that way with writing. We can read all the books on writing we want, take a hundred and one classes, but none of those things will make us a good storyteller. We actually have to hit the keyboard and start writing. Of course we’ll be wobbly in the beginning. We’ll fall more times than we can count. We’ll get our pride hurt. But each day, as we practice, we’ll get a little better. We won’t feel so uncertain. We’ll work out all the wobbles.

While I might be able to tell you enough writing rules to get you started, becoming a storyteller is altogether different. Good writing doesn’t necessarily make a good storyteller. I happen to believe that the ability to tell an interesting story, one that engages the reader, is a bit like bike riding. No one else can teach us, it is a skill that we develop with a great deal of practise. It takes time and determination.

I’ve never taken a writing course. I’m sure many of you haven’t either. I own perhaps half a dozen writing books. I may not be able to explain how I tell a story, the same way I can’t explain how to I keep my balance on a bike, it’s just something I do. Right or wrong, I’ve learned what it takes to make a good storyteller. You’ll learn that too. Writing is easy. That’s right, you heard me. Easy. I know someone who whipped up a novel in two weeks. The first thing he’d ever written. Was the story any good? What do you think? Perhaps the worse part was the writer wasn’t interested in making any changes, or working to improve what was there. Their writing was VERY wobbly, but it could have been improved had they understood that the writer you are in the beginning is not the writer you’ll be further down the road. Good storytelling is a skill you acquire over time.

Do you agree that good storytelling is something that is acquired over time, that writing can be taught, but storytelling can not?

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