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The five lessons of 2016

As the year comes to a close, it’s typical to find ourselves reflecting on its challenges and gifts, while beginning to envision our intentions for the coming year. For the past several years, I’ve shared my year-in-review insights in a blog. It helps me to put it out in the Universe, and I hope that others might find something enlightening, useful or relevant.

This year, it’s taken me the better part of a week to formulate the lessons of 2016. While it was a year with plenty of joy and success, the clouds and challenges were significant and proved difficult to navigate for this “in-her-equation” gal. The gift of it all, as I wrote in my blog last week, is the GROWTH and BLOOM that has occurred for me as a result of those challenges. (Here’s a link to that blog: Does every cloud have a silver lining?)

As I reflected on how to articulate the lessons of 2016, I went to Facebook to see what it had to say about my “Year in Review.” While I usually take these Facebook analyses with a grain of salt, this one really nailed it. It reads:

“2016 has had its ups and downs, Lori, but overall it’s been an important and positive one for you. You’ve learned a lot about yourself and will start 2017 more confident than ever before. Looking back you must be proud knowing that you successfully navigated this year and its turbulence. You have emerged stronger than ever and are ready to keep on smiling.”

And so there it is — the GROWTH and the BLOOM.

There is no question that through a tough year, I’ve learned how to navigate the turbulence while holding myself in the equation and being true to me. That is not something I really considered before. But now it’s everything. It has made me far more resilient and stronger. Stronger even than in 2015 when in my annual year-in-review blog I wrote that I “found my strong.

So here are my top lessons of 2016:

1) Shit happens. It’s what we do with the “shit” that makes all the difference.

Please excuse the “s” word, but it fits my year. The old me used to deal with the “shit” by ignoring it, fighting it (not accepting it), trying to control it or “fix” it. I also cried a lot and quite often a form of tantrum would ensue. I isolated myself. I ate over it. And most often, I considered myself powerless and a victim. (Can anyone relate?)

This year, my biggest win was taking care of myself first, before giving or helping others. I had to be honest with myself about what was in and outside of my control — and most of it was out of my control. But not the self-care, that was all me and only me. I learned to focus on the right thing for me AND the person(s) I was trying to help, but I always considered what I needed as part of the equation. Most importantly, I stayed the course practicing self-care and self-compassion when the going got really tough emotionally. A huge win for me.

Of course, I still cried and felt sad a lot — and, yes, even a few tantrums ensued. But somehow it’s very different when at your core you know, trust and love yourself. Did I slip or fall during the year? Well, what do you think?! 😉 Sure I did. Just last week, for example, I ate far too many Christmas cookies when the emotions peaked (and you’re right — I don’t eat refined sugar, but I did!). The win then is not that I’m perfect but rather that I’m able to forgive myself, note the imperfection and restart quite naturally.

2) Personal GROWTH and BLOOM happens most when shit happens.

We know this intellectually, right? I’ve read it in self-help books and I’ve even had my own “mini” growth and bloom experiences during the past six years of personal transformation and blogged about it here. But this year far more than any other, I lived big time personal growth and bloom. The true gift in all of the 2016 madness.

Not once this year did I throw in the towel on myself or my future when the world was caving in around me. I stayed true to myself and kept adjusting my sail to find the inner balance needed to stay the course. For sure I had to take side trips when the going got tough and my time and energy was elsewhere. But I learned, really learned, that it was possible to be in the throes of tragedy, pain, and emotional upset and STILL practice self-care and not throw in the towel on me. And that made all the difference. See lesson #3.

During the year, I had many wins. I officially launched my In the Equation business, became a certified health and transformation coach, and custom designed and delivered my first coaching programs successfully. And I did it while navigating family trauma and turbulence, and managing my marketing business full-time. I’m still in the equation AND I’ve built something beautiful that helps others, and me. I’m proud of that.

So yes, I think I am absolutely stronger this year than last. I am perhaps stronger emotionally and spiritually than ever before. Once again, I am living proof that self-care and self-compassion really matter. Both are critical to personal growth and bloom. And it gets easier and more routine with time and practice.

3) Self-care is everything!

Yep, this year more than ever, I learned that self-care is the foundation from which all else blooms. See lesson #2. If you’re feeling lost and/or struggling in any area of your life and want to know where to start – start with self-care and self-compassion.

What does that mean? Self-compassion means being as kind to yourself as you are to others. If you wouldn’t say it out loud to someone else — don’t say it to yourself. This starts with becoming aware of what you’re telling yourself — noticing that inner critic. A key to my weight loss transformation was to shift my mindset and counter in the inner critic. I learned to stop beating myself up and telling myself I couldn’t do it or it was too heard. And I stopped giving to others constantly and putting their needs before mine. The gift of self-compassion comes with time and practice. It is something you can change (just like I did) and it can make all the difference. How you see, think and talk to yourself matters a lot. You really can’t practice self-care consistently and successfully long-term if you are limiting yourself with your inner beliefs or your inner critic is sabotaging you.

I promise that when you focus on self-care with self-compassion — it changes everything. And I’m not just talking about weight loss or weight maintenance. I mean everything! This has been evident for me and it’s at the core of the “in the equation” philosophy. It truly is how I changed my life.

4)  You can’t go it alone. Find your tribe and hold them tight.

I learned (again this year) that asking for help and leaning on my peeps is absolutely critical when things are hard. This is a particularly challenging lesson for those of us who grew up thinking that being strong meant doing it alone. For those in this camp, asking for help takes practice and then the courage to let go and let it be. We can’t control the help that comes when we do finally ask (it took me many attempts to learn this). When I truly let go of the outcome after asking for help, I’m always surprised at who and what “help” shows up.

Hiding the fact that you’re struggling doesn’t work either. Trust me. In an effort to be positive and upbeat, I struggled to let my closest peeps see my pain and sadness. But eventually as I opened up, even when I didn’t do it with style or grace, they showed me they not only care, but they would do just about anything to be there for me. What a gift!

I simply couldn’t have navigated my family turbulence and other life challenges, while managing two passion based businesses and keeping myself healthy, without the support and guidance of my beautiful friends and a fantastic therapist.

Yep, I’m getting professional help from a therapist to navigate the tough stuff and I’m not one bit ashamed or embarrassed to put it out there. One of my biggest lessons this year – we ALL need help in our lives. We’re built for connection, love and belonging – and especially in times of struggle. Indeed it is the strongest, healthiest person who seeks help at the right time and in the right ways. Thank you to my special peeps (you know who are) for showing me that the strength is in the asking and the receiving – not just giving.

5) It doesn’t always feel good. Sometimes you’re doing okay and it’s hard.

Up until this year, I was under the notion that living healthy, happy and whole always felt good. Happy is happy and feels great, right? Not always.

I learned that you can live healthy, even happy and whole — and sometimes it just is. Sometimes it doesn’t feel good per se, it just feels right. I know I’ll feel that ecstatic kind of happy again where people ask me if I’ve taken “happy pills,” but I’m not feeling right now and that’s okay. There is a comfort in knowing and experiencing the various layers of happy. For me, this was another lived lesson of 2016.

Thank you to those reading this who loved, cheered and supported me as I learned these valuable lessons this year. As difficult as this year has been, I’m entering 2017 as the strongest person I’ve ever been and with gratitude for, and confidence in, the growth and the beautiful bloom. And, yes, I’m still smiling, too. Most of the time.

More 2016 in Review…

Most Inspiring People/Moments: The beautiful women who participated in my first-ever In the Equation coaching programs. It was truly the greatest gift of 2016 to watch them go “100% ALL IN” and then bloom, grow and transform — both inside and out. It’s a gift that will keep on giving in 2017 as they continue their personal journeys as a part of the In the Equation community. They have inspired and changed me this year as much as I have helped them. And for this I am forever grateful.

Other Inspiring People of 2016: My sister, Lisa, who continues at age 52 to fight her way back from a massive stroke and countless physical and emotional setbacks. A shout out to my Mom and my Dad who have stepped up during our family crisis, and finally to a new friend, Brad Butler, whom I’ve never met in person but whose personal transformation is truly remarkable.

Favorite Mountain Climb: A tie: 1) A gorgeous Fall climb on Penobscot Mountain in Acadia National Park with Shirar Patterson – her fearless first of what I predict will be many more summits! 2) A Fall climb up Blue Hill Mountain in Maine with my beloved Bud. Just the two of us on top of the mountain is a gift I will always treasure.

Favorite New Workout: I am in LOVE with the Metabolic Aftershock workout by Jade Teta, Metabolic Effect. It combines HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) with strength training and the new concept of rest based training. It helped jump start my stuck/stalled metabolism, plus I feel great. Note, this workout is not right for everyone. Check out the website to see if it is fit for you.

Favorite Quote (Still): “It is not given to us to live lives of undisrupted calm, boredom and mediocrity. It is given us to be edge-dwellers.”  – Jay Deacon

This one for me summed up this year and it also defines living a WHOLE life, not just a busy one.

Favorite Sources of Inspiration: I discovered two new websites this year that I love. Check out dailyom.com and tut.com. The tut.com daily note from the Universe (quotes with attitude) are so much fun. Sign up to receive them in your inbox — it will make your year.

Favorite Inspirational Reads:Year of Yes” by Shonda Rhimes, “Rising Strong” by Brene Brown, and in particular the Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted from Rising Strong.

Favorite Reads in Progress:The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo” by Amy Schumer and “Life on Earth” by Mike Dooley.

Favorite App: The Insight Meditation Timer (free download). My favorite guided meditation, “A Journey to Self Renewal (Full Version)” by Lee Ann Dzelzkalns.

Most Grateful: In 2016, I am most grateful for the gift of personal GROWTH and BLOOM and for the ability to recognize it, embrace it and write about it as it becomes part of the new me. I am beyond grateful to enter 2017 stronger than ever and smiling — just like my Facebook Year in Review suggests. I am grateful for the ability to remain hopeful, open and present to all that comes for me and for those I love and care for. And, I am profoundly grateful for YOU and for our growing In-the-Equation community. For the opportunity to speak, motivate and share my knowledge, expertise and experience as a coach and mentor who’s learning as I go to live healthy, happy and WHOLE! Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being here.

Here’s wishing you a very healthy, happy and joy-filled New Year filled with your own version of personal GROWTH and BLOOM.

Cheers Peeps! I adore you.

xoxo

Lori

Read some of my personal favorite blogs from 2016:

 

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