One year. 12 months. 365 days. 8,760 hours. 525,600 minutes. That sounds like a lot of time. But in reality it has been a short interval that has encompassed the "before" and "after" versions of myself.
A one year experiment to re-prioritize my life has turned out to be the catalyst for changing the trajectory of everything. I have been accused in the past of being overly dramatic, so I will try to refrain from exaggeration and stick to the facts. Here is the bare-bones basics of how my life has changed during Earth's revolution around the Sun.
I am more awkward. I used to fill up all the space with conversation and quick transitions. I gave stellar advice and steered clear of topics that might have evoked contradictory opinions. And when all else failed sarcasm was my crutch for the broken interactions. Now... I wait in silence and allow time for other people to think and add (or not) to the conversation. I look people in the eyes. I slow down and concentrate on the words and non-verbal communication of others. I ask questions. I ask for clarification. I give my real viewpoint, even if I know it's not the popular stance. (But I'm still slightly sarcastic. Old habits die hard man.)
I say "no." Not all the time and not as much as I should...but "no" is becoming an integral part of my vocabulary. Sweet "no," where have you been my whole life?
I love my family. I think about them. I pray for them. I intentionally create time for them. I arrange uncomfortable conversations to talk about forgiveness. I applaud them. I ask them for help. I SHARE my life with them and no longer have a designated separate home and work life. BUT, I also ask God to help me keep them in their hierarchal place after Him.
I breathe--like, really breathe. I stop and smell the roses and all of that jazz. I don't run at 100 mph anymore on constant cruise control. I've slowed down to an even 75 mph and I'm learning that tapping the breaks is getting easier and easier.
I am vulnerable. This is the one I really don't like all that much if I'm honest. I don't mind sharing the failures and faults that I've come to terms with but it is WAY harder to share the areas in which I am currently struggling. Asking for help, asking for prayers, saying the actual words "I am struggling", showing my true emotions, and admitting my weakness sucks. This has happened so many times over the past year and there were moments that it was difficult to persevere; difficult to get up and try again. But I know relinquishing myself to my vulnerability was a necessary evil. I had to see and connect with my vulnerability, failures and fallibility. It was important for me to see my weakness so that I could finally come to terms with my humanity. My arrogant self needed to be knocked down a few notches in order to give praise where praise is due. To admit I don't have all the answers (or even most of the answers). To be open to the plans that were made for me long before I came into existence.
I am heartbroken. I cry all the time. I see brokenness everyday. I see shame, regret, depression, hopelessness, bitterness, confusion and untapped potential everywhere. How was I so blind to all of this before? How was I so self-centered and wrapped up in "me and mine" that I didn't notice the struggles around me? How did I allow myself to become so hard-hearted that I stopped finding the "gold" in other people and instead concentrated on their "dirt"?
I am fatter. Ok, so initially this one doesn't sound very positive but it highlights my change in priorities and approach to stress. In the past when I felt like my firm grip of control was slipping I lost weight. It was the one thing I could always depend on to make me feel in control again. I could deny myself by not eating or placing strict parameters on what I ate and drop the pounds quickly which resulted in a false sense of being the "boss" of my life. As of today, I have not been on the scale for over a month. The force is strong with this one to return to previous practices but Tate's Bake Shop GF Chocolate Chip Cookies are slowly pulling me away from Control-Freak CrazyTown.
I have fun. Not only do I have fun, I also make fun a priority. I used to make excuses for why I didn't have time to enjoy my life. Now I just make the time by getting rid of or postponing things I don't enjoy. If you disagree with this approach and think it is irresponsible then I can guarantee you that you aren't having enough fun in your life. Try it, you might like it. And if you don't, you totally have my permission to return to being a stick in the mud.
I am an ex-smoker. I lost my cool prop and excuse for a "work break" but I gained the ability to take a full deep breath (see bullet point #4 above) which is saying something.
I am purpose-driven rather than power-driven. I've spent years ascending the success ladder only to find I have sacrificed so many valuable moments, so many relationships and purposeful encounters for the sake of the "to-do list."
I have come to grips with my imperfections. I'm not to the point that I'm fully celebrating these imperfections yet, but at least we are co-existing together in the same space.
This year has been full of hard truths, self-examination, reluctant change, lessons learned and eye-opening experiences, but the biggest take-away has been to simply BE ALL IN. We have to constantly remind ourselves not to get sidetracked or preoccupied with stuff that doesn't matter. We must continually simplify. We must continually seek God. We must have passion, excitement and faith. We must continually express a no-holds barred love for others and be all in for every experience, every day. We have to be all in for every good, bad, ugly, overwhelming, exciting, new, mundane, hilarious, heartbreaking, innocent, obnoxious, fulfilling, scary, life-altering, excruciating minute. Because we only get one life. Let's make it unfake.
"For you have died to this life, and your real life is hidden in Christ with God." ~Colossians 3:3