new years resolutions and lessons

Lessons From a Tough Year: My 16 Lessons from 2016

new years resolutions, lessons from 2016

As this year comes to a close, I have come to the realization that although parts of 2016 totally sucked. Not all of it did. Before the promise of a new year rolls around, I wanted to take some time to reflect on what I learned from 2016. You better believe that my New Years Resolutions will include fun and fewer hospital stays than 2016 permitted!


I expected this year to come with challenges, but not the ones I encountered. Dealing with multiple surgeries and ensuing complications while simultaneously teaching my ten year old to love herself and not let tweenage drama bring her down have been the root cause of my most “want to forget” moments of 2016. However, I learned a lot, too. And so did my family.

new years resolutions and lessons

  1. Say No: It’s ok to let somebody down by saying no to a request, an invitation, or to anything that doesn’t serve you anymore. Saying no means you are taking a stand for yourself and your family. I said no to breast and ovarian cancer this year. I took a stand against the significant risk of a potentially life-ending illness. Saying no means I said yes to living.

  2. Forward Thinking: Taking risks is not one of my strengths. I am much more inclined to play it safe. However, when it comes to making medical choices that you can’t take back, I have learned it is important to explore all options. I also learned that you have to have a doctor on your side that values the same.

  3. Willingness: To me, being willing to make the hard choices is better than living with fear of not making them. Being willing to show your vulnerabilities is not easy, but necessary for the human experience. We are all in this together.

  4. Organization/Planning: Being organized is important and makes it easier for others to keep things on track when you are not able to follow things through for yourself. However, I learned that it is equally important to let go of any planning when the plan doesn’t go as planned.

  5. Fail: I had to learn to be ok with failure. I preached that in the classroom, but to actually be ok with it is much harder. My mastectomy surgery was not a failure, but I failed to prepare myself that the “risk of surgery” could actually happen to me.

  6. Flexibility: Being able to just “go with it” and “make it work” no matter the situation makes it easier to handle the hard stuff. It also taught my kids to be flexible in their thinking. #winwin

  7. Gratitude: Gratitude is the best way to improve one’s state of mind. I am so grateful for the gifts in my life and for my community. They lifted me up when I needed it most.

  8. Faith: Trusting in something bigger than yourself is sometimes all that you can rely on. Sometimes that faith is in a God or Higher Power, other times it is in Hope.

  9. Strength: I am mentally stronger than I ever thought I was capable of and my body can lift heavier weights and hold me up better than I ever imagined. The strength to get up each day relies on my ability to see the good and relish in the opportunity of the day.

  10. Lose the Ego: I had to learn, the hard way, to not be so stubborn and that I don’t always know what’s best. Having other people take care of me was not easy for me. I am usually the one taking care of others, it’s not supposed to be the other way around!

  11. Find the Joy: No matter how sucky things can be, find something joyful in your day. Even when I was in the hospital, I found joy in laughing about the terrible hospital food or the length of time it took me to get up and out of bed. I found joy in the fact that I was alive, that was something to be grateful for and to celebrate.

  12. Hope: When all else seems impossible and that there is no light in the darkness, there is hope. Sometimes that is all we can count on. Hope keeps things moving forward, at least for me.

  13. Be Positive: Without a positive attitude, I could have walked down a much darker path. I could have retreated and stayed in my house after being physically altered. But I chose to be positive and to push-on and to show my kids that everything was going to be ok. I chose to see the positive and to focus on that instead of the negative.

  14. Perseverance: My kids and husband can persevere and take care of things when life gets tough. We, as a family unit, can endure hardships and learn from them in a greater capacity than any of us could have expected.

  15. Love: The love for my husband grew a billion times this year. I can say that we truly understand what “through sickness and health” meant in our wedding vows. The love he, my kids, my parents, my siblings, my extended family, my friends, and my neighbors shared with me was extraordinary. I will never forget that.

    In August, I had my birthday (12/31) as my goal for having all my surgeries completed by and when I wanted to be put back together. I thought it was the perfect way to start 2017. At the time, I really wanted to be “done” with everything and put it all behind me to start the new year. But now, as 2016 is coming to a close, I am ok with the fact that I have one more surgery to schedule come early 2017. I am ok with the fact that this took longer than expected and that I had serious complications. I am ok with the fact that I have more scars (inside and out) than I thought I’d have. I am ok with the fact that we grew our family in strength and love this year. I am ok with the fact that my tribe and my village took care of me and my family when we needed it most. I am ok with all of this because of the last lesson of my year.

  16. Acceptance: Accepting what is rather than what you want or expected is one of the hardest lessons when things don’t go as planned. However, without all that hardship or struggle I would not have known what my family or I was capable of. We would not have learned these lessons. We would not be as strong as we are today.

    So today, please focus on what was learned this year through your HARDSHIPS and JOYS. Don’t focus on what you want to forget from this past year. You are so lucky to get one more chance to circle the sun. That is unbelievably important and undervalued by too many.

    Try. Fail. Learn. Grow. That is my mantra for the new year. I am going to focus on taking risks this coming year. I promise that I will fail and learn from those risks, but eventually my skill set and mindset will grow! 

    I wish you a very happy New Year and a blessed 2017 full of mystery, marvels, and happiness.
    There are no happy accidents~

    You can check out my other writings on Full Time Mom, 30Seconds, and SheSavvy. You can also follow me on Twitter at @barefoot79 or @nohappyaccident

4 thoughts on “Lessons From a Tough Year: My 16 Lessons from 2016

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