Life Lessons for Women: 10 Transformative Insights I Learned in 2023Dec 29, 2023
As I take a moment to reflect on the rollercoaster that was 2023, the complexity of emotions is hard to put into words, but one thing is for sure: it is hard.
It has been a year filled with unexpected twists. Some of the things that happened I could not have anticipated, were both good things and horrible things. Some brought immense joy and others delivered heart-wrenching challenges.
For our family, it became a journey through peaks of blessings and valleys of hardship. Many of you know, that this year, our family lost TJ, our beloved brother-in-law at a very young age. His departure, sudden and unforeseen was due to a pulmonary embolism.
At the same time, during this tragedy, he brought a glimmer of hope for all of us. TJ was able to donate his organs, and specifically his heart, beating with strength and vitality, found a new home within the chest of my other brother-in-law, Packy. To experience such deep sadness and such joy within the same horrible yet hopeful event – is truly indescribable.
As Lance shared with me the other night, this event has profoundly "shifted" us. It is a change that altered the way we perceive life, love, and interconnectedness. It made me realize that even in the face of life's harshest blows, there can be a silver lining—a glimmer of light that guides us through the darkest tunnels. Navigating through 2023 has been a testament to resilience and the unpredictable nature of life. I know that it has been a chapter in our family story that will forever be etched in our hearts, with the pain of loss and the warmth of unexpected blessings interwoven together.
As we step into a new year, I am carrying the lessons from 2023 with me. The fragility of life, the power of resilience, and the capacity for hope even in the bleakest moments. Here's to embracing the shifts, cherishing the memories, and moving forward with hearts that are both heavier and lighter, at the same time.
10 Things I Learned this Year
As the sun sets on another year, it is only natural to take a moment to reflect on the journey we have traveled, the challenges we have faced, and the lessons we have learned. As for me, As I reflect on 2023, these are the 10 things I have learned:
1. You can have immense joy and immense sorrow at the same time.
Life can be a mix of bright sunshine and heavy rain all at once. I have learned that joy and sorrow can coexist and these feelings are not enemies trying to cancel each other out. In fact, giving yourself permission and allowing yourself to feel it all, is the only way to find peace. By letting those feelings be there and taking the time to understand them, I have found the calm and peace that comes from accepting the mix of joy and sorrow in my life.
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2. Not everyone will understand your life choices, your thoughts, and your opinion.
This year, I have come to realize that not everyone will see things the way I do or get why I make the choices I make. And you know what? That is perfectly okay. I have learned that it is not my job to convince everyone or make them understand my thoughts and opinions. Some people just won't connect with me, and that is fine.
The important thing is to move on from those who do not get me and not let their judgments bother me. Life's too short for that, and there are plenty of others who appreciate and understand me for who I am. So, now, I am focusing on the positive connections and not letting other's opinions hold me back.
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3. I will not sacrifice my health for any measure of success.
Who would have thought that this year I would be undergoing a major change? Yes, I am talking about stepping back from full-time hospital work and cutting back on how much time I spend there. I've made a conscious decision not to compromise my well-being for any version of success.
It was not just a shift in my schedule; this came with an identity shift, and I can tell you I have learned so much from it. Wowza. I have learned so much about ME. And you know what? I have absolutely no regrets. I am proud of the boundaries I set, prioritizing my health, and the choices I have made. It turns out that success, for me, also includes taking care of myself, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
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4. Authentic friendships are worth more than gold.
To me, authentic friendships are like treasures more valuable than gold. This year made me realize that it is the people in my life who truly matter—more than any piece of paper, position, or power ever could. These genuine connections are something to hold onto tightly. In a world that sometimes emphasizes external measures of success, it is the people we surround ourselves with who bring real richness to our lives.
Embracing others just as they are has become a key to not only building meaningful relationships but also learning how to accept and appreciate ourselves for who we truly are. It is a beautiful cycle: the more we embrace others, the more we can learn to embrace ourselves.
5. You don’t have to fix everything. You just need to fix the next thing.
Okay, hear me out on this one: You don't have to fix every single thing in my life; it is okay not to have all the solutions at once. What really matters is focusing on the next thing that needs fixing.
So, how do I do it? By breaking down challenges into smaller, more manageable steps, it becomes less overwhelming. This mindset has given me the freedom to tackle issues one at a time, making the process more manageable and less stressful. It is about taking things step by step, addressing what is right in front of me, and trusting that these small fixes will gradually lead to more significant improvements over time.
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6. Laugh every day. Gratitude brings peace.
I have learned the profound power of laughter each day and how gratitude can bring a sense of peace. Making room for laughter, even in the smallest moments, has become a daily practice that lifts my spirits. However, this year has taught me a valuable lesson: behind someone's laughter, there may be hidden struggles and pain. It is a reminder to extend grace to others, even to those who may seem "happy" on the surface.
We all carry burdens, and it never costs a dime to be kind. So, while laughter is a beautiful thing, it is crucial to approach others with kindness, acknowledging that we all navigate our unique journeys, and a little grace goes a long way in fostering compassion.
7. Decompressing every day is vital.
Taking time to decompress every day has become a vital part of my routine. It is like emptying the dirty water from a bucket; you need to get rid of the stress that accumulates throughout the day. I have discovered the power of quick "acute stress" antidotes – simple activities like a short 5-minute walk, finding a sunny spot by a window, or engaging in a brief 1-minute meditation. These small moments act as a defense against stress trying to hijack my brain. It is a practice of giving myself a mental reset, preventing stress from building up, and allowing myself to approach each day with a clearer and calmer mind.
What I like to do to decompress is a walk with nature. During my walks, I love tuning in to music or podcasts – it keeps me in the zone. If you are in need of fresh podcast recommendations, consider giving mine a listen as I cover various personal topics like self-improvement, goal-setting, self-care, and many more.
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8. Recharging every week is vital.
Making it a priority to recharge every week has become absolutely crucial for me. It is my way of filling up my bucket with fresh water after it has been drained throughout the week. I have also recognized the need for a "chronic stress" antidote, something I do just for myself regularly, be it weekly or monthly.
Taking the time to get away with friends, (Brave Enough Conference, anyone?), has proven to be an invaluable investment in my own well-being. I have come to realize that dedicating time to recharge and
invest in my wellness bucket is never a regrettable decision—it is a gift I give to myself that pays dividends in mental and emotional resilience.
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9. You don’t have to show others you are right to sleep well at night.
2023 also taught me that a good night's sleep is not dependent on proving to others that I am right. Doing the right thing and knowing it myself is what truly matters. Speaking up and taking a stand on the right side of history might not always win me popularity or followers, but it guarantees a sense of peace when I lay my head down each night.
It is about aligning my actions with my principles, not seeking validation from others. In choosing integrity over external approval, I have found a deep sense of satisfaction and a restful night's sleep that comes from living authentically and true to my convictions.
10. There is no prescription for grief.
Finally, this year, I have come to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all prescription for grief. Grieving is a deeply personal journey, and there is no specific "way" to do it. Just as there is no way to take away someone else's grief, there is no judgment in how one chooses to grieve. It is not a competition, and there is no hierarchy or comparison in grief.
What matters most is surrounding yourself with people who create a space for you to grieve as you are. The key is to be with those who allow you the freedom to navigate your grief authentically, without expectations or comparisons, they are just there, honoring the uniqueness of your grieving process.
Facing 2024 as an Ambitious Woman
Finally, I have learned some hard but important truths this year, specifically as a woman who is trying to lead and balance my family with my drive to innovate, create, and help other women.
As a woman, the single most threatening thing you can be is ambitious.
In a society where female ambition can be viewed as threatening, I have learned to embrace my aspirations without reservation. It is a journey of self-discovery and empowerment, recognizing that my ambitions are not a liability but a strength that propels positive change.
Amidst the complexities of this journey, a guiding principle has been the importance of staying close to God. There are things that He put in you that only YOU can do, people only YOU were meant to reach and put on this earth to help. When others doubt you, stick to what it is that God has placed within you. It is about leaning on faith and going forth with confidence, understanding that the ambitions within me are part of a higher calling.
I hope to see you in 2024. At the REVIVE Brave Enough Retreat in January, online in March at my Brave Balance CME Course, online in one of my many webinars, on the speaking circuit, or in September at the Brave Enough 2024 Women’s CME Conference! I am hopeful to be part of this collective journey with you toward empowerment and positive change for women. These events serve as platforms to share experiences, insights, and strategies for balancing ambition, family, and leadership as we collectively redefine and empower the narrative for women in various walks of life.
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Stepping into the landscape of 2024, let's embrace the upcoming year as ambitious women. The year ahead is an open canvas for us to paint with our aspirations, create positive change, and redefine the narrative for women in various spheres.
Here's to embracing the year ahead with courage, resilience, and a shared determination to make our mark as trailblazing women in pursuit of our ambitious goals.
2024, I am ready for you!
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