Things that 2013 Taught Me...

Quite honestly, 2013 felt like a slap in the face. It was my toughest year yet. But, like many of you know, after you go through a difficult time things always get brighter, and when things turn around it reminds you how grateful you should be. I've been thinking a lot and I needed to put a list together of the things that the toughest year taught me. Many of these things I am going to mention are probably things I already "knew" but hadn't really experienced something difficult enough to make them apply to my life so richly. So, let's just begin...

1. You can turn your life around at any moment , at any age, at any time. If you don't like the direction you are headed, the worst thing you can do is sit back and do nothing. As tough as it may seem to change the path of your life, or the direction it is going, I promise you...it is worth it in the end. There were many times that I couldn't stop thinking about all of the little things, and obstacles I would have to overcome to make a change, but if you get caught up in worry or fear you will never overcome anything and NOTHING will change.

2. Don't let anyone tell you that YOUR own happiness is not important. Being happy is VERY important. It's essential! Sometimes you have to be a little selfish otherwise the people around you will suffer. I struggled with this one a lot because some people will tell you that it's "not about you" and having the faith that I do, I know as a Christian I was created by God, to live out His will for my life. But-I also know, he wants me...and he wants US to be happy. And , the fact that anyone could tell me that I shouldn't be so selfish and want to be happy is absurd to me. Because, life is not worth living if you're going to be miserable. You CREATE your own happiness. No one else can do that for you. YOU need to choose to be happy, and live out your life in order to do so.

3. We all make mistakes, we all deserve forgiveness and sometimes you can't UN-DO or FIX a problem without owning up to what you did, learning from the mistake, and moving on. Sometimes the best solution to a problem, is to own up to it...ask for forgiveness, and move on. That's it. No matter how hard you try to fix a problem, or problems-sometimes they can't be fixed, and in that case you need to accept it, own up to the mistake that got you there in the first place and grow from it.

4. You don't need to justify your decisions to anyone but yourself. This is also a toughie for me. I struggle with this one a lot. I want everyone to understand why I do what I do, when I do what I do. Make sense? haha... Many times other people aren't going to understand a choice you make. And, you can't MAKE them understand. YOU just have to be at peace with your decision or choice...and in my case, be at peace with it between me and God, and that's all that matters.

5. Family and close Friends are irreplaceable. If you have family, and a few close friends..you are BEYOND lucky. MOST people in our lives come and go. But-if you have family that you know loves and cares about you, or close friends that do, make sure you treat them like gold. They are irreplaceable. When life is going good sometimes we forget to treat the few people that we know are going to be there for us through thick and thin with unending love. Make sure they know how valuable they are in your life- you're going to need them.

6. TIME is the most precious gift of anything in the world. This one is huge for me and I can't stress it enough. Material things are so silly. We LOVE things and I admit, I'm totally addicted to my iphone.  But, honestly I know that I would rather sit with someone, laugh with someone, have them give me their time and attention more than anything else in the whole world. A good talk or conversations shows that someone cares about you...it is so much more valuable than any other material thing we could ever own.  And, I am SO SO grateful to any of you that are reading this that have given me your time and your listening ear recently, it means so much to me I can't love you enough for it.

7. Love is the best thing to fight for. I'm going to try to say what I mean here and I hope it comes across correctly. Love is the number one reason why we're here, and the most important action. Loving others and feeling and knowing you are loved back is worth the fight.  We ALL deserve to have more of it in our life. Be a more loving person and know that YOU are worthy of the same kind of Love as everyone else. On a second note- Life is WAY too short to spend anytime being cold, hateful, judgmental, jealous, angry, or any of those negative things. I feel like a hippy when I say, "LOVE EVERYONE". It's hard sometimes, but the more loving you are, the more love you get in return.

8. Know what you want, set goals and make it happen. Only YOU can bring your dreams to a reality. This should go without saying but no one is going to walk up to you and say here you go, here's your dream job or here's that vacation you always wanted to go on.  YOU are responsible for making that happen. If you can imagine yourself doing something-and you have an idea, go for it...you're always going to fail if you never try, and there should be nothing stopping you from going after what you want. Fear is the number one thing that keeps us from trying something new or going after a huge dream, but that's so silly because your life could be gone tomorrow. It also helps  to KNOW what you want. If you don't know, then try to figure it out, and then set actual goals so that you can accomplish it, check it off your list, and move on to the next thing!

9. Strength is not measured by how much you can fight, but how much courage you have to face the difficulty, rise above it and move on.  This year taught me that I have the inner strength to get me through anything and everything. Most of the time it's easier to hang on to something than it is to accept that you need to face it and move on. Strength is also- not letting the things of your past dictate the direction of your future. This year there was a point that I cried everyday. Sad, but true. As soon as I started confronting the issues, talking about them and having the courage to face them..I became stronger. And, now I can say..I have never smiled and laughed so much in my life.

10. I don't have time for distractions. This last one is sorta funny... but I had to talk about it. Games, lies, negativity, gossip. I need to stay clear of these things... I just don't have time for them. I have direction, I have passion, I know the things that I want, and the things that I need, and I'm not 18 anymore.  I'm not saying I'm perfect...I'm far from it, but some of the things that were once seemed so important a few years ago aren't anymore, and now that I know what I want, I don't want any distractions.

I'm sure there were many more things from the year that I learned, but these were 10 things that came to mind when I sat down to summarize my thoughts.

Til' my next post.

Love, Lauren