Better person. What does that mean, really? Well...for me, it was trying to get control of my emotions, to try to empty myself of anger and resentment. To try to control my temper and watch my words. To restrain my sarcasm - just a bit. Sometimes I think I'm being funny when I'm really hurting people's feelings. That needed to change.
Also, it was honoring who I am. So much of my life, I've tried to be something or someone I'm not, just to please others. It never made me really happy, and it honestly didn't have the effect on others I wanted anyway. And how narcissistic did that make me? Ugh. I've been shown the ugly.
Losing my dad, shifting friendships, and moving through the first two years of marriage has also taught me a lot about priorities. I used to worry about such inconsequential things - burning brain cells about whether or not I was working hard enough, or going out enough, or being there enough. I've lost friends and gained friends over this year. The ones that are still around really want to be there, because I'm not always that fantastic. I haven't been the best person, the best friend - going too long between phone calls and emails. But my friends have been patient with me. My sorrows have been their sorrows, and my successes and joys have been made more sweet because of their support. I'm grateful.
This gratitude is something that has enabled me to accept my introversion and my need for solitude. Realizing when my engines are burning on fumes, and that I need a break from the crowd. Realizing that I can't be everything for everyone, and learning to accept that they don't need me as much as I would like to imagine. (Again, ego.) Realizing that I am at my best for the ones I love when I give myself the gift of silence.
Catching myself, or at least trying to, when negative words fall from my mouth. Checking myself, when I feel my know-it-all tendency rearing its ugly head. I always thought I was a humble person - I'm not as humble as I'd like to think. And pride in your own humility is just another form of narcissism anyway.
I've tried to be more patient with my daughter - giving her the time to talk with me and to not rush her along. These moments are stolen, and life really does go by in such a flash. My dad was always so patient with me. I want to give that legacy to my future grandchildren by giving it to my daughter, now. She still holds my hand. She still kisses me goodnight. How much longer? I need to just rest in the here and now, and really enjoy it.
My faith was never gone, but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't put it on the backburner. I have rediscovered the treasure of meditation. I wouldn't say I am a traditional Christian - I'm pretty free-thinking - and dogma and judgmental people are not things I tolerate very well. But my love for God has never wavered. It has been my comfort and my rock, always. My daughter decided, on her own, to follow this path recently. I owe it to her to be a mentor.
I'm such a work in progress. We all are - and I wonder if we ever reach the top tier of self-actualization in this life. I don't have a traditional view of Heaven. The idea of fluffy clouds and harps is rather boring to me. As a bookish person, I'd like to think Heaven is a place of learning - kind of like a Library of Congress in the stars. Questions I've always wondered about will suddenly become clear. I don't know what we'll do with that wisdom once we are there - maybe we come back to Earth or some other realm to apply the knowledge to a new life.
But love is the most important thing, I do know that. As I sat at my dad's deathbed, holding his hand, and talking to him as he started slipping out of this life - it became so clear to me that everything falls away in the face of love. Every accomplishment, every material thing, all of the money in the world means nothing without love. Our world hums with it. It's the only thing we can take with us.
I recently read Dr. Eben Alexander's book, "Proof of Heaven." Written from a skeptical and scientific point of view while remembering his own near-death experience, Dr. Alexander reiterates time and again how our universe resonates with supreme love. That while he was in the heavenly realm, it flowed through him and seemed to echo within every molecule of his being. There was no doubt.
Wouldn't the world be such a better place if we could tap into that?
I think we can. Through meditation, I am finding that my patience and my capacity for forgiveness are increasing. That my irritability quotient is going down. That I am learning to Be. Still.
Ugh. That's so hard. I am an insta-grat person. I like results. It may take me awhile to make a decision, but once it's made, I want to see something for my deliberation. Quickly. Having a business, being a parent, being a wife - all of these roles are teaching me to honor the things that matter most first, and wait for the rest.
Something else I've noticed? Random acts of kindness have fallen around me like petals this year. Sure, things like that happened before, sometimes. But whether it's someone opening a door for me, letting me into traffic, or paying for my order at the drive-thru, I've received so much more of them this year. I open my clenched hands, and I try to give back. Not because I think it makes me better than anyone else, but because I have been given much. Much is expected in return. The cycle has to continue.
Would I say I've been successful in my resolution? I'm not sure. In some ways, I think I have. But I also realize that this refinement is something that won't end on December 31st. There will always be room to improve, to grow. I want to do more volunteer work, to take my daughter and show her the things she needs to see to grow as well. I want her to be empathetic, kind, and firm in her thinking. I want her to have the knowledge that she is valued and loved, and that she has a purpose.
I want to know, that when my time comes, that I have done the best I could do. That I can close my eyes with no regrets. That I forgave myself and others. That I can, in those moments, finally just be - not try.