Personal Growth

Ten things I have learned during my 38th year on Earth

To celebrate my birthday, I thought I would share a few things that I have learned this past year. Some are silly and some are more serious, but “silly and serious” basically sums me up perfectly:)

1. That volunteering is addictive and healthy

As my kids have gotten older, I have started volunteering more and more as the opportunities have come along. And I have noticed that my happiness levels have increased exponentially as my volunteering has increased. I know that I am not the only one to notice this occurrence because I have read many articles on anxiety and depression that recommend doing things for others to boost your own moods. So if you are feeling sad or lost in your life: volunteer. I can almost guarantee that you will immediately begin to feel better.

2. I am an INFJ-T on the Myers Briggs personality test and an Enneagram type 1

I know that a lot of people do not believe in personality type tests, but both of these tests have explained so much about why I react the way I do to certain things in my life. Both tests have also explained why I hate conflict, why I am drawn to causes, and why injustices bother me so badly. **Each of these tests recommend certain jobs that would fit your personality types and I must say that they are spot on. So if you are looking for a little direction in your life, try taking these tests.

3. Blogging helps me stay on track with personal goals

Like most people every year, I used to make a list of things that I wanted to change during the year and (like most people) I usually fizzled out after a few months. About five years ago, I started to read a lot of blogs that reported in weekly about their goals. I was always amazed that it seemed to really help them to be successful in achieving their goals. <<Flash forward to three years ago>> One day I was reading about how easy it was to start a blog and thought, “Why not me?” And what do you know?? I had great success keeping up with all of my goals that first year, so I kept going and added more goals (and dropped some) as the next new year came along, and then did the same the next year as well. So if you want to make some changes in your life start a blog! Public accountability does amazing things for your own personal accountability.

4. That I didn’t hurt my kids by homeschooling them

The number one fear of almost all homeschooling parents is that your child will not be ready for college and the real world. Well luckily, this past year that fear has been laid to rest for me. My daughter started to take dual enrollment courses this past fall and has excelled at each class she has taken (!!!!!!). **She also has made friends and worked in groups on projects, so I know that her interpersonal skills are up to par as well (that is fear #2)

5. I will never like to discuss politics!!!

After learning about my aversion to conflict through my personality tests, this was eye opening as to why I hate discussing politics (and religion) Nothing I say (or you say) will ever change a person’s mind about their political opinions. When you discuss politics all you are doing is basically arguing your own views and telling someone else that they are wrong…which I hate! **The only exclusion to this is when you are calmly discussing your views (and not yelling) with other calm, rational people. But I have found very few people can discuss politics calmly or rationally:(

6. Sugar makes me feel bad

I had been on a low carb diet for three years before I realized that something was wrong and slowly began to reintroduce carbs to my diet. Since then I have realized that sugar gives me headaches and makes me irritable. This explains so much as to why I use to be way more moody in my younger years and plagued with headaches. Which lead me to realizing that….

7. Healthy carbs are not my enemy

I know that this sounds silly, but being on a low carb diet so long really messed with my perception of carbs. I am trying to relearn that not all carbs are the same. Whole foods are good and overly processed foods are generally bad. It has been a really slow process, but eventually I will relearn this truth. Also, just because I am allowed to eat carbs again does not mean that I can eat all that I want…this is a much more difficult principle to learn…

8. Happiness is really a choice

Being the good mother that I am, I try to give my kids a lot of life lessons in the form of mini lectures while I have them trapped in the car. One of my realizations (and lectures I have given again and again) is that happiness is a choice. I believe that true happiness comes from being content with your situation. The struggle to always seek more and better leads us to be more and more unhappy. So if you train yourself to be grateful and thankful for your life, your chances for happiness go up exponentially. I am not a Buddhist but I have always agreed with their teaching that by freeing yourself from wants and desires will lead you to happiness. **This is a very Christian philosophy as well!

9. How to self soothe…finally!

As someone who has dealt with anxiety all of my life, the ability to talk myself down has always been elusive. Over the past year, I have actually had multiple panic attacks that I believe were due to my extended low carb lifestyle. How do I know this?? Well once I had an inkling as to what might be causing the attacks I started adding back carbs to my diet. The next month….no anxiety attacks. So then I thought it might be a fluke so I went back on low carb. The next month….the anxiety attacks came back. So now I am ten pounds heavier (all water weight…right???) and am absolutely glowing with energy and happiness.

Another thing that I have noticed helps to calm me down a lot is taking a deep breath, releasing it, and just saying, “Oh well…” Just letting go and realizing it doesn’t really matter what other people think, that I have to do it anyways, and that it will be just fine has been really freeing for me. As someone who loves to overthink EVERYTHING, “Oh well” is a wonderful mantra to embrace. Try it!

10. That there are many types of rest

The last thing I have learned this year is probably the most profound. In the summer, I read Sacred Rest by Saundra Dalton-Smith and took the free corresponding online quiz to find what my most needed forms of rest were. I have always known that my batteries recharge by being alone, but I did not know that I also need to create things to achieve rest and that my intellectual side really needs to be challenged on a daily basis. Why on earth would doing these things make me feel rested? After getting my results back, I began to think back to how I felt when I completed a home improvement project or even did a major cleaning session in the house over the years and I realized that yes, I felt tired afterwards but also bursting with energy. Apparently there are seven different types of rest that people need and if you are not getting enough of the right kind, you will perpetually feel tired and worn out. To test this theory out, I have kept a log of how I felt on busier weeks versus more lazy weeks. And what do you know??? On the weeks that I wrote more blogs or worked more on my novel, I felt so much more at peace and settled in my daily life. So there may be something to this after all. Take the test, read the book. I promise it is eye opening. **In case you are curious:  My biggest rest needs are apparently in the creative, mental, and spiritual parts of my life. So blogging, volunteering at church, and creating things are my happy places lately.

I am looking forward to seeing what this last year of my 30s will teach me. I hope it will be another year of spiritual growth and learning even more about what I need to thrive. Thanks for reading!

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