2011 was a sucky year for me personally. Then 2012 got worse. Then, 2013 became the Papa Bear of bad years for me and my family. I was pretty happy that by the end of it, I had a new home, a new town, a new job for my husband, a houseful of new furniture and a chance to start over. I decided that I wanted to do things the right way for 2014.
If anything the previous three years taught me that many of our circumstances can’t be helped, so I decided that my attitudes and actions — what I could control for the new year — would be completely different.
In January of 2014, my family and I started attending a new church and a new homeschooling co-op (both in our new town). This meant that everywhere we went, I had to introduce myself, introduce my five children, leave some sort of an impression, and give it my best.It’s rather conspicuous to be new but it’s especially obvious when you’re the mother of five children from ages 8-16. We weren’t just new, we were the new parade that entered the room. If for no other reason, my kids were watching me and I knew that if I was fearless, they would be too.
All these new faces and new opportunities made me a little nervous. I had always had this inner conflict in new situations, wanting to be bubbly and gregarious and yet feeling a sense of fear and dread in new situations. Something inside me told me I had a lot to give and people would like knowing me if they got to know me, but then at the same time, I believed that I was worthless, boring, and worthy of rejection. I had failed in relationships and in new situations before. (We all have, haven’t we?) And I had plenty of regrets for NOT stepping up and taking the time to be with people and sharing my life. Now I was NEW again and this time, THIS TIME, I had to live differently.
I had to do it because my children were new too and they were looking at me for inspiration.
I had to do it because I knew that relationships did bring me joy and I had no choice but to extend my hand and speak up if I were going to have any at all. I also knew that only one of these voices in my head was the correct one. The fearful and anxious one had never yet made me happy, perhaps the other one would?
I didn’t just listen to my happy, confident voice I did other things differently too.
This is what I did differently
1. I practiced standing in my Wonder Woman pose for up to 2 minutes before I was put in a new situation. Um, yeah. This works. I love it.
2. I looked people in the eye.
3. I wore my boots because having a bit of a heel makes me feel more powerful. I’m also short. Heels help a lot.
4.I told jokes.
This was easy. I love being silly and making funny comments. I have an off the cuff humor and I decided that if nothing else, laughter, either with me or at me would loosen new people up and make ME feel better.
5. I had no expectations of the people I met.
I knew I wasn’t going to meet a BFF right off the bat. I still haven’t, but that isn’t important. What’s important is that what I once thought I needed a BFF for, like calming my fears, I can do now myself.
6. I volunteered.
I signed up to serve others at my church at and my homeschool co-op. Not only is this scary, but I had to deliberately place myself in a submissive role. This wasn’t always fun. But I did it.
7. I left my business card with people.
When I left it at the library I specifically asked the librarian to give it to the next homeschooling family that came in. That woman, Jennifer, took my card, invited me to the local McDonald’s for a play date, invited me to her church, met me at her church and now she and her family (who live a half mile from me) are very close to ours. (My teens babysit her littles!)
8. I stopped equating my value with my mistakes.
On March 24, I fell down the stairs in my home and broke my ankle in two places. It took me months to fully recover. The old me would have blamed myself over and over — believing that I was klutzy or stupid or I should have known better. The new me knew it was just an accident. And I made the best of it. It was a result of being stuck on my butt for weeks that I got the idea for the Facebook group that lead to the development of this website. Maybe falling down the stairs was the smartest thing I did all year?
9. I set boundaries with people early in my relationships.
If I felt like something wasn’t fitting well, I spoke up about it and I was surprised at how well most people respected my position. I was not mean spirited, I just made sure that my boundaries were clear.
10. I assumed that people would like me and that I would succeed.
This was probably the most revolutionary thought of them all. Now while it was true that not everyone was warm and cuddly to me when they met me, most were. By believing in myself more, I actually became more fearless and secure in who I was and I cared less what people thought of me.
As a result of these changes, I met hundreds of new people, took chances, had many wonderful opportunities, laughed a lot, and enjoyed myself at every turn. This ten things utterly changed everything about my life in 2014 and I think that this last year was the happiest year I’ve ever had.