It was Christmas Eve. I was standing around a crowded kitchen island, littered with wine and food and all sorts of holiday cocktails and sprinkled with sweet Christmas treats. I was surrounded by friends and family, and we were talking. Laughing. And then it turned serious for a moment.
My cousin Ben turned to me. He's older, like an older brother, really. He said to me, "You know you're a fucking badass, right?"
"Um, no. Shut up, Ben. Pass me that wine."
He laughed at me. Like he does. He continued. "You're an amazing mom. You do great work. And your writing. You're a fucking badass."
I casually sighed. And then I thought. And then I thought some more. He's right. But the self-doubt, the I wish I would haves and the I probably should haves take over so often, I don't think about the wins, the rewards, the things I'm doing right. I focus on the ways I can be better. I know that's not a bad thing, but with it being the end of the year and all, I am going to chalk it up as one grand 2016 lesson, and I wanted to share the others with all of my friends.
Lesson 1: Put on your oxygen mask first. I travel for work sometimes, and aboard every single airplane on every single airline in every single city, the flight attendant will tell you this: In the event of an emergency, put on your oxygen mask before assisting other passengers. I'm only almost year two into my life as a mom, and that idea is true every single day of my new life. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
And now, I finally get it. I can't be the best mom, or the best wife, or the best sister, or the best daughter, or the best friend that I want to be if I don't take care of myself. I can put all of my energy into other people and projects and ideas and if I don't put myself first, everything suffers. In 2016, I learned to put on my oxygen mask first. And I think everyone is better for it.
Lesson 2: Drink the good wine when you want to. I was wine tasting with my sister and a friend, at the most adorable family-run vineyard and winery. The sweet man behind the counter was offering generous pours, and said something to me that I'll always remember.
Good wine was meant to be shared, not saved.
He's right. You can always get more wine. And wine was meant to be shared. Moments were meant to be shared and celebrated. I know we all had our own struggles in 2016. I did too. We lost people and we mourned moments. I hate thinking that my dear Auntie Jo would have smiled at the pop of the champagne cork, from that bottle I've been saving. So now, I'm opening the good stuff on a Tuesday, just because it was a good day, or because a friend came over or because a small success happened and we want to celebrate the hell out of it. I don't know how many days we've got left, but when they're over, I want to leave an empty wine fridge and a bucket full of memories. Come over, and let's open a bottle. I can always get more wine.
Lesson 3. Breathe it all in, and let it all go. It's silly, but in the heat of the moment or in the most stressful part of your day, just take one, solid, good inhale. The kind where you can't possibly fill any more oxygen in your lungs. And then breathe out all of the bad. Breathe out the worry and the questions and the negativity and the self-doubt. Get rid of it. I think you'll thank me for that small moment of quiet and your day will be better for it.
Lesson 4: Appreciate the accomplishment.
Let me paint a picture. It's a random weeknight in the fall. I'm cleaning up dishes from dinner and I hear a loud bang from the one and only bathroom in our house. Fearful, I run in the direction of the sound, and I find my dear sweet husband with a hammer and some other tools, disassembling the bathroom.
We've been talking about starting a bathroom remodel, turning our one big, weird bathroom into two. And I didn't realize that the project was going to begin that evening. But, I'm glad it did. I am constantly learning to roll with the plan that ever-adjusts, and after weeks of framing, and plumbing, and sheetrock and mudding and taping, and painting (my least favorite task), we were done.
I was sharing with the hubs that I was disappointed in my first-attempt drywall job. The unevenness in the application really was bothering me. I wondered how I could stand there in the new shower, looking at that imperfect wall.
And he said, "We have to be at a place where we look at those imperfections and are proud of them. They're a mark of an accomplishment. They're proof that we did something, we tried something, and it's amazing. We can't look at it wishing it were perfect. Nothing's perfect. We have to be proud of our work and our house and no, it's not perfect, but it's done. And we did it. We did it together."
Gush. Yeah, he's right. I'm proud.
So, come over for wine, and look at that drywall. I did it. I'm proud.
Lesson 5: We are all badasses. We all have that doubt. We all think we could do better. We all, regardless of age, race, status, income, educational level, whatever - we all have a fear that we're not good enough.
But we are.
I am. You are.
We are all badasses.
Cheers to a happy, healthy new year.