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I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions. For me, they were always false promises I made myself as a result of a sense of newness I felt on that first day of the year. Promises that were most often forgotten within a week.

I’m not even a fan of New Year’s Eve. Always overhyped and full of excess, it seemed to let me down each and every year.

It’s often considered best to forget the past and focus on the future but I can’t move forward into a New Year without looking back. For me, New Year’s is a time to reflect on the year that has passed. To recognize the lessons that life threw at me and to take those lessons forward as I move into a new year.

2015 was a big year of growth for me. I learned a lot about who I am and who I want to be.

This year saw me learn just how important communication truly is. The experiences of this past year have shown me the true value of communicating with people, whether they are friends, family, significant other or my children.

My husband and I together learned how talking with each other on a regular basis about everything big and small can help us become closer to each other. We’ve always been talkers but this year we seemed to come to an understanding of just how important our chats are for our marriage. We learned so much about each other’s expectations, dreams and visions. We have spent the past year growing so much closer to each other through both easy chats over pancakes and coffee while the kids run around playing beneath our feet as well as uncomfortable talks while we drive in the car struggling to look at each other. Both the easy and the tough talks have allowed us to see right into each other. There are no walls, no barriers, no secrets or surprises. This year solidified how talking to each other is what builds our bond and it’s what is going to help make our marriage successful.

2015 is the year that I learned that open communication is not just important to my marriage but also an important part of parenting. My children are growing into their own people. They have their own thoughts, values, feelings and needs. For me to truly know my children, I have to be willing to talk to them and really hear them. I spent many evenings in bed beside my son listening to him tell me not only about his daily shenanigans, but how he is feeling. We talked about his worries and fears. We laughed about what he thought funny and dissected what made him afraid. He asked questions and I answered. I’ve learned that the chats I have with my kids can actually change the way I parent them. This year saw me talk with my children, not just at them. I actually heard what they had to say and their words have changed me. I hope this is just the beginning of a lifetime of open communication with them.

2015 is also the year that I saw friendships change permanently because we lacked the ability to talk freely and openly about things that hurt us. Rather than honest communication, we tried to get our message out passive aggressively or sometimes just plain aggressively and all it did was increase the space between us.

Not everyone is comfortable with talking and many feel it’s not necessary.

Though it’s not always easy, I think that there is no better feeling than being able to talk freely with someone, it’s what helps to build your bond.

The days fly by so fast that it leaves the year in kind of a blur. This year saw new jobs, exciting opportunities in my writing and so much fun with my kids. Yet what is leaving the most impact and what I think will help me as I move into 2016 is the depth I have gained in my relationships with those who are most important to me. The closeness that I have gained through something as simple as being willing to talk and being open to hearing.

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