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What I Have Learned In 2016: Lessons For A New Year

Whether you’ve been watching the news, surfing the web, checking Twitter or Facebook, or simply having a conversation with friends or family, I am certain you have heard that 2016 was the worst year ever. “It was a shit show!” “The new year can’t come soon enough!” “2016 was a dumpster fire!” “I am so grateful it will be over soon.” “F$CK YOU 2016!” The list of commentary is endless.

Now, I’m not going to lie. Personally, 2016 was a pretty good year for me. I quit my job and began a new journey starting a business I can be passionate about. Yes, this has brought some frustrations and stresses, but mostly the change has been good. I have learned so much about myself and my capabilities. And I know my growth will only continue in the new year.

In 2016, I was able to spend more time with my kids. Especially the first six months, where I could truly cherish my last baby being at home. For the first time, I was able to have all of my holidays and weekends off, allowing me more time with my family. I trained for and completed not one, but two triathlons. And having a teenager of babysitting age has allowed my husband and I more time together. But globally, the picture was not quite as bright.

Of course, much of this stems from the shitastic 2016 election. No matter what side you were on, most people can agree that it was the most F$CKED up election in U.S. history. But it doesn’t end there. In the past year, we have dealt with everything from Brexit and the Zika virus to Black Lives Matter and Aleppo. Not to mention the deaths of countless legendary celebrities from Gene Wilder and Alan Thicke to Prince, David Bowie, and most recently, George Michael. And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

It seems 2016 was a year where racism and misogyny were given a voice once again. Whether intentional or not, many Americans turned a blind eye to bigoted, hateful speech, and the result was an implied acceptance. So much negativity was spewing from your newsfeed that you were forced to unfollow many of your friends, only strengthening your echo chamber of social and political views.

And the newest tagline for 2016, “What is the first rule of 2017? We don’t talk about 2016.” I’m here to tell you that this will only make things worse. As the philosopher, George Santayana once said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Instead of erasing 2016 from our memories, we should be embracing the lessons it has taught us. We should be using these lessons to fuel our goals and resolutions for the new year.

2016 has taught me…

A divided country only becomes more divided as we continue to shut out the voices of those who don’t agree with us.

So, in 2017…

I resolve to be more accepting and understanding of those with differing viewpoints. My goal for the new year is to have open dialogue, to really listen to what others are saying instead of just waiting to make my point. I believe that if we as everyday citizens cannot compromise; how can we expect our representatives to? And since our government does not seem capable of getting their shit together, we need to make change happen from the bottom up.

2016 has taught me…

There are so many people around the world and in my own backyard who are truly suffering. I have it pretty damn good.

So, in 2017…

My goal is to be more charitable and to teach my kids to do the same. I want to be an example to my children of giving by donating my time, my money, and my possessions to causes that matter. One person cannot fix the world, but if everyone does something, then change can happen.

2016 has taught me…

          That racism, hatred, bigotry and misogyny still exist in this country.

So, in 2017…

I will be a voice against it, and I will teach my kids to be a voice as well. I will continue to teach my girls to be strong, intelligent, and independent. I will continue to tell them that they can be and do anything they choose. And I will, most of all, teach all of my children to be KIND and to stand up for those less fortunate. Because when we bring up our children to be thoughtful and caring, when we teach them to listen, understand, and accept those with differing views and lifestyles, THEY will be the ones to change the world.

I know that when we rise in the face of adversity, that is when truly great things can happen. Let’s make 2016 the year we woke up, so that 2017 can be the beginning of something wonderful.

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