{recap} 14 Life Lessons Learned in 2014

As the Year in Review statuses saturate our Facebook news feeds and we sift through the impossible, mounting pile of recaps about friends who have gotten engaged, friends who have had babies, friends who have traveled the world, friends who spend their youthful years recording themselves at the top of the Eiffel Tower with selfie sticks: as all of these things happen, the question inevitably arises. Has anything really changed for us?

The answer might be a simple one for you to answer, or perhaps it’s really difficult, depending on what has happened in the past calendar year. I find myself somewhere in-between: exciting things have happened (I passed my qualifying exam, earned my Master’s degree, moved back to school, met Jonathan Gold, started collaborating with some amazing companies and bloggers), but so have mundane everyday things like 72-hour research marathons in my grubby sweatpants or dragging myself out of bed at 1 PM after a late night so I can begrudgingly squeeze in my 8-mile “morning” run. If there’s one thing every year can offer, however, it is life lessons learned. So here’s a list of my favorite, funnest, and nearest-and-dearest ones–after you read them, make sure to share a few of your own in the comments!

1. Don’t say ‘no’ until you give yourself the chance to say ‘yes.’ At the start of 2014, I found myself on multiple occasions defaulting to ‘no’: no to that party happening all the way across the city, no to that guy who asks for my number after a 10-minute conversation at the coffeeshop. This year quickly turned into a year of ‘yes’ when the wonderful Nancy showed me a book called The Year of YesNo, I haven’t read it–but spending a whole year saying ‘yes’ to dates (including one with a homeless man, another with a divorcee with two kids) is one way to change a mindset!

2. NOW is the time to say it.

You love me? Tell me. Think my nailbeds suck? I want to know. (Though maybe we could start the barrage with a compliment?) The average human life span is 84.3 years, and squandering even a second of it is a pretty foolish percentage wasted. So yeah, in the words of that really annoying John Mayer song: Say what you need to say!

3. Good things come to those who are willing to see the good in things.

As Anton Ego from Ratatouille says: “You provide the food, I’ll provide the perspective.”

Interestingly, this Pixar villain also coined what has become one of my crowning mottos in life:

And then he had to go and ruin it by saying this:

…which like, isn’t true at all, because I’m a freakin’ garbage disposal and will eat most anything you throw in my face. So, yeah.

4. Good things come to those who put down their smart phones, too.

Because this video poem happened, and also because let’s face it, that Facebook notification wasn’t worth missing the little girl who just smiled a big, front-teeth-missing smile at you as you walked by.

5. No oceanliner ever spotted an iceberg and thought: “Gee, great, let’s just keep heading in that general direction, shall we?” The same applies to life. Ask yourself at least once a day: “Am I happy right now?” If the answer is yes, smile and carry on. If the answer is no, smile bigger, evaluate, and redirect your course.

6. Cuddling a furry companion makes everything better. And I really mean everything. I used to wake up crying with a mixture of joy and sadness over dreams of hugging adorable puppies in my arms (I’m allergic to most dogs). Having had the wonderful experience of cuddling for three nights with my cousin’s toy poodle this winter break, I must admit that no experience will make your troubles evaporate into so much inconsequential dust faster than a doggy nuzzle. If no furball is readily available, ask a friend or neighbor as uncreepily as you can if you can borrow theirs for a quick cuddle.

7. There is nothing quite like the feeling of experiencing a great new book for the first time. The rush of reading Harry Potter books for the first time at midnight releases has long passed, but in November I marathoned The Hunger Games series in 96 hours, in preparation for the third movie installment. During that time, I forgot how to eat, sleep, and socialize like a normal person (I actually carried a copy of the book with me to a coffeeshop date at one point during those hazy days), but damn, was I happy to be reading something exciting, unfamiliar, and published post-1850 for a change. Team Peeta #always.

8. Try something new once a week.

Last month, my friend C and I were hanging out and decided we needed to make goals. Inspiration. Achievement. Wonder. So we made a pact to try something new every week for the rest of our lives. –Okay, we actually decided to try it out for a month, but since then I’ve eaten my first caramel apple; explored an entire city on a 14-mile run; dated someone like, properly for once; and cuddled a dog to sleep. And Lawd save me, if it wasn’t all ahmayzing.

9. Good friends are the ones you can share feelings with. Great friends are the ones you can talk about poo and stuff with.

But seriously: think about this one. True, right? For instance, I have so many potty jokes I could tell you about right now…

10. Keep a physical running list of things your friends mention to you–their likes, their dislikes, their wish lists.

I’ve started keeping a bunch of separate wishlists on Amazon, as well as a color-coded Excel spreadsheet of all my friends’ and families’ favorite baked treats. Trust me, you will thank me for it when the holidays roll around again this time next year!

11. Shelf your pride for a month–a week–a day.  

This was a big one for me in 2014. Is that argument actually worth having? Will it make me a better person if I make my mom realize that I’m right and she’s wrong about the way water filters work? Arguments–especially the pettiest ones–often leave me feeling irritable, upset, and above all plain frustrated with myself. Next time you’re about to start a row about something on which the world’s fate does not depend, consider putting your pride on a holding shelf and (in the words of a little-known Frozen song) letting it go!

Image Creds: memespp.com, weknowmemes.com, memecenter.com

12. Everyone else’s life looks cooler than yours. Meanwhile, everyone else is looking at your life thinking the exact same thing.

I talk about this close-to-home subject in this post.

13. Don’t settle for “fun” in big fat quotation marks. Also: There will never “be enough time” for FUN; you have to make time for it. Make having fun a priority on your to-do list.

Too often I’ll leave a sophistimacated dinner party or something and the hostess will hug me in her shining pearls and purr, “That was so fun, let’s do it again sometime, dear.” Well, this year I learned that I was having none of that–that “fun” does not equal FUN–and that if I really want to have FUN, I need to get out there and just have it. And yes, I realize there will never be a “good time” or a “guilt-free” time for having fun, so you just have to make some, just like you need to make time to exercise or do boring things like laundry and stuff. In other words, make FUN a priority because again, you might only have 525949 hours left to live, give or take 100000 or so.

14. “Virtual” friends is the same thing as simply saying: friends.

As Wallflour Girl has grown, as I have been lucky enough to meet such a wonderful crew of new bloggers this year, I am proud to call each and every one of you a real, honest-to-goodness friend. Whether I have “met” you or have actually met you IRL, thank you for making this year an amazing one filled with the most amazing friendships I could ask for. Here’s to making 2015 great!

Share your favorite life lessons from 2014–and see you all on the other side of the new year!

Love,

Ala

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17 Replies to “{recap} 14 Life Lessons Learned in 2014”

  1. A wonderful share. The year is always brighter with a sprinkle of gratitude to remind us all we have to be thankful for.
    Happy New Year Ala!

    1. Aww, and my list of gratitude includes you this year, Deb! Have a wonderful new year, and may 2015 bring you some amazing new memories!

  2. Awww that’s totally brighten up my day and I’m so excited for this year. Happy New Year Ala! Cheers to blogging!

    1. Yes, here’s to a full calendar year together, dear friend! Happy 2015!!

  3. oh man… i love reading your thoughts, which are all of bold, brave, relentless, but humble and caring too. so glad i found you in 2014, Ala!

    and those dates, dear! do i smell a story or two? i also used to blow off encounters with random males who liked to get phone numbers without much ado (or give me theirs, which i then proceeded to tuck into my library book as a bookmark, to be forgotten once i returned the book.)

    1. Haha! Looks like we will have to exchange a whole slew of stories sometime, eh? Man, the stories though. I’ll have to write about them one of these days (when they’re funny as opposed to creepy, anyway–time will do that, right?). Hehe. Anyway, cheers to 2014 bringing us together–here’s to another full fun year!

  4. Ala, love this post!!! so much to comment on. . Has anything really changed for us? i love that you always write about real things here on your blog, yo. I really love this. I’m coming back from Dallas, where I spent most of my holidays with my parents and family and realized even more that my dear parents are getting old. . and are in Texas, without any of their children there to take care of them. . I’m in WI, my sister in MN and my brother in CA . . they want to stay there, it’s home, it’s familiar, all their friends are there etc. . so anyway, for me, this past year, brought us a new home and life in Wisconsin and now we are forced to think about what the 5 year plan is. . how we’re going to take care of my parents. . I’m getting older and things are changing. . love your life lessons learned. . esp #4, which is a constant struggle for me . . but hoping 2015 different. . setting attainable goals for myself and wishing you a FABULOUS new year!!! thanks for keeping it real, yo.

    1. Alice, first off–thanks so much for sharing all these amazing thoughts here!! It’s been such a privilege and pleasure meeting you this year, and I always look uber forward to your reading your reflections and comments. Though our situations are a bit different, I’ve actually spent a lot of time lately thinking through very similar circumstances with my parents–who’s going to be there for them, and everything else, even as I’m sorting out where I see myself living for the next few years. So much respect for what you’re going through right now!! Here’s a raised glass to everyone in your life, including and especially you–I cannot wait to spend this next year with you!

  5. I’m SO glad to have you as a virtual friend, Ala—and hope we will actually get to meet in person one day! Your blog is a delight and wishing you continued success in 2015! Say yes!!! xo

    1. YES, Liz–ditto to all of that, but especially the bit about hoping we get to meet up some day, because you are hands down amazing. A very happy new year to you (as I catch up on your blog, too)!!

  6. What an amazing, introspective, important list! I so agree with every single item–I was just listening to “Brave” the other day and thinking the exact same thought you bring up about the John Mayer song. Saying everything you need to. It’s so scary sometimes (all the time, for me, really) but the alternative is so much scarier!! Reading through this was so inspiring–thanks for sharing Ala, and can’t wait to see what 2015 brings for you! It sounds like you’ve had a fantastic year (with so many dates, woowoo!!)!

    1. I just added Brave to my Spotify after looking it up–I am sooo glad you shared it with me (among other things–wow, what a year together!) because it totally captures everything that crosses my mind every day. May 2015 bring even MORE awesome adventures to you too, girl! I’m so looking forward to keeping up a bit better with your thoughts and everything in between 🙂 here’s to another great one!

  7. I’m not gonna lie. 2014 wasn’t a great year for me, but I’m hoping 2015 will be awesome! I have definitely been putting myself out there more (hello match.com) and I’m working toward accomplishing goals. I feel like time is slipping away. I’m all about putting down technology. Although, I do think it’s good advice to only eat things you like. Life’s too short for bad food!

    Number 12 is so important and soooooo hard for me. I don’t like where I am in life right now, and I think everyone’s happier than me. But it’s not always the case. So I won’t say happy new year (that comic is fab!), I’ll say hopefully this year will be better than last. Because even if we had a good year, we always want things to get better 🙂

    1. Yes, a better new year to us! It’s all the same stuff over and over again, but I think you’re totally on the right track with working toward those goals. I really loved our discussions about perceptions of others, hopefully we’ll both do better this new year 🙂

  8. Love this post! So agree with you on everything especially number 4, 8, and 13 because life is short and we should all seize the day and live in the moment more. Sounds like 2014 was such a great year for you and I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings! Hope it’s even more amazing 🙂 Happy Happy New Year, Ala!

  9. Hey Ala, I’ve dropped off the face of the planet for the past two months so I apologize for being absent in this wonderful space of yours. Thanks so much for that awesome Skype chat we had – your friendship and support mean so much to me! I love love love this post. Of course, all of your posts are thoughtful, engaging and inspiring but this one in particular resonates with me. I’m such a negative person, always looking at the varnished, rusty spots instead of the silver lining. The Husband has been trying to get me to think more positively. I want…no, I NEED 2015 to be my year of change. I’m so desperately miserable and stressed out all the time. If I keep going like this, I’m going to lose my mind! I’m totally guilty of thinking that everyone else’s life is so much better than mine when that’s totally not the truth. Puppy snuggles are indeed the best and Ratatouille happens to be one of my favourite movies of all time. Everything about this post made me smile and I need to learn from your 14 life lessons. Here’s to an amazing 2015 for the both of us! Love ya, lady.

    1. dawwww you and your hubbie seriously sound like the best mutual support system ever, do you know that? That must be awesome, awesome, and amazing to have in your life. I count you as one of last year’s absolute hugest blessings–I feel like you almost literally opened a floodgate of some sort that just let me see what an amazing community of friends bloggers could make. You’re an inspiration, whether you know it or not, and I think that’s what totally counts. I’m raising a HUGE glass to you in your 2015 goals–just remember not to be too hard on yourself for not achieving “everything” at once, because I honestly think you could be one of the most honest and real people I have the pleasure of calling a friend. Love ya, gal!!

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