Relationships

What Did You Learn This Year?

What Did You Learn This Year? Illustration by Alessandra Olanow

2017 has been a year full of major ups and downs (understatement), but as we look back, I’m wondering: What did you learn? Whether it’s something big, small, profound or funny, I’m curious to know what you’ll be taking away. We asked 12 women we love to share their answers, and please add yours…

“When I read this post about the crappy dinner party, I let out an audible ‘ahhhh.’ The idea: Stop making having friends over for a meal such a thing — a thing that requires three cheeses to start, and a homemade dessert to finish. I now feel much better about gathering around my small kitchen table. People linger! It’s chill! It’s cheaper! It just feels nice to be at home. I’ve put simple recipes on repeat, like this one-pan salmon dish and an eggplant cheesecake that sounds more complicated than it is. Oh, and I’ve also learned that people are just as happy when you put out bowls of olives and chips instead of that schmancy comté that requires its own trip to the grocery.” — Erica Cerulo, co-founder, Of a Kind

“This year was pretty hard, and I feel like I’m still mid-lesson. I had three miscarriages, which seems so absurd and tragic that I still don’t know how to process it. January, May, September. I haven’t written about them, I haven’t really talked about them, because every time I start to, I feel a bit like I’m drowning and I need to get my brain back to dry land. So, this year taught me… that some years are harder than others.” — Gemma Burgess, screenwriter

“I learned how to do a smokey eye — at age 31! I was a very late bloomer to makeup (first put on eyeliner at age 26) and I’ve spent so much money and time on YouTube trying to figure out the tricks most women learned in middle school. This year, I threw up my hands and spent $100 on a makeup lesson. I just came in and said, ‘Teach me how to look less sleepy in the mornings, and how to put on eye shadow.’ I wish I’d done this years ago! The instructor did half my face, and I did the other half. The whole time, I was like, ‘I am capable of doing this? To my own face?’ Side note: I also learned the ‘good side’ of my face for photos. Someone told me an easy way to figure it out — it’s the side with the most hair! Now I’ve become quite the diva in photos.” — Mari Andrew, illustrator

“I’m a terrible perfectionist. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m actually perfect — it just means I drive myself crazy trying to do everything perfectly all the time. If my apartment is messy, then I’m a monstrous slob. If I use my phone in bed, then I’m a technology addict. I don’t know what happened this year, but I’ve learned to let it the fuck go. Sure, I don’t want to be hooked on my phone, but it’s not a crime to mellow out with some Words With Friends. Who cares if that T-shirt’s been on the floor for three days? Eventually, it’ll make it into the laundry bin. Honestly, there are so many things to be stressed out about already. Learning to stop inventing additional stress for myself has been one of the all-time greatest lessons. I’m still not perfect at letting it go (obviously), but I’m trying, and that’s good enough.” — Kelsey Miller, writer

“During a toddler tantrum, when emotions are running high on both sides, I learned to diffuse the tension by asking for a hug. We both genuinely need one, and it helps take everything down a notch.” — Courtney Klein, founder of Storq

“We’re often told that saying ‘yes’ to everything is the key to happiness. Shonda Rhimes has her ‘year of yes,’ Google’s Eric Schmidt gave a much-quoted commencement speech where he told graduates to ‘find a way to say yes to things,’ and the internet is littered with lists. But the most important thing I learned in 2017 was that saying no was sometimes better. Here’s an example: My husband and I have been doing IVF for almost two years now, and I’ve realized that hanging out with more than one mom at a time makes me feel left out and sad. Instead of grinning and bearing it, I’ve learned to be honest and say no to those situations. I’m not saying to be selfish, but women tend to be conditioned to always put other people’s feelings before their own — and saying no is actually just a way of putting yourself first when you need it the most.” — Doree Shafrir, author of Startup

“I joined the Resistance Revival Chorus. Nothing like singing with 30+ other women to lift the spirits.” — Brooke Williams, photographer and activist

“After maintaining a three-mile-a-day running habit for nearly a decade, I finally took on the NYC Marathon. Everything involved in training felt like some larger life lesson — I was essentially a walking Pinterest board full of inspirational mantras. But one thing that took me by surprise was how much it taught me to appreciate something simple about my body: basically, that it works. I run for my mental health — it’s the most effective antidepressant I’ve tried. Testing my physical limits with marathon training was a reminder that all it would take was one injury to cut that off. That not only motivated me to do all the boring recovery stuff like stretching and the dreaded foam-rolling, but it also helped me push through tough moments. I would constantly remind myself, ‘I am so lucky to be able to do this.'” — Claire Mazur, co-founder, Of a Kind

“To speak frankly, as a sexual assault survivor, I am worn down every day by new allegations of sexual assault. It’s exhausting, triggering, and very painful to read the news. I know I am not alone in this feeling. A huge percentage of our population has been carrying the weight of these things our whole lives, and now it’s out in the open all the time. What gives me hope is the amount of women of color and LGBT politicians running, winning, and holding office! Danica Roem. Kamala Harris. Tammy Duckworth. These people are inspirational with strong moral compasses and are worthy of our hopefulness.” Clare Lyons, labor and delivery nurse

“I learned how to make the perfect six-and-a-half-minute egg. I use the Bon Appetit method, adding my eggs to a pot of boiling water, lowering to a rapid simmer, and cooking for EXACTLY that amount of time — not a second more or less — then I immediately plunge them into ice water to stop the cooking. The result is a gooey yolk and perfectly firm-tender whites, with no milky run-off. In theory, eggs cooked this way shouldn’t be that much more satisfying than a hard-boiled egg, but they are, by about a million times. Add a few drops of hot sauce and it’s the best way to start the day.” — Jenny Rosenstrach, food blogger and cookbook author

“I always thought that there was a magical phase of adulthood where you wake up one day and have it all figured out. Turns out that’s not true. You have to prioritize your time, your mental health, your goals and your happiness. No one else will do it for you. You want a raise? Need a new job? Waiting around for that hottie to ask you out? Ask for what you want. Get that yearly physical Obama worked so hard to get you, go to therapy, pay your bills on time, my god start saving for retirement and get your credit together. It sounds so daunting but you just have to take the first step. Being a grown up is tough but there’s also almost nothing migas and a good margarita won’t fix, so if all else fails learn how to make those and you will be fine.” — Aminatou Sow, co-host of Call Your Girlfriend

“I learned my capacity for hope. I was devastated, like a lot of women, by the results of the election. And I’m still devastated! But I didn’t realize just how resilient I was — as are the people around me. My daughter is an adaptable, roll-with-the-punches kind of kid. And no matter what happens, she’s always kind. I’m taking her attitude with me into 2018.” — Jessica Valenti, feminist writer

What did you learn this year? Sending everyone a high five.

P.S. On sexual harassment, and wise words.

(Illustration by Alessandra Olanow for Cup of Jo. Thank you to Megan Cahn for additional reporting.)

  1. Ivy says...

    2017. Wooo weee, what a year.

    I started the year with a husband, I ended the year with a one-bedroom apartment.

    I learned that no matter how much you love someone, sometimes you have to set them free. And it’s hard when they don’t understand why they need to be set free. Sometimes trusting that teensy gut feeling is the only way to know you’re doing the right thing, so listening to your little pipsqueak gut voice can guide you when everything else seems so uncertain.

    Mostly, I know with ringing clarity what’s right for me and what’s not. I trust the spirits, the guardian angels, and the stars more than ever. It’s beautiful to hear the universe tell you exactly what you need to hear, if only you crack open your ears.

  2. Rue says...

    In 2017 I learned what starting to heal looks like. It is so enormous that I almost can’t look at it head-on.

    I’m only beginning this process, but 2017 is the year I acknowledged to myself that I had experienced abuse and that it wasn’t okay and it wasn’t my fault. Coincidentally, this was a personal journey that began before #metoo. The hashtag has made it HARD and I avoid most media coverage about abuse because I am not ready yet to hear about the bigger picture or other painful stories, even while I am amazed and awed by what shifts are starting to take place.

    For me, recovery looks different from what I would have imagined before I went through this firsthand. So far, recovery looks like: acknowledging that I have feelings, and identifying what feelings I have, and then believing myself that they’re real and valid feelings, instead of trying to “solve” them or explain them away or use them as an excuse to be hard on myself. Recovery also looks like telling people I want to share with, and knowing I only have to say what I want to say, because it’s my life and my story and I can be in charge, and I don’t owe it to anyone to give them information.

    I also learned that you might date someone who wants to talk about feelings, and that might feel liberating at first, and it will serve a purpose, but that it MIGHT also be a new version of someone who isn’t compatible with you. He might be a person who seeks out intense emotional experiences and is in it for the thrill rather than the support/commitment. This will be bad in a different way from the boyfriend who went deer-in-headlights when you came to him with feelings, but it will still at the end of the day be bad for you. (But you will also take strength in the Cup of Jo mantra: “good for you, not for me!”)

    But 2018 just MIGHT be the year I learn about being with a genuinely supportive partner. The last few weeks have been about getting dinners with a guy who keeps showing up and keeps making plans and keeps telling me he understands it’s early days but he thinks I’m great. And when I told this guy I find a new relationship scary even though I also want to be in a relationship, he just told me that it’s okay to be scared and that if this doesn’t work it won’t be because either of us is a failure or a bad person, and we can get through fear together as long as we both want to be there in the first place. And then he asked when I wanted to get dinner again.

    There are several things that I’m not sure about with this new person. I’ve never dated someone with potentially different political views, and I have no idea where the deal-breaker point is for me on that. Does he just not have much exposure to my beliefs and experiences, or is he genuinely uncomfortable with them? And you guys, he seems to exclusively like cheesy pop music, and I’m a self-admitted music snob. But then he sits there at a restaurant earnestly humming the bass line or an inner harmony part for the cheesy pop songs and that kind of kills me in a good way.

    • brooke says...

      Umm…so are you still with this awesome guy? Did it turn into something?! The excitement in your post was so tangible. Hope I’m not bringing up a sore spot. You just made me feel so excited & happy for January you.

  3. TS says...

    I learned that I was the type of person who let fear overpower love. I learned that fear is insidious and when left unchecked it casts dark, destructive shadows everywhere. But I also learned I can survive some of my greatest fears: being second best, being inadequate, being left behind, being abandoned, being replaced, being betrayed. After 15 years of marriage, I learned my husband has been having affairs (some full-fledged love affairs and some pure lust and exploration) for the last decade – with women, couples, men. So locked was I in my own struggles, I had no idea! After I picked myself up, dusted the hurt off all my broken pieces, and examined my heart closely, I learned there is strength in vulnerability. I learned that with a shift in perspective or a reframe there is beauty everywhere – even in the darkest hours. I learned that if I open myself up to the world around me, I can find my bright spirit once again and that my light is stronger than the fear that fractured my relationship.

  4. I learned that since time waits for no one there’s no point in rushing. In the seven weeks between finding out my mother had terminal cancer and her dying, as I attempted to feed her or give her water, she’d often said, “Don’t rush me”. Her voice was calm and collected while her body was in utter pain. Although, in those moments, I’d had no idea I was rushing her. In fact, I’d thought I was doing the exact opposite. But what her words had strongly conveyed was that I needed to slow down; appreciate the moment. Moments that would prove to be our last.

  5. Jessie says...

    2017 was about doing the work. Of activism. Of fitness. Of my actual job. And most importantly of friendships.
    As a 26-year-old who had moved to a new city 2 years ago with her boyfriend and no gal pals, I decided to create ‘Operation Friendship’ to try and make my friendships more meaningful. I made a list of friends that I wanted to maintain and make closer and went through the list each week to see if they wanted to do anything/see anything/talk/etc. I tried to end each day saying, “What have I done for a friend today?” I tried to mentally prioritize my friends and what they had going on their lives. It made a huge difference. The name ‘Operation Friendship’ started as a joke, but the weird thing is, people caught on. When people know you are looking for friendship, they will think more of including you. (My therapist says that you just have to be in people’s recent memory, so I tried to stay top of mind haha.)
    I learned that doing the work of friendship is just like doing the work of anything else. It’s work. It’s hard. Sometimes it feels like you’re doing it all. But just like anything, work pays off. In 2018, I hope to do the work more in my creative pursuits. (But Operation Friendship is still a lifetime operation.)

    • Corina says...

      I can not thank you enough for sharing this with us. As a 31 yo gal who’s struggling to juggle between work, home, family and bills, I find very true and refreshing what you wrote. I sometimes feel left out of my friends’ lives, but maybe I never do enough to be in theirs. But this year I’ll start my own Operation Friendship because I think it’s worth it.
      So thank you, and please know that somewhere across the world, you have made a difference !

  6. Jess says...

    In 2017 I learnt that while it is OK to disagree with someone, and disagreeing with someone is not the same as judging them, most of the time I am actually judging them. Hoping to have a less judgemental 2018.

  7. G says...

    In 2017 I learned that loss is a connector.
    I lost a baby this year. It was my biggest fear and this after waiting and wanting for four years. My last little embryo, the little girl with the story to tell, that I would have jumped from this infertility train for, didn’t make it.
    After, on the home from my surgery, my mother spoke to me about the brother I had but never got to meet. In all 31 of my years I can remember her mentioning him only one other time and that was 7 years before on the drive home with my first son.
    I’m quiet in my grief. I don’t talk about my girl. I don’t talk about the pregnany or any I hope to have now that I’m starting over. I’m sure time helps heal but speaking does too and we did once so I feel good with that. Much like her, I don’t need to talk again right now. I think it’s because those little beings we loved hard are kept so close to us and maybe we don’t want to share every bit of them. They’re in every part of us. She’s in every part of my day still.
    I see my quiet in my mother rather than feeling that frustration when she wouldn’t speak on him. What I saw as refusal then is merely holding on to all we get to keep of them and I want to keep everything for just a little longer. I get it now even though I never wanted to.

  8. This year was wild! Getting laid off after giving 3 years to grow someone else’s company taught me to put my own ideas forward. After dusting myself off and roping in the perfect business partner I did a total 180.
    From leading the Interior Design team at a huge start-up to launching Nox, a Sex-Positive Online Boutique.

    Do scary things :) Cheers!

  9. Abbey says...

    I loved reading through these wonderful comments. I feel like I learned so much in just half an hour! <3

    This year I learned that post grad life can be very difficult for someone like me who hasn't got a clear cut life and career path laid out (though really, who does?). I've learned that I love watercolors, intuitive eating is a really lovely concept, my grandparents are amazing, and that my personal favorite brownie recipe is Bon Appetit's Cocoa Brownies. I also learned that podcasts are my favorite distraction. I learned the internet/social media can be a warm and caring space where people uplift others, including CoJ. I am currently having to learn how to deal with the unexpected break up of a long term relationship/friendship and the loss of a vision for our shared future. In 2018 I hope to learn how to hip hop dance, how to rely on my friends better, and how to bring more magic into my life.

  10. Nicole says...

    I’ve learned this year how truly debilitating fear and anxiety can be and how I need to face them head on in the new year if I want a shot at living my life for me. My hopes are it will also help me be a better wife and mother being less in my head all the time.

  11. Gaby says...

    I learned that, before I got an electric toothbrush, I was just pretending to brush my teeth!

  12. Sarah Jessica says...

    This year I learned you can be 27 years old and still be shattered when your parents announce their 35- year marriage is ending. This year I learned that grief comes in waves, and that you have to trust the tide will recede again. This year I learned that sometimes after the tide recedes, another wave will hit and another and another. So I learned how to set up lighthouses all along the shore for myself: books, friends, prayer, exercise, rest, real nourishing food. This year I learned that as a therapist- in training who prefers to give help, I need to ask for it as well. This year I learned that I can’t rush the process, or fast- forward into a state I haven’t yet earned– I have to do the work to heal, to get healthy, to feel whole again after a year of so much grief. I learned that my patron saint Anne Lamott was right when she said we can’t date, drink, or shop our way out of it, as much as we’d like to.

    Going into 2018, these words are my banner:
    “The difficult I’ll do right now, the impossible will take a little while.”

    (from a Billie Holiday song, and I came across them in the form of a book called The Difficult I’ll Do Right Now by Paul Loeb)

    • I like this soo much Sarah Jessica. I copy paste your words to my diary blank page for to be fill in. And I rarely do that. Really rare that I can’t remember any. I write from when I was 9, I have 31. I like so much because I can recognize myself, specially when you sad- ‘ ..I can’t rush the process, or fast-forward into a state I haven’t yet earned..’ soo much important to know, to be conscious. We probably sure learned from different tasks and maybe have different description, definition bellow, but I think that we can agree on importance to knowing that. We can’t rush the process, life, things just can broke if so.

    • Lisa says...

      Setting up lighthouses all along the shore — what a hopeful image. Thank you.

  13. Lauren E. says...

    I’m so late to the party but I’m happy to report it’s because I’m spending way less time at my computer these days. 2017 brought with it the realization that something I’d always done for fun could actually be a career. I’m really good at something! My entire life I’d always thought I was just mediocre at everything. I’m ending this year feeling more positive than I have in a long time.

    • laura-london says...

      What is it you do now then? Intrigued!

  14. Samantha says...

    I’m late to the party but this year I learned that I was able to quit smoking and I’m so glad I did. And it was pretty much because of this next thing.
    I learned that when I put my mind into something I can actually save and make it happen so I finally got a breast augmentation with my dream doctor. My boobs were something that always bothered me and made me feel self conscious so I’m really glad I finally did it. And no, I don’t care about people’s thoughts on it. Not to sound harsh but, It is my body, my money and I will do what I think is best to feel my best.
    I also learned to behave better at work and understand that as long as it’s part pf my job, I just have to do things. So I’ve been feeling less negative at work and more proactive, which translated into a little raise that I was not expecting at all!

  15. April says...

    This year I’ve spent learning more about compassion than any other of my life. Two years ago, right before I started this job, my 18-year old beloved stepson committed suicide. A few months later, my father died at the age of 64. I work in a public library and many of our patrons are from local shelters. Many can be disruptive and unpleasant on a daily basis and I struggle with remaining compassionate after suffering such utter loss in my own life. It is very easy to think ugly thoughts when people act awful so when I’m feeling less compassionate, I just imagine that the person standing in front of me asking for whatever is someone I love. It is my adored, departed child or my father or my sweet husband and I need to treat that person just as I would expect those I love to be treated. It doesn’t always work but it does shift my perspective. Everyone was a child once and everyone is loved by someone.

    • That is truly truly beautiful and what an amazing attitude to have especially amongst all your trials. You seem like an amazing person. I am so sorry for your losses. I can’t imagine.

    • Laura says...

      I’m so sorry for your loss April. This is beautiful.

  16. SR says...

    This year has been quite a roller coaster year for me. I started off the first four months of this year finishing up a one-year contract at one company. I was pretty much proposed to , to which I couldn’t give a favorable answer. Had a 3 week break from working, and then started another contract job at a different company, which lasted 4 months. In those 4 months I celebrated a birthday with these new coworkers , and had 3 work trips on which I conveniently also was able to visit family. Finally found a permanent position in the Fall, that finally paid for healthcare. As that company had a reputation for high turnover (unbeknownst to me before I joined) , I was a target for that turnover at the start of December. As we close down the last few days of the year, I’m currently resting, taking care of my health and while still job hunting, hoping that 2018 is a smoother ride. Even with all this said, I know that “this too shall pass”

  17. AJ says...

    Goodness… this year has taught me a lot of, some very unexpected and big, lessons. A major health event and surgery turned everything upside down. As the world was going through some huge and scary changes, like lots of people, I was in a private hell. By mid-year, I wasn’t sure I had any fight left, and that dark and desperate place is somewhere I never want to revisit. But, just as we all started to find inspiration and reassurance in the courage and solidarity that surfaced this year on the social and global front, things can change for the better and light can peep through just as suddenly as it was lost. For me, that was finally finding the strength to ask for help for the mental toll of what I’d been going through physically, and a course of counselling that turned out to be life-changing and a pure gift. From being on the brink, to feeling so immensely grateful and alive again in the space of a year, is just incredible! I am so excited for what the future holds now. But – with just days to go – I am back in hospital and scans and future surgeries are being mentioned… so what am I learning? That the learning never stops. The journey never stops. It will be up and down. But find the strength to admit your fears, and take that help when you need it, and the journey becomes so so much more manageable. I will never again ‘struggle’ on in silence, and I know everything will be ok.

  18. Tracy says...

    I learned that weaning-related anxiety and depression are real and can be extremely scary. I also learned that they can be overcome with a lot of support, a healthy diet, and plenty of fresh air and exercise. It sounds cliche but honestly, these are all the best ways to mend most ailments. That I’ve learned. Bring it on, 2018!

    • Lauren T Paull says...

      Amen!

  19. Faith says...

    This year was rough. Two years ago, my husband and I had a failed IVF. Since then, we grieved and honestly, I think part of me will always grieve about not being able to have our own biological children. This year though, we have decided to move forward with adoption. This is not the way I had ever dreamed of… not in a million years.
    This year, the biggest AND the hardest lesson I have learned is that whatever life gives you, you CAN overcome it. But, don’t beat yourself up of “when” you should get over it. You are doing your best.

  20. Marlena says...

    I really loved this. Thanks for everyone for sharing parts of themselves.

  21. Anne says...

    I thought 2016 was my hard year with two miscarriages (in Feb and an incomplete miscarriage in Dec). But it turns out 2017 was so much harder, because I have spent this year grieving those miscarriages. I’ve battled a deep depression this year and am coming out of it now. What I’ve learned: western medicine has its place and time, but eastern medicine and therapy is what helped me cure myself this year. For those of you struggling with fertility and mental health, I strongly encourage you to seek out care from a good naturopath, if you have the resources to (some health insurance covers it). I work in western medicine and I can attest that naturopathy is not hippie dippie: It’s real science.

  22. Alice says...

    I learned how to write a screenplay.
    I learned that, at 40, I feel just as protective over my sisters when they get screwed over as I did when we were teens. But now the stakes are so much bigger I feel more useless.
    I learned longevity doesn’t necessarily result in a good relationship.
    I learned pre-schoolers don’t always settle into a new country and culture as easily as everyone says they will. We re-patriated, we all discovered it takes a while!
    I learned how to cook Julia Child’s incredible bouillabaisse.

  23. Agnes says...

    I learned that I need to work out for my mental health. After taking a few years off from running, I got back into it and it’s amazing how much better I feel mentally, when I run. I never connected the dots before and I’m glad I finally did.

  24. Laura says...

    The comments on this post have taught me that a lot of people are going through a LOT of hard, empowering, enlightening things. You really never know what someone is going through or dealing with. I have loved reading all of the comments and have been reminded that giving people (myself included) a little grace and room to grow, is so important.

  25. I learned (again) that you can and should do what you dream of doing. I talked about doing a blog for years. I was nervous (read afraid). I was too busy. I was full of excuses. I finally created the site and I have absolutely loved doing it. Dreams are such great things.

  26. This year I proved to myself that I CAN. I always thought that I am an unremarkable lazy procrastinator that can’t stick to anything, but this year I mediated daily without skipping a day! Never in my life I was able to commit to anything at this level. This new habit opened up a whole amazing universe to explore: who am I, how are we connected, what is internal energy and how does it work. As I was experiencing internal energy in meditation, I became interested in energy therapies and tried a session (fascinating!). Now, I am looking forward to studying this subject deeper. I also took a Reiki course online and started practicing on myself and my family. I had zero interest in this stuff before and if you were to tell me that someone can do a distance Reiki healing session, I would find it hard to believe. Now I am doing those myself. :)

    In addition, I was able to stay away from processed sugar this year. Somehow, between that, meditation and veganism, I had a year without a single cold – probably for the first time ever in my life.

    Meditation also can change you as a person. I feel like I am a bit different – a little kinder, more understanding, more patient (including with myself). People around me noticed that too. And I feel like, with those qualities, there is not limit to growth which is very cool.

  27. Saz says...

    This year I learnt the importance of small acts of love.
    My dad fell ill in September 2016, and had a psychotic breakdown in April this year. Together, mum and I nursed him through it. Then he died suddenly in September this year.
    Throughout his illness, I followed a quote from Mother Theresa, who said, “We can’t all do great things, but we can do small things, with great love.” That helped me through, and continues to help me now, as I look after mum as well.

    • April says...

      I’m so sorry for your loss. May 2018 bring you some peace and healing.

  28. I learned that I must build my life on the strong foundations. What (bad) love relationship is not. What is my job and advancement in my job, expansion of my knowledge (suitcase which I bring wherever I go), what is also my happiness. It is my life, only thing that I really can own. Myself. Take care of the good people around you and be good, have your mouth be clean. I also learned that existe evil on this earth and that you must not bow in front, and good, called God, who really put everything what you need to live your best life, in front of you. Love existe and we all are the prove. My job is make my work done and behave accordingly to my wishes and all other things, potentially ‘good’ and ‘bad’ will be put on my road to be recognized.
    I m also happy to find recently this interactive community ‘ A Cup of Jo’, thank you Joanna for building it!

  29. Anna says...

    I learned that it’s ok to take up space in the world. I’ve always tried to be discrete and get my work done quietly behind the scenes, but it has started to interfere with my capacity to be confident in my decisions and my beliefs. So I’m walking into 2018 with the goal of existing fully and being unrepentantly present.

    • Rin says...

      Wow! Yes to all this, and i hope you see great success with this in 2018!

  30. Marina says...

    I’ve learned the agonizing, gut-wrenching, exploding pain of losing a child, beautiful and beaming 8 year old. And although I am still learning to live without him and wonder if I ever feel happy and whole again, I’ve learned I’ve known love greater than life.

    • April says...

      I am so very sorry. I will be thinking of you often.

    • Emma says...

      Marina — my thoughts are with you. Sending love and healing energy your way.

    • Mariana says...

      I`m so sorry for your loss. You are so full of love….all the best for you!

    • Tracy says...

      Marina, I am so, so sorry. Thinking of you tonight and sending a virtual hug into the universe for you and your son.

    • Joana says...

      I’m so sorry, Marina.

    • Aneta says...

      I am so sorry for your loss…

    • Ingrid says...

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Hoping you find peace and strength in the new year, and that the love you shared helps heal your broken heart.

    • Karen says...

      So sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

    • Katelyn says...

      Marina, my heart wrenched in reading this. You’ll never get over it, but I promise you, you will get through it.
      Sending you love and light.

    • Mrs D says...

      I am so deeply sorry Marina. I wish I knew the right thing to say, as my guts is swirling for you. Hold on so tight to your love greater than life. Sending you love, light, healing, understanding…

  31. Totally in awe of my fellow COJ readers right now! You are an amazing, strong, inspiring bunch. Thanks to the COJ team for posing this question!

    This year I learned:
    How to give birth, after a lifetime of being terrified of doing so. (To anyone out there who might feel the same, hypnobirthing classes saved me and I will recommend them with a string of exclamation marks for the rest of my life!!!!)

    How totally miraculous (cliche because it’s true) birth and human bodies are.

    How to become a mother, including how to breastfeed, how to ask when I need help, how to take a shower – like, ever, and how to follow my instincts.

    How to contact my legislators when I disagree with what’s happening in politics. Something I am eager to demonstrate to my daughter as she grows.

    How to, thanks to the total encouragement of my husband❤️, leave a career path that was making me depressed to pursue a path in art – something that, until this year, felt too good to ever be true.

    How to start a small business! Scary and exhilarating.

    That having a morning and nighttime routine is essential for me and my tendency to become anxious.

    That vitamin D supplements work wonders on my mood on these dark winter days.

    And, finally, something I’ve been learning for years and I have a hunch I will continue to learn the rest of my life: how to accept and love myself.❤️

  32. Meg says...

    Being a step mom (with no kids of her own) is hard! Even when the kids are great. Trying to add my needs to the already crowded domestic pot of needs is crucial…and tough. How do parents do this? Do I deserve to have needs that are prioritized over those of the children? Should my husband have to carve out time and mental space to hear how things are going with me? These are questions I am constantly asking. I suspect on January 1, 2018, all of the answers will be revealed, and I will accept them with peace.

    Ha. Just kidding.

    • Ingrid says...

      Oh, Meg, those last three words tell me you’ll be fine! (And that I would love to be your friend.)

    • Mrs D says...

      Yes you DO deserve to prioritise some needs over your kids. 100% without a doubt your husband should carve out time to HEAR you. Being a mum is hard, no matter whether they came out of your body. Make time for you, for the husband and he the other way around. It took me a long time to realise this and I got burnt out (read: nervous breakdown). Love and kindness for yourself increases your ability to love and roll with the crazy family punches!

  33. c from chicago says...

    I learned what your late 30s means: the good, the bad, the ugly. That you feel a deeper love for others when you show your vulnerable side: new insecurities with new responsibilities (bigger house, bigger mortgage, more kids). They smile & shrug as you notice: new grey hairs, random facial hair, new wrinkles, and still can’t shed the 20 lbs of baby weight. That you can smile and laugh so hard but at the same time feel so down and not know why. That speaking your truth with your voice, in a respectful manner will keep a partnership strong. Also, that I was happier after I deleted the newsfeed app on my iphone! Thank you for this blog and the amazing readers…wishing everyone a great 2018

  34. Katey says...

    This year I learned that it’s okay to be a married 39 year old childless woman on the brink of divorce. I learned to stop being scared, to finally face the music, and to have infinite compassion and forgiveness for myself. My word for 2018 is STRONG.

    • Torie says...

      Katey–I feel you! My husband and I are in the “will we/won’t we” phase–lots of counseling, tears, and hard conversations.

      Be proud for being honest and vulnerable with yourself! Although the past 4 months have been the hardest of my life, I finally feel like I’m living my life for me. As one of my friends told me during this difficult time–“no one will fight for you, but you!” So this year–I learned to listen to my own voice and fight for myself.

    • Sarah says...

      Hugs to internet stranger

    • HELL YES. You’ve got this.
      Love, a 39 year-old, divorced and childless woman.
      :)

    • Erika says...

      The cliches are all rooted in truth. Getting divorced is worse than being divorced. Painful endings are new beginnings. The most rewarding chapters of my life have come since my divorce. Wishing you all the strength in 2018!

    • Katey says...

      Thank you Torie, Sarah, Gloria, and Erika! Feeling the Cup of Jo love and making note of your kind words and advice.

  35. T says...

    The best and biggest life changing lesson I learned in 2017 is that I am responsible for my own happiness and I am worth loving (especially that I should love myself)! While others can contribute to my happiness, I cannot put that responsibility on them if I don’t love me. For the past year I dealt with the heartbreak following the failure of my last serious relationship-which I realized should end when my ex of two years told me without hesitation that I should get an abortion at 28 years old. I finally understood that making him responsible for my happiness when I was so unhappy with myself was unfair and as hard as it was, we were not right for each other. I took this year to take care of myself and do all the things that I love to do, with or without a partner. I made amazing friends, did yoga, started running, lived on my own and am incredibly happy with the person that I am. I ended up meeting a wonderful guy two months ago and am enjoying my time with him knowing that I am worth it.
    Wishing all CoJ readers a Happy New Year, full of happiness and self-worth. It is so inspiring to read everyone’s triumphs through the tough times and I hope we all continue to encourage the best in each other.

    • Mariana says...

      So well said T., and done. All the best for you :)

  36. Grace says...

    This year I learned that even though I can’t guarantee a win, I can still guarantee a good fight, and with that attitude I worked exceptionally hard to get a job in the United States as an international student, even though the current environment scared so many companies away from hiring us. I ended up getting a job in the industry I love at my dream city (NYC)! I am excited to start a new chapter of my life next summer and I am also really grateful for all those challenges I overcame during this year, in which I discovered that I am stronger and more competitive than I thought! :)))

  37. Liza says...

    I learned that my dad has feelings too. After years of us regularly butting heads, but seeming to love and respect each other regardless I sat down with him one day and out of nowhere he unloaded on me about all of the things I have done to disappoint him and hurt him and how he hates our relationship. It sounds awful, but I really learned that just because I think things are okay and I have managed to get over arguments and put our problems behind me doesn’t mean he has. Because he never said anything I always assumed that the times when I lied as a teenager or screwed up had really hurt him. Looking back, I would have been more repentant if I knew it actually bothered him. I thought that unconditional love meant that he just muscled through our problems. He told me about things that I had done 15 years ago that had hurt him. I had no idea, and now it is making me reevaluate everything about our relationship, but also my relationships with other people. The extent to which he cared so much about our relationship made me realize just how much he loves me. I don’t know that it improved our relationship much yet, but boy, was it a wake-up call.

  38. I learnt that people do actually die & leave you…my Dad this year. Death never felt real before. It’s been hard & as a family we are still learning to cope. My Mum is with us in the UK for Xmas from New Zealand & so we are making it as lovely as we can & my beautiful children are helping hugely…thankfully aged 5 & 7 death doesn’t affect you so deeply so we are looking to them & basking in their Xmas joy, learning from them. xx

  39. Jen says...

    I learned that I can get through absolutely anything. After 5 miscarriages (3 of them far too late into the pregnancy), we adopted a beautiful baby boy this year. I faced demons from my past and burst through the light at the end of the tunnel practically screaming “I AM ENOUGH”

    • Jen says...

      I love this. Congratulations on your seeet baby and for having so much courage.

  40. Mariana says...

    This year i learned to let go with love. I learned uncondittional love for someone who was everything and now is just a stranger, a memory who despite the hurtfull things he did, I still accept that I can still love him. I learned that love is not directly linked to relationships and even though they might end, that love can still remain. I learned how to accept that I don`t have control of everything…or anything. I learned to let go and trust that everything will turn out the best for me and everyone. I learned that I am beautiful, and strong, and interesting and that heartbreak doesn`t define me. I learned to put myself first, to work on myself and to become stronger and wiser. I learned that being by myself is not the end of the world. I learned to be patient. I learned to be kind to myself and to my feelings. I learned to love myself….unconditionaly. 2018 is going to be my best year yet! Wish you all love and light :)

    • T says...

      YES, exactly this! Thank you for putting this into words for me. Wishing you light and love :)

    • michelle says...

      This sounds so much like my year, though I still struggle with being patient and kind to myself…and with not letting the heartbreak define me. Your post gives me hope. May 2018 be wonderful to you!

  41. Emily says...

    This year I was hanging with a friend and she started doing a headstand. She asked if I could do one and I immediately answered “no way! I’m just not the headstand kinda person” I went home and was thought “why the hell did I say that, I’ve never even tried to do a headstand, I just assumed I couldn’t.” So I spent the weekend watching you tube videos and I can now proudly do a headstand and had a straight up revelation that I can do anything I put my mind to, it’s just a matter of practice!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i love that, emily!

    • What a great comment! I might need to try one too!

    • Laura says...

      That happened to me in a yoga class one year! The teacher did some fun poses she said we’d be able to do by the end of the semester. I thought, ha funny but no way. But by the end, I could do a headstand! I was so proud, even if I was one of the wobbly ones. That was like 5 years ago but I still practice it every once in a while to make sure I still got it :)

  42. Maggie says...

    This year, I learned that I am strong. I kept my family organized and fed while my mom was in the ICU after having an aneurism and multiple strokes. I landed my dream internship as a summer associate at a BigLaw firm. I took hard, interesting classes at law school about different aspects of corporate law – and crushed them. I deepened my friendships with a wonderful circle of female friends. I committed to exercise I love – spinning and interval training with other strong, dedicated people.

    I also learned that I am the guardian of my own galaxy. I am saying no to things that don’t serve me – going out when I need alone time, trips with friends that would stress me out financially or emotionally, and thoughts of worry or fear about all aspects of life.

    2018 is going to be about kicking ass in my internship, getting my big girl lawyer job, and enjoying trips I’ve been planning over the past year. And hopefully it will also be about voting badass female politicians into office during the midterms. Ladies, if you are thinking about running for something, anything, do it!

  43. Jenny says...

    I learned that it okay to not be okay.

  44. Aida says...

    I learned patience. For my kids, my family, my animals, myself and others. I work on it every day and it has helped me in so many ways.

  45. Maaike says...

    I learned how strong I am. A few days ago I gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy, and I have been fighting cancer whilst pregnant. He is perfect, and I will be fine. I got this.

    • So sorry, what kind of cancer?

    • Bess says...

      Best wishes for better health in 2018, Maaike. Good vibes to you and your family! xxoo

    • Anna says...

      I would have said you were strong just giving birth alone! I’m actually in awe of you right now. You’ve come this far – raising your beautiful kid will be cake.

    • Maaike says...

      thanks everyone, and merry Christmas! Reem, I have a subtype of non-hodgkins lymphoma, early stage thankfully so very good prognosis.

    • You are soooo strong! Best wishes to you and your baby.

    • Jill says...

      That’s what my husband has! YOU HAVE SO GOT THIS. He was just diagnosed too (I wrote about it below).

      Congratulations on your baby!!!

  46. WMom says...

    I learned not to take things personally. Now, when I feel upset with someone else, I flip it around and think what do they have going on in their life that made them act this way. I have heard this idea so many times, but this year made it real for me. My saying for 2017 would be ‘not my circus, not my monkeys,’ even if its my mom, my husband, or my kids who are acting like crazy circus monkeys.

  47. Katy says...

    This year I learned how to be a mom! And boy has that been the hardest thing I’ve ever done (but also the best). Breastfeeding has been the most difficult part, but I’ve made it almost a year. I’ve learned how hard it is for me to not have control over things (this little person doesn’t always do what I want!). It’s been such a year of change and challenge, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, I would like things to be easier in general for working moms.

    • Jessica says...

      PREACH! I hear you about breastfeeding, the challenges of motherhood and wishing things were easier for working mamas.

  48. 13bees says...

    and that alcohol actually makes my anxiety exponentially worse, not better. still learning this lesson into 2018…

  49. Liana Lindgren says...

    I learned to give zero f*cks about certain things. I got divorced and became a single, working mom. My first job back in sales was managing door to door teams for a telecom company. You get tough. Fast. And that has translated into everyday life. I’ve stopped letting little things bother me. I have a lot more free time as a result!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      bravo for you, liana!!! you’re amazing.

  50. 13bees says...

    put your avocados in the fridge! they last so much longer that way.

  51. Me....just me.. says...

    I learned that sometimes if you ask for something that seems unattainable, you will get it! My Sweet Hubby says I worked hard to get my Dream Job, but it still feels like I won the lottery!
    And yesterday, I reached 6 digits in my retirement fund….
    Seriously?! From a happy, broke, hippie pothead to a happy, hippie-ish responsible adult in my 40’s?
    Who knew I had it in me?
    You do too =)

    • Yes!

  52. Tara says...

    I can survive anything. I lost a baby on my 31st bday. A month later my husband had an affair and suddenly left. Here I am 4 months later eating a bagel in the house we built, alone. I’m going to be okay and be shiny again one day. Maya Angelou’s still I rise is my anthem.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      sending you the biggest hug, tara. i wish i could beam myself there and eat a bagel next to you. i’m so, so sorry for the loss of your baby, and that must have been unbelievably hard about your husband. you’re not alone and you DEFINITELY will be happy and shiny again, probably much sooner than you imagine. you’ll look back on this and be so proud and in awe of yourself for getting through it. sending you the biggest hug.

    • Bess says...

      Hugs, to you, Tara. You really will be okay and shiny again, it just takes some time.

    • sasha says...

      Tara, you are already shiny. That never left and it never will.
      Best wishes for a happier new year, you deserve it.

    • I’m with Joanna. Wish I could be there with you right now. Hang in there through this very challenging time and you will shine even brighter than you already are. Big hugs.

    • Yes, you will. And until then, it’s okay to be not okay. One step at a time.

  53. Simone says...

    I learned that help can be found in the most unlikely in places and people come in and out of our lives for a reason. I had a short work stint this year but my manager at the place helped me in so many ways – most notably in an identity crisis I was going through and feeling lost. I truly believe I was meant to work there for 10 months just meet and speak with her.

    Also if someone is putting you down – speak up! Even if it is a ‘friend’.
    Wishing you all an amazing and more positive learnings in 2018.

  54. Mar S. says...

    I learned to better love my parents and to show up more, even though we are very imperfect people and it’s been a hard road of healing for many years. I am in my late twenties and many of my friends at this age have gone through losing a parent this year. I never knew 3 of my 4 grandparents and my one grandmother who I was able to have a relationship with passed away unexpectedly about five years ago. That was my first lesson in losing someone and feeling that I should have loved them better while I had the opportunity. Call your parents. Forgive your parents. Cherish your parents. You will always wish for more time in the end.

    I learned that being healthy is a phenomenal privilege in this world and that if you have the resources to eat well and exercise and take care of yourself then you have a responsibility to do so. Your body is the vessel in which you experience this whole beautiful life. Don’t mistreat it and don’t waste it. Love it and nurture it and be so grateful for a body (whatever it may look like!) that works and carries you through.

    I learned that church, church friends, church podcasts, etc. are not a substitute for prayer and actually reading your Bible cover to cover. After years of being a Christian I am finally diving into the deep end of slow study and finding a deeper truth. Praise God.

    And finally, I learned that putting myself first is not selfish, but essential. It’s been a daily habit to be anxious and preoccupied and concerned about others (and the whole world sometimes!) and I often neglect myself as a result. Still a work in progress, but focusing on what’s right in front of me and what I have the power to impact has been life-changing. Along these lines, I read this earlier in the year and it hit hard:

    *Today my anthro professor said something really beautiful: “You all have a little bit of ‘I want to save the world’ in you, that’s why you’re here, in college. I want you to know that it’s okay if you only save one person, and it’s okay if that person is you.”*

    Sincere thanks to Cup of Jo for an incredible year and for bringing us all together. I have so much gratitude for this brilliant, wise, and courageous community. You are beautiful and necessary. Xo

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh my gosh, i love that quote:
      *Today my anthro professor said something really beautiful: “You all have a little bit of ‘I want to save the world’ in you, that’s why you’re here, in college. I want you to know that it’s okay if you only save one person, and it’s okay if that person is you.”*

      you’re wonderful, mar, thank you.

    • Amber Joy says...

      beautiful ?

    • Sarah says...

      Oh my gosh I want to be your friend! I resonate so much, as a fellow 27- year old Christian woman attempting to navigate what living well really looks like.

      If you want an e-mail pen pal lemme know :) (I’m in Seattle, BTW)

      Thanks Jo for this post and the community of women you’ve built here :)

    • Abbey says...

      Just wrote down your anthropology professor’s quote to remember for myself <3 thank you for sharing!

    • Michaela says...

      This is gold. Tucking it away. Thank you for being brave enough to share.

  55. This year Iearnt how to talk about mental health. Instead of making up an illness when I knew I needed time off, I let my boss know that I was going to take some time. And when I knew my friends were struggling (Australia had a same-sex marriage postal vote, and the campaigning took its toll on my LGBTIQ friends), I’d ask them how they were going with their mental health. It was hard (at first) to get the words out but it helped us have better conversations and look after each other.

  56. Colleen K says...

    I learned i would become a mom. Once my beautiful son was born, i was told he would go to the nicu. I learned what it meant to be a nicu mother: raw, brand new and brazen. I learned the nurses, in this case the women, who care for these babies are full of humanity, kindness and knowledge. I learned to breastfeed because of them. We spent a long 7 days in pod 8 and left with a perfectly healthy boy (halloween baby, in fact :) ). I miss that pod and the first scary week of his life. I learned the strongest love ive ever known and ive learned it somehow grows stronger everyday.

    I learned the power of moms supporting moms, women supporting women, men supporting women, and so on.

    I learned about this blog, a space thats become a place that inspires deep and thoughtful topics and allows me to be engaged by the thoughts and interests of other wonderful women, and men. I also learned some light and hilarious stories coming here as well. Thank you to this whole community! Its a lovely corner of the world(wide web) :)

  57. TjP says...

    I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in February and it was the scariest, out of the blue thing ever. I started the year wondering, each day, can I walk today? and ending the year knowing I will be fine no matter what. Also? My husband and children are the loveliest suppoet system anyone can ask for. Lucky me.

    Oh, also, I am kind of a badass. :)

    • Kate says...

      Yes, you are!

  58. cmiller says...

    I can be a feminist and still hate pussy hats. I hate pussy hats.

    • Liz says...

      Me too!

    • Sara says...

      Bwahaha! Love this. :)

  59. Laura says...

    My husband and I moved from the city we knew home for 15+ years to a new town, in a new state, simply to try something new and shake life up. I’ve learned how to make new friends as a woman in her late-30s without children, working from home. I’ve learned that family and close friends are important to me and that I need to make an effort in relationships to keep them close at heart now that I’m further away. I’ve learned how to box, mow the lawn, garden, make jam, tutor ESL adult students, and cross-country ski. It’s been a fun adventure! I’ve learned that change, while scary, is good for the soul.

    • maia says...

      And how did you make new friends ? Because I’m frankly struggle with that since I moved in a new city for m’y current job.

    • Janet says...

      @maia I’ve done this too. My advice would be join a sports club or a band, try that lottery class you’ve always wanted to do or take up fly fishing. And then ask people out – over and over and over. That’s what worked for me!

    • Sara says...

      COJ did a great article about making friends as an adult! Go check it out!

    • Laura says...

      Maia – Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there! I joined Meet-ups, running groups, and yoga studios. I got bold in telling other women I was new in town and asking if she wanted to get coffee or a drink. I’d say 7 out of 10 took me up on it. I learned not to take the “No’s” personally. I said “Yes” to nearly every invitation, even if it wasn’t an invitation I was wild about taking. It takes time, so I also practiced my patience! You’ll get there too!

  60. Timmie says...

    In 2017, I learned that there is nothing wrong with savoring your own personal ambition. I’m applying to seven top business schools and have been working towards this goal for two years. Applications are due in the next couple of weeks and it feels very weird to see this baby I’ve prepped finally come to fruition.

    I’ve also learned that my mental glow-up (started via therapy!!! in 2015) is matching the physical glow-up I achieved this year (working out regularly and joined Weight Watchers. Trust me, it works.)

    I’m so excited to see where my future is going! And excited to start back dating in 2018…2017 was a very focused year, y’all.

  61. Grace says...

    This year I learned that my life’s theme song might just be “I’m Still Standing” by Elton John.

  62. I’ve learned at that at 42 and childless you can feel the loneliest you’ve ever felt in your life. All of my friends have kids and our fertility journey failed after several rounds of ivf. I’ve found myself increasingly left out of my friends lives as they meet for play dates and picnics and start traditions together with all of their kids. I would really encourage people with kids to consider their childless friends and think more about how to make sure they don’t lose contact with them once they get into their own family bubble. We are still here, we love you and your kids and we don’t want to be left out. We still have love to offer and we still want to be part of your life even though it may at times be hard. Being childless has turned out to be the biggest challenge of my life and one I work on daily. 2017 has marked the end of our journey to try for a child and it has been so traumatic we are really looking forward to a fresh start and finding our new groove next year as “that couple” who don’t have kids – but who do maybe have lots of awesome holidays and lots of time for helping to make the world a better place however we can!

    • S says...

      Yes! Yes yes yes yes yes.

    • Thanks for sharing this. I’m so sorry you are going through this. I have a close friend going through something similar and will make sure to be there for her.

    • Karri says...

      Yes! As a parent who wreastled with this from the other side of this story I only have positive things to say about the role “that couple” can play in your family. Our dear friends that weren’t able to have kids have become a such a special part of our kids lives! They have become auntie and uncle that love our kids and established their own special bonds. The more loving adults in my kids lives that model all the ways to adult the better! Plus it means we have kept this great couple friends in our lives, we do couple only dates and trips at times still. A win-win!

    • Lesley says...

      Feeling for you.

    • Tracey says...

      Have you tried to tell them this? Exactly? I am childless by choice but that doesn’t stop the loneliness when people are in their bubbles. I was sad for a while but then I laid it down for them, ‘invite me in; to the zoo, to come watch a movie, to make cookies, to fold laundry. I WANT to be a part of your village’. They had assumed that I wasn’t interested in their mundane activities. It couldn’t be further from the truth and this year I made it to my friend’s son’s “Safe Five Adults” list and I have never been prouder.

    • Nawm D. Gerr says...

      Yes. I went through this too and came out the other side. I feel you.

  63. Tovah Close says...

    I learned:
    How to crochet a pink pussy hat
    There is life beyond NYC
    How to finally start taking care of my bad knee, aka I love pilates
    To yell less at my kids ( a work in progress)
    All kinds of stuff about renovating a house
    The friends that matter will stick with you, even when you move far away
    I know more than I think I do, professionally speaking
    Quick-rise bread just isn’t as good as the regular, slow kind
    I read only books by women this year, a few in genres I don’t usually choose, so from that I learned to broaden my intake (and some facts about slavery and aquariums…)
    In 2018, I hope to learn:
    How to make new friends as an adult
    How to focus
    How to merge into traffic without nearly having a panic attack

  64. Cassie says...

    My 2017 guide for dealing with grief:

    1. Adopt a large, snuggly dog who needs you just as much as you need her.
    2. Kickbox- punching and kicking in my sassy pink gloves helps alleviate emotional pain while gaining muscles I never knew existed.
    3. Meditate! All the time.

    Love this blog and all of these perfect comments. Cheers to a merrier 2018!

    • Kickass. Cheers!

  65. Asha says...

    2017 was my year of acceptance…acceptance of me. Of what I could do, to the best of my abilities or intentions. And learning to accept my value was hard. I found through the acceptance that I wasn’t as afraid to fail as I used to be. And that is so freeing. I find I am able to enjoy life experiences more without the weight of the “should” and “ought to” hanging over me. I’ve accepted that I will never have the close relationship to my mother. Nor that it would benefit me. Rather than continue to let her make me feel small and unimportant I realized that I matter and can be valued. Now I focus on cultivating my relationships with my young sons; releasing the guilt that I was a “failure” at being a daughter.
    I am finally at a place to accept my body. I teach yoga in a studio that celebrated yoga for all bodies. I love the diversity of bodies, ages, and backgrounds. The community is amazing and reminds me grow and branch out takes practice. Acceptance takes practice. Now we’re trying to decide if we are ready for baby #3 or if I’m done… I wish there was a clear indicator of which way to go. I feel like we finally are getting the hang of having 2 boys (that only took 4 years!) but don’t feel done. But do enjoy the new found independence. Interested in hearing if any readers had insight one way or the other.
    (The only thing I haven’t accepted is our current political climate. For that I adopt resilience and resistance. )
    The amazing comments in CoJ are so uplifting! The resilience I’ve read inspires me daily. This is one of a few blogs I read daily that fills me with hope, understanding, and optimism. Best to you all in 2018!!

    • Bebop says...

      I imagine, when on one’s deathbed one would never say, “Damn, I had too many kids.” I can imagine hearing, “I wish we could have had 1 more, they brought us so much joy.”

    • T says...

      I am with you in the “do we stop at 2 or go for 1 more” boat and I have no idea how to decide. Best wishes to you that you’re able to discern which path to take!

  66. ARBA says...

    What. A. Thread.

    This year I learned to recognize when I am letting someone else make their problem my problem – as well as when I am trying to make my problem someone else’s. Neither helps anyone. As a small example, I realized I often make my problem of indecisiveness/fear of failure on even insignificant decisions (where to meet a girlfriend for dinner) someone else’s problem by refusing to just choose a place and roll with it. So what if the service is terrible! The important thing is spending time with the other person. And if I invite someone for drinks but then require 16 texts and an entire afternoon of indecision and delay to select a spot I am crowding their day and mind. In reverse, I’ve learned how some colleagues advantage of me by looping me into their dilemma (outside of my issue area) or asking for my help in a last minute crisis- that should be a learning experience for them. I’m Not sure if these explanations make sense, but the whole your problem/my problem been a huge realization and learning experience for me. It’s also made me, I think, a much better friend/helper for those who really need it. I have more energy and time to devote to the friend who is overwhelmed and adjusting to becoming a mother and everything that entails, etc.

    • Andrea says...

      I ended a friendship over this exact issue. She was deferring every decision to me, even when I indicated that she needed to choose. It was too much work and not enough reciprocity in the relationship.

  67. Hannah says...

    This year I learned that I sleep SO much better when I work out consistently. I also learned (still learning) how to do yoga! I love how strong I feel!

    Finally, I learned to not check Facebook when I first wake up in the morning! I have such a better outlook on my day now.

  68. Laura says...

    So much! I learned to stop questioning my instincts and just go for it. I learned to express my feelings more openly, and that people would listen, try to help, still love me . I learned the power of opening up, and how doing so leaves me far less anxious and alone. I learned that it is okay not to want children, and that I shouldn’t feel ashamed or selfish for wanting a life different than the societal norm I grew up knowing. I learned the power of women. Even at 39 years old, I don’t think I ever understood the implicit power over us, or even that it was not ok. How eye-opening and life-changing it was to come to understand it and that together we have the power to change it.

  69. Emily says...

    Ooohwhee… I’m learning to embrace a home we bought in rural Montana sight-unseen. I know I should be in love with it but trying not to force it. And yesssss – this lovely group of women I constantly mention to my husband as if they were my besties nearby – Joanna especially. You all nail it in the inspiring bosom friend realm. Thanks for your honesty in motherhood and womanhood and all.

    • sasha says...

      Hi from Belgrade Emily! And welcome :)

  70. Lucy says...

    I learned that my body is amazing and strong as hell. It grew my baby for 38 weeks, pushed her out (for FOUR HOURS), and now gives her sustenance through breastfeeding. The female body is the most incredible miracle on Earth.

    • sasha says...

      Amen. You rock!! Birth warriors forever.

  71. I learned to let go of expectations. I learned to keep fighting, even when everything seems to be falling apart. I learned to ask people — friends, friends of friends, total strangers — for help when I need it. I learned that I’m still a woman even without a uterus (actually, I already knew that one — but this year I got to put that theory to practice!)