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4 Lessons from 2023

Updated: Feb 20

You may think to do a reflection on last year in February may be a little too late, but here I am. It's never too late to learn something.

Shoot, even if you're reflecting on that one time 30 years ago, and you learn something new, it's worth it.

If you look at my Instagram grids, you will see all my highlights of 2023. I ain't gonna lie, it was a banner year! It was full of some of the biggest work projects I have tackled this far. I did a lot of theater, traveled, socialized, and filled the time.

Here's what I realized late in the year. I filled All. The. Time.

Melissa Bowen Instagram Grid
Melissa Bowen Counselor & Coach Instagram Grid

My sisters and I all realized early in the year that we had this vacuum of time that we hadn't had in recent years, due to my mothers passing last November. And while we enjoyed visiting with each other, reminiscing and grieving together as we sorted through her things, I think we all found ourselves with this empty open space.

And maybe akin to the seasons following the release of quarantine from 2020, I was excited to say yes to all the things.

But around December 4, 2023, I realized I had some things to learn from the year that was coming to a close. And so I'm writing to you my four lessons from last year:

  1. Being busy does not always mean it's productive. It is so easy to get caught up in the hamster wheel of "busy", and then get at the end of the day, week, month, or year and wonder… "What do I have to show for it?!" Acting from intention versus autopilot is the key here, so you can do all the things for everyone that needs some thing from you, but have really good boundaries to be able to get back to what is important to you as well. I have found that you can truly achieve more by doing less, because you are putting more of your attention to essential things and getting more out of it. I include rest in this category. Rest produces a healthier more balanced and happier you. See #2.

  2. Self-care should be proactive, not waiting for signs you need it. I had some fun last year! I stayed active and did passion work and all kinds of things but I got tired. And I wasn't home a lot. Resting out of exhaustion does not fix the problem. This year, I have already made some hard decisions to leave space in my calendar for… rest, cooking for myself, exercise, options, I don't know what. Just space. It's intentional and I truly believe it will be beneficial.

  3. Full is not always fulfilling. Saying we are busy is such a badge of honor in our society these days. Sometimes we use it as our measure of worth. I continue to learn and discern what I fill my time with and HOW it is fulfilling to me. I do look forward to some exciting work projects that I believe serve others and fulfill a great purpose in me. Special time with family, fun stuff with friends, performing, and some solitude are all fulfilling to me too. And I'm making space for it all. Yes, even solitude. I'm gonna be busy this year, but it's not all work. My calendar may be full, but there will be lots of free time built in!

  4. Be gentle with yourself in grief. "Gentle" is my new word. It is brimming with compassion. I learned this from my counselor friend and office mate, as she told me to be gentle with myself. Maybe I was tired. Or finding that I didn't have the capacity for alot of my normal activities. I'm sure there was some decision fatigue, brain fog, or pressure to perform. No matter what it is, I know now there is alot to learn as you continue to build life around a loss. Life is good, but there is work in the building.

aaaand, I hope you realize social media is not the whole story. It's the highlight reel. And I don't regret anything I did last year. Never look back with judgment or shame, only to learn.

So I write to you. Journaling is a form of expression and helps get to great understandings, so I know I need to do it. And sharing it with you helps feed that purpose thing in me.

I hope my lessons provide some insight for you. Blessings to you in 2024.

and be gentle with yourself, my friend. ✌🏻❤️

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