Every year (except last year – lol) I write a birthday post reflecting on something I’ve learned in the past year about myself (and thoughts about getting older). It’s a great way to see where I’ve been, who I am today, and hopefully reflects the person I am working on becoming.
As I was thinking about what to write for this year’s post I realized that there were a lot of good nuggets and truth that I wanted to remember from year #35.
In no particular order:
1) Getting more sleep — well I put this first because it’s the biggest thing I learned recently thanks to our good friends Troy and Dorene who shared this podcast episode with us. Since hearing this podcast I’ve committed to getting at least 7 hours of sleep a day and worked hard at keeping a regular routine to help me get to bed/sleep. I’m not sure why I thought I could pull all-nighters, make up hours for nights I didn’t get much sleep, or think that sleep had no effect on my health and well being. I’m more alert, rested, and don’t get sick as often to when my sleep is terrible. Go figure! Sleep is so important and even though I’m late to this realization party, I’m glad that I’m here. There’s no going back.
2) I’m an Obliger — Michelle introduced me to Gretchen Rubin, an author that came up with an interesting personality type analysis that helps people understand how we are motivated to do things. I’ve often struggled with following through on projects or goals that I’ve set for myself. However, I excel in doing things for others when I feel they are dependent on me (for the most part, unless I burn out). I am, what is known as an Obliger (the others are Upholders, Questioners, and Rebels).
Now that I have a better understanding of myself, I can put myself in situations where I thrive, see what areas I can work on, and how my tendency works (or doesn’t work) with the other kinds of tendencies. I highly recommend taking this online quiz, reading the book/listening to the podcast episodes about this and hope that it will help you as much as it has helped me: 4 Tendencies Quiz
3) I’m still figuring out the impact on my life of losing my father — I miss my Dad so much. My heart breaks for my Mom (and my family) so much. This was the most difficult thing I’ve been through yet in my life. This year will make 2 years since he passed and am still not sure how to process everything. The hardest thing is wanting to talk about it and not wanting to talk about it at the same time. I have a feeling I’ll be working on this for a while and I’m ok with that.
4) Learning from other people’s perspective — the last two books I read rocked my world. Mountains Beyond Mountains (by Tracy Kidder) reminded me of my first international trip abroad to Haiti with the Haiti Foundation of Hope. Why should we help other countries? Why should we care about other human being’s suffering? Because it’s the right thing to do. Period.
The Hate You Give (by Angie Thomas) was a wake-up call for me that there are so many perspectives I don’t know about. Sure it’s a fictional novel but there are very relevant, real issues that this book addresses. In the near future, I’d like to read or learn about other perspectives that focus on different religions, gender and sexuality, conservative thinking, etc… I don’t want to live my life in an echo chamber or bubble.
Outside of books, traveling has been an important and great way for me to learn about other people’s lives. Last year we had a chance to learn about the transformation taking place in Medellin, Colombia. We’ve also been diving deeper into learning more about Vietnam. I’m constantly amazed at how different people’s lives are around the world, but maybe more surprised at how easy it is to find connection and similarities. As our Jamaican host Mom would say, “people are people”. (To capture some of these “learning” moments, I started using the tag #youknownothingjeddchang)
5) Relationships are worth constantly working on — Last year Michelle and I celebrated our 10th anniversary! I couldn’t have asked for a better partner and best friend to share life with. And though there are a lot of great memories, there’s also a lot of difficult and challenging times that we obviously don’t post on social media. Being that our personalities are so different from one another, there are times when we click and work really well together. There’s also a lot of times where we are at conflict. Imagine the unstoppable force (me) and the immovable object (Michelle).
But over these past years we’ve worked really hard at understanding these differences and on our communication. We know it’s still a long journey (hopefully) and that there’s always room to get better but I believe we’re at least pointed in the right direction.
6) Less is more. Cleaning up my clutter. — Queer Eye and Marie Kondo are on to something regarding clutter in our lives. It’s not about throwing things away. It’s not even about physical things (though that’s a big part). The real lesson is to acknowledge areas in our lives that we hide and maybe have forgotten. What are the things that hold us back from the living the life we want to live — to be aware of it, face it, and then intentionally decide what to do with it. In addition to organizing my physical stuff, this also shows up in where I focus my time and energy. Speaking of time…
7) Valuing Time — In the end, maybe there was an order to this list (forehead slap). Whether it was the passing of my father, getting older in general, and living life more intentionally, I’m now aware and more appreciative of time. It’s finite and we don’t know how much of it we’ll have in this life. I think about this a lot and have made some important decisions for my life so that I can be in control of my time. Can I be better about how I use my time? Absolutely! But right now, in this stage of life, I’m thankful to recognize this now. Though I wish I had spent more time with people that are no longer here, I’ll not waste (as much as possible) the opportunities I have to be with loved ones here and now.
Year 36, let’s go. I’ll keep jumping until I can’t jump anymore.