What I learned in 2013

1. I learned if I keep at something, even when I’m really bad at it, I improve. There were so many times I wanted to quit the whole CrossFit experience. I couldn’t do anything. I was impossible. I was old and weak and just couldn’t do this. It was a young person’s game. I wasn’t a young person. I should quit. I can’t quit. Old people CAN do CrossFit. It is all scalable. There is a way. Practice makes perfect. Just keep on keeping on.

The highs and lows of pushing myself was a tremendous learning experience. Usually, I either excel at something or quit. I hate failing. I hate being the worst at anything. It has taken everything I have to keep going back. Coach Mike saved me one day when I was in tears. He told me, “You are always the best in your age group. Do you realize how impressive it is that you come back here day after day while most people, not even most people your age, but most people are still home in bed?” He gave me permission to frame my failings as successes. Pretty good for a 23-year-old kid.

2. I learned that traveling is really, really fun but that it also throws curveballs your way. I loved the river cruise we took. I hated hearing time and again, “You should have been here last year” since the year before it wasn’t snowing in March and April. I learned that wearing socks on your hands for mittens beats having frozen fingers but they aren’t really that good as mittens.

I learned that Roman construction is so durable that it still stands all this time later. I learned that the history of the US is puny and insignificant when compared to the history of Europe. Both places were inhabited for nearly the same amount of time, but writing keeps the stories alive. As a writer of history, this is both gratifying and scary. How many stories have we lost forever and what is the cost of that loss?

3. I learned that technology is both my friend and my enemy. When my computer died, I had to replace it. I have been using the Windows GUI interface since 1995. I liked my desktop and my start button. I still miss the start button and still hate my Windows 8 computer. I still don’t know how to find the things I used to know how to get to with a simple click. I have no idea why they did this, but because I need a computer, I have had to deal with it.

I am online now via this horrible computer, my smart phone which has its own idiosyncratic behavior, and my Kindle Fire which is even crankier. I really need a tablet in here to round out my technological frustration level.

4. I learned that even nurses who worked in the field for decades can learn new things about health. I also learned that many people recite health myths because they have heard them preached before and they aren’t based in any medical fact. It is sometimes difficult to differentiate between the myths and the facts and being an informed consumer is essential. Also, knowing where to look for reliable information is mandatory.

I don’t know who started some of the myths or why they have had such a long life. I do know that just because “everyone” says something doesn’t make it right or true and it usually isn’t even everyone but a bunch of loud mouths.

5. I have learned that my family is made up of individuals who cannot be controlled by my wishes. We love each other and yet, we each have to live our own lives and make our own choices. No one is checking in with me to see if I approve which works out pretty well since I check in with no one else and ask their approval for my choices.

The best I can do in any of these familial situations is deal with myself and hope for the best. I love my family members to the moon and back and their choices are their choices. I can only hope they return the affection and permission and that we can all learn to live together in peace and harmony or at least without acrimony and accusations.

6. I have learned that I’m braver than I thought I could be while being frightened by nearly everything. I have learned that there is much more to learn and I will never know it all but can always know more than I did yesterday. I have learned to take a deep breath, regroup, and try again. I have learned that laughter makes even the most wretched of times more bearable. I have learned that love truly does make the world go round.

And now, as I face the next moment, day, week, month, year – I’m ready to learn some more stuff. Bring it on, world, I’m as ready as I can be.