Valuable Lessons From 2016

WOW! What a year 2016 was for me. I won’t go into all of the details, you’re just going to have to take my word for it. I’ve heard from many others who agree that 2016 was just as brutal for them. And so that leads us to today.


It would be easy for me, and you, to write an epistle of wrongs. However, we both know there is very little gained from reliving the past. This is especially true if all we’re doing is complaining about it. So, what can we do? We can talk about what we learned instead.

Valuable Lessons From 2016

Benefits of being outside and being physically active

After what always feels like an incredibly long and wet winter, we finally see the return of sunshine in the month of March in Western Oregon. Seeing as though I don’t have a yard to speak of, I had the opportunity to get outside and work in my son’s yard. The benefits were immeasurable.

Of course, there are the physical health benefits of exercise, movement, balance, and stretching. The appearance of the sun and time spent outside provides our bodies a natural source of Vitamin D that is so valuable in the fight against depression. Seeing the results after a days worth of hard work gives us instant gratification. This, in turn, helps our spirits rise and our self-esteem to soar. Sleeping comes quicker and is much richer when we go to bed tired. Everything involved here is a win-win situation.

What I learned – Get outside and get moving! I’ll look better and feel better too!

It’s never too early to get your affairs in order

None of us want to think about death, especially our own. And if you’re my age or younger, it seems strange to start thinking about arrangements and such. But the fact remains there is no way to gauge or predict the end of one’s life. We all die eventually. And some of the healthiest people I have known have died much younger than myself.

Earlier this past summer, I found myself unexpectedly hospitalized nearly 100 miles from home with serious health issues. Now, I’ve had over a dozen surgeries, hospitalizations and trips to the emergency room in my life already. So, being in the hospital wasn’t such a big deal. However, being completely by myself and 100% dependent upon others was a huge “wake-up call” for me.

It’s never too early to complete a living will. Herein you state what type of medical care and the extent of such care when you are unable to answer for yourself. In addition, I realized that I needed to pen my own will. I don’t own much, but what I do have needs to be legally designated to someone. I needed to obtain life insurance because I don’t want to leave a financial burden on my kid. And if such a hospitalization should occur in the future, I need to have arrangements made for my canine companion in regards to his care and well-being.

What I learned – Being prepared means not having to worry!

Be your own best advocate!

Unfortunately, I wrestled with too many surgeries, hospitalizations, and trips to the emergency room this year. And in these types of situations, there is always some level of frustration, worry, stress, and anxiety. I most definitely encountered all of those emotions multiple times and at different levels. But, it’s even worse when you don’t feel like you’re being heard, understood, taken seriously, and treated equally.

Just because an individual has a medical degree or some other certification doesn’t mean they automatically know everything and more specifically that they know how you feel (emotionally and/or physically). I have always immensely respected health care providers. Their level of education, training, and general knowledge is phenomenal. However, just because my orthopedic surgeon has replaced thousands of knees, this doesn’t mean he automatically knows about my pain and suffering and how I’m feeling.

It’s so important to ask questions. Ask them over and over again until you’re 100% satisfied. In fact, question everything. Ask them what they’re doing and why. Ask them to explain x-rays, test results, and other data in terms that you understand. Don’t let them assume anything. You and/or your insurance are paying them. They work for YOU! Think of it as a job and you have hired them to perform a certain task.

Talk and talk and talk until you are heard. The best person out there who can accurately describe and understand your situation is YOU. If you don’t express your concerns and ask questions, who will? Stand up for yourself and don’t allow yourself to feel inferior or subservient. If you need physical and emotional support, then take a friend or family member with you. I did this with my latest knee surgery and my friend asked questions I didn’t think of and encouraged me to be more of a participant in all of the decisions.

What I learned – No one truly knows how I’m feeling unless I tell them.

The value of friendship

This year was like most in regards to friendships. The first catchphrase that comes to mind is “You win some, you lose some.” Oh boy, you have no idea. My life, thus far, has been riddled with too many “toxic” friends. These are the people in your life who take and take. These are the people who use you. These are the people who leave when they have gotten what they want. These friendships are always completely one-sided.

I like to help others. There isn’t much I wouldn’t do for another person, whether I know them or not. But, that attribute also leaves me vulnerable to being taken advantage of in life. That was definitely the case again in 2016. Thankfully, this reoccurring situation for me was only repeated once this past year.

My (then) best friend chose to walk out of my life during the beginning of summer. But, this time, I didn’t spend my time trying to convince this person to remain my friend. Even though the thought of being completely alone frightened me nearly to death, I realized that I needed to start steering clear of “toxic” friends and relationships with others. It only took me 40+ years, but it happened. That is a HUGE step for me.

And so, the second half of 2016 found me alone and sometimes lonely. However, it has been during these past six months that I have really begun to understand and appreciate the value and blessings of true and meaningful friendships. I have begun to step into unchartered territory outside of my comfort zone. And because of this I have been blessed with quite a few new friends. And what is even more significant is that all of these people are “non-toxic” friends. (Thank you, everyone!)

What I learned – Real friends enrich your life and don’t hurt you.

These are just some of the lessons I learned from 2016. More importantly, even though most things are outside of our control, we are still the only one who can decide how we are going to respond.

I’m curious, what would you say is the single most important life lesson you gained from 2016 (not politically related, please). Feel free to share!

©Julie Corbett

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