With the start of 2011's final month, I've decided to join others participating in various Reverb* spin-offs and publish some reflections of my past year. Last week I described how 2011 has been a year of change for me. In today's post, I explore Prompt #3 from #WEverb11: Learn. What lesson did you learn in 2011 from "The School of Life" rather than a classroom?
What I learned through life in 2011? Risk can lead to rewards.
My creative muscle has gotten plenty of exercise this past year as I have practiced art collage; added mind-mapping to my routine; and begun journaling, blogging, and participating in mini–writing courses. Throughout my year-long creative workout, I have taken the risk of making myself vulnerable as I've shared creative outputs with family, friends and acquaintances, as well as here on my blog and on Twitter. The responses of encouragement, appreciation and constructive feedback I have continually received have increased my desire to risk more in my creativity, create more and share more.
In early 2011, my grandpa began hospice care. Before Gramps died, the idea of his death, to me, meant overwhelming uncertainty, uncontrollable emotions and impending grief. While part of me wanted to hibernate at home and avoid the situation, my heart led me toward my grandpa, where I risked facing reality. While I was there with Grandpa and my family, I let the emotions roll in and out like the tide—pain and sorrow, love and joy, fear and uncertainty, strength and weakness, resistance and relief. Grief crashes in when I least expect it, yet I cherish the decision I made to risk my heart and sit beside Grandpa as his body surrendered to the inevitability of his death.
In both my grief and my creativity this past year, the Internet has played a surprisingly major role. A note of grief I posted on Facebook several weeks after my grandpa’s death prompted friends and family to reach out to me with the love and acknowledgement I needed to begin healing. Not long after that, I risked starting this blog and began developing relationships via Twitter. Now, from my Grief_Friend Twitter account I explore healthy grieving and how to help friends who are grieving. And from LearnExploreShr I tweet links that involve learning, exploring and sharing. A couple months ago I participated in my first online class, the Path Finder e-course by Chookooloonks; the experience further encouraged my creativity and introduced me to like-minded friends across the country and abroad. Connecting online with supportive people has definitely been worth the effort and mild risk.
Through the course of 2011, I learned that creativity is vital to my well-being, that sometimes death looks like a miracle of love and that online connections can be meaningful. I learned that sharing my creative work can lead to support and encouragement; I learned that experiencing my grandpa's death could bloom into indescribable love and grief and acceptance; and I learned that opening up online can lead to richer relationships. I have learned it before, but, once again, I have found myself understanding how risk can lead to worthwhile rewards.
What lesson did your 2011 life experience teach you? Leave a comment here, or connect with me on twitter.
* Gwen Bell started Reverb in 2009 as a daily reflective prompt through the month of December to guide participants in reflecting on the past year and imagining what's to come in the new year ahead. Reverb repeated in 2010 but in 2011 has been passed on for individuals to host. You can find prompts along with lists of 2011 participants at #Resound11 and #WEverb11 (and probably other sites that I have yet to discover).