There is a birthday tradition of looking back over the last year to highlight some lesson learned.  Thirty-two was an interesting year.  I felt like I was on cruise control the entire year. No significant highs or lows; just a steady pace and it made me very uncomfortable waiting for the next major thing (which did not happen). I embraced the steady pace and picked up some wisdom along the way. 

LIVE UNAPOLOGETICALLY. There is something the thirties age bracket that sets you free from caring about the irrelevant opinions. This year, I fully embraced the idea of living unapologetically and not needing to justify myself. Part of that came with a realization that as long as I apologize for or continuously justify my life and/or travels (as though it were something to be ashamed of), I devalue it and cannot expect anyone else to give value to it. I had a mental shift this year to focus on seeking justice, loving mercy and serving God with humility. As long as I am striving for and living that daily, I choose to live unapologetically.

SETTING BOUNDARIES. "Don't let their lack of planning, become your emergency." Those words started me down the part of setting boundaries.  Saying no to people in my life was unthinkable even when fulfilling their (mostly last minute) request put me under immense stress and pressure. The last year has been about standing up for my time; setting boundaries; keeping and communicating those boundaries. Whether I am making myself inaccessible at certain times of day or saying no (especially to last minute requests) within reason, my stress levels have been at an all time low. 

IMPORTANCE OF BEING HEALTHY. I spent the better part of a year in and out of doctor and specialist offices. Just when I thought it was over, I had about six months of high blood pressure stemming in part from not setting boundaries and a few unhealthy habits. As soon as I started feeling better it was time for major changes in diet and lifestyle. The goal was no longer weight loss; it was cultivating a healthy lifestyle. With that mindset shift, I find going to the gym less of a chore and learning to make healthy food choices (most of the time) is much easier.

IMPORTANCE OF MEANINGFUL COMMUNITY. Lately, I have been thinking of that old country song - "You find out who your friends are Somebody's gonna drop everything Run out and crank up their car Hit the gas get their fast Never stop to think 'what's in it for me?' or 'it's way too far.' They just show on up with their big old heart You find out who your friends are." One thing that creeps up on you in this stage of lie - the transitions (both good and bad). From starting a family; dealing with loss; divorce; becoming first time parents; caring for ailing parents/children and significant others. The quality (not the quantity) our relationships becomes what matters most. The right tribe is what sees us through the (difficult) transitions. A connection much deeper than the social media likes and follows. A tribe that celebrates the wins and sits with you in the losses. A tribe that shows up in the moments of transitions with no expectation of recognition. I am incredibly humbled by the kindness and love of the tribe I have found this past year.

IMPORTANCE OF SPENDING WISELY. After years of trying and loads of (failed) financial planning efforts, I decided this was the year to get my finances in order; get out of debt and save more.  I took practical steps to make it happen. No insane spreadsheets or weird financial planning; just good ole fashioned discipline; avoiding swiping the credit card unless the funds were available to pay off (immediately); and focusing on the needs, not the want. Those practical steps have gotten me a lot closer to my financial goals than anything else.