Year End Lessons

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Year End Lessons

A look back at the year that was and the lessons it taught about travel, writing, and life

Note: Although this was written as a reflection on a particular year in my life (2015), the lessons learned from travel, writing, and living can apply to any year. It is good to be reminded of them from time to time.

At this time of year, as one calendar year comes to an end and a new one approaches, we often reflect on the year that was. My year, like that of most, had its ups and downs, its joys and sorrows, easy times, and tough times. I learned a few lessons along the way. Some were fun and trivial, some painful, and some deeply meaningful. Some lessons were new, most were ones the universe decided I needed to be reminded of.

Travel Lessons

There is a wealth of travel information on the Internet, including advice on where to sleep overnight in airports. This was of use on a flight this summer from Vancouver to Winnipeg via Calgary. I arrived in Calgary near midnight and had a very early flight the next morning to Winnipeg. It was too short a time to impose on nearby relatives and I did not want to spend money on a hotel room for just a few hours. The site identified the Banff Hall in the departures area, behind the second level shops. The area was obviously not a secret because when I arrived I found it full of people who had pushed wide leather chairs together to make a space to stretch out on. I managed to find two empty chairs for myself. However, with airport construction continuing until past two in the morning, being overtired, and floor cleaners showing up around four-thirty in the morning, I did not get much sleep. But I was able to rest a bit.

For longer day-time airport layovers, airport lounges are a good spot. They are usually quieter (unless you encounter construction) and more comfortable with more reliable Internet access than other parts of the airport. You may want to check whether any of your credit cards allow access to certain airport lounges. One of my cards gets me into free access into select lounges. There is a charge for bringing a guest, but the comfort of the area along with free food and drink, may be well worth the fee.

It is great to bypass luggage check-in lines and avoid the often long waits at baggage carousels when travelling with only carry-on.

It is equally great to carry next to nothing through the airport and onto the plane, because you’ve checked almost everything.

It is good to check about available room and weight in your luggage before buying something. You cannot bring as much stuff home when travelling by air as when travelling by car.

There is something interesting and beautiful to be found everywhere, even in the most unexpected of places. Dismissing a location or attraction as not being worthy of one’s time may result in missing out on a great experience. I’ve come to appreciate the pleasures of small town museums and discovered a romantic castle I almost bypassed on my way somewhere else. I think there is a lot to enjoy in my home city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, but it is often discounted as not worth visiting. How delightful it was to find out Winnipeg made it onto National Geographic Traveler’s go-now top 20 destinations for 2016.

As with the rest of life, attitude is everything.

Writing Lessons

It is very hard work to craft a good short story.

Not that the story need be long, but it will take a long while to make it short. ∼Henry David Thoreau

It is next to impossible to proof read your own material.

Some things are best expressed in poetry, whether poetry is a usual form of expression for you or not.

It is interesting and can be educational to read advice from other writers and learn about their process, but, in the end, you need to find what works best for you.

The more you write, the more you have to say and the more ideas you have. Creativity spawns creativity. So it is best to just sit and get to work.

In between the work, quiet time and daydreaming are essential to the creative process.

Life Lessons

Grief takes a variety of forms.

Never underestimate the restorative value of a nature walk.

It is wonderful to have friendships that withstand time and distance, where you can be apart for years and then pick up as if the time between visits hadn’t happened.

Treasure friends and loved ones, near and far. Don’t let so much time pass that you re-learn the lesson above.

The world is a much more manageable place after a good night’s sleep.

Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and let those close to you see your hurt and fears. You may feel exposed, but you are also likely to discover a sympathetic shoulder and a helping hand. You may also learn that your friends are in need of that too.

Laughter is important.

You never know what impact you have on others. Several people in my physical and online circles went through tough times this year, or had painful memories reawakened. Some shared feelings directly with me. Others wrote eloquent articles. Their stories touched me and helped me deal with my own tough times. Most of these people will likely never know how important their words were to me. We all create ripples as we go through life.

You don’t know what others are going through. Be kind.

Hugs strengthen the immune system. elevate moods, and create trust.

Enjoy what fills your life right now, but don’t put off reaching for your dreams.

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  1. Loved all of these Donna… especially how important laughter is, and how valuable truly good friends are to the soul. Happy New Year to you. I hope 2016 brings you many new adventures, health and prosperity:)

  2. Donna, Jacquie and I are in the same camp with agreeing on how important laughing is to being happy and healthy. My husband is the serious one and I do what I can to lighten him up–including the occasional screening of The Princess Bride or Monster Inc.

    Seeing the new, having adventures, walking outside–all such good things to comment on. And, never letting go of good friends.

    Here’s to a great 2016 for all of us.
    (shared on FB and Twitter)

  3. Donna, what a great end of year post. Those are some great life lessons. I’m totally with you on the nature walk. I went hiking this weekend and it had me feeling centered and refreshed. When I’m on vacation, I love going on walks that might provide some extra nature (I currently live in a city), but any type of walking will do. I also love what you say about being vulnerable. That is such an important reminder.

  4. What a beautiful article for the start of the year!

    We need to remind ourselves of these. Friendships are important and we have far more of animpact in the lives of others than we think.

    I agree that creating a short story is challenging. Summarising is not for the faint hearted!

    1. Thanks Phoenicia. Summarizing is definitely not for the faint of heart. Here’s to enjoying much friendship in 2016.

  5. It’s important to reflect on what we learn and the lessons we get. On a yearly basis or more often. Personally evaluate what happens almost on a daily basis and learn. Sometimes hard lessons.

    1. Catarina, I agree it is good to reflect and evaluate, even if the lessons are hard. Good for you for doing that everyday. Sometimes, I need a bit of time to look back and evaluate what I learned.

  6. Donna, these were wonderful. The ones that stood out were the Thoreau quote and “Never underestimate the restorative power of a nature walk” (my favourite). I also loved your picture of the old school room – did that bring back memories. Wishing you a wonderful, adventurous 2016.

    1. Thanks Lenie. That school room picture is from a museum in Tubac, Arizona, but it really could be from anywhere in North America. Wishing you a great 2016 too.

  7. I really appreciate the point about dismissing a location or an attraction. I’ve done that and then was surprised by how much I enjoyed something I overlooked. Often it happens with something in my own backyard, something which I would readily go to if I were visiting a distant city, but never give any thought to because its so close. One example is Thomas Edison’s Lab which is only about 10 miles from where I live but I didn’t go there until a couple years ago. When I did I was fascinated.

    1. Ken, we so often ignore the sites in our backyard, but we do explore them, as you did, discover how great they are. Happy New Year.

  8. I love that you listed a variety of things you learned during the year. I too learned many things this past year. My first is to not be afraid to share my thoughts and feelings online and my blog has grown because of it. I hope you have a great year and I look forward to your blogs. They give me ideas for future trips.

    1. Thanks Sabrina. It might have felt a little scary at first to share feelings so publicly. but it led to greater connection with people. All the best in 2016.

  9. While the traveling and writing lessons are so good and helpful (I too have spent a few sleepless nights in airports!), these last few are truly beautiful. It’s hard to go through the things that teach you those lessons, but suffering truly does produce good fruit, if you look for it. Thanks for the inspiration and best wishes for 2016!

  10. Here’s to a great 2016! It really is next to impossible to proofread one’s work. I can go back to a piece of my own that I think I’ve edited to perfection and still find a new mistake. Every. Single. Time.

  11. Wonderful life lessons Donna! I couldn’t agree more with you that there is something interesting and beautiful to be found everywhere. When people find out I live in Hawaii the inevitable “which island is your favorite” question always comes up and that signals my mini travel guide talk about how each island is unique. I felt the same way when I worked in travel, the world is an amazing place! Thanks for the inspiration and Happy New Year!

    1. The world is amazing, isn’t it Marquita? I can understand how it would be difficult to pick a favourite island.

  12. Great tips on making your traveling less hectic and troublesome.
    I like the part of a sense of humor, you cannot take anything to serious. I have lost luggage, and soon realized no matter how much I worried about it, that was not going to make it arrive any sooner. I have enough stress at work, without it creeping into a vacation.
    Thanks for sharing.