My first column of the year has frequently been as it’s just begun, allowing me to reflect on the changes that each passing year can bring. I also recently turned 45, and it is not lost on me that I am in middle age and still have so much to learn.
Although 2022 was not all bad it was a difficult year. So, the start of a fresh new calendar of life seems to be something positive. Last year I had a very well-thought-out plan. I had a strategy. I was going to do things with intention – and I did, but the universe had other plans.
In fact, her plan was to totally disassemble my plans, strategies and intentions. Maybe my lesson last year was humility and patience instead of the intended growth and success. Or maybe it is how you look at it all, but I will come back to that. The point is to say that I set goals, worked forward with intention and it did not matter.
Last year I worked multiple jobs with the intention of paying off student loans and reaching the point where I could have just one job. In July I received a promotion and raise, but only a few weeks later our organization was told we were all losing our jobs. I am no stranger to adversity and hard times, but this one took some time to fully absorb. I had lost the best paying gig I have ever had before I had a log in for my timesheets. Brutal but reality.
Last year I had friends deal with health struggles. My own family had COVID within our household for the first time. The older I get the more I see how valuable taking care of your body and mind are.
This is something I usually ignored within my intentions. I made excuses and just did not take care of myself, but we all know how that goes. At this point I feel like a used car with some miles; she needs self-care at a minimum. As one close friend had lifesaving genetic testing done to swerve cancer, another friend lost a three-year battle with it. She was only 41 and her loss will be with me always.
Things looked up, though, I promise. I traveled for work and for pleasure last year. I saw the beauty of the desert and mountains in Phoenix and explored more of Florida’s springs, parks and beaches. I have lived here for over 40 years but have not seen so many of Mother Nature offers us.
I kayaked in springs, walked through mangrove marshes and hiked around parks all for the first time. Even with this past year’s bonkers weather, Florida has a lot to offer if you want to step outside of the AC.
Looking back on the disappointments and heartbreaks from last year I gather a lot of energy forward from my kids; they are my main reason in this lifetime to be my best me. Most of my planning and work is to provide the best life possible for them, myself and our litany of pets. When I look at things through their perspective I try to remind myself that the stresses of being an adult are not for them. In fact, they have years to still enjoy being kids with minimal responsibilities and no real financial obligations.
However, we are adults, and responsibility and stress seem to be tied to each passing year in a bigger fashion. We are getting older, and I certainly hope wiser.
In retrospect, I learned the most I ever have in 2022. Each shift that derailed plans forced me out of my comfort zone and made me think outside of the master plan – and I gained important insight.
For one, I learned how to turn my disappointments into opportunities. Losing that job made me focus on what kind of work I really wanted to do outside of just finances. Advocating for my transgender son living in Florida has shown me my strengths and who my real support comes from, and that insight has helped shape what my 2023 will look like.
I have always said I want to support communities and individuals who deserve the most love and help. For me, expanding my role here at Watermark in 2023 from freelance columnist to Tampa Bay account manager means I can support this work family who has supported my family for over four years.
The pain and indignation that the LGBTQ+ community has faced is sadly not new. But now, I can go to work each day and be part of a team who is literally fighting the good fight. Feeling good about the work I do is something I need and cherish. Making others feel supported, valued and seen is something even more powerful.
Doing what frightens you is empowering. Being in an environment where you can be yourself and speak your mind freely is pure joy. Dating in your middle age is a messy comedy farce, and realizing you have less control than is comfortable is ultimately freedom.
I met some amazing people last year and I also took out the trash for 2023, because I do not have room for negative energy this year. I learned all that mostly from everything I had planned and strategized totally imploding.
I wish you a fantastic 2023 because YOU deserve it. I hope you do something daily that makes your heart happy. I hope you learn daily instead of beating yourself up from things you cannot change. I hope that your circle loves you for you – because I do.
Sylvie Trevena is a proud mom of four with eclectic interests who holds a BS in Behavioral Healthcare and an MBA.