Lessons Learned in 2017

When reflecting upon this past year, I selected one photo from each month that represents a valuable lesson learned. Many of these lessons are not new but have taken on even deeper meaning for me in my retirement.

January: Be grateful for friends who keep in touch

Even in this age of ‘social media galore,’ it is easy to lose meaningful connection with others. I am saddened by many relationships that have gone unnourished and greatly appreciate those who have done the extra mile to keep me in their lives…and to remain in mine. Here’s a sampling of a few of those people who I have been able to connect with in retirement. If you do not see your photo in the link, please drop by or otherwise keep in touch. I would be delighted to add your picture.

February: Last minute travel has great perks

Lessons Learned

Spontaneous, spur of the moment travel can be very invigorating and may be more doable than you think. Last February, we were able to book a Cocoa Beach Home Exchange with super cheap flights by booking less than one week ahead. Sometimes a last minute break is just what the soul craves.

March: Happiness is being part of the gang.

lessons learned

When I was a young child, my favourite t-shirt featured a Peanuts cartoon bearing this quote. For many reasons, this shirt became significant to me and I included it in my memorabilia that I brought with me to university. Research repeatedly proves that those who are surrounded by friends/family typically enjoy greater health benefits.

April: Grandparenting never gets olds

lessons learned

When a baby trustingly snuggles in your arms, or a toddler takes your hand and calls you Grandma…it melts your heart. I look forward to discovering further milestones in Grandparenthood. Bring it on!

 May: Live your life to the fullest NOW!

lessons learned

Last May I had a health scare that instantly dissolved my petty worries and clearly revealed what and who was most important in my life. Miraculously, the health concern turned out to be a misdiagnosis. The valuable lesson learned remained.

June: Love where you live.

lessons learned

There has been significant research done on ‘Blue Zones,’ environments that increase our health and happiness. I am extremely grateful for our small island town. It contains beautiful beaches, offers a mild climate (by Canadian standards), is highly walkable and is a doable drive to most of our family members. As an added bonus, we are surrounded by the best neighbours ever!

July: Great accomplishments begin with just one step.

Tackling the top travel item from our bucket list, my husband and I agreed to walk over 700 km of the Camino Trail this past summer. Two months before showtime, I developed sciatica and came down with dreaded (and long-lasting) bronchitis as well as an ear infection. I feared that I would never make the hike.

August: The journey outweighs the destination…BUT the destination can be pretty sweet as well!

lessons learned

But make the hike we did…and we loved every minute of it. Within two days of walking my sciatic nerve returned to normal as did the rest of my health. These challenges served to increase my determination…and made reaching the destination even more thrilling. (You can read more about our Camino adventures starting here.)

September: Celebrate!

lessons learned

Milestones are important…and give us a great excuse to honour those we love. This past September was Richard’s 70th birthday. We are both grateful to all who sent their warm wishes and helped commemorate his big day.

October: Volunteer

lessons learned

Want to increase your own well-being? Do something for others. Richard and I are fortunate to be regular volunteers at our local animal shelter.  This past autumn, we also had two amazing volunteer experiences at Best Friend’s Animal Sanctuary in Utah. In all cases, we have gained much more than we could ever give.

November: Reach Out

lessons learned

I’m  grateful for all those who have reached out and turned being ‘acquaintances’ into firm friendship. This past October-November, I was able to meet in- person four bloggers whom I regularly follow. I have also been able to meet one other blogger who has recently moved near me. Whether it be at your yoga studio, during a walk in your neighbourhood, or at your favourite blog…reach out and make a new friend. It can enrich your life one-hundred fold.

December: Cherish Every Moment

lessons learned

For this recent Christmas holiday, my immediate family (four sons, three daughters-in-law, two grandchildren, granddog, my parents, Richard and I) decided to celebrate ‘presence’ instead of presents (although a few of those snuck in as well). With one son currently living in Singapore, and another son working out of province…plus all of our busy lives, it is often impossible to get all of us together at one time. I was grateful for every single moment. As a bonus, my daughter-in-law, Jessica, has offered to write a Guest Post about this experience. Please stop by again this coming Sunday to check it out. (Even I have not read it yet.)

Thank you to both Christie and Miriam for inspiring this piece via their recent posts. I LOVE that this corner of the blogosphere is sharing, collaborative and thought-provoking!

What about you? What was an important lesson or reminder reinforced for you in 2017?

59 Replies to “Lessons Learned in 2017”

  1. What a wonderful post, Donna! I love your visual and textual timeline. It really shows the importance you place on connection, and how you live that with friends (virtually and face-to-face) and family.
    Your December family photo is stunning. What a beautiful, happy group.
    May 2018 be a continuation of your heartfelt retirement journey.

  2. Donna,
    What a wonderful way to look at the past year, and to share some of life’s important lessons. An absolutely beautiful blog, my dear neighbour & friend. Oh, and I love the June photo too! 😉

  3. I love your month by month year end reflection! I might need to incorporate that approach into my thinking next year; my year end post (coming soon) took a different approach. Isn’t it wonderful to see how different people approach similar things? I enjoy a year end review…always love getting them in Christmas cards from friends & family.

    I’m wondering…do you still have your Peanuts gang T-shirt? I love that ❤️ quote!
    Patricia recently posted…Winter Bucket ListMy Profile

    1. Hi, Pat – Great question. Sadly, I no longer have that t-shirt, although I can picture it vividly. (I do still have my easy-bake oven and other cherished toys from my childhood)! I too LOVE reading how different bloggers approach similar concepts in unique ways. I look forward to reading your year-end post. Wishing you a very joyful and healthy 2018!

  4. Donna, may 2018 be as filled with friends, health, and the joy as this previous year! Minus the one blimp….but a grounding call to remind us what is important in our lives. Happy New Years!

  5. Hi Donna, A wonderful post that captures such a rich year you’ve had. I agree with all the lessons you listed although I’m yet to experience being a grandparent. Wishing you a healthy and happy 2018!
    Natalie recently posted…Fun family timeMy Profile

  6. Hi Donna! Happy New Year! And may your 2018 be as awesome as your 2017! This post is so wonderful because it is so “you!” You are such a friendly and connecting light here on the blogosphere and this post with all your great photos show that very well. Thanks for reaching out to me and putting our “October Gathering” together here in the desert. I’m so looking forward to getting together again next October and meanwhile, I love following your blog and seeing how you continue to make retirement AMAZING! (That’s why you are on my recommended list of retirement blogs of course!) ~Kathy
    Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com recently posted…Top Websites & Blogs For Positive Aging & Retirement For 2017My Profile

    1. Wow! It is comments like this that motivate me to continue blogging even when the going gets tough!
      Thank you, Kathy, for all of the inspiration that you share. I have learned a great deal from you and look forward to our next meet-up.
      Wishing you and Tom a wonderful, S.M.A.R.T. 2018!
      Retirement Reflections recently posted…Lessons Learned in 2017My Profile

  7. What a wonderful post, Donna! Your December lesson has been something I’ve meditated on this past year. All of our days are numbered, so we must live each moment as though it could be our last. Thank you for being a light in my life this past year. Happy New Year to you and your family! xo

  8. Hi Donna I thoroughly enjoyed your reflection of 2017 especially with the use of photos. Your meeting with the lovely blogging ladies inspired me to set up with some bloggers here in Australia. It was so great to catch up and it will be the first of many. I also love your idea of presence for Christmas. It must have been wonderful having all the family together. Thank you for your support and friendship this year and I very much look forward to continuing our blogging journey together in 2018. P.S. taking an impromptu break is a great idea and something I need to think about for the New Year. Happy New Year, my friend. Xx

    1. Hi, Sue – I am delighted to hear that my meet-up with other bloggers in Southern California, inspired you to organize a meet up of bloggers near you. I greatly appreciate your support and friendship as well. I am looking forward to further collaborations to come! Happy New Year to you and your family.

  9. Absolutely loved your post Donna. Thank you for sharing your life and all the amazing things that have happened to you this year. At some stage I must go back and read about the Camino as my sister also did this walk (though not the entire length). You’ve certainly lived a very full year. Here’s to a brilliant 2018 ahead. I wish you much happiness. Thanks also for the mention.

  10. What a fun and inspiring look back at an incredibly joyful year! I’m so glad you included the picture of your family at your Christmas gathering… such a happy bunch! You have been such a bright spot in my blogging journey and I am looking forward to more opportunities to connect – in person and in the blogosphere throughout 2018!
    Janis @ RetirementallyChallenged.com recently posted…GratiTuesday: Our AdventuresMy Profile

  11. Hi Donna, I too enjoyed your lessons from 2017. A great way of reviewing the year! We are in the planning stages of walking some of the Camino in 2018 so I will definitely be back to re-read your posts from that time. I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog this year and connecting with you in shared posts and ideas. All the very best for the year ahead.
    Debbie Harris recently posted…Sizzling at 60 – Meet Sue!My Profile

    1. Hi, Debbie – I am super excited to hear that you are planning to walk some of the Camino Trail this coming year. If there are any questions that you think that I can answer for you, please do not hesitate to give me a shout.
      Thank you for your support and friendship. Wishing you a warm and happy 2018!

  12. You’ve had a full year! The photos, the smiles, and the lessons learned all tell the story 🙂

    I loved this post, Donna. As Janis said before me, it was both fun and inspiring. These are lessons we could all take away!

    I wish you more of all the good stuff and less of the scary in 2018 🙂
    Joanne Sisco recently posted…Wrapping It All UpMy Profile

  13. What a delightful post Donna. Just love the significance of your photos and what they mean for you. Am wondering if I could replicate those lessons and find photos that are so special……. maybe a 2018 goal.

  14. I love your yearly round-up post, Donna, and it inspires me as I get set to write my December Sentence a Day for next week. I enjoyed being a part of your 2017 and look forward to spending 2018 with you and all my blogging friends!

  15. What a fun look back! I’m always jealous to see lots of travel, mostly because I never get to do much. But your trips really were wonderful. I had also forgotten about your health scare: good that it turned out to be a false alarm. You made lots of great memories this year, Donna. I can’t wait for this time next year to review old stuff all over again! 🙂

  16. I enjoyed the way you organized your best memories for each month. I also totally agree with one of your first sentences in the article about feeling things more deeply now. It’s true! I feel the same way.

  17. What a lovely end of year blog post, Donna. Love your photos and monthly reflections. You show me the blessings of retirement and focusing on what most important. Happy New Year my new friend!

  18. I really enjoyed this post, Donna. What a wonderful overview of a year well-lived and well-enjoyed. A good reminder of all the things to be grateful for as well. I can’t help but notice most photos have lots of people in them! Social connections and making memories together are a sure way to happiness. It was so nice to meet you (and Richard) in 2017. I hope your 2018 will be as “rich” in people and adventures as the past year was.
    Liesbet recently posted…Christmas Time is upon Us Once MoreMy Profile

  19. Your post brought a big smile to my face Donna. Absolutely loved the way you remembered 2017. The lessons learned that most resonates with me is ‘love where you live’. The most important lesson reinforced for me in 2017 was that happiness comes when one’s life is aligned with one’s dreams. My New Year’s resolution? ‘More Of The Same’ :-). Wishing you a joy-filled 2018.
    Lisa Dorenfest recently posted…Comment on Myanmar by Lisa DorenfestMy Profile

  20. What a great and refreshing post, Donna. I loved reading every part of it. A whole year in one post with all its lessons is a great idea. What an incredible year it was, and I am so pleased that it was topped off with a family get-together. Those moments are so precious and are moments we should always make sure we savour and grab at given every opportunity.
    Happy New Year to you and your family.
    Hugh Roberts recently posted…What Were The Top 10 Most Viewed Blog Posts in 2017?My Profile

  21. Donna, the one theme that links all of your months, whether about travel, health, or place, is the importance of social relationships. Your photos show that spending time with family and friends was really important in your life last year. You are also a blogger who connects people with each other. I think think this is an important bit of retirement wisdom!

    Dr Sock recently posted…Mental Illness and FamiliesMy Profile

  22. What a wonderful post Donna. I found you via Liesbet who pinged both your post and mine on 2017. I loved the lessons learnt and all the warmth and love which comes through in your photos and words . We are “birds of a feather ” with regards to love of animals and reading about your volunteer work was heartwarming. May 2018 be as full and wonderful. And we too had a serious health scare with one of our sons which also turned out to be miraculously a misdiagnosis!( But oh the emotional stress in the meantime.)


    1. Hi, Peta – Thank you for your kind comment. I love meeting like-minded individuals and ‘birds of a feather’ in this corner of the blogosphere. I am glad to hear that your son’s health scare was also a misdiagnosis (I totally understand the emotional toll taken). I am off to read your recent post now!

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