For some of you, 2019 was the best year of your life; for others, you're ready to crawl out of the worst year of your life. And for others, 2019 was a combination of both. There's a great song titled, Bittersweet Symphony, which refers to the ups and downs of life. The Bible verifies this symphony as significant times in life in Ecclesiastes 3:4—a time to cry and a time to laugh; a time to grieve and a time to dance.
Joy and Sadness are not mutually exclusive and often go together. That's why it is critical that as you go through life's struggles, keep pressing on because the flip side of that experience is life's breakthroughs. One of my father's most poignant quotes is, "Things don't go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so that you can be all that you were intended to be."
I grieved a lot this year. I lost my second soul dog, Ruby Red, in January, my soul cat, Prince William of Orange in July, and my angel mother, Gloria Jean, in October. I also had a pup, Indigo, who needed ACL surgery, and a rascally terrier, Roscoe, who got into pet meds with his brothers landing them in urgent care for three days. Then there was my emergency eye surgery for detached retina right in the home stretch of my doctoral dissertation.
I also danced a lot this year. I found a co-leader to join my business in June, which has significantly allowed me to cast the vision for Tremendous Leadership going forward. I traveled to Africa to do my first-ever women's conference. I did a live TV interview with four dogs AND one cat! After 23 years of singlehood, I got engaged to a godly, tremendous man and am set to marry next month. I completed my Ph.D. in December and am now officially Dr. Jones. I went back to the gym this year and regained my strength and endurance and kept off the 50 pounds I lost last year.
As I reflect on my time in the wilderness, I realized much of the Joy and Sadness of the past four years ran concurrently. This sudden realization led me to the resounding truth that while we are wandering in the desert, we still need to be preparing for our arrival into the promised land.
When I began my doctoral studies in 2015, the spark that ignited me to formally start the program was the fact I was so broken and frustrated with my inability to lead the business the only thing I thought I could or should do was to read and write.
When I opened my heart to love in 2018, it was after spending time with a neighbor for the past six years. What started out as acquaintances, grew to friends and then best friends, and finally to a desire to enter the convenential bond of marriage. Although I respected and almost coveted my singleness, I also was open to the possibility of God bringing someone into my life.
Regaining my physical health started with the healthy habits I established in the military. I was a gym rat. Once I lost the excess weight in 2018, I found that I was able to run again, faster and longer than I had ever before in 2019. And those muscles I hadn't trained in 20 years never forgot how to properly lift and move.
Losing Ruby and William was devastating. It took me four years to get over the loss of my first dog, Mr. Blue, in 2014. I often cite his passing in June as the beginning of my transition into the wilderness. I wandered in grief for years. When Ruby and William passed, I honored their memory by not allowing myself to descend into misery longer than needed. They both had unbelievable lives. I adopted them both at six years of age because not many people want a "senior" cat or dog. My two red-heads brought zest and unconditional love into my heart. The Bible tells us it is appointed once to die. None of us gets out of here alive. We need to rejoice when given full lives to spend with our loved ones and pets. Ruby Red was 14, and Prince William of Orange was 18.
One of the last things my mother said to me as I was tearfully sharing how much I would miss her was to "stop dwelling." If I weren't so sad, I would have laughed out loud. Such a logical yet insightful thing to say. She had a brilliant and blessed life. She was surrounded peacefully in my sister's home when she departed earth. She just celebrated her first Christmas in Heaven, and I will see her, and Mr. Blue and Ruby and William, and my father, and everyone else that has claimed their Heavenly inheritance, again!
Here's to you 2019. You served it up in every possible way. You also were the year when it all came together. So, thank you for the bitter pills I have learned taste sweet when I realized it's all part of life's grand plan to break you down and build you up. Never forget, when you have the right outlook and attitude, things that seem to be falling apart are actually falling into place.
Dr. Tracey Jones is now booking for speaking engagements for 2020 and 2021 on Ethics and Excellence, Crisis Leadership, Engaging Employees in the Age of Millennials, Women in Leadership, Making the Dream Team a Reality, Unlocking Motivation, and the Power of Books.
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