7 Lessons I Learned the Hard Way in 2012 (That I’ll Carry into 2013)

7 Lessons I Learned the Hard Way in 2012

I learned quite a few lessons the hard way in 2012. Some were big deal issues, some were not quite as significant. But I’m grateful for them all, and I’m thankful I’m entering 2013 with this knowledge already in hand:

1. Write in the book. You know I homeschool, right? My kids have hardbound textbooks that are meant to be reusable. Every morning I’d faithfully make copies of the day’s lessons before they started their work. I finally realized that they could just write in the book, cutting 10 minutes off my prep time every single day.

Now I’ve reclaimed 10 minutes a day, their schoolwork is neatly contained in the books, and they always know which lesson they’re on. And if we need to re-use those textbooks one day, I can buy new ones for $11 each. No big deal.

2. Less is more. My stylist suggested I try shampooing every 2 or 3 days instead, and it’s a miracle. My hair is healthier and looks better (my rogue waves are always tamer on the second day), but the time savings is incredible. Washing and blow-drying my hair is time-consuming, and only doing it every 3 days saves scads of time. I wish I’d started this years ago. And on that note….

3. It’s not you. It’s your stylist. I’ve always had chummy relationships with my hair stylists. I’ve never had an actual define-the-relationship talk with someone who does my hair, but visiting another stylist after a long-term relationship has been established feels like cheating. (Am I right?) But this year I desperately needed my hair professionally colored after abusing it with chlorine and saltwater all summer, and I just couldn’t justify paying my usual stylist’s rates for color.

I asked around for recommendations…and ended up with someone I love. She knows exactly how to cut my hard-to-cut hair, and charges half of what I was paying before. For the first time in years I’m getting “good hair” compliments even when my hair isn’t piled in a messy bun.

4. Ask. In 2012 I got comfortable with asking for help. I don’t do this enough. I know people who want to help you. It doesn’t matter what it is. Asking isn’t comfortable at first. I’m practicing until I get comfortable with it.

5. Pitch. This is a cousin to asking, but they’re not the same. Last year I saw good things going on that I wanted to be a part of—so I pitched. I made a case for being included, and many times–I was. Pitching is scary, but getting a “yes” makes it worth it.

6. Experiment. I’ve been trying to experiment more in several areas of my life. Experiments go one of two ways: they succeed, or they fail. My natural bent is to be a perfectionist and a maximizer–or someone who sees failure as the enemy. But I’m starting to understand—not just intellectually, either—that failure is a pretty darn efficient feedback mechanism. And I’m all about efficient.

7. My surroundings affect me more than I’d like. I need quiet and uncluttered to stay sane. Not all the time and not everywhere (or I really would go crazy!), but I’ve found that I need one peaceful hour a day and one clean room in the house to keep the cranky at bay.

As my kids get older and the rhythm of family life changes, I’m continually finding new ways to carve out a quiet space. Right now I’m relying on book basket time and audiobooks, art projects and Yo Gabba Gabba–as well as some solo coffee shop time, and a nightly pick-up routine around the house. I’ll change my strategies as needed, making sure my surroundings provide what I need–even if I wish I didn’t need it.

(On a related note, here are the 6 smartest things I did in 2011, relevant as ever.)

What hard-earned lessons are you carrying forward into the new year?

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  1. sarah says:

    I just read that article you link to that you wrote for simple homeschool. As a fellow introvert who is thinking of homeschooling but afraid of the draining of energy, plus the need for time for my projects and work, I thought what you wrote was so encouraging! I’d love to see a “day in the life” sort of schedule of how you fit it all in. For instance, when do you exercise? Maybe you’ve already written this sort of post and I need to go hunting : )

    • Anne says:

      Sarah, I wrote a day in the life post last year but I didn’t do it on a homeschooling day. I will say our schedule varies from day to day, and I do have some built-in time throughout the week for work time (home and away from home) and quiet time. Otherwise I get drained. Really, really drained.

      My schedule has changed radically this winter, and I promise a post about what I’m finding to work–and not to work–once I get a handle on it. (Although a post about how I use mornings is slated for Friday.)

  2. Victoria says:

    My lesson was to “pitch” to but not in the same way as you mine was to pitch things, items in our house that just were not valuable to us any more. I probably donated, or sold over 2 truck loads worth of stuff in 2012 and could probably easily do it again in 2013 and it is making so much difference in the time it takes to clean my home which means I have more time to write, or play board games with my daughter, or talk music with my son, or run with my other son.

  3. Joanna says:

    I totally agree on the shampooing thing. I find my hair looks best when I wash it about every 3 days, the best of those days being the day after I’ve washed it. I’ve also found that letting my hair dry naturally where possible rather than assaulting it with a blowdryer seems to help.

  4. Heatherly says:

    1. Thank you for making your posts so “pinnable.” I love sharing your posts and my friends are pin-aholics, so this method is fab.

    2. I can’t believe you used the words “Yo Gabba Gabba” and “quiet time” in the same sentence. 🙂


  5. Laura @FoodSnobSTL says:

    I learned that mistakes and mishaps can actually be a good thing, even though at the time they seem horrible. You can learn and grow so much.

  6. Elizabeth Kane says:

    I’m right there with you on “experiment.” As a fellow perfectionist, I want failure to be avoided at all times! But somewhere around the last part of the year I started letting go in the little ways and I felt like I was breathing easier because of it. I’ve still got a ways to go, but this year I want to embrace more life. The other side of that coin means stepping out of my comfort zone and letting go.

  7. Tim says:

    I’ve kind of got a combination of 4, 5 and 6, Anne. It’s not that this came to me in 2012, but over time I’ve come to realize that the only sure way not to achieve something is by not trying. So I apply for positions*, or email someone for insight**, or cold call U.S. Supreme Court justices to talk about their latest decision***. If I don’t try, truly nothing is guaranteed to happen.


    *Wouldn’t have become a judge otherwise, I’m sure.

    **Case in point – your editorial suggestion on the article I wrote for today’s blog post is quite a hit. Thanks much for the insights!

    ***It’s a bit thrilling to hear someone a continent away on the other end of the line pick up and say “Tony Scalia here.”

      • Tim says:

        I’ve actually spoken to him now three times. Cool is the word, all right. you’ve got me thinking I should blog on this.

        And on applying for a judgeship, I just finished writing on that and scheduled it to go up next Wednesday.

        You’re just full of instigation for my blog posts, Anne!

  8. HopefulLeigh says:

    The biggest lesson for me was learning to accept and embrace my introversion, thanks to reading Introverts in the Church. That led to a few significant changes for the better.

    • Anne says:

      I remember that! Was that just this year? It feels like ages ago. I’m so happy that was revolutionary for you. That book was definitely one of the best and most personally important I read in 2012.

  9. Oh my gosh — I identify with so many of these, but my favorite is your first! I had the exact same epiphany a couple years ago (we were cutting the books and putting the pages in page protectors to do with dry erase markers), and I’ve never looked back! Sometimes mama’s sanity is worth more than a new workbook!

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  11. Rebecca says:

    Bopping over to give you a HUGE thank you! I’ve had the same stylist for almost 15 years. But I can’t leave my stylist, right? She’s my friend. . .and we live in a small town. I finally drummed up the courage after reading this post, and made the switch. Now I have a stylist that knows how to deal with babyfine hair, and I have a great cut and products that work well. Thanks 🙂

  12. I SO relate to needing a clean room to keep the cranky at bay. It’s like, to combat the clutter in my ever-busy mind, my eyes need somewhere tidy to rest. It’s amazing how much calmer just straightening up the clutter on the breakfast bar can make me feel.

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