The Year in Review: 5 Life Lessons Learned in 2018

Lorie Kleiner Eckert

By Lorie Kleiner Eckert | Dec 23rd, 2018

I love Simon and Garfunkel’s song, “Old Friends.” It closes with the wise words: “Preserve your memories, they’re all that’s left you.” As 2018 rushes to a close, I heed the song’s advice, serving up a bunch of memories…and the lessons they offered.

Lesson #1: I must be proactive in assuring my own happiness.

Day one of 2018 taught me this lesson. I am not usually the sort of granny who babysits, but I am wise enough to know that being alone on major holidays is not good for the psyche and so five grandkids slept over at my house on New Year’s Eve and spent New Year’s Day with me too. Instead of champagne, we popped open cans of silly string. The family room floor was so completely covered with it, that we made “snow” angels in the residue – and captured it on film for posterity.

Lesson #2: My married friends seek new adventure through world travel and so can I.

While a partner was needed to get on Noah’s ark, no partner is needed for joining a tour group. I started off taking such tours on my own, once even letting the Road Scholar travel company assign me a roommate. Before long, though, I cultivated several travel partners. It is easy to find other single women with whom to travel, all you have to do is be a blabber-mouth and talk to people about your need. In this manner, I took a trip through the Canadian Rockies with my neighbor, and I attended two out of town weddings. For one of the weddings, I traveled with a book club friend, and for the other, with the 80-year-old aunt of the groom.

A bonus lesson from the auntie: When flying, I am one who checks bags and calls taxis. But when I learned that “Aunt Dorothy” carried her bag onboard and called Uber, you can bet that this younger dog learned some new tricks. Who knew peer pressure could be so beneficial?

Lesson #3: It is important to keep on keeping on.

At my annual checkup I tried to convince my doctor that at age 66, it was time for me to stop caring about my appearance. My plan was to say no to makeup and yes to muumuus. She had a better idea: I need to get up, dress up, show up, and never give up…no matter how I feel!

Her keep-at-it wisdom helped me in September when I celebrated the one-year anniversary of my website and Etsy shop. While my following had not grown in leaps and bounds as I had hoped, I decided to keep working at it for another year. Within weeks of my decision, I was approached by to write for them, taking my readership from three digits to five!

Lesson #4: Well thought out plans can go wrong – and it’s ok!

In March I hired a company to remodel my deck. I worked hard to thoroughly research and vet the company before choosing them and giving them a non-refundable deposit. I was told the job would start in July, but it didn’t. Frequent inquiries on my part brought no workers in August or September either. I was irate! I was enraged! I was beside myself! Except to raise my blood pressure, this accomplished nothing. Finally, on October 22 the job began. I was told it would take two to three weeks, but it took six and a half weeks instead. I could beat myself up for choosing this company, but instead, I forgive myself for this well-thought-out decision that proved faulty.

Lesson #5: Be grateful for what you have while you still have it.

In August my three kids, nine grandkids, and I spent a day at an amusement park. In past years we had three field trips per summer but in 2018, busy schedules allowed only one. Previously, I saw these outings as no-big-deal adventures. But now that the grandkids are growing up and developing their own interests, and now that I risk losing these days, I see them differently, and I am very grateful for all opportunities for family togetherness.

It is interesting to approach the topic of gratitude from this point of view: being grateful for things that I have now that I might not have in the future. This concept was poignantly reinforced when I learned that my friend’s forty-year-old daughter had a massive stroke in 2018. Thus, I end the year thankful for my good health which allowed me to enjoy family time, travel, a growing career, and even the challenges of everyday living. And I am especially grateful for the ability to preserve these memories, just like Simon and Garfunkel instructed me.

P.S. Since gratitude has become the overarching element of my story, I share this quilt. Making it was another highlight of 2018.

Photo courtesy of Lorie Kleiner Eckert

Lorie Kleiner Eckert

Lorie Kleiner Eckert

Lorie Kleiner Eckert thinks of herself as a cheerleader with the message: Life is difficult, but you can do it! Her new book, Love, Loss, and Moving On is available on Amazon.


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