Linda Hesthag  Ellwein

Communications, Change, and Photography, Oikonomia, Inc.

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As 2011 draws to a close, what is your personal takeaway this year? What did life teach you in 2011?

Happy New Year...or New Day, whichever suits you TED friends. Thank you for a wonderful year of getting to know you. I look forward to each day with the TED community. You have taught me many profound and meaningful lessons this year.

Will you share what stands out for you?

Perhaps it's new knowledge, personal awakenings, aha moments, lessons from suffering and pain, or elation and joy. Whatever it was, teach us...won't you?

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    Dec 31 2011: I am not as bright, and others are not as dull, as I thought.
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    Dec 31 2011: PATIENCE.....a life long lesson for me:>)

    I've had personal awakenings, aha moments, lessons, pain, life, death, elation, joy...whatever........
    For me, living life to the fullest, is ALWAYS a matter of balancing it all with patience and love in my heart:>)
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      Jan 2 2012: I love your word PATIENCE. Just 1 one word in caption but means a meaningful sentence.
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      Jan 2 2012: Yes, I've learned a great deal about patience this year too, Colleen! As a caregiver for someone with Alzheimer's/Dementia, I've learned how to answer the same questions repeatedly - day in and day out - with love. It is all so much easier with an open and loving heart.
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      Jan 3 2012: So true... and maybe start with patience with ourselves, that's where I need to work the most.
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        Jan 3 2012: Hi Karina,
        I believe that is where it HAS to start...with ourselves. Can we honestly give to someone else something we do not have in ourself, for our "self"?

        If I cannot understand what the lesson is in the moment, I always know that it is another opportunity to be patient with the process, and the situation eventually reveals more understanding, insight, knowledge, and hopefully wisdom as I travel the adventure of life with an open heart and mind:>)
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          Jan 3 2012: See, you are way far ahead. It is very inspiring for others that you share this here!

          I am wired to be extremely understanding with everyone else, and patient and forgiving, but since I know myself so well, I don't give Karina any slack.
          I am learning to allow myself to fail and then give myself 2nd chances too; to take time to do things instead of always being efficient and on the go; to make a point of building myself up too, not just everybody around, and also take the time to celebrate my succeses instead of brushing them off.

          Having taken care of others for as long as I can remember, this is like the 12 steps of AAA for the caregiver...
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        Jan 3 2012: Dear Karina,
        I'm not really "way far ahead" of anything or anyone. I'm simply a lot older, and have had more time to practice!!! LOL:>)

        If we believe, as I do, that everything and everyone offers an opportunity to learn, grow and evolve, there are really no failures. I discovered when I was young, that I really cannot give anything to others if I do not nurture and take care of my "self" first. Women are often taught to be the caregivers, emotional supporters of the family, keep things calm, etc. etc. We are often also taught that it is selfish to want to give to our "self". Often, women give to the point of depleting our own resources, which I did in my life at one time. I wanted to end my life because I didn't think I was "worth" anything...I had given it all away.

        I agree Karina...it is like the 12 steps, which are valuable guides in many aspects of our lives:>)
  • Jan 2 2012: On June 17, 2011, my wife Judie had a severe stroke. Her right side was paralyzed and she could not speak. We were able to get her into hospital in time for the magic blood thinner tPA to be administered. After a truly frightening night, the next morning was as if a miracle had happened (perhaps one did) and Judie was back relatively close to her old self. After going through another clot and 6 months of therapy, things are getting much better. I've learned to be a caregiver and we are both getting better at pacing ourselves. And we have learned more...2011 was not a terrible year but one that gave us a wonderful gift; a true thankfulness for each other, what we have and do together, for friends and family and for the beauty of life itself.
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      Jan 2 2012: Your words brought me to tears, Bob. Thank you so much for sharing this. I, too, became a caregiver this year and it is teaching me a great deal about love, patience, priorities and gratitude.

      What a great miracle...no matter the catalyst. A miracle has many conduits to bring us awe and wonder. So happy Judie has someone as caring as you, Bob, and she recovered as much as she did. May you both have a glorious 2012.
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    Jan 2 2012: I learned a lot in 2011. To take time for myself and the people that matter to me. To reach out to new people and new ideas. To make the most of every situation. To smile, to be happy, to relish the time I have left. To wonder.
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      Jan 2 2012: Wow! You were in a learning mode in 2011. Nine lessons like the ones you mention took me several re-takes, and several years, to get through my head. Thanks for sharing Sue.
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        Jan 3 2012: Hi Edward ... you're right - it may take a sustained effort to keep all those things going - but one thing I do know ... I am a life-long learner and never tire of the thrill of discovery. Wishing you well for 2012!
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      Jan 4 2012: Try to think, try to learn a lot then looking back, there will be a lot of amazing things happen.
  • Jan 2 2012: ENJOY

    Enjoying life. I have picked up a fascination with happiness this year and I want to make the very most of my life and am on the quest to make myself happy aswell as others.
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    Dec 31 2011: How to gracefully ask for help.

    Well, I'm still learning the 'graceful' bit. But I'm getting better at it every day!
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    Dec 31 2011: 2011 was, to say the least, a trial and error year. Very heavy on the error. But at the end of it all, I think the takeaway is that even though arguably I've messed up in a lot more and bigger ways this year than in years previous, I think at the end of it I actually learned lessons from these mistakes, rather than just writing them off for a later repeat. What's more, I'm finally starting to forgive myself and accept myself for who I am, flaws and all, which is allowing me a greater sense of agency as I try to tackle 2012.
  • Dec 31 2011: Life always give you another oportunity...but / if you take risk / you make a choice
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      Jan 2 2012: I agree with you, life is fair. We take risk and a bad/good thing will come. But if we don't do that, nothing will come.

      Just lives the life we want.
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      Jan 2 2012: Yes, could be good or could be bad...but, in the end, it is fully our experience to do with what we choose. And, around the corner, awaits another opportunity for us to sieze. :)
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        Jan 3 2012: What if we do not label it "good" or "bad"? I believe that creates more opportunities for our mind and heart. For example, I did not label a near fatal head/brain injury good, and I cannot deny the incredible life lessons I learn from the experience. The head injury is simply a head injury...neither good or bad. The lessons I learned by not judging the situation were priceless and unlimited. As you insightfully say Linda, it is our experience "it is fully our experience to do with what we choose...well said:>)
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          Jan 3 2012: Yes, that's exactly my point :) Could be good, or could be bad....as our minds judge experiences. However, the bottom line is they are...and the lessons, and what we take from outcomes are what matter. Just as you so succinctly demonstrate, Colleen :D
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        Jan 6 2012: Looks like we are on the same page. I LOVE it when that happens:>)
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    Jan 3 2012: That every experience is valuable; good and bad, they all add to who you are. If you look at them the right way, then you can come out of everything with a lesson learnt.
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    Jan 2 2012: Every year I learn more about places and ways to make a difference. 2011 was no exception. Every year I learn where it is fruitful to persist and from which settings it is time to move on. (I know that sometimes I stay too long).What I appreciate and applaud particularly about the TED community is that this environment embraces a real diversity of views. I find that I can still be surprised (decades into my life) to come across places and people that don't and particularly places and people who discount others because they are differently educated or because they bring a different life experience to a question or problem.
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      Jan 2 2012: So true, Fritzie. Mutual respect and civility is a characteristic of this community that I, too, cherish. It is remarkable how much intolerance still exists, often cloaked in denial or blind spots. I'm also grateful for a community like this one- for each person here.
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    Jan 2 2012: I accidentally came across TED and it was one of the most beautiful thing to happen. I could come across some really good inspiring talks as well as interact with some really wonderful people.

    Its proved beyond doubt that learning is a life long exercise and it keeps you youthful all the time. Wonderful people really bring some good wonders in life and look forward to meeting some more wonderful people.
  • Jan 2 2012: This year I've learnt to be truly indebted to those love me. I sepnt a lot time on figuring out what I really want out of life.The answer hasn't come out yet. But it will.
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    Jan 4 2012: 2011 taught me GRATITUDE - we have so much to be thankful for and this year I learned to really enjoy it and reflect on all that life has given me.
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    Jan 3 2012: In 2011 I learned that you are never too old to live your dream or realize that it's okay if it changes.
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      Jan 4 2012: We are never too old to learn/dream about something new.
      But is it too old for me to take a Degree at the age of 90 :)
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        Jan 6 2012: No...never too old...in my humble perception:>)
  • Jan 3 2012: Growth. Going back to school for a graduate degree after 26 years at The Graduate Institute where I was introduced to TED and now have drawn many insights and generated new thinking processes.
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    Jan 2 2012: It helped me to recognize my lacking of love with my family, my job, my friends and I also found that I am wasting my life, my career without a specific target to achive.
    Hope it will not be the same in 2012 with a a specific plan has been written down.
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      Jan 2 2012: Such a powerful statement. There is little as powerful as an honest self assessment...and seeing things as they are. It seems you have an exciting journey ahead of you in 2012. I will be sending you good thoughts for clarity and progress in achieving your dreams!
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    Dec 31 2011: It taught me about love and making sacrifices with a happy heart. There are times we know what the 'right thing to do' is even when it is the most difficult choice to make. It has been a lesson in deepening.
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    Dec 31 2011: That hard work and perseverence pay off.
  • Dec 31 2011: Hang in.
    Be optimistic.
    Truth works to accomplish all of our positive goals,.
    Right now good things are happening to good people all over our precious planet.
    I quote myself again......"When in doubt, assume positive."
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    Jan 6 2012: thanks Linda, So far so good... but I am waiting for some good talks... any recommendations ?
  • Jan 3 2012: great!
  • Jan 2 2012: Life has taught me that you cant fight for someone who's not willing to get in the ring with you as well as life is too short to live with regrets so you have to let go and let god