“Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” — Lao Tzu
Did anyone else feel as if 2018 was a really tough year?
For me it felt like a year of stops and starts, of one drawback after another. Of thinking I was moving jauntily ahead only to be yanked back. Of the same lessons being learnt again and again and again. (Frankly, all the lessons I thought I’d absorbed in 2017 had to be re-learnt in 2018. No joke.)
The universe made it abundantly clear that I have to be at peace with waiting, with uncertainty and – gulp – with not having control.
It was also a year of being confronted by my own shortcomings, of health problems, of money concerns, of a kind of existential angst (sister to my depression that hovers always) where I wondered – why live at all?
Somewhere, amidst the fatigue and weariness, a part of me became a teeny bit more resilient. Maybe a fraction more steadfast. For one so prone to flight, I began to see the wisdom in tenacity, in try-try-again, in my own quiet conviction to hold on.
More leaps from 2018
(They’re rather navel-gazing, apologies, but that seems to be the general shape of things at this time.)
We are all constantly seeking confirmation of our deepest beliefs.
We need to re-learn from children the ability to allow ourselves to feel our sadness or pain in the moment, and let it pass out of us when we’re done.
Our intuition is our superpower. But because there’s no money to be made off of it, our culture has designed us to look outside for answers instead. In so doing, we miss opportunities to deliver the unique contribution that life has asked of each of us.
Accept the timing of your life.
Now that I’m reacting badly to dairy, vegan cheese is where it’s at. My favourite Parmesan substitute: take 1 cup raw cashew nuts + 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast + ¾ teaspoon salt + ¾ teaspoon garlic powder. Throw everything in a blender and pulse until it crumbles, but not for too long, as oil from the cashews will release and make it clumpy.
The universe tilts to keep its balance, so if I clutch and cling, it will pull back in order to stay centred. If I let go, life flows more freely. Moreover, when I allow myself to receive, then it stops feeling as if I need to do everything myself.
When people wield whatever petty little power they believe they have over you and enjoy making you dance, it’s time to cut them from your life and move on.
I’ve been using oil for skincare for many years: rosehip seed for my face, jojoba to remove makeup, various oils and butters for my body. This year I switched to using only organic cold-pressed food-grade sesame seed oil for everything – my face, hair, body and makeup removal. I have the driest skin in the world, and this sinks right in and gives me comfort. It makes travelling simpler too. I keep a refillable 50ml glass spray bottle in my bag and a 100ml one in my bathroom.
Life happens for you, not at you.
I’ve often idealised the Contained Me who is measured, calm and elegant. But in reality, I am passionate, effusive and categorically uncontained. I finally embraced this when a work contact, voluntarily relaxing their otherwise strict rules, told me: “your enthusiasm is contagious!” So I know I may not be terribly graceful but it’s been gratifying to be my voluble, expressive self without apology.
It’s as important to be there for our loved ones when they’re happy as much as when they’re down.
I started listening to a bunch of new podcasts this year – three from Gimlet: Reply All, Every Little Thing, and Without Fail. Also: The Rewatchables, NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour, and The Daily from the New York Times, which takes one current issue and explores it for 20 minutes every weekday. And the BBC’s From Our Own Correspondent tells the journalist’s story as they investigate the news, which I like as well.
If we are secure in ourselves then we never feel the need to bring others down. Nobody who has peace within has a compulsion to hurt others.
The more anxious I feel, the more I need predictability and simplicity. Yet a part of me also craves change (which is why I moved house this year). Change refreshes all that feels stale and lets me view my world with new eyes again. Instead of oscillating between consistency and change (my general pattern), I realise I need a balance of both.
Don’t wait for anyone’s permission.
We all have an intuitive need to belong to something bigger than us. We are a part of nature and we ignore it at our peril. Consumerism and materialism keeps us in a state of constant greed and dissatisfaction. Nature keeps us in rhythm with the ebb and flow of life. Of gathering but also, crucially, of letting go. Of inhaling and expanding, but also of exhaling and release.
Choose to give yourself only to people and places that give you space to be in full bloom.
Deleting my account on Facebook (for Trump, for the Rohingya crisis, for its sharing of users’ data and private messages, for its lying and coverups and breathtaking greed) was the smartest thing I did this year.
Never shout at anyone who can’t shout back. And never hang around people who shout at people who can’t shout back.
Only when we face the consequences of our actions do we actually learn from our mistakes.
I’d quoted last year: losing weight is hard, being fat is hard; choose your hard. Now I say: having no money is hard, being stuck in a self-despising mind jam is much, much harder; figure this shit out.
Maybe it feels like dying only because we’re ready to be reborn.
And, as always, my favourite perennial advice from my best friend Ro: never let anyone mess with your mojo.
My goal for next year is to become financially fit! What’s yours?
I send to each of you my love and my gratitude. Thank you for being here. It means more to me than you can know. I wish you each your deepest dreams – I hope you dare to go there next year so that they may come true.
Wishing you a peaceful and loving 2019!
“We are all just walking each other home.” — Ram Dass
Although I am no longer active on social media, I’m more than thrilled if you choose to share this post on your end, thanks!
Favourite films of 2018:
(I didn’t read many books this year, except those required for work, many of which left me very cross indeed, so I won’t go there.)
My favourite film of the year was Shoplifters by Hirokazu Kore-eda, about a family and the ties that bind them. It deserves all the awards it’s already received and I hope it wins many more. It has stayed with me months after I watched it.
Though released in 2017, I finally managed to see Asghar Farhadi’s The Salesman – about a tragedy and its reckoning – at the start of this year, and that too took my breath away.
My weary soul this year was immensely grateful for the films that told stories using my beloved music – Mamma Mia 2: Here We Go Again and especially Bohemian Rhapsody. They entertained and pacified me. Rami Malek also gave an incredibly moving performance as Freddie Mercury.
My favourite documentary (released last year but watched recently) was Jane, directed by Brett Morgen for National Geographic, about Jane Goodall. A study not just of chimps in their natural habitat but also the spirit of someone dedicated to a cause that betters our world. Just incredible.
Don’t Think Twice, directed by Mike Birbiglia – one of those small, contained US indie films I used to watch a lot of (and now miss, as funding for them have largely dried up).
Similarly: Private Life directed by Tamara Jenkins.
The Icelandic film Woman at War directed by Benedikt Erlingsson was fun if somewhat far-fetched and predictable, but I was happy to get a glimpse of Iceland’s natural beauty.
I, Tonya, directed with confidence and vitality by Craig Gillespie, came out last year and I enjoyed every moment of it. Margot Robbie is amazeballs!
I really liked the Georgian film My Happy Family, directed by Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Groß.
While being far from a foodie, I thoroughly enjoyed Samin Nosrat’s 4-part Netflix documentary series, Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, which left me enlightened and oddly emotional.
Many of these titles are available on Netflix.
Stay with me!