‘If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.’ ― Woody Allen
I love fresh starts. The romantic appeal of a makeover or a full-on reinvention has never quite deserted me. New year’s resolutions always seemed like an ideal opportunity for this and I made them faithfully year after year.
However, in actuality, I rarely followed through, unless my determination to conquer something meant a resolution as such wasn’t required in the first place.
Last December, I stopped making resolutions altogether. I was fatigued from gazing forward – wishing, wanting, hoping.
Instead, I took stock of the previous twelve months and listed all the things I had learnt that year. I thought of them as leaps – simply to remind myself that I was, indeed, evolving.
Doing this helped me assess the recent past, be grateful for where I was at present and powered me for times ahead.
I’m doing the same this year too. Here are some of my leaps from 2013:
Never apologise for what makes your heart sing.
Instead of extremes, it’s all right to be in the middle. It’s not dull or prosaic. It’s a better, calmer place to be. The middle feels more centred.
I can enjoy things without having to own them.
It’s great having a roommate.
I don’t want to be More Than Me.
Everyone comes into my life for a reason. Even the supremely annoying ones. Figure out what lesson I’m meant to learn from being around them, so they can go away and annoy someone else.
When something doesn’t work, it doesn’t mean I failed. It could mean that it failed me.
Instead of wanting the cool guy in the corner to pay attention, appreciate the one standing next to me who’s perhaps less thrilling, but is more open and engaging. (This is an analogy. When it comes to men, I know earnest wins over cool every time.)
Nothing moves until I forgive myself.
See crazy-making behaviour for what it is, and don’t engage with it.
Listening is a profound demonstration of love.
When a situation feels uncomfortable, I can either accept it, gleaning what I need from it, or I can reject it because it doesn’t work for me. But I can’t simultaneously reject it and accept it.
There’s no magic plan/diet/secret/man/answer that’s going to save me.
Unpredictability doesn’t make me adventurous, it makes me anxious.
Everything that happens is a story.
It took several decades to discover it but I’m glad I finally did: feminine energy. And it works way better for me than thinking I need to operate like a bloke in this world.
I am love and I am forgiveness.
Always leave a little room for chocolate.
This from my darling friend, Ro: don’t let anyone mess with your mojo.
And one from my acupuncturist, Jane: the point of anything is love.
My Big Leap
Try it before rejecting it.
Because while I may try to pre-empt something (well, everything), the reality always takes me by surprise in its multi-dimensional, technicolour, panoramic present-ness.
The idea of starting a blog had been percolating for more than a year.
• But – I’m so private I don’t even share my thoughts or activities on Facebook.
• But – writing about my life would only leave me feeling exposed.
• But – who the hell would want to read me?
‘I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.’ ― Maya Angelou
When I finally started my blog (thanks, Ms Angelou!) three months ago, I didn’t have any agenda behind it. I only knew I would not use it to score points or vent – I have my diary for that – and that I’d always be authentic in my compulsion to share what I know. I am, you see, no different to a madman shouting on the street corner.
What has been unexpected, and what moves me beyond measure, is that anyone reads me. (Other than my mother, but that’s because I sit her down and read out/translate each entry before I post it; the poor woman has no choice.)
I write because I need to. It’s my air and water. I always thought it was its own treat. But, really, to be read is hugely gratifying and way more exciting than I can express. Every comment feels like a present. Each new subscriber is a surprise gift.
More beautiful rewards of leaping beyond my comfort zone: when Google Analytics informs me I’m being read in countries (even continents) I’ve never visited. When friends tell me they’ve started using raw honey or a kettlebell. When a stranger reaches out after reading the blog and becomes a new friend.
Existing as I do in my own bubble, it’s expansive to know strands connect me to each of you.
So, my biggest leap of this year has been brought home because of you. Thank you. Aren’t you all simply amazing?
I hope every one of you enjoys the value of the past twelve months.
Brené Brown is a uniquely real, funny and deeply stirring speaker. These short videos are important, relevant and potentially life changing for everyone I know. I can’t recommend them highly enough.
Best watched in sequence:
• TEDxHouston talk in 2010 on The Power of Vulnerability.
• 2012 TED talk on Listening to Shame.
• Talk on The Power of Empathy at the RSA in 2013. (The RSA also made a three-minute animated video using clips from her talk.)
Brown’s third book, Daring Greatly, takes its title from a part of Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 speech:
‘It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly,
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.’