You can start over, no matter what day it is: My lessons to you for a New Year
“This is the solstice, the still point
of the sun, its cusp and midnight,
the year’s threshold
and unlocking, where the past
lets go of and becomes the future;
the place of caught breath…”
― Margaret Atwood, Eating Fire: Selected Poetry 1965-1995
I quietly announced to myself back on December 21st that I was making that day the start of my New Year. Forget about the cliché of Jan 1, the winter solstice was going to be the “It” day for me. I liked the idea of using the longest day of the year as a transition point probably because I’m impatient and didn’t want to have to dress up for the occasion. More importantly though, I like the idea that you can start again at a moment’s notice regardless of what you’re taught to believe. More on this later.
I know the collective opinion is that 2016 sucked balls (the Schewddy type) but frankly in my world 2016 was a helluva lot better than the two previous years. 2016 taught me many lessons, God knows I can always use them. The gist of my now superior wisdom is this:
You can always start again, but don’t forget the lessons (about passports).
Here they are in no particular order:
- Meditation is the real deal. Mindfulness is a tool that can help you calm down, be less reactive (read: not say something assinnine you’ll regret later), reduce anxiety and depression, manage pain, and make you happier. My perspective has improved dramatically because of my daily meditation practice. My students have told me their outlooks have improved after starting meditating, too. My mood, and those around me, suffer when I let my meditation slip. Best ask me where I stand on my practice before getting too close. My experience and opinions are backed by science. If you want more proof read this article in Forbes, this one in Psychology Today, this one in Scientific American, and this one in Time.
- A meditation practice is a metaphor for life: with every breath, at any moment, you can always start again. Slip up? Start again. Get distracted? Start again. Have the munchies and eat an entire bag of chips while watching a documentary on how to change bad habits like binge eating? Start again.
- Further to #2, drop the perfectionist act. In fact, trying to be perfect has the opposite effect: you end up further from your end point because you’re so caught up in the details. You’ll never launch your website if you’re obsessed over font type and you’ll never publish a book if you spend your free time on Instagram. *ahem* Good enough is good enough. Repeat after me: Your mantra for 2017 is, “Progress, not perfection”.
- You can’t do it all yourself, nor should you want to. Whether it’s training for a half-marathon, organizing an event, fundraising for a cause, or cake eating. Life is easier when you ask for help.
- It’s ok to say goodbye to people if they want to leave your life. I had several people tell me this past year in no uncertain terms that they didn’t care to have me around. I’m not perfect (see no. 3) and never pretend to be, but sometimes that’s not good enough for some. If you disappoint people by setting boundaries and being imperfect there’s nothing you can do to change that.
- Some people are fighting a fight you may not see; be empathetic.
- Having said that, don’t put up with people treating you badly. If they act like they don’t give a shit, believe them.
- Tell the uncomfortable truth.
- Quality over quantity. Friendships. Hobbies. Commitments. Glasses of wine.
- Never assume.
- Never compare.
- Form good habits. Cue the habit, create a routine, give yourself a reward.
- Find your flow. Do more of what makes time stand still.
- Be kind to yourself. You might not even realize how mean you can be to yourself. Notice the things you say to yourself then replace them with other things, even if it feels like lying at first.
- Ask for what you want. You never get what you don’t ask for. This goes for jobs, collaborations, a seat at the popular Schwartz’s Deli.
- Be open and ready for anything. Trips, opportunities, balance board modeling requests.
And speaking of being open to anything, remember to keep your passport up-to-date, you never know when you’ll need it. If you read my newsletter you’ll get the joke.