I don’t remember enjoying the period between Christmas and New Year so much for a long time. I was working parts of it for the last two years but even before that, I didn’t seem to count it as a proper holiday. I’ve really gotten into it this year. We haven’t made plans – no travelling, no nights out, no shopping sprees, no madcap schemes for self-improvement. We have embarked on absolutely guilt-free resting, listening and reading. I’m not entirely sure we should feel guilty about those activities anyway. Rest, listening and reading being essential ingredients for curing the modern mania of 24/7 living and connectivity.
It’s brought a realisation. This is what I value. Peace, togetherness, escaping in a book, taking care of ourselves, nurturing food, walking, listening to interesting things. Curiously, when doing these things, I don’t want any of the things that get me into trouble – copious alcohol, spending money, giant platters of cheese, vats of pate, guilt and worrying. So this year, I’m not quitting anything I enjoy. I’m doing more of it. I need to prioritise it and reduce the hours I spend idly on social media, worrying about things that haven’t even happened yet, worrying about the things I don’t have yet and seeking perfection in every aspect of life. Instead, I choose to do more of the good stuff with good people. That goes for work too. Commit to do my best, then accept the results with grace.
There is always going to be stuff we have to do but don’t like doing. Chores and exercise being pretty key for me. But I have a cunning plan. Find the exercise I like. Hopefully even do this with people I like. I will find a soundtrack I like to pass the time spent on chores. I can’t give them up but I can make them more enjoyable and I can focus on the good things that follow as a result.
After a year that many of us have found more challenging than those before it’s time to stop the self-flagellation and step up the kindness. We have learned that often world events go against what we believe is decent, some people behave cruelly and the expectations we put on ourselves are very unkind. So rather than focus on what went wrong and who is to blame, be responsible for your own part of the world. Operate with kindness, strive to do what is good for the people and causes you care about and then know that you are good enough exactly as you are. Even if you eat carbs. Even if you don’t do spinning. Even if you don’t have a 17- step plan for your best year ever.