While I was hunting through my attic, I discovered one of the many boxes that contain my old journals. I found a mish-mosh of greeting cards, letters and some random notes that I had scribbled down on a notepad.
The piece of paper that stood out amongst the rest had a bunch of different dates on it, all from the Summer of 2001. It was written on a notepad with my former married name. Reminding me of a different chapter of my life. It was pre - 9/11. Reminding me that the world has had a different chapter of life too. On the paper, I had written things that I aspired to do. Not a bucket list. More like “operating instructions” on how to live smarter… dare I say “happier.” 16 years later, they are still the basic instructions that I live by… or aspire to live by. Which means either:
- I haven’t changed.
- I haven’t learned.
- Or some things are so big that you have to write them down over and over again until you get it….
Here they are:
This is the big one. This is the one that reminds me that I still have some work to do. I set out to be more patient this year and I am still very intent on incorporating this word into my daily vocabulary and being. The good news is that I have become more patient with others. The bad news is that I am still rather impatient with myself. So that remains a work in progress. It’s no coincidence that last year, I commissioned a local artist to make me the sign that proudly hangs in my office above my desk: be patient.
I heard these “rules” at a business meeting way back when. I wrote them down, memorized it, and have tried to live by it ever since. I work in an industry of people who were always late, often times didn’t show up, rarely told the truth, and I was the one who was always (too) attached to the outcome. I decided that I couldn’t change “them.” I could only change me. I am pretty good about the first three rules. #4 remains a struggle. I have to remind myself everyday about being “less attached to the outcome.”
When I wrote this down in the Summer of 2001, I was going through a lot of different issues. My personal life and my work life felt very unstable. My company was being sold. The management team was being restructured. My first husband and I were struggling. In both my workplace and personal life, I was surrounded by people who were telling me one thing, but doing another. I made this note to myself as a reminder to not just trust what people say, but to remember to look at their actions as well. In these last 16 years, I have become much better at watching people’s behaviors as well as listening to their words. I no longer waste time with people who make lofty promises and have no follow through. It has saved me from a lot of aggravation… and hurt feelings.
I haven’t learned this lesson yet. Something to strive for in 2018… along with a few other goals too which I will get to.
This is the same message they give you when you are on an airplane: “Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others around you.” When I wrote this, I was always helping others before helping myself. I had an acupuncturist who once said to me: “You pour out your Chi (Chinese word for “life energy”) and you have nothing left for yourself.” I have gotten better about this. I really try and take care of myself first, so that I can better take care of those I love too.
So here I am, 16 years later, writing a blog that deals with all of these issues. I have made a lot of changes since I wrote these words. I have since been divorced, remarried, had a third child, changed my career, changed my home, learned to play tennis, went back to yoga, started meditating, went through menopause, learned to survive panic attacks... and even started writing.
I have lived by most of the words on this paper and I have achieved some of these goals, but I am still a work in progress. (Particularly my penmanship, which still sucks, and probably is why I prefer to type.)
But, it’s no coincidence that the very first word on the list was “patience.” As I venture into this new chapter of my career, patience is a continuing theme. Now that I am a producer and a writer, I still want everything to come fast, but it doesn’t. So I am reminded that I have evolved, improved, succeeded in many ways, but everything still requires patience.
As I look back on the last 52 Mondays, and the 52 Mondays before that, I am rounding the corner on writing steadily for almost two years. But what I realized is that I have been a “closet writer” my whole life. It started when I got my first “diary” in the 3rd grade. That was the beginning of keeping a journal on my feelings about things. I have kept journals my whole life. I guess that made me a writer-ISH for most of my life.
Even when I wasn’t keeping journals, I was always writing down ideas. Quotes. Thoughts. Expressions I heard. Words. I have loved words since I was a little girl. It’s probably why I have always talked so much. I am always trying to find the right words to express an exact feeling. For me:
Talking is sharing.
Sharing is bonding.
Bonding is intimacy.
Intimacy is friendship... and sometimes love.
Banter is foreplay.
Great banter is intercourse. (Get your head out of the gutter… I meant social intercourse, but sometimes social intercourse is just as satisfying. I know. I know. Only a woman would say that. But it’s true.)
I love words and I love conversation. But I have come to realize over the last two years, as I have sat down to write something every Monday (and sometimes on other days too), I also love to write.
I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. Something about the word “resolution” feels like too much pressure. So I prefer to refer to them as goals for the new year. So here are some of my goals:
Be less attached to the outcome. (An oldie, but a goodie.)
Grow my readership. (A new one... since I just started writing for an audience.)
Continue to make a living as writer and/or a producer. (Fingers crossed.)
Love what I do. (I have loved the last year more than the 30 years that led up to it. I want to continue this trend.)
Stay balanced. (Doing better each year.)
Stay healthy. (Knock on wood.)
Be Patient. (This might be on next year’s list too... since it's been on my notepads for the last 16 years.)
Keep writing. (One down. 51 more Mondays to go.)
Be prolific. (Dare to dream.)
Be Inspired. (I have been this year... and I want to keep it going.)
Inspire others. (I hope so.)
Last but not least, as I wrap up these last 52 Mondays and look to the next 52, I want to thank YOU. My new found friends who have given me another kind of conversation. For all of you who have been reading my blog, comment on on the posts, like on Facebook, heart on Twitter, email me privately, or share with your friends and family, you are engaging in this new conversation with me. It fills me up and it keeps me writing. I thank you all and wish you only good things in the new year to come.
Happy New Year!
The 52 Mondays Lady... and her fluffy white dog