So it’s a new year and all that and I’m only emerging now from the fug. In fact I’m so knackered from all the
partying cleaning, eating cooking, playing Santa Trivial Pursuit, that I already look at least five three years older than last year.
I’m not good with New Year Resolutions. Most people fail within days. I failed on the first day. It started ok (I don’t count the actually 1st as I was travelling back from Edinburgh with three small children and an elderly dad, the flight was delayed and they changed departure gates THREE times so I had to navigate said three young children, elderly father, four hand luggage suitcases and multiple coats through a seething mass of hungover Hogmanay revellers – so the
bottle glass of wine I had when I eventually got home does not count). So, the 2nd is really the 1st. Ok? So it started off well. I had a spinach and mango fuelled nutribullet, seasoned with goji berries, golden flaxseeds and coconut water, a very minimal lunch of egg and pitta bread. So far, so Glorious New Year New Body Approach. And then. Then the girls left to go to their dad’s and you know, the fridge was empty, and sure, I’d been very good for a whole 6 hours, so I ordered a Bombay Pantry curry, with garlic and coriander nan, had two a glass of wine. So ok, that’s not the best but I had been good. But then out came the Christmas collection of chocolate and let’s just say for the next couple of hours I looked like my daughter’s hamster when he’s stuffing all the seeds in his cheeks for later.
Fuck it. My resolution is that life is for living. And that is my resolution for this year. To resolutely live my life well (ok, that does mean more nutribullet and less wine), and to be brave and bold and fight the fear that sometimes stops me doing what I need to do.
Recently I convinced my middle daughter to do something brave.
‘I’m scared,’ she said. ‘I know,’ I said. “Being scared is ok. Being scared but doing it anyway. That’s what brave is. And let me tell you a story about a brave little girl I knew once.”
And I told her about a little girl who stood up onstage and did a talent show dance on her own even though everyone else had partners. I told her about a little girl who was so small she couldn’t get on the seats in play school but who leant how to scoot with her legs going like the clappers because she wouldn’t be held back. I told her about the little girl who swung off a trapeze so high her own mum wouldn’t do it. She smiled as she realised who that little girl
was is. I told her she had the heart of a lion, and the that being brave is about saying yes, and being scared but following your dreams anyway.
And I thought about myself and my heart. The heart of a lion throughout many periods of my life, the heart of a lioness since I became a parent, but like many women, my heart is often braver for others than it is for myself. My heart has been filled with great love, and my heart has been kicked in the goolies. My heart has strained with effort and burst with success, and my heart has shrivelled with rejection. But my heart still beats, no matter what state it is in. And as long as it’s still beating, I’m going to beat the best of life into it.
So I’ve decided that 2017 is going to be the year of saying yes. Yes in every way. Yes to adventures, and yes to me-time, and yes to scary things that will drive my dreams forward, and yes to saying no. I am learning how to hold onto life’s orgasms. In a year as bad as last one when my beautiful mum died, and I waded through the muck of marriage disintegration, in a decade as crap as this, I’ve discovered something amazing. I can be truly happy.
I keep having moments of sheer, unadulterated, right-in-your-face happiness. Little mental orgasms. Delightful OOOOh’s when I feel something inside me and it’s not rage, but a roar.
When the first experience exploded on my day I thought it was a late surge of alcohol anxiety from a previous hangover. But no. I stood, I assessed, and I concluded that in fact, what I was feeling, was actually a surge of surprising wonderfulness. Since then, like discovering orgasms as a teenager, they come more often and last longer, as I perfect my technique of identifying the surge, staying in the absolute intensity of it, and then holding onto it as long as possible.
And what is most delicious about these surprising surges of sunshine is that, unlike the random happiness of youth, I feel these are earned. Every bad thing in my life that has happened, every kick, every knock, every wrecking ball that has swung through my carefully crafted life, has made me appreciate happiness all the more.
I have found real happiness in the rubble of life. That doesn’t mean I don’t have
apoplectic down days, and terrible times and moments of loss so great I feel my skin stinging from the slap.
This Christmas was very hard. The first without my mum, the second without my marriage. I remembered the previous Christmases of my life, filled with noise and people and love, and here I was with my depressed dad and my ex husband and wondered how the hell I got here. But I also had three fabulous girls who’s
sugar-overdosed Santa joy filled the loneliness and drowned out the sound of the love that is gone. Yesterday I stayed home while my girls spent the day with their dad and his new partner. Another shaky major step on the journey to a new unknown future. But I’ll own it. It’s my life and in whatever state it comes, I’ll own it and make the best of it. Age takes away taught skin and lush lashes, but it gives knowledge that we are strong.
So yes, there are still bad days. But I have found a contentedness I’ve never felt in my life before. A calm that I know who I am and for once have no idea where I’m going. All my life it was the other way round.
The other day my eldest daughter was talking about anxiety, and I said I had suffered from it all my life. Terrible crippling panic-attack laden anxiety. She looked at me and asked why I was no longer anxious. And it was only then realised I wasn’t. Because I know now that no matter how awful life is, I can pick myself up. And now I know no matter how amazing life is, I can appreciate it.
I am mid aged and feel like I am starting my life over again.
Do I wish I was less hysterical calmer? Yes.
Do I wish I could control my weariness and frustration better? Absolutely.
Do I wish I didn’t get so
gargoyle cross and bad tempered? Definitely.
Do I wish lots of things were different? Of course.
But am I happy? I can be.
Time is choice. We have the power to fill our lives with the things that deserve to be there. For me then this year, 2017, I want to fill it with yeses. Yes, when my girls ask me to play with them. Yes, to learning new things. Yes, to stepping out of my
Ugg slippers comfort zone and finding confidence. Yes, to keeping my body as physically, emotionally and sensually fit as it can be. And yes, to saying no to people and things that are no good for me. Time is choice, and we are lucky to have it. I’m saying yes to resolution to live life well.