Mia Freedman wrote a piece in Mamamia in the New Year about how last year she simplified the whole process of resolutions and instead picked one word to describe her intentions for the following year, and I’m stealing the idea.
Her chosen word was ‘create’, and was linked to personal career goals, such as writing a book, that she found she kept putting aside to concentrate on the needs of others.
So in a similar vein, my word for 2017 is going to be ‘wine’…I mean ”gratitude.”
I know what you’re thinking, ‘not another fucking “gratitude” post!’ as you reach for the sick bucket.
But I need to do this because I have a tendency to be a bit of a serial whiner (hence this blog) and that layer of negativity is beginning to enshroud me. And it’s a challenge, because it’s not easy being thankful when you’re as naturally cynical and anxious as I am and you’re passing through this whole middle age/menopause phase – which is a tricky transition and attempts to thwart any positivity and requires you to learn a whole new skill set, which can be difficult for anyone old enough to remember black and white tv.
Sure, a heck of a lot of shit has improved our lives since our twenties and thirties (no young kids and not even having to pretend you can get into a size 8), but sometimes it’s still hard to crack a smile and be thankful. Obviously, I know now how much better it feels when my glass is half-full rather than half empty, and you can take that metaphorically or not… although I have been sober for two whole nights now at this point of painful withdrawal and so am feeling particularly smug.
It’s also because – and here’s that middle-aged wisdom shit again – the small step I’ve made towards a modicum of maturity via the ageing process has suddenly turned a light on what’s really important in my life right now. Although I know the old man won’t believe this when the receipts from Christmas begin to flood onto our bank statement, this new-found contentment has surprisingly very little to do with money or material stuff – apart from good wine and nice food, of course – no, it’s much simpler than that, it’s about being a complete fucking saint and realising just how much I have.
Not rocket science, and this new mindset may well have something to do with two weeks off work over Christmas, and like childbirth I may have simply forgotten what real pain feels like, and perhaps all I really need is a dose of reality, but below is ANOTHER list of things I’m feeling grateful for:
My health, because although my head tells me every day that my body is probably riddled with cancer or I’m going to cark it from a massive stroke or heart attack, (thank you “anxiety”), at the moment it’s pretending to function quite well for a 51 year-old who has abused it for most of her life. And I’m fortunate enough to be in the position where I can service it and drag my ageing, calcium-deficient bones up steep hills and along the lanes of the pool and nourish it with a good diet. It even talks to me in a language I understand now – like when I stand up too quickly and have no feeling in my legs.
My family and friends, because I have a family that loves and cares for me, and I quite like them too, sometimes. We’re not perfect. We fight and say mean things and the F word and the C word are the native tongue in our house, and at times we could make much more effort. But the bond is real. And even though there are many extended family members and friends that I rarely see, thankfully the memories only dim but are never completely deleted, and thanks to technology, the distance between us doesn’t feel as great as it is in miles.
I’m grateful for the obsessive interests I’ve developed with age, which means I have very little free time, because free time for over-thinkers like me is dangerous. Writing, walking, swimming and nagging the old man, are all equally cathartic for balance.
Humor – because whatever happens, I can still laugh about anything, but most importantly at myself.
My home, and I’m not alluding to its physical state of bricks and mortar or even the heartbeat of my house itself – as lovely as it is – but its location and surrounding natural beauty is what never ceases to amaze me. I walk most days, by myself or with the Princess, occasionally with the old man (when he can tolerate my tortoise pace), and within minutes I am sighing with happiness like the person who won the lottery and hasn’t told anyone, as each wave of fresh gratitude washes over me. I have a childish fascination again with whatever amazing new slice of landscape or wildlife we discover and those experiences have opened my eyes to the simple task of ‘living’, which continues to be wondrous. And yes, that might be the happy meds talking, but it’s a massive step for me to be able to embrace rather than tolerate my lot, and now I’m only sad that I wasted so much time getting here.
All of this gratitude may come across as self-absorbed and it is, because it is down to my decision to put myself first and look after ME, which I highly recommend. Go on, try it. I’m being selfish for the first time in a long time and not only for my own personal growth, but in an attempt (note how I resisted using the adjective ‘desperate’) to put some fire in the bellies of my kids to kickstart their own journey, find their own way and their fulfilment at their own destination.
What have I missed?