Thanks to all who wished me a happy birthday on Facebook and Twitter. It was indeed a good day and I hope it kicks off a great year. As they tend to do, my birthday left me with some time to reflect. Here’s the wisdom I’ve gained so far.
1) What other people think doesn’t really matter that much. There are a few select people, DH, my parents, good friends whose opinion matters greatly- but how everyone else views me is up to them. I’m not interested in spending time seeking to impress anyone else. It isn’t that I don’t want other people to think I’m smart, or funny, or successful, or well dressed, but spending time seeking approval from everyone is exhausting. It occurs to me that it matters most if I am happy with myself.
2) It’s better to spend time on things that matter. What those things might be vary from person to person, but it occurs to me as I get older that there won’t be infinite time. I’m learning to say no to things that fill time, but don’t make my life or the world better. There is such a thing as a “clean enough” house when the the time could be spent with a friend.
3) Gratitude: I am aware of how fortunate I am. I have good health, I am still married after all these years to someone that I actually really like, I have had the chance to see my books on shelves (and even better in the hands of readers), I am surrounded by good friends and family. My goal is to never confuse day to day problems with major issues. If I want drama I’ll go to the theatre.
4) Life is what you make of it: There are no do-overs in life. (Unless you believe in reincarnation, which is an entirely different blog post.) Save for the trip you want to take, learn what interests you, take up a new activity, read a book that challenges you, take a risk- you don’t know what you might achieve if you just gave it a shot. Best publishing advice I ever got was when a published author heard me moaning about being afraid of rejection and pointed out: Hey, you’re already not published. The worst that will happen if you send your writing off is that you still won’t be published.” What are you not doing simply because you might fail? Unless it’s skydiving, failure isn’t really that bad. You’re tougher than you think.
5) Don’t be a dick/subtitled: It doesn’t cost much to be kind: There are enough people who think Galileo had it wrong and the planets revolve around them- don’t be one of them. Take time to say thank you, hold the door for someone, offer to help someone put a heavy bag in the overhead bin, let the person with only one item go ahead of you in the check out lane. Someone can disagree with your viewpoint and you don’t need to argue them into submission. It doesn’t take that much effort to be kind and it really does make the world a better place. I pass an elderly woman (I’m guessing late 80’s) quite often when I’m walking my dog. The other day she stopped me and said “Seeing you and your big smile makes my whole day. It feels so good to be seen. I’m always disappointed when I miss you.” Making someone’s day by just smiling at them? Not bad.
6) Know what makes you happy: In my case, good friends, books, a glass of wine and good conversation, a cup of tea, a nap on the sofa with my dog, yarn, singing with the radio in the car, a great meal, the smell of cookies in the oven, learning something new, a lazy night of snuggling up and catching up on things we DVR’d early in the week, reading the NYT on the weekend, flowers, perfume, dog kisses, laughing, good shoes, fancy pens, blank notebooks, people watching, a nice massage, art, being near the water, being inside in front of the fire on a day that is cold and rainy, getting a new book idea…. Know what makes you happy and do more of it.
Who knows what I might figure out this year?