Reclaim Yourself: A Couragemaker's Guide To A Wholehearted 2018!
As long as I can remember, this whole New Year, New You shit has reduced me to rants. While the temptation to start anew is alluring, it’s just simply not possible. To paraphrase a piece on this subject I wrote a while ago, I don’t believe in reinventing yourself. To reinvent yourself is to dislocate yourself from past experiences, and strengths and values that knowingly or not, have spent your life cultivating. But those things? They’re the very things that make you uniquely you.
Sure, some of those things you’d rather forget, habits you’d rather get rid of and experiences you wouldn’t choose to relive again, we all have them. But to image that you can just delete them as easily as pressing backspace on a keyboard and start the new year as A Completely Different And Refined Person is bollocks.
Now, I could easily go into full on rant mode, but I’m pretty sure I’m preaching to the choir. It seems this year more than ever, there are lots of us who are sick of the New Year, New Me message.
So today I want to flip the narrative and offer a practical solution:
What if instead of focusing on new shiny things, you focused on brushing off the dust and uncovering and returning to parts of yourself that have been forgotten?
As January comes around, it’s so easy to start thinking of the things we haven’t done before, new ventures and new habits. And while they’re a huge part of living a wholehearted life, they can quickly become overwhelming if we start thinking that we need to reinvent the wheel every time and that everything you do needs to be exciting, fresh and new.
In the process, we forget that we have a whole lifetime of experience that gives us clues as to what lights us up, what makes our lives better and what brings you joy.
You forget the little things that make you smile, what’s worked in the past and continues to work today.
In the age of life hacks and trying to outsmart yourself at every turn, it’s increasingly easy to overcomplicate things and get your knickers in a right twist.
So let’s go back to simple and start reclaiming who we are and uncovering parts of ourselves that got lost along the way of trying to hack the fuck out of a living a more creative, authentic and wholehearted life.
Here are some questions that have really helped me, and to help, I’ve included my answers below as examples.
Question 1: What did you used to enjoy as a child?
(I know, you’re sick of this question, but if you answer it properly once, it might give you some insights as to how to combine your passions and how to bring a whole lot more joy to your life)
Being loud and making a mess! I’ve always loved creating things whether it’s little books, or that period of creating Orlando Bloom stationary I went through. I loved singing at the top of my lungs, anything that involved making things with my hands and I also really loved nerding out and learning things. I also always had a book on the go, was a regular at my library and would often get lost in making up stories which looking back, were pretty philosophical!
Now, how can you bring some of that back into your life?
I think the main thing here is working with my hands. I started dabbling in mixed media last year, really enjoyed it, especially when creating for the fun of it. Maybe I can add a weekly creative night to my calendar and just enjoy getting mucky and playing. Singing wise, while living with Mr. Meg’s family, I have to be mindful that no everyone wants to hear me belt out ‘Jolene’ at the top of my lungs (and I mean belt out). But maybe in the period before we move out this year, I can start to sing in the shower more, and really make the most of times on my own where I can really belt it out! As for reading books, I really started to enjoy getting back into fiction last year, but ended up back on nonfiction again. I’ve just started re-reading the Harry Potter series, and maybe this year will be a great one for holding myself accountable to reading before bed and always trying to have a fiction book on the go! I forgot how satisfying (and recharging) reading is over watching Netflix.
What about you? How can you start to bring back the things you loved doing from your childhood? I bet the magic is still there!
Question 2: When you look back on last year, what do you wish you’d done more of?
Ahh the power of hindsight being 20:20. This one I’ve been thinking about a lot over the past week - I wish I had been more conscious of what I consumed rather than getting stuck into the time, energy and soul suck that comes with endless scrolling. There are so many interesting topics I want to learn more about, that I DO have the time to learn more about if I could get really picky about what I choose to read, the apps I open and the amount of time spent on busy work.
I also would have loved to have laughed and danced more. Last year felt like a pretty serious year, and fun definitely wasn’t a priority. There are few things I love more in life besides laughing until my belly aches and dancing until my feet feel like they might fall off. Sadly that didn’t happen much last year, so this will be a big priority this year!
I also wish I’d been on more walks in nature because I know how good they are for my creativity and my mental health and walk mean dogs, which means JOY!
How can you bring some of that back into your life?
I’m tempted to open my calendar and start to schedule everything out, but I know that will get overwhelming pretty quickly and a scheduled life for me isn’t a happy life.
I think putting a reminder somewhere might help the most. I’m going to write the following on a postcard and put it somewhere I can see it:
Make A Mess. Use Your Hands. Read. Consume Consciously. Laugh. Dance. Go for walks.
Question 3: How can you add more of what you love to your life?
Now, by this time, you might find that your answers start to repeat yourself. That’s a good thing - it will help you to start spotting patterns and start figuring out the things that bring you most joy and will make the most difference to your life. Repeat yourself to your heart’s content, and start noticing what keeps coming up!
First start by listing your loves:
My loves in life - where do I begin?! Bright colours, a song with a great beat, Mr. Meg (of course!), my family, creating, art shops, stationary, getting lost in a good book, dogs, Macklemore, spoken word poetry, feeling the wind in my hair, getting out in nature, napping, learning new things, singing, dancing, laughing, deep conversations, helping people, brainstorming, thinking of new ideas, writing, designing, dreaming, daydreaming, birdsong, glitter, hot chocolates (or anything chocolate!), live gigs, meeting new people, making art.
Now what ideas do you have for adding the the things you love to your daily life? List them out!
Spend some time on Spotify discovering new music
Make sure my nails are always painted bright colours so I feel more like me
Keep a book on the go and keep a list of the books other people recommend to me
Have a lunch break! (I always forget and I’m not proud of it). Lunch break can be used for walks, listening to performance poetry and TED talks
Make time for daydreaming, it’s really important
Start looking for events that can bring more laughter, joy and dancing to my life
Get in a creative mess at least once a week - paint on my hands brings me back to myself like nothing else
What’s on your list?
Now, all of these things and these questions seem deceptively simple.
And that’s because they are.
Bringing more joy, more fun and more YOU to your life isn’t rocket science, because you have everything you need inside you already.
Get in the DeLorean and play Sherlock in your own life. Look for the clues, see what keeps coming up, and take notice.
Be the wonderfully odd version of yourself you have always been, and incorporate the things that have brought you joy in the past.
It’s not frivolous, it’s not selfish and it’s not silly.
It’s necessary for living an inspired and creative life that only you can live.