Do one thing every day that scares you. ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
I am not afraid. I was born to do this. ~ Joan of Arc
For the last few years, I’ve had one basic new year’s resolution: Be bold. Be fearless. Be courageous.
I’ve manged it, now and then – taking chances I never thought that I would take and having grand (and not so grand) adventures. A solo road trip down the Natchez Trace, a solo sailing trip in the Caribbean. Learning to swim when I was 35. Working as a lounge singer in my 40s, after being too scared to try out for high school choir. I’ve followed some unexpected career paths, for better and for worse. And at 48, facing my first (minor) surgery and the good-for-me (ack) lifestyle changes my recovery will require, I’ve finally realized I’m not getting any younger, and there are many more adventures to be had. I may as well be the one to have them, amirite?
Years ago, I heard Oprah Winfrey speak at a women’s conference hosted by the governor of California. I remember being very impressed by her stage presence, her ability to work a crowd – and, unusually for me, I remembered something she said:
When you are 18, you spend 40% of your time wondering about what others think about you. When you are 40, you don’t care about what others think. And when you are 60, you realize no one has thinking about you at all and you could have been doing what you wanted this whole time.
This blog includes some shards I reassembled from its previous incarnation as the award-winning “The New Charm School,” thanks to the Wayback Machine. It was a career blog for women executives back in the day (it made Seth Godin’s first Z list!), when I lived in LA with my husband and had a book agent and worshiped Tom Peters and traveled the country for consulting and speaking engagements and made a boatload of money. I wanted to be a mom, but after years of tests and trying, decided it was not to be. I wore suits and heels and stockings (does anyone wear those anymore?). I did not own a pair of jeans.
Today, I am living a much quieter life, doing much different work, earning half of what I did in the big city. I am divorced and now live with a wise and loving man who is kind enough to share his young daughters with me. I have a cat, who is part honey badger, that terrifies his dog, who is part pit bull. I still have my Peters and Drucker books somewhere, but am more likely reading Anne Lamott or James Lee Burke. Our house is usually a disaster zone of plastic cups, homework, cat toys, remote controls, newspapers, 25 cent trinkets from the machine at the local diner that are never played with again once they make it home and boy howdy do they hurt when you step on them, and stacks of books on most surfaces, including the floor.
I wear jeans most days. Or the best days, pajamas.
This year, I resolve to take more chances. And to write about them here, so I remember to enjoy the experiences, as well as the achievements. And to start living as if I am already 60.
I have grown old enough to develop radical acceptance. I insist on the right to swim in warm water at every opportunity, no matter how I look, no matter how young and gorgeous the other people on the beach are. I don’t think that if I live to be eighty, I’m going to wish I’d spent more hours in the gym or kept my house a lot cleaner. I’m going to wish I had swum more unashamedly, made more mistakes, spaced out more, rested. On the day I die, I want to have had dessert. So this informs how I live now. ~ Anne Lamott