My friend Mariam—whom I’ve met only once in person but who feels like someone I’ve known since childhood—shared a social media post* last year on her birthday that began like this:
I’ve had the very best year of my life.
Reading that sentence then, as it does now, gave me chills.
For brief moments, I got to peek behind the curtains of this thing I do called life and was invited to go deeper by throwing off the shackles of ideas, opinions, and preferences I may have about the way this thing goes.
It is beautiful and it will more beautiful and then it will be more beautiful and then it will be more beautiful. And, that’s all there is left for my living.
I’m going to live my year ahead in a personal way, in a BIG way, with the most kindness and love that I can possibly muster in every single moment.
All is well, all is well, all manner of things shall be well. This is my life. I love you.
For days, weeks, months afterward, I thought about Mariam and her words. I was lightened by the happiness I felt for her and intrigued by what seemed such a big change in her life. And I wondered: What would have to happen—or, more to the point, what would I have to do/think/change/be—to have the same experience?
As 2017 began, I made no grand resolutions, yet the idea of the best year of one’s life knocked quietly but firmly on every door of my inner space with an insistence I could not ignore. I’m still figuring out what exactly it means, but I do know two things for sure that I’m guessing are also true for many others:
- My writing life is inseparable from the rest of my life. When words are a part of my days, everything else is better; when they are missing, life feels incomplete. At the same time, personal growth supports and helps to prioritize creativity.
- Whatever changes I need to make are as much about what I think and how I react inside as about what anyone sees on the outside. This quest is not about public accomplishment. It is about lived experience.
So, thanks to Mariam, and after a couple of false starts, I’ve settled on a new combination of blog name and tagline that finally feels just right and provides focus for the next several months:
If not now, when?
Make this the best year of your writing life
[Note May 8, 2017: As you’ll see, the website name and tagline are back to something simpler, but the sentiment remains.]
To that end, I’ll be posting more frequently with resources, ideas, and my own experiences (such as what I’m learning about starting a small publishing company, the upcoming publication of Family Stories from the Attic, and a visit in a couple of weeks to the London Book Fair). I do hope you join in, comment, and share your own thoughts and journeys.
Like me, you may wonder if such lofty aspirations are a waste of time and energy. Who do we think we are, anyway? How can one reconcile a mindfulness approach of acceptance with a pressing desire for more?
Those are the kinds of questions I hope to untangle, but one response comes from Mariam’s most recent birthday message, twelve months after her words above. What did she post this year?
I totally killed it! I got SO personal & pushed myself into uncomfortable corners in the past year. I said no thank you, when I meant it, and I said yes thank you, even when it seemed irrational. I got it right, and I got it wrong. I told people to come closer, and I drew boundaries when circumstances weren’t for me.
I got better at taking care of myself. I got better at empowering others to do the same by not enabling or rescuing circumstances that are not my business.
My human game was upleveled big time by the end of this year. The challenge & the imperative to live in an authentic, happy, & peaceful way takes more courage, and the observable reality of being aligned with that is clearer than ever.
The year ahead I’m getting personal about my body, my human suit. I’m going on the journey for unimaginable health & adventure in my body. This is going to be so good.
This is indeed going to be good, dear readers and writers. If not now, when?
* Thank you to Mariam for permission to use her words here.