Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, bright copper kettles and warm woollen mittens, brown paper packages tied up with strings- these are a few of my favourite things. Christmas sentiments past and a full year of smiles and tears and just general what the f%@s out of the way, here is a quick 17 lessons and loves for the year past and to remember for the year ahead.
All that glitters is gold– Has there been a more sparkly year since the 70s? (when I looked up ‘decade of glitter’ on google, it returned me something to do with porn and that was awkward) Everyone has metallic lips and shiney cheekbones, which has always been okay on New Year’s Eves past but now you can even do it on a rainy Tuesday in June! Another trend this year- gold. Thank God we’ve all been wearing the warmer sister of the precious metals recently, I’ve always preferred her to the colder, more frigid silver sister. Pack on your golden hues and your sparkles and have a fantastic New Year’s celebration, even if you’re just staying in with the dog watching Titanic till midnight (yes I mean me).
New stuff is cool- is the mantra that feeds my shopping addiction, but is also true in general for life. Too often we allow ourselves to get stuck in what is comfortable or easy and very little growth happens in stagnant places. Commit to new things, even if they’re a little frightening, and learn more about yourself in the process. I for one have spent my whole life having my Portuguese grandmother feed me large amounts of chicken and carbs and this year I learnt how to make my own chicken and carbs! And now I’ll spread the cheer of this new found gift with my boyfriend who will get very fat in the process.
Be clingy- yes I know, eww clinginess. Learn to love straight-forwardly. I don’t know who said this but thank you because it’s magic:
“I love being horribly straight forward. I love sending reckless text messages (because how reckless can a form of digitised communication be?) and telling people they are absolutely magical humans and I cannot believe they really exist. I love saying, ‘Kiss me harder’ and ‘You’re a good person’ and ‘You brighten my day’. I live my life as straight forward as possible. Because one day I might get hit by a bus. Maybe it’s weird. Maybe it’s scary. Maybe it seems downright impossible to just be- to just let people know you want them, need them, feel like, in this very moment, you would die if you didn’t see them, hold them, touch them in some way- whether it’s your feet on their thighs on the couch or your tongue in their mouth or your heart in their hands. There is nothing more beautiful than being desperate. And there is nothing more risky than pretending not to care. We are young and we are human and we are beautiful and we are not as in control as we think we are. We never know the magic that can arise between ourselves and other humans. We never know when the bus is coming.”
Glow- departing from a slightly serious note, take some damn good care of your skin! Wear sunscreen and exfoliate and all of that, but by no means do you need to break the bank.
Feed your mane- on as equally important note as having a face fit for angels, do your hair a favour now and then and give it some love.
Colour in between your lines- Go on all you matte, monochrome minimalist girls, just try it, you know you want to. Yes, black is a colour, it’s true. But so is yellow and green and that millennial pink that appears will be sticking around for the entire millennium.
See stuff- I know the Instagram FOMO is real when your favourite bloggers are travelling to Paris and Morocco and whichever blue and azure dream of an island someone bestowed them with first-class plane tickets to. But here I am in Pretoria right now surrounded by shades of brown and I can guarantee you that a trip in a car with your favourite person (even if your favourite person is you) with loud music and sour worms bought while filling up your tank can be some of the most magical moments of your life. Here in South Africa, there is so much to see if you’ll just take the time and I’m sure that goes for anywhere in the world you’re reading this from (unless you’re in one of those towns surrounded by nothing and no one for a 200 KM radius, then I profoundly apologise.) Which brings me to my next point
What you pack is everything- yes I want to take photos wearing fabulous ball gowns in deserts too. Slightly more practically though- if you pack a horrible attitude you are going to have an awful time. I realise this is nothing ground-breaking and there are a plethora of motivational books chronicling the effects of a positive attitude. We share Facebook quotes of the day but we don’t apply it to our lives when we don’t feel like it and our attitudes most need work. Absolutely everything is what you make it and not all things need to be your cup of tea to be a good time.
Invest in yourself- this is so important. Read a damn book; watch a movie about more than just Tom Cruise blowing things up or some romcom shrouded in unrealistic romantic expectations; educate yourself on what is going on around you and again and again remember that just because it isn’t your ideal or your comfort zone does not mean it isn’t valuable in teaching you something. As M. Scott peck said in The Road Less Travelled, there is a map through which we perceive the world that has to regularly be revised or we end up stuck in some stubborn and stupid mental state that keeps us from having any real concept of what the hell is going on (I’m paraphrasing a little, he did say this next bit though). “We must always consider our personal discomfort relatively unimportant and, indeed, even welcome it in the service of the search for truth. ”
Give it a rest- your feet I mean. The past year or two have given our feet the most fantastic rest (mine are still recovering from that awful phase where we wore too-high high heels and slumped into chairs everywhere because our limbs were numb). If you have nothing to be thankful for this year at least rejoice in the cute sneakers and chic kittens heels that have saved so many lives.
Photograph things- I really don’t want this to sound like one of those ‘dance while no one is watching and laugh a lot’ posters people hang above their beds, and I know there is a generation of really grumpy people who are slamming their heads against walls about the amount of time we spend on our phones. I’m not saying never look up from your screen and post about 400 selfies a week on social media. I’m saying that photography is kind of a miracle of an invention and we should remember to capture those special moments. As a really good example, here are many many aimless photographs of my dog for your consideration (your consideration better be that she is amazing and the best pupper ever) and maybe a few others.
Shut up- LISTEN. How often do we ‘listen’ to respond rather than take in what someone wants us to know. One of the greatest gifts you can give yourself for the year ahead is to let people talk and to listen. The reality is people are desperate to be heard and if you give them that little bit of an ear it’s amazing what they will share with you and what you can learn. Which doesn’t just mean little anecdotes that help you colour in a person’s character, it also means realising intentions and expectations someone might not outright voice and navigating relationships better.
Voice your expectations- One of 2017’s biggest lessons for me was learning that you need to say what you mean. I grew up being taught the very opposite of that, but if you don’t let people know what you mean and what you want, you’re doing them and yourself a disservice and setting everyone in the scenario up for disappointment and offence.
Take time to be passionate- about people, places and whatever sets your soul ablaze. Make sure you don’t let the things that make you tick fall by the wayside in between rushing and working and paying bills (I hate you, bills). And be around people who encourage and support that, not people who seek to snuff out what fires you up. Love encourages growth and development, not suppression. Also, learn not to be the person who snuffs out what makes someone else come alive.
The balancing act- I am spontaneous. I HATE planning and schedules and routines and I LOVE just doing and being and leaving things to fate. The problem with not planning? (I hate admitting this) Too many what ifs and missed opportunities. The problem with never being spontaneous? Struggling to adapt when things don’t go your way. There’s a particular balancing act that I’m still learning between the two and unfortunately one of them has me waking up before 9AM on Saturdays and actually writing things down in advance.
Be yourSELF- And by this I mean be self-assured, self-reliant, self-regulating, (emotionally, not bodily) self-respecting. 2017’s biggest lesson has taught me to be introspective about my emotions and behaviours, to be realistic about what I need to work on and what I should be proud of, and to take responsibility for myself and my actions. It’s tough but it’s important and you will see yourself and your relationships grow exponentially if you can start to walk this journey. Check yourself yo.
Learn what empathy really means- I realise that this seems kind of duh to a lot of people but too often we’re empathetic only when it suits us to be, when it doesn’t challenge us or require too much from us. Empathy means that whether I agree with you or not, whether I think you’re being silly or not, I acknowledge how you feel and that walking in your shoes is a real thing that isn’t always easy. Can you imagine how much better your relationships would be if the people you interact with could be more empathetic towards you? Well be that person to other people and who knows who you could positively affect.
My head kind of hurts from writing so many serious things down. And also talking about shoes. I hope this year has been filled with joy and growth. I’m sorry to all those who found 2017 a year of pain or loss. Regardless of where you find yourself today, be blessed and I hope this post either helped your heart or at least made you laugh at the bad writing.
Good bye 2017, the year of like, realising stuff again. All the best for 2018 and thank you always for your support.