Sunday, December 30, 2007

Out with the Old, In With the New

Well, my dear friends, it is that time again. What many consider a time to reflect on the year past, and make plans for the year ahead.

While The Baroness is all about the "To Do" list, I'm starting to believe that making plans for the entire year ahead is far too onerous a task. I mean really, do you know what you'll be doing on July 23, 2008? Will you have time to factor in that 2 mile run you plan to do every day, or will you be at home with clogged sinuses, feeling guilty because you can barely muster up the energy to stir the Neo-Citrin into your hot water? Will you be eating your 100-calorie lunch salad, or will you have the opportunity to meet an out-of-town friend at their favorite burger joint for a chat-n-chew and some yummy-yet-verboten dessert? I can tell you, without a doubt, that while the Baron has swung the Baroness' mindset over to planning mode over the years, I balk at planning quite that far in advance, or at painting the entire year with a huge "Resolutions" brush. It all seems so robotic and self-sabotaging. I do not know what will be happening on July 23, 2008 and I like that. It feels oh-so-vaguely mysterious. And mildly spontaneous.

So, rather than talk about how we can make a better life for ourselves in 2008, I am proposing two exercises before the clock ticks over - one extremely cathartic to wipe the slate clean, the other a challenge, in a reflective sort of way.

Exercise 1: The Unspeakable List
This first activity is one that I learned from my niece. She's a very smart cookie, and even though she may not know it, she has taught me many new things (maybe The Baroness isn't such an old dog after all...). The key to this task is to do it very privately. On a bus, at work, on your laptop while commuting or at your kitchen table with family milling about picking over the turkey carcass - probably not the best locales. Get pen, get some paper, get private, and make a list of numbers from 1 to 15. Then, think of 15 significant people in your life. These may be family, friends, co-workers, team mates. Their significance may be great or it may be small. No matter. The thing is, if you're thinking of them, there's a reason you're thinking of them. Write a name next to each of the numbers.

Now things get juicy. As you go down the list, think of the unspeakable thing that you would like to say to this individual. It can be as mild as a complaint or it can be a scathing criticism. Whatever gets the bile flowing. Write it down - here, neatness does not count. What does count is getting it out from rambling around and around in your brain and into something tangible. I may not know much, but I do know that keeping all those festering, seething, mumbling, I-should-have-saids inside of you can be extremely detrimental to your health and well-being. So rather than speaking your mind and potentially jeopardizing all sorts of relationships, you can just let it out and let it go.

Once you've completed your unspeakable list, destroy it. Thoroughly. Rip it into a thousand pieces. Shred it. Burn it - carefully! Leave no trace behind. And then - here's the challenging part - be done with it. Pish posh, wipe your hands and your psyche clean, and move on to 2008, knowing that you got your last word in and feeling all the better for it. Ah. So satisfying.

This dovetails beautifully into the next exercise in our "Make Way for 2008" agenda.

Exercise 2: The Truth about Others
Have your ever read something that, at the time doesn't really register, but stays with you for what seems like forever? Here's one of the passages that I can't seem to stop thinking about. What we see in others is what we're really seeing of ourselves. It is the most basic yet the most complex idea I've ever read.

And I really believe it bears thinking about all of the time. Because, as we approach 2008 with our now-bileless soul, it's time to really reflect on ourselves through reflecting on others. Not only will this ultimately benefit us, it will also force us, in a very gentle yet purposeful way, to regard others in a new way. And I do use the word "regard" here in its most literate sense.

What I propose is two-fold: One, look at the things that drive you crazy about others, and reflect on how these qualities may also be qualities of yours. If you strive to change these things in yourself, will you begin to regard these crazed people in a new light? I guess you'll have to try and find out.

Two - the most important, and as you'll remember me saying earlier, the most challenging- look for the positive qualities in others. With some individuals, you may have to look long and hard. But I guarantee that, just as in others, there is a beautiful quality lurking in you. Seek it, cultivate it, share it.

My wish for you is a healthful, fulfilling, laughter-filled 2008. Keep looking.

The Baroness


Anonymous said...

Now now, I never knew Julia was such a smart girl.

Anonymous said...

So are you then referring to my notes that I post on facebook?
Because as far as I can see, thats not very private. haha.

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