How to Fix Your Life
[The title? A joke. If you are here to fix yourself, I so get you. Also: you might be disappointed by the words that follow.]
Oh hello. It's January. The fixing time of year. If you are like me, this is a month of imagining big change or small tweaks. I'm not sure why I fall for it year after year, why I dive willingly into shiny, often well-crafted self-help books and put myself on some kind of torturous diet so that I will shed X pounds by spring.
But: It is all as predictable as it is unfortunate.
Underlying all of this behavior is the idea that we need fixing, that if only we could alter certain bits of ourselves and our lives, everything will snap into place and we will be Happy. Now I fancy myself a self-aware person and yet I am in no way immune to this stuff. That's interesting to me.
I read a book and I will not mention the title, but I came away from it with a commitment to look at the following things in my life: MONEY, CAREER and BODY. You see I'm not savvy with financial stuff; I'm a bit head-in-the-sand about it all and I know I need to get better about this and more responsible. Fine. You see I'm a bit self-indulgent and messy when it comes to following through with writing projects that could, and in my mind should, become actual books. Fine. You see I'm theoretically interested in having a lithe, strong, energetic 39-year-old body, but my typical regime lasts six days and then I return to eating my girls' gummies with gusto. Fine.
At the beginning of this fine month I decided that I was so over the excessive holiday eating so many of us engage in and instead of just vowing to return to my regular programming of mostly healthy eating (with a sprinkling of the aforementioned gummies), I decided to go BIG. I would restrict carbs and eat cardboard-y fiber crackers and be skinny by spring break. Wahoo! And that's what I've been doing and it's been pissing me off because, here's the thing, I really like food. So you know what I did last night: I had a salted honey pie concrete from Shake Shack. And it was DIVINE.
And here I am this morning. And it's not that the above aims are unworthy and I am throwing up my hands. No. I do want to work on these things. I do believe in change and self-improvement. Hey, I'm the girl who used to swim in Pinot Grigio in good times and bad and now I haven't had a sip in 542 whole days. (Yes, I'm proud. No, it does not feel like deprivation. It feels like a snazzy cocktail of Rebellion + Freedom.)
I guess what I'm feeling this morning is that ALL OF US tend to be too hard on ourselves, and often unconsciously. We seek and we strive and we set goals and we meet them and we don't, but my goodness, there is so much judgment. We are judgment machines. And it's draining and sad.
Life is tricky business. We are all going through things. My mom has been living with cancer for two years. She is doing remarkably well at the moment, but it has been up and down and fine at times and scary at times and I've been living in a state of low-level anxiety about her. (It's true, Mom.) I want her to live forever. (It's true, Mom.) And I am optimistic because she has literally the best doctors and is freakishly strong physically and emotionally, but I'm still shaken. And people around me, people I love, are losing people they love and people around me, people I love, are weathering amicable and less-than-amicable divorces. And people around me are struggling in a myriad of other ways - with illness or addiction or anxiety or depression or with some kind of financial crisis. There is so much pain and sometimes the landscape of it strikes me as reasonably bleak.
But then sometimes, like this morning, as I sit here at my kitchen island with my cup of good coffee, MSNBC blathering in the background, the cats' fancy water fountain making a cute spa-like sound, I feel okay about it all. I feel this: This is all LIFE and yes it is hard sometimes but it is also so gorgeous and miraculous and it is something to behold and not to control. Or to fix.
I told my agent last night that I need a little bit of a literary pep-talk. So we have that scheduled for 11am. And I know how it will go. I will ramble on about my crisis-of-confidence-du-jour and the plot of my WIP and she will encourage me and tell me what I already know deep in my ADR bones: I can do it. Of course I can do it!
We can do it, guys. We can do this day and all the tomorrows that stretch ahead. We can achieve and accept and survive and thrive and change in ways that are real and earned and meaningful and not because it is January but because it is who we are.
We are imperfect, changeable, lovable beings. All of us.
So, forgive yourself for your flaws that are not actually flaws. They are part of who you are. Also forgive yourself for dreaming of fixing. We all do this. We are all complicit in the Fix-It Lie.
And now take a breath and have a sip of that cold coffee and get out there and live your one life. And try as hard as you can to be grateful for it, to see the joy and the light and the magic and the meaning.
It is all there.
It always is.
(PS- Happy New Year! I've so missed this place!)