Each year, as soon as the clocks go back, I begin to look forward to the fresh start a new year will bring. A pessimist might say that if I haven’t yet mastered time management, financial planning or decluttering, a new year is unlikely to make a critical difference. But I’m an incurable optimist, and in the last few weeks, chance sayings by three people of my acquaintance have inspired me for the year ahead.
- Catching up with an older friend after a couple of years apart, I was taken aback when she declared, “I reckon I’ve got another eight good years ahead.” From a less exuberant, busy type, that might have sounded like self-pity, but she was filled with gratitude. Never mind carpe diem, she plans to seize the next 2922 days and squeeze every drop of life out of them.
- Trying to reach an elderly gentleman by phone, I was tickled by his answerphone’s announcement: “I’m busy having fun right now but leave a message and I’ll get back to you.” He’s right: fun is not the preserve of the young. Focusing on fun for however many days remain to you is a sound philosophy.
- The third arresting statement came from a much younger friend: “I’m proud of the life I’ve curated for myself.” Curated? I thought. What is she, a museum? Then I realised it was the perfect shorthand for purposeful management of your life. Like a good museum, she takes regular stock of her assets, jettisoning any that are irrelevant or surplus to her personal mission. A good museum doesn’t stash away its best possessions for fear of breakage or loss – it exploits them with gusto.
Curating a Life of Fun and Gratitude
When I went on a writers’ retreat last month, it came up in conversation how sad it is when someone dies leaving gifts or purchases unopened, having saved them for a special occasion that never happened.
My writer friends and I vowed that when we got home, we’d crack open all those fancy notebooks no writer can resist buying but often cannot bear to sully.
By the same token, in my kitchen, I moved to the top of the drawer all the pretty unused tea towels previously nestling beneath the much-laundered, greying, and holey ones in constant use.
In my bedroom, I rejected snagged tights that I’d been eking out to the point of decomposition and ripped the wrapper off a beautiful, patterned pair I’d bought about three years ago, even though I had no plans to go out that day.
My daughter, with the natural assurance of the teenager, has a theory that the older you get, the more you are pleased by small things.
Given the pleasure I’ve just gained from a fresh notebook, a virgin tea towel, and brand-new tights, I can hardly disagree. But I’m also reassured that whatever the new year brings after the stress of a post-Brexit pandemic year, it won’t take much in 2022 to make me happy.
I wish you a contented and peaceful Christmas, and a new year of living your best life.
(This post was originally written for the December 2021/January 2022 issue of the award-winning Tetbury Advertiser.)
Recommended Reading on the Theme of Fresh Starts
In three of my stories, the main characters are seeking fresh starts for a happier life:
- Sophie Sayers when she moves to the Cotswold village of Wendlebury Barrow in Best Murder in Show, first in the Sophie Sayers Village Mysteries series
- Gemma Lamb as she starts a new job at St Bride’s School for Girls in Secrets at St Bride’s the first in the Staffroom at St Bride’s series
- Juliet Morris when she accepts the loan of a car with extraordinary powers in Mrs Morris Changes Lanes, my stand-alone novella
If you haven’t already read them, why not give one a try?