Happy New Year My Pretties

I’m not sure if you noticed but it’s 2014 now. We’re three days in. The other day Arlo told me his favourite numbers are seventeen and twenty-two. Eli likes twenty-three and …I forget the other. I like nines and seventeens myself. Not fond of the number 4. That this year ends with a four and that it is also my fourtiesthhh birthday in a month makes me kind of cringe but then I was born in a year that ends with four so what the hell is my problem. At some point you have to make peace with the number you hate. #sobernod

There are a lot of lessons all around me, all the time. For seven years I was a mother (um, I still am) and that was full of lessons. Now I am a part-time worker in an environment that is challenging and if I tell you that it’s full of lessons imagine a small car crammed so full of balloons you can’t even drive and you just sit and laugh and laugh until the force of your laughter causes some of the balloons to pop and then you pull out of your parking spot and drive away. Every time I go to work I am challenged in some other part of my brain and personality. Mostly it is not challenging in an intellectual way any more; I have started to grasp the wheres and hows of the work.

Well kind of. It is the government, which means nothing is what it seems and information is either from 2001 or hidden down rabbit holes that you can’t access from your computer because that website is forbidden.

But now I am dealing with the emotional or interpersonal challenges, such as the person I work with who is just really the opposite of me entirely, for which I can neither fault her nor embrace her. The lessons I’m learning are of this nature: you can’t change peoples’ minds about you, when you smile larger you look friendlier, be yourself no matter what they say, let it go, let it go, let it go. I have always had trouble letting things go, not all things but the things that bother me. Of course. Holding on to things is how we remember them and how we remember is how we know who we are. I guess. But holding on to things that are hurtful or mystifying or debilitating causes me stress. Going over and over and over things in my head only makes me feel more hamster-like, and that makes me not sleep, not want to go to work, not want to do anything but tear tissues to shreds and panic. And it makes me grumpy. And when I’m grumpy and stressed I can’t learn because my brain shuts off the part of it that learns, and then I make more mistakes which incurs the correction of the person I work with which makes me feel worse and then I keep replaying how I could have done it differently and look how long this sentence is YOU GUYS I am the poster-girl for letting go.

You know how people choose words for the year and then try to – I don’t know – focus? on the words or make themselves work around the words, well I’ve never really been able to do that (don’t fact-check me, I didn’t go looking and it wouldn’t entirely surprise me if I did in fact try to choose a word one year and then abandon it) because one word for a whole year feels kind of impossible. Yes, the newness of January makes it easy to focus on the word but what about when the norovirus hits and your family is out for three weeks and you don’t even remember what it is to have clean armpits, what of your word then? FORGOTTEN. Unless your word is forget.

Over the Christmas holidays I found myself tied up in knots about things and it occurred to me that my word, or guiding principle if you prefer, might need to be RELEASE. In part because LET GO is two words unless you write it LETGO which is good but kind of urgent and reminiscent of LEGO, whereas RELEASE has two meanings; verb and noun, and it just sounds nice. RELEASE. When I say it to myself I unclench my fists, I stretch out my jaw, I smile widely no matter how silly I look, I cast my mind to other places. I send the hamster wheel of ridiculous analysis off spinning into space where it can wheel and spin forever for all I care, and I think about something else instead. Like how much I like the sound of RELEASE. A new lease. Freedom from the perception that anything I do can make a difference to how another individual perceives me. I AM ME. And that is all.