Last year I went to Blackpool for the first time (loved it), and even though I am scared of extreme fairground rides, I did go on The Big One/Pepsi Max ( I tried to do mindfulness breathing exercises to stop myself from screaming; lesson: screaming is better in some situations.)
The whole of 2016 felt like the The Big One/Pepsi Max, the world seemed turned upside down several times over, whilst I tried not to die of fright, and the air filled with people swearing or laughing or doing both at the same time.
But now we have a new year. I’m looking forward to loads of exciting new projects (writing a new book with Orion, working on The Death Show in Birmingham with Antonia Beck and Lucy Nicholls, doing a regular radio slot on Wandsworth Community Radio, plus my new show later this year, just for starters)
Since 2012 I’ve been writing what I like to call my New Year’s Revolutions, after failing the previous years to keep any of my resolutions because they were self punishing and boring. January is no time to be quitting anything, at least not any of your props or comforts that get you going through the dark days, because THESE ARE THE DARK DAYS. 2016 seemed like one of those leeches that I imagine sadistic victorian quacks used, bloated with blood and hope, so big and self important it spilled over into 2017. It’s only now that I am ready to make my pledges.
Here are the promises I am making myself which I am making public as I am more likely to keep them if I know people know. I also put them on the back of my door.
- Spend time with people who make me feel better, braver, brighter. Work with those people too.
this means not hanging out with people who leave me feel drained, upset, or depressed. there are some. we all have some. it’s just… life is short. move quietly away. they won’t even notice.
- Don’t buy anything.
because looking after stuff is boring (you have to tidy it or dust it or wash it) and uses time that could be better spent (in my case) writing, having fun, or swimming. I’ve got everything I need. I’m going to just look after what I’ve got. and save.
- Go to New Orleans. Go and find the northern lights. Stop putting it off.
using the money saved from not buying stuff, but also, selling stuff.
- Keep thinking the best of people always. Forgive them.
- Slow down
not fashionable yet, not always possible, but better, in all ways
- Be careful
for some people the opposite advice would be best, for me, this is absolutely right. I’m clumsy, in all sorts of ways. I’m going to get into being careful
- Pay attention
- Muck about
always on the list
- Keep being kind
- Be kind to yourself
This one is hard. But important
- Swim every day.
- Take your own advice.
most of the time I already know the answer
That’s it. The other stuff, the trying my best to doing anything I can think of to make stuff not so awful, that, I hope, is taken for granted.
I hope you have a great year. It won’t be boring, that’s for sure. On Monday 16th, which is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year, I did some storytelling in a school in Edmonton. It took me 2 1/2 hours to get there, I got soaking wet, the tube stopped working (twice) I saw a queue that must have been 1/2 mile long outside the station, but on the plus side the school and teachers and kids were great when I finally made it.
here is the conversation I heard in the staffroom at lunchtime. It made me smile:
teacher “today is the most depressing day of the year”
pause. everyone looks out the window and the rain
teacher “why am I eating quinoa? has anyone got cake?”
a few people dash about and there are several types of cake offered.
teacher “that’s better. if this is the worst day of the year, the year is going to be easy.”
2nd teacher “that’s the spirit”
2nd teacher “nobody mention Trump. Tea?”
I took that home with me. Nobody mention Trump (we’ll be hearing enough about him, for sure). Don’t eat quinoa if there is cake, and it’s a day when you need comfort. Drink tea, and offer to make other people tea. Always a winner.