For many of us, this year is ending much as it began, in a whirl of confusion and uncertainty. So rather than trying to explain it, I’m turning to the American Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön, an inspirational teacher and thinker.
Chödrön says: “We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”
I know that might be hard to hear right now, particularly when we thought we had turned a corner, but the thing I’ve learnt this year is that it’s not necessarily what happens to you that’s significant, it’s how you deal with it. I’m not suggesting that we all adopt a kind of crazy positivity in the face of adversity, but instead just make room to feel, to sit with all those difficult emotions and know that they will pass. Easier said than done, I know.
At the beginning of the year, I was so ready to move on from the devastation of 2020, and the struggles we had all experienced as families, businesses and communities fought to keep each other safe from harm. As we worked towards a “new normal”, though, I was surprised by how much good I was able to find in what was happening. The lockdowns were difficult – perhaps even catastrophic – for many of us. I don’t make light of that. But I was super-grateful for my family, my girls and my home during that time.
Gratitude was a big thing for me in 2021. Doing a daily gratitude list helped me realise how much I had, even when things threatened to overwhelm me. And it focused my mind. I tried not to sweat the small stuff, and instead to concentrate on what was important: my family, my health and the goals I had when I started my business. I tried to declutter my brain. Letting go of the things that no longer serve you can be hard, but it frees up so much headspace.
I’ll talk a bit more about “resolutions” for 2022 next week, but there’s going to be no beating myself up about any of it. I’m moving forward with love. And I invite you to do the same. Let’s not be proscriptive: one of the things I’m going to suggest is being kinder to ourselves, and that means if we fall off the wagon, we just get back on. Don’t listen to any of that negative self-chatter. We all need a bit of compassion right now, when everything is so uncertain.
When we have so little control over events around us, the only thing we can work on is ourselves, and our capacity for acceptance. That’s what Pema Chödrön means when she says: “The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” She’s not talking about resignation, but learning to be a bit more… Zen.
So for 2022, I’m going to carry on with the things I resolve to do better every year. I’m just reaffirming my commitment to them in a slightly different way. I’m resolving to look after my health and fitness – not in order to squash myself into a pair of leather leggings, but to ensure I feel better in body and mind. The time I set aside for exercise won’t be something I dread, it will be a space for me to reset and enjoy. I’ll continue to build my business, keeping in mind that my goals aren’t only commercial – I’m here to offer a service to you. Because without all of you, where would I be?
Let’s not forget that ageing is a privilege that many women don’t get to enjoy. So even when the going gets tough, let’s try to love it. I will end on something else Pema Chödrön said – and it’s never seemed more relevant than it does right now.
“Let difficulty transform you. And it will. In my experience, we just need help in learning how not to run away.”