Hello, my darlings. Long time no see. Have you done something different with your hair? It’s really working for you.
Well here we are. 2019. The glitter of New Year’s Eve is behind us and hopefully the hangovers are too. We’re trying to readjust to eating three meals a day, instead of three cheeseboards and a Baileys before noon. We’ve all been reminded of the horrifying truth that keeping a roof over our heads requires us to get up in the middle of the night, wrestle our way onto public transport and deal with the mountain of things that have been piling up since November, when we started to say “Oh, probably not worth starting this until the new year, really”.
MANY FREAKING THANKS FOR THAT ONE, PAST FIONA. Jerk.
We’ve got a brand new year stretching out in front of us and boy, are we ready. We’ve got everything we need: the enticingly blank planner, the sexy new workout gear, the to-be-read list, the vegan cookbook, the enthusiastic list of resolutions. January is a brilliant time for a complete reinvention, apart from that it’s January. It gets dark at 3pm. We’re all still 40% chipolatas and 50% trifle. We have literally no idea what our work email password is. And now, as the glamour of New Year’s Eve fades into last week and the new year descends fully upon us, we are possessed with one single, unifying thought.
So, in the face of all this adversity, what’s a girl to do? Here’s what I think: instead of putting your existing self in the bin, put the idea that you have to reinvent yourself in there instead. That’s not to say I don’t love a resolution, I do! In fact, I’ve written extensively about my love of the promise that a new year brings. But when we’re making our resolutions, I like to focus on the parts of myself that we want to make bigger, not smaller. We should be looking at the new year, not as an opportunity to chop ourselves back, but as an opportunity to grow. To bloom.
Come with me, lovely readers, as I kick the absolute arse out of this metaphor and tell you all about how I plan to fill the garden of Fiona with endless flowers in 2019.
Does that sound like an innuendo? Whatever, we’re going with it.
Hold your horses, before we get excited about floral borders and blossom trees draped in fairy lights, we have to do some ground work. We need to do some personal weeding.
Goddammit, why does everything sound like a euphemism? I’m trying to be profound.
Weeding falls very much into traditional new year’s resolution territory. These are the bad habits, the timewasters, the energy drains that take root and grow out of control. These are the things you want to cut down.
But Fiona, didn’t you just say we weren’t focusing on chopping back? Quite right, dear reader, I did. But we weed because we love our garden, not because we hate it. We weed to make space for the things that make us happy.
Some weeds take up lots of space but are easy enough to dislodge. Spending five hours a day scrolling social media at the expense of things you actually want/need to do, for example. Buying a tray of shots, even though you’re already living in your overdraft. Others take root deeper and are harder to pull up. An alcohol problem. A relationship that makes you feel small. A job that you hate. These are weeds that burrow and spread their roots through your whole life, choking out everything else, starving and wilting everything around you. When we pull them out, we’re probably going to drag up a lot of other stuff too. The garden might look worse than when you started. But weeding out these consuming, destructive parts of your life gives you the space to flourish. And my love, you deserve to flourish. Take your time. Go gently. But go.
Weeding isn’t a reinvention, it’s a tidy up. When weeds grow in a garden, we recognise that the garden still exists underneath. Even when things get really wild and overgrown, the garden is still there, just waiting to be unearthed when you’re ready. We don’t berate a garden for growing weeds, we know it’s impossible to keep a garden perfect forever. It’s a process, a project, just like we are.
All of us have bad habits, annoying tics, vices big and small. That’s okay. We don’t need to be perfect all of the time. We just need to keep gently nudging ourselves in the right direction, tugging up weeds when we can.
And when we can’t? We stick our chins in the air and say that it’s a deliberate wildflower meadow, actually.
Now that we’ve made all that lovely space, it’s time to start filling it up again. We weed, and then we plant.
Planting resolutions are both the best and the worst kind of resolutions. They are the resolutions that are most likely to change our lives, but they’re also the ones we’re most likely to give up on because sometimes, they take a long, long time to show any results at all. Some planting resolutions are like rhubarb. You half arsedly tend to them and suddenly, you have rhubarb coming out of your eyeballs. Others are like that bamboo that just chills out underground for four years and then grows 30 metres in six weeks.
God, I’m rambling, aren’t I? It’s because my brain is still mostly trifle post-Christmas.
Planting resolutions are the ones that will literally sow the seeds of your future, in big and small ways. Opening a savings account. Washing your damn face every night. Learning a language. Making a friend. Taking a class.
I like to think of these as planting resolutions, because it helps me to be patient. Anyone who knows me, or who has been reading this blog for a while, will know that patience is not one of my strong suits. I want instant results. I want immediate change. I want to be the best at the thing right now, or I’m not interested.
Thinking about these kinds of resolutions in this way helps me to relax. Just because I’m not seeing results right now doesn’t mean that I’m wasting my time. It doesn’t mean they’re not working. Sometimes, they’re just getting themselves together underground, waiting for the right conditions to blossom. When I think about them like this, it gives me faith.
Oh hell yes, now we’re getting to the good stuff. You’ve cleared your space, you’ve put in your planting work, now it’s time to harvest that good stuff.
Flourishing resolutions are the ones that allow you to exploit all that hard work you’ve put in. They’re the ones that dare you to be the best version of yourself, to go out and grab the life that you want. Pick those flowers that last year’s resolutions planted.
Did you give up smoking and put all that money into a savings account? EXCELLENT. Time to book an amazing, life altering holiday.
Did you limit your social media time and take a class in creative writing? Then it’s time to sit yourself down and write that novel you’ve always dreamed of.
Did you move away from your controlling parents and go to therapy? Then maybe you’re ready to invite some new love into your life.
New year’s resolutions tend to inspire feelings of guilt, of absolute drudgery. Too often, they’re based on the idea that whatever you were doing last year, you were doing it wrong. Whatever you were doing, you were doing it too much. Or maybe not enough. But whatever it was, it was definitely wrong. I hate this.
Thinking about resolutions like I do lets me get excited about the prospect of new year. It gives me a brilliant chance to stop for a second and see where I am and where I want to go. My new year’s resolutions give me the chance to purposefully and unabashedly bring as much joy into my life as I can.
Yank out that draining frienemy. Plant those gorgeous career window boxes. Dance under your canopy of inspirational blossom trees. Stretch a metaphor until it snaps and then stretch it some more. Structure a whole entire blog post around it and laugh because this is your life, my love, this is your garden and you can do anything you want to with it.
Long may your garden grow.