Tis the season, to plan.

The best tool for that is the trusty old wall calendar and a marker. If, like me, you’re on a quest to optimise the quality of the time spent with those who”fan your flames” as Rumi would say, then inevitably, you have to find polite reasons to say “no” to all people and projects that do nothing for you.

Let me share a secret. This is one I learned from an older, wiser woman who gets joy out of every moment in life. People who are enjoying life, listen to them. They are doing this thing called life the right way.

She didn’t really share the secret. This is one I learned by observing.

“So and so is having a birthday/baby shower/whatever in woop woop” and after a brief consult with her wall calendar, she’d say “I’m busy that day.”

The stuff that matters the most to her, she knows of in advance and has already populated her calendar. This way, anything that’s not highly meaningful to her has a very slim chance of intruding on her time. What an elegant solution for people-pleasers everywhere.

Your Personal Solar System

I had an amazing story teacher (yeah, you Karel) who opened my eyes that we’re all part of a solar system made, not of stars, but people, carbon-based lifeforms made of stardust.

If you think you’re the star of your own life show, then what I’m about to say may cause a violent resistance within you.

Other people may or may not revolve around you. Like you, they too are planets, revolving around someone much older and wiser, and yes, you may be the star/mentor for some of them but that just means you serve them by lighting their path in some way.

So, nobody’s a master of the show. We are all moving in orbit, if we feel inspired. If there’s no inspiration, let’s start with a humble wall calendar.

For beginners, list the people who matter the most to you. For me, this would be my partner, daughters, brother, mum in law, father-in-law, brother-in-law, his mrs. These are the people I see the most of on a day-to-day basis and hence the ones who pay me the most attention and vice versa.

Then would come all of my friends and family who live overseas. But closer still and winning my heart all the time are my friends who have realised their creative abilities and have established some sort of regular creative practice from which they may or may not be earning a living.

2020 is a special year in that there’s a very important milestone coming up for my father, who not only turns 70 but is also getting ready to retire. As a family, we are called upon to support him through this transition in life which, like anytime one changes their job, marital status, address, is one that’s going to require the conscious presence of loved ones to make it a smooth and positive experience.

My wish for 2020 is to have more creative control over my life, where I’m writing more, working on my memoir tentatively titled “Writing and Other Unwanted Gifts” and other projects that promote regular creative practice for people wanting to live a life of connection (and I’m not talking about spending precious hours on social media while life unfolds its miracles). A good place to start is by writing on the trusty old wall calendar, which may or may not be the gateway drug to diaries and journals and a daily writing habit.

Start with circling your own birthday. This is going to be a special day and make sure you take the time to honour yourself. Then circle all your family and friends’ birthdays and on these special days take the time to be present with them. Don’t just buy them presents, but really think about who they are, the journey they’re on and where they’d like to go. I promise, if you do this, the gift ideas for the holiday season will present themselves (ha! couldn’t resist).

Next, select all the holidays that are meaningful to you. Then, give yourself deadlines for the things you want to see done. Want to lose 5 kilos? Come up with a deadline and make sure you mark it on your calendar along with a prize for yourself for meeting that goal.

I Can See Clearly Now…

“The future depends on what you do today” – seen at a pop-up gift shop in the Rocks

If you do take the time to think about your closest ones, especially those who make life difficult for you, as these people have the most to teach you about yourself, then you will enjoy much better relationships with them.

This thesis has been proven by me for myself and it is the subject of “Writing and Other Unwanted Gifts”. I will not bore you with the details here (and hopefully not in the book either) but I now laugh at my former self who was judging those who pushed my buttons a year or two ago. I can see it was the child in me that needed to grow up and conflict was what I needed to re-evaluate my worldview and adapt a flexible mindset (through mental yoga, aka writing) that allows for greater acceptance of different people and situations.

I don’t know about you, but for many years what I craved was meaningful connections with a family that seemed so disjointed, so unaware of each others’ feelings and so isolated from each other. I sought meaning in my workplaces and scared away my bosses with a passion that should’ve been reserved for my own family. I tried to gain control whenever I felt a whiff of dysfunction in trying to set things right with the parents who brought me up who could never resolve their own differences. They were frozen in time within me and every situation around me was like a call to action to make amends for the fact that I couldn’t bring peace to my own home growing up.

So in a nutshell, here’s what the rest of the year and beyond looks like;

  1. Zoe’s birthday and recognising her new ability to walk by giving her some shoes
  2. Honouring an auntie who’s been loving and kind to our children and us with dinner and drinks
  3. Making Lucy’s third birthday special and giving her more jigsaw puzzles to solve
  4. Our 9th year anniversary (which I recently found is also the day of Rumi’s death, but Sufis call it the wedding day because it’s believed that he’s attained “union” with God.
  5. Christmas, a day of thoughtful gift-giving. Thoughtful means gifts we either make ourselves, using our own talents, locally purchased or seeds and plants for us to start a sustainable herb garden.
  6. New Year’s Day, which is the day that the Council will collect our household waste. It’s a chance to minimise, ridding ourselves and home of everything that’s not needed so that our focus and energy (I’d rather be writing than dusting old stuff) isn’t wasted.
  7. A special Capricorn’s birthday, who introduces things of taste and beauty to our household.
  8. My dear cousin’s birthday (hello, Nergiz!)
  9. Celebration dinner for finishing the first manuscript of “Writing and Other Unwanted Gifts” (Thank you, Louisa, for the idea to celebrate this milestone)
  10. Dad’s 70th…

Yes, I already bought my 2020 calendar. It’s one by Gardening Australia. I’m especially looking forward to the month with the roses.

Over to you…

Have you bought a wall calendar for 2020 and how’s your year looking so far?