Remain Calm and Carry On

Every New Year’s Eve I make a practice of choosing a slogan that embodies my attitude for the year ahead. A few years ago that slogan was, “Don’t Ask Permission.” The thought behind it was that we shouldn’t wait for people to tell us we’re good enough, creative enough, educated enough, smart enough. We need to decide these things then demonstrate that they are true—we are the only person whose permission is needed to become our best self.

This past year I chose, “I’ll see that and raise you.” As many of you know this is a phrase used in poker when you’re willing to take your bet to the next level. Little did I know when I picked it how often I would return to it as a rallying cry, for 2009 has been a year riddled with health issues, bizarre betrayals, and the unexpected deaths of several of my most dearly beloved.
It seems the universe took me at my word.

As I write, I’m thinking many of you had a similar year: a roller coaster ride composed not of breathless anticipation interspersed with high-energy delight but of low-grade dread interspersed with adrenaline-surging fear. And I don’t know how you approached your unexpected, unwanted challenges, but I can tell you my frequent fallback positions were resentment, sadness, anger, shock, distress, confusion, fear….

The hodgepodge of what it means to be human.

As I walked around this year– feeling my feelings– I initially found myself chanting the following, impromptu mantra, “Don’t freak out,” “Don’t freak out,” “Don’t freak out…”

But then it struck me—why was I speaking in the negative? The same way using “crisis” makes everyone involved act more peculiar, using the phrase “freak out” was going to make me more peculiar. (Not to mention that any sentence beginning with “Don’t” is sure to ratchet up your blood pressure.)

Consequently, I flipped my internal monologue to the slogan adopted by the British in WWII, “Remain calm, and carry on.”
Ah. I could breathe again.

Another thing that’s helped me breathe more deeply is the unstinting support so many of you have shown the Wow-World over the past year. The encouraging, kind, thoughtful letters you’ve sent have provided both ballast and fuel for remaining calm, and carrying on,

I thank you for them—so very much.

As you head into 2010, I hope you discover the slogan that offers you the mental sustenance you need to make this new decade prosperous and joyful.

And if there is any ballast, or fuel, I can provide for you, please don’t hesitate to be in touch.

With gratitude and joy,