New Year Resolutions? I’d Rather Love Myself Instead.

fortune cookie: First and Last Love is Self Love.

Creative Commons by bamalibrarylady via Flickr

As I pondered the arrival of 2014, assessing the emotional roller-coaster of 2012 and 2013, I realised that I always – I MEAN ALWAYS have the same resolutions. There’s no need to bang one’s head on the wall. If I jumped off a chair –Danish tradition– hoping to get my driver’s license in 1995 and we are now 2014, clearly the resolution pathway isn’t working.

Looking at everyone else’s lists, I am not alone here. Most people’s resolutions revolve around changing themselves. We want to exercise more, eat less or healthier, or nibble on twigs, I’m not sure exactly. We aspire to read more, secretly watch reality TV less, be better at cleaning up, keep a journal, bla bla bla. I am boring myself now.

What a way to start the new year! Yes let’s just beat ourselves up and fuel that little nasty voice whose rugged roots are so deeply intertwined in our brains.

My voice isn’t little either. She is big, booming. My inner bitch’s voice can carry far to every cell in my body. She’s the Bette Midler of inner voices. Only she isn’t the wind beneath my wings. She is the one plucking feathers. If I do manage to get air-bound, she aims at me with her bibi gun and has a fantastic freaking shot.

My resolutions for 2014?  I am gagging this bitch, tying her up and throwing her in the back closet of my mind until I can find a way to expectorate her. This is the year of self-love. This year I will embrace my strengths, my perceived flaws and whatever weaknesses and I will celebrate them. This is who I am. Why would I want to change that?

Many of the things I consider personality flaws simply aren’t. They are aspects about myself that can be seen in a positive or negative light. I used to think of myself as an over-carer and over-sharer. In truth I am compassionate and trusting.  That doesn’t have to be bad. If we take the time to stop beating ourselves up, we can learn to see the advantages and perhaps how to wield them better. From now on I choose positive.

As far as looks and health go, well it’s tough now that we live in a world that seems obsessed on image and documenting it constantly. I try not to care and yet find it difficult. The best advice I heard from a friend recently is that 95% of ourselves are just who we are. There are small things we can change if we really so desire: maybe our hair colour, maybe go to the gym a bit more often but that probably amounts to about 5% so the next time you are staring in the mirror, obsessing over the shape of your eyebrows, then book a threading appointment. As far as your ribcage goes, learn to love it; it’s not going to change. The best thing I’ve done? Eliminating mirrors.

When you love yourself and stop beating yourself up, the few changes you might like to make become so much easier. Remember: no change comes easily. There will always be setbacks so if you must, do it slowly and more importantly, do it kindly.

Wishing you all a 2014 full of self-love. MOUAH, MM

Fast and Furious in Bangkok: Learning to Drive in a Cloud of Complexity

7-bangkok-traffic by  Davy-040

I’ve been told I’d be crazy to drive in Bangkok. Then, when people realise I’ve never even had a driver’s license, they think I’ve totally lost my mind. I’d like to propose that my lack of license or previous driving experience makes me a lot more like the local Thais already on the road, but we will get back to that.

There is such a long story as to why I don’t drive, I can bore myself just thinking about it so I am going to sum it up in a series of words and short phrases: New York City, London and no money, boats, significant others with licenses, and of course, the state that rules my life: procrastination.

How long have I been procrastinating? Well getting my license has been a new year’s resolution of mine since about ’96.  At the stroke of midnight I’ve jumped off a chair  (Danish), eaten 12 grapes (Spain) and banged the walls with bread (Ireland), or down a flute of champers (Various), all to no avail. I’ve owned the rules of the road code books for NYC, Singapore and now Thailand. In London and France, getting a license is so cost-prohibitive, I could never even consider it. When my SO at the time finally gave me birthday card promising lessons I reacted by running off to Turkey leaving him high and dry. The question remains whether I actually left ‘him’ or the idea of finally learning how to drive. Seriously though, I am someone who managed to quit smoking and yet I can’t find the willpower to follow through on this one.

About four years ago, I came really close. I had an eight-month-old baby and my husband and I were traveling to Mexico to introduce our little bundle to his family. The journey consisted of two flights to get there and four 4-hour road trips in a period of two weeks. Those of you with kids will know that entertaining a kid of that age, for that long, in the back of the car, would be the greatest incentive ever. By the end of the trip I vowed I’d get my license within the year. I went so far as to drag myself to the DMV, a feat in and of itself, pass the theory test, get the worst photo ever and receive my learner’s permit! But morning sickness, a miscarriage, and morning sickness again, culminating with a round the world move while 34 weeks pregnant put an end to that attempt.

So why now? Well this summer is a milestone birthday and I’d really like to get it before then. I am also going to be in France for two months with my two under 5s, relying on the generosity of others to put me up. Also, everyone I know lives in the sticks. It’s one thing to be in your late teens and call up your friends’ brothers and cousins to persuade them to drive you around the countryside to various parties. But I am pretty sure that 20 years on, me and two kids would be an exceedingly hard sell. Train travel with children that age, platform changes, steep steps to board, suitcases and just me is definitely one of the circles of Dante’s inferno. If I can drive, the trip could transform from torture to pleasure in one turn of the ignition key.

Tune in next week for part 2: guns, the art of zen, and never parking in Park.