Comforting Words: Resolution 2008: Living Your Best Life

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Resolution 2008: Living Your Best Life

There was a time in my life when going out to get that special dress or pants suit for New Year’s Eve night was a must do.

Until I made a bonfire out of them, my bag of photographs (yes, we did not get around to filling albums) held many pictures of me with my ex at New Year’s Eve parties with our dearest friends. No, I only burnt the ones with her in them – it might sound sad but it certainly was cathartic!

My memory also goes back to what I now like to call my Russian Years – when New Year’s Eve night was the longest of the year.

Every other night we had a curfew – 11:00 p.m. At that bewitching hour, unless you knew the “Commandant,” (the keeper of the gate) you slept wherever night caught you and prayed to God that you were not found out.

New Year’s Eve night was different, however, as there was no curfew, no Commandant coming to check whether you had girls, boys and/or liquor in your room and the partying was wild, loud and, well, really wild.

For every New Year, like people across the world I would imagine, we would make resolutions – “I resolve to lose weight, to stop smoking, to quit drinking, to …something that takes the pleasure out of my existence!” These noble declarations were soon forgotten once the hangover kicked in.

The folly of making resolutions continued nevertheless well past my Russian Years and into my life as a mother and lover in a long-term relationship.

Some of the most popular resolutions for me were to make more money, pay all my bills on time and take control of my diabetes. My then partner’s one and only resolution was to lose weight – even when she was not overweight at least in my eyes. (Yes, that’s my African blood speaking – I love my partner to have meat on her body.)

Needless to say, by the middle of the year, the resolutions were long forgotten or when they did cross your mind it was with a “oh yes, I did say that didn’t I?”

Now on the brink of 43 and with 2008 only days away, one of the dear women with whom I work asked me a couple nights ago as we swapped life stories, “So Claudette what’s your New Year’s resolutions gonna be?”

Smiling has become second nature to me – a smile comes to my face so easily now, even when someone is attempting to be rude to me. There is a story there – the short version is how my daughter and I smilingly (she has learned the art well) confronted racism in a well known department store in Edmonton, leaving the woman stunned. She must have thought – where did these Amazon-height women came from?

Racism – in any of its manifestation is not something I put up with and thankfully my Abigail is learning to recognize when she is being treated with disdain because of her skin colour and how to address it without losing her dignity – smilingly that is.

This is all connected to my response to the woman’s question about my resolutions for 2008. She had told me what some of her resolutions were – including the usual culprits of weight, exercise and smoking.

I know she thought I had missed the point – or probably in one of my “chaplain” moments when I told her what my resolutions are.

Excusing myself, I went to my office and returned with a copy of a poem that has come to be a guiding principle for me. I watched her as she read it – not for the first time – and as her eyes filled with tears. She looked up at me and asked, “But how do you practically do this Claudette?”

“Easy,” I said, “think of your child, your daughter.”
You see, like me this particular woman has a daughter (in fact most of the women that I work with have children) and my advice to them – one that I remind myself of all the time – is always think whether your action is something you would want your child(ren) to replicate.

“Would I be proud of my daughter should she repeat my actions?” I most certainly was that day in the store when she calmly walked up to the sales clerk and opened her purse and said, “See, there is nothing in my purse,” and strode off – all 5’ 11” of her!

So, what’s this poem that I shared? It is not new to regular readers as I have posted it before. Yet, it is new if you have not made it a part of your life, your living, your way of being in the world. And that is my resolution for 2008 – to take these words and walk them:

A strong woman works out every day to keep her body in shape…
But a woman of strength kneels in prayer to keep her soul in shape…

A strong woman isn’t afraid of anything…..
But a woman of strength shows courage in the midst of her fear….

A strong woman won’t let anyone get the best of her…
But the woman of strength gives the best of herself to everyone…

A strong woman makes the mistakes and avoids the same in the future…
A woman of strength realizes life’s mistakes can also be the Creator’s blessings and capitalizes on them….

A strong woman walks sure footed…
But a woman of strength knows the Creator will catch her if she falls

A strong woman wears a look of confidence on her face…
But a woman of strength wears grace….

A strong woman has faith she is strong enough for the journey…
But a woman of strength has faith that it is in the journey, that she will become strong.

For 2008, as I embrace being single, being a Canadian and all that means, being a woman of colour and of Jamaican-African heritage living in the Diaspora, being a lesbian, being a professional and becoming a human being with a heart so cracked and bruised yet wide open, those words are my resolve.

In short, in 2008, I resolve to:
  • Take care of my body, the temple of the Living God, as I pray without ceasing.

  • Be still and know that the Divine has my back, even when my knees have gone to putty.

  • Keep giving with a smile, even when others think they pulled one over me.

  • Pick myself up and brush myself off and learn to read the signs – the life lessons – and proceed to the next class with grace.

  • Never stop growing, learning and most of all, loving – no matter what.

  • Just a couple nights ago, in a telephone conversation with a wonderful woman – one with a lot of the attributes that I hope to find in a partner eventually – told me that I am too sensitive. There was a time when that would hurt me tremendously and cause me to try to be tough.

    However, now I recognize that being labelled “sensitive,” is one of those things that patriarchy has done to women and it is a label that I personally have re-captured to my benefit. And so, when told this (by a woman ironically) it did not phase me in the least. Statements like that have not had that effect on me for a little while now. Why?

    Because it is the truth; of course I am sensitive. I am sensitive to my pain and that of others. I am sensitive to kindness and its opposite – evil (the absence of good). I am sensitive to what is helpful and life-giving and what is soul-destroying. I am extremely sensitive to truth, honesty and lies.

    The fact is whether one is considered “too” sensitive is really a matter of what the person who is doing the labelling has in their hearts. The Bible states and I paraphrase: “Guard your hearts because from it flow the issues of your life.”

    In 2008, it is my resolve to be a Woman of Strength/Strong Woman - with an open and sensitive heart.

    In 2008, I intend to be sensitive – to God’s calling of my name, to my brothers and sisters journey – the pain and joy therein, to love knocking on my door and to the doors that I must knock on to give the only true gift – unconditional love.

    In 2008, I will be walking the talk at full speed.

    I resolve to live my best life in 2008 so that my daughter may have a blueprint for her own life!

    I really invite those of you who would like to try some New Year’s resolutions that are truly life-changing to join me. Maybe we can keep an online journal of our success – notice I did not say progress but success. I will think of something and share that in the New Year.

    This is Divine work – nothing but success is guaranteed.

    Have a Happy New Year’s Eve night - in your ball gowns or tuxedos (that’s for my butch sistas’) or, like me, in your pyjamas!


    Claudette & Angello (woof)

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