Monday, 28 January 2019

Is this real life - or just fakery ? (with apologies to Queen)

At some point faking it became ok. Actually not even just ok, but aspirational. False nails. fake eyelashes, those weird big eyebrow things, botox, fillers - well you get my point. It's absolutely fine to pretend to be something you're not - visually. If you want to be a blonde you bleach your hair. If you want to have long hair you can get extensions. If you want to be a celebrity you go on a TV show and make an idiot of yourself. It's always been ok to fake that you're ok. I've done it for years.

Not long after my first marriage ended I was taking a course in psychodynamic counselling and it was tough. I held it together while worrying about how to pay the fees and whether or not I could cope with the mind games that the tutors would play on us students. On one occasion the entire room turned on me and I broke down in tears. The woman who had led the onslaught jeered that I was faking it for attention. In my supervision with the tutor I said I had been shaken by this. He told me it was probably because, "You give the appearance of being bulletproof." I looked at him in disbelief. "No one is bulletproof. How can anyone think it's ok to do that ?" I never went back to the course. I couldn't face it. Also I had to deal with this characterisation of me as this ice maiden with no feelings and no capacity to be hurt. 

Years later I worked for a man who clearly didn't like me. I was always polite to him and offered to make tea and joined in with the boyish chat in the office, but it was pretty awkward. In a meeting with him one day he told me, "You're a fake." I asked what he meant by that. "You pretend to be ok when you're not. You smile and make tea and it's all fake." It was like a kick in the belly. How dare he call me a fake ? I was offended. However, when I thought about it he was absolutely spot on. Of course I was faking it. How could I not be ? No one is happy and cheery all the time. It isn't possible. I was making the best of things and ensuring the office atmosphere wasn't unpleasant and frosty. I worked with some alpha males who would 'banter' and practically chest bump their way through the working day. I couldn't join in with that. I didn't want to. 

So why did it bother me being seen as fake ? I'm not sure being real was an asset I wished to cultivate. Being real just didn't appeal. My messy, out of control, unmedicated self just wasn't safe to unveil at work. In what possible way would it be of benefit to be myself ? I was used to having to pretend to be ok. To not be unhappy, or angry, or anything other than polite and friendly. After a while it becomes the way you see yourself, so when the mask slips you are just as shocked as anyone else. I have had entire relationships based on the image of myself I wish to portray. The kind and generous and lovely person I want to be seen as. Not the flawed, angry, unreasonable, unremarkable person I really am. 

One the years I found ways to manage the unpalatable - running, swimming, going to the gym. I would pound the treadmill, lift weights, do whatever it took to  unfetter the badness. When I swim I process all the unpleasant thoughts I can't have on dry land. I furiously work out why this rubbish thing has happened and keep going until I am physically too tired to do any more. People have asked me how I can run for hours without any music to listen to. Well in yoga we use the term 'monkey mind' for those random thoughts that just keep flitting into and out of your head: 

- I've got to cross the road there - maybe I can do it without pressing the light

- Oh that's the shop where I went it for a tissue once

- Isn't that the dog that lives two doors down from Jill ? 

- Next time I go to the theatre I can leave my car there. 

- The hedges are all trimmed back - when did they do that ? 

There is so much going on in my head that I just don't need music. It gives me space to work out how to deal with things that I can't give my time to otherwise. Often I get home shattered, but feeling better about something that I was upset about earlier. 

It's really only been in the last year that these two worlds have collided. The one inside my head and the one outside. The mask of "I'm ok" "Like me I'm nice" has melted away and it's like I'm standing yelling into an abyss. No filter, an overwhelming sense that things are out of control and a startling inability to manage my own emotions. It's like 40+ years of crazy have just escaped and I now can't get them back inside the bottle. 

I'd give anything to be able to go back to before it was all out there. The "No, I'm not ok actually." "Yes this is me in all my crappy and unpleasant glory." I've been all, "Leave me alone ! Why are you ignoring me ?" A bit like Olivia Colman's Queen in The Favourite when she chastises a valet for not looking at her then for daring to look at her. You think it's a pain to be on the receiving end of it ? Well it's no picnic on this side - believe me. 

There is no reward for sharing the bits of yourself you don't like. I think I preferred when it was ok to fake it and I thought I was getting away with it. 

Friday, 25 January 2019

Nature favours the brave

Are you a thrill seeker ? I'm sure I've mentioned before that I vehemently avoid anything approaching dangerous at all. Rollercoasters and fast rides hold absolutely no appeal for me. Anything high speed terrifies me - which is ironic considering how many times I've had speeding tickets. Still it wasn't me who had to go on a speed awareness course was it - looking at no one in particular (stares at Hubbie). However I do surprise myself sometimes. Not in a "how did I find myself in this barrel falling into Niagra Falls ?" way. More a "why exactly am I in a queue to do this thing that is scary ?" It's for this reason I had no desire to do a bungee jump. It strikes me as a ridiculous idea with so little merit. Especially when it's from a scaffold suspended over Brighton Marina. I can understand why people do it in exotic locations abroad (still not doing it myself), but in a car park in Sussex ? Not so much.

I was thinking about the things I've done that have challenged me and made me face my fears and to be fair there are a few.

I went to stay with my lovely friend Fatima when she was living and working in Spain and she took me climbing. As a short person I am not great with heights. However, I got to the top of the climbing wall and even managed to look down and see how far I'd come. It was liberating.

Scuba diving - I booked a flight to Sharm and met my friends out there. They were all far more experienced than me and had been diving for years. I had to be coaxed to jump into the pool to test my diving gear. Jumping into the red sea off the back of a boat was a whole other story. However once I was in the water I absolutely loved it. The peace and tranquility. How blue it all is. Being in nature and silence (apart from the rasping of your own breathing) is just magical.

A zip wire is on my 'do it when I'm 50' list as the longest one in Europe is at the Eden Project. Only I remembered the other day that I had already done a zip wire on board a massive cruise liner. It was very high up and I was bricking it, but actually really enjoyed it and whooped with delight when I was careering was above the decks.

My Mum never allowed me to go skiing with the school - well to be truthful we couldn't afford it anyway. She also said, "you're going to break all your bones if you do," which is a really inspiring and uplifting sentiment I'm sure you'll agree. So when I was earning enough to make the decision to go with friends I did. Again they were all experienced and I was a complete newbie. I booked lessons and instantly started to regret being so reckless as to think I'd be able to ski. Me ? Afraid of heights uncoordinated and clumsy me ? After my first lesson I was completely hooked. I loved it. By the end of the week I was skiing at speed and scaring myself stupid. I still do that when I am lucky enough to go skiing.

Yep that's me - the snow bunny 

For years I thought I wanted to do a parachute jump. My lovely pal Zoe did a wing walk for charity and that looked utterly mad, but she is a genuine thrill seeker doing things like fire walking. Then the chance came to do one of those 'flights' where you are in a tube with updraught to give you the sensation of skydiving without jumping out of a plane. Both me and Brown Bear did it and while it was amazing he did look really shell shocked afterwards.

I have always loved the trapeze and it's my favourite act in the circus. Long before the beautiful sequences in The Greatest Showman I longed to emulate Gina Lollobrigida in the movie Trapeze. However, when I did get the opportunity to learn how to swing on a trapeze I was shaking so much all I could hear was the clanking of the scaffolding as I climbed the ladder to get up there. It was no better once I was moving. I was so scared I didn't dare try and swing or leap off and dropped like a sack of potatoes onto the net. Still the photos make it look like I was a bit more competent than I actually was.

So why am I telling you all this ? Well I said that last week I was going to do something crazy with my gorgeous friend Pippa while I was in Penzance for the weekend. Pippa inspires me to be brave, to take risks and to push myself. Since I've known her I've posted videos online of myself practising yoga. I've shared my radio show with a wider audience and been honest and open about my struggles with mental health and grief. It's not a pretty journey, but it's been one that has made me face my fears.

I knew I was going to be able to go to Cornwall to spend a day in her lovely company and I sent a message to say, "I think I'll come swimming with you if that's ok ?" I practically heard her squeal over the internet. You see Pip doesn't swim in the same way that I do. Living so close to the sea she swims outside all year round. Yes even in the Winter. In a bikini !! Ok, I wasn't prepared to go that far so Hubbie managed to unearth a wetsuit and some scuba boots from the garage and I packed them with me. I wasn't entirely sure it was a wise idea, but I had committed to it and I wasn't going to back out. I often do this. Make a public declaration so I then have to go through with it. I did it with cutting off my hair and the same with running a half marathon. Now I don't consider that to be a distance that I can't manage.

So Sunday morning came and I was meeting Pip at 11.15 (after the Archers omnibus obvs). I stayed in bed late and called the boys to say good morning. I took it easy and went outside to move my car into a parking space close enough to pack later for the journey home. It was sunny outside. The forecast had said it would rain, but it was lovely. I had a message from Pip asking if I was still on and I said I absolutely was. I made a cup of tea and sat at the kitchen table listening to the radio with the laptop open and tapped away - checking work email and responding (I know, I know - shush).

At 11 o'clock I put towels and a waterproof into a big bag and popped my wetsuit and boots at the top. The nerves were starting to kick in, but I was determined to do this and the weather was better than I had expected. As I walked to the seafront to meet Pip I felt a few spatters of rain on my face. It didn't matter. She gave me one of her amazing hugs and we made our way down to the beach. I couldn't get my footing on the pebbles to put on my wetsuit, but after a few attempts and many laughs I was ready to get in. It was pretty shallow where we were - which meant a long walk to get to a depth that made swimming possible. It was cold, but not so much that I couldn't cope. I did get my shoulders under and started to move my legs only to find that I was too buoyant to swim properly. Oh well lying on my back and floating it is then. "Look !" Pip pointed in excitement. It was a seal. An actual honest to goodness seal. Swimming with us in the sea. The previous evening we had spotted dolphins splashing around  in the distance and now here was a cheeky seal. It was just wonderful. I found being in the water invigorating and empowering and I completely see why it is so addictive. As we sat on the prom afterwards drinking tea and watching the waves lapping up to the beach I felt proud that I had done it.

Yes we did just swim in the sea in January !! 

It's not even the end of January and I've done something I never expected to do. I've been for a swim in the sea in January. Yes it was cold and I did wrap up warm and layered to retain body heat for the rest of the day. I like to think the seal was my reward for being brave.

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Here comes the sun...

This weekend I'm on my own. On Friday I drove 300 miles away from home and am staying in a flat by the sea. Sleeping as much as I want. Only eating if I feel like it - and not cooking at all. In contact with people I want to be in contact with. I've seen a few people, but mostly I'm just enjoying some solitude. Instead of feeling guilty and missing my kids, I've spoken to them and I know they are happy and well.

It was the anniversary of the death of my friend on Friday and I went to see her partner. We had a nice lunch, complimented each other and laughed as we recounted lovely stories about Soraya. I knew this was going to be an emotive time. It was all a bit last minute really. My friend Pippa was running a new year one day retreat and I said I'd love to come. I mentioned it to Hubbie and he said he had plenty of plans with the boys so it was fine. It took some logistical planning - and an unscheduled visit to the vet in the morning - but it came together beautifully.

The first thing I did was greet the sea when I arrived

Driving for six hours gives you time to think. The transition from a difficult week (or two) at work to a weekend of 'me time' was fairly seamless. As I drove in the dark I listened to the radio and let go of the stuff that I can't do anything about right now. I knew I'd be doing some wonderful yoga with Leif in the morning so getting sleep was my priority. However, when I arrived I wasn't tired or hungry. I explored Penzance a bit and said hello the sea. Unpacked my things and made myself a cuppa. When I went to bed I propped the door open - in case the kids woke up. Habits are hard to break aren't they ? When I woke up at some ridiculous time I just went back to sleep.

In the morning I went for a run 

I realise that taking a weekend for myself so far away is self-indulgent and I appreciate that I am so very lucky to be able to do this. I love Cornwall and have a small group of friends here now and it was so lovely when I was sitting on the yoga mat and a woman came over to me beaming and we shared a huge hug. I "know" Katy sort of, but we didn't know we'd both be at this retreat. It felt so good to have the familiar faces and the beautiful location with the sea just in view and the sun and rain taking turns outside the windows.

I did some beautiful relaxing yoga

It was a few years ago I did this for the first time and I remember being filled with guilt. I was convinced I was failing as a mum and it weighed heavy on me. That time with other mums gave me strength. I spent time in nature - walking along the sea - and in my own company. The themes I found in common with others included loneliness. Being a stay at home parent was isolating. Yet I had forgotten how to enjoy my own company. I'm rediscovering what that is like now.

We watched dolphins from here

The simple joy of sitting at the kitchen table, looking out of the window, listening to the Archers with seagulls in the background (in real life not on the radio). I've been for a walk and it's a gorgeous day. Bright and sunny with just a little breeze. Yesterday evening I sat on the prom with Pippa watching dolphins splashing in the sea as the sun went down. Yes it's been sunny here. In January. The dolphins were a delightful surprise. It's like a reward for taking time for me.

This lovely lady inspires me to be brave 

 I have one more adventure today before I drive back. It's a brave, crazy thing that I'm doing with my lovely friend Pippa. I'll tell you about it later.

Wish me luck !

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Love, love me do...

Often I listen to podcasts when I am driving. I used to listen to audio books in the car -I adore books, but with so little time to read it was a good compromise. I remember driving in North Wales through some stunning scenery while listening to Richard E Grant reading his autobiography With Nails and it's a memory that has stayed with me. A bit like driving along crying at every song on the radio. It was clearly another bad break up - there were so many I can't recall exact detail. I remembered this earlier this evening while I was listening to Caitlin Moran reading her autobiography. She describes a relationship with a man who treats her terribly, but she keeps trying to make up for this by loving him even more. It felt like someone had reached inside me and pulled my insides out.

Yes I have done that too Caitlin. Pretty much every woman I know has. I'm not talking about the 'bad boy' who appeals because you just know he's going to be trouble. I mean the man / boy who is charming and says all the right things. He is convincing and you are totally taken in. It starts small. A changed plan here or a cancelled date there. The broken promises. "We will do it another time." You don't. "I'll make it up to you." He doesn't. Then it gets bigger. "I'll let you know when I can see you. I'm just really busy." And days go by. Then weeks. If you have a particularly special case he will just take you for granted and act like he's doing you a favour when he does decide to come back into your life.

I once stood outside Top Shop in Oxford Circus to meet - let's call him smooth talker. I had arranged to meet him there - this was before mobile phones - and he was late. I kept checking to see if I was in the right place - called his office and he wasn't there either. Eventually I went home. I won't even say how long I waited as I'm so embarrassed. This was the lad who had a girlfriend and I was unwittingly the 'other woman." A friend told me on the phone as he was convinced I already knew. I didn't. It all made sense now. The lateness, the broken plans, the lack of contact. I was the chump in all this. I really wanted to think the best of him. I've done that a lot. I do that a lot.

Despite all my instincts and every fibre of my being telling me, "this is not someone who respects or loves you," I would just keep going. Convincing myself that this was a good man underneath it all. That if I just kept doing my best it would be ok. He didn't call because he's busy. Remember he said he would be ?

Then there's - let's call him Porto - who didn't turn up when we were supposed to go out and I just sat downstairs with my housemates not saying anything as it was clear he had forgotten or just not bothered. He eventually turned up at 11pm and had all the silver-tongued excuses for his behaviour. Turns out the truth (which he didn't tell me) was that he was an alcoholic and had been asleep all day. He was also the one who once we'd broken up would call me at the same time every Monday to ask if I wanted to go out and do something. When we were actually going out he never wanted to go anywhere. He couldn't seem to accept that it was over and I wasn't pining or suffering at him not being in my life any more.

When Moran talks about it all being ok 'because we are in love" I felt a catch in my throat. I naively believed that if someone loves you they treat you well. I can't do enough for the ones I love. I have driven hours to see someone I love, to give them a hug or to just say "I'm here for you." I've changed my plans just to see them for a little while. I've been at the end of the phone when things are going wrong in their life. Day and night. When they ignored me entirely I was still there when they decided to talk to me again. I know I'm an idiot - right ?

There was the guy who broke up with me during the interval of a show - I call him a lot of things, but that's not for here - and we sat next to each other with me knowing I had to share a car with him on the journey home now he had dumped me. Or the guy who goaded me all through dinner and when I reacted he walked off before the concert started. I went in alone not knowing if he was going to come back or not. He didn't.

What makes a person put up with this ? Is it a lack of self respect ? I suspect that is part of it. I didn't feel I deserved any better than I was getting. I was lucky any guy wanted to be with me. Whatever he was prepared to give I should be grateful. I never once thought to ask for more. How could I ? That meant risking him walking away. I didn't consider it might mean I could have better.

If I did have the courage to say something, I would always make light of it. "Yeah - just fitting me in between other commitments - ironic emoji." and in response I'd get, "Yep that's me doing my best to fit you in when I can. I'm such a terrible person." I mean who wouldn't feel incredibly flattered being fitted in between other far more important things ? How dare I not see this for the grand romantic gesture it clearly was ?

I would do more and more to make up for getting less and less. In yet another example of my stunning capacity to get it wrong I tried to tell him why I wasn't happy with how he was behaving towards me. I sat opposite him trying not to catch his eye. I know that I can't hide how I feel and I wanted to maintain my composure as much as I could. In the end I was standing in the street crying and ranting at him - because that's a great way to win over someone - clearly. I pointed out that if this was it I understood, but I just wasn't going to be taken for granted any more. Of course dear reader you already know that it made not a blind bit of difference. As usual I apologised for standing up for myself - repeatedly. Then things just went back to how they were before.

I frequently go out of my way to ensure no one is put out to see me. I'm not worth it you see. Why should I expect anyone to make any effort for me ? I won't ask. I don't expect. This is still an overhang from these destructive relationships that reaffirmed what I already believed. That no one would love me really. That I had to be better, look different, be nicer, not make a fuss. I should be grateful that a man was giving me any attention after all.

Raising my boys I am bringing them up to respect themselves and others. I don't want my sons to treat anyone this way. The bottom line is even if you can't make grand gestures you don't have to be cruel. Kindness is so important. It makes a person feel special and cared about. A kind word, a lovely message, an unexpected card or a surprise visit just to make someone's day. Maybe I'm a sap for thinking this simple stuff is of value, but I've always appreciated it.

I want my boys to remember some simple rules for life:

  • Kindness costs nothing 
  • Loving someone is an active thing not a passive one 
  • You can love someone, but not like they way they behave 
  • If someone loves you they won't make excuses - they will make time
  • You are precious and wonderful - don't let anyone ever treat you like you are not  

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Recall message - what do you mean I can't do that ?

Do you ever wish you could edit in real life ? Like when you prepare a document or write a message and you read it over to make sure you haven't made an error or said the wrong thing. Isn't it difficult when you can't do that with things you've said or done ? The conversation that didn't quite go as you had hoped. The message where you pressed send before really thinking it through and now wish you had the capability to get it back. Even email can be recalled if you get to it quick enough.

There are so many times I wish I had been able to say something in a different way. To have been calmer, kinder, less emotional. Whenever I am a the end of my tether with the boys, when I am overwrought about something and spiralling or even when I am so excited I just can't stop myself. It's not healthy to live with regret, I know this. However, I often think if I hadn't done it this way things would be better. Not the big things so much. More the every day actions or words that didn't have to happen. I have discovered that you can delete messages in WhatsApp, which is a blessing really. Messenger and text messages are irretrievable, so I now take my time to reply in case I get it wrong. Often I start replying to a message and then decide against it until I'm sure about what I want to say. Sometimes it takes so much effort to craft a response that when I get a reply I feel cheated as I know the respondent hasn't struggled nearly as much as I did.

Face to face is much harder to edit. I will practice what I want to say when I have a potentially difficult conversation, but I can't predict what the other person will say. I once spent an entire train journey getting myself increasingly distressed about meeting someone. I knew they wanted to talk to me about something important, but I was upset with them and just wanted to yell and say, "how dare you do that to me !" I didn't, but as I walked over to them at Victoria Station I thought I was going to throw up. I wished I hadn't come. It was already far worse than I could have expected. I couldn't speak. I was shaking with nerves. At times like this I just want to disappear. I want to edit myself out of the situation.

When I post photos to instagram or facebook I take my time to get them just right. I think about what I'm doing it for, what it says and whether it is good enough. Sometimes I decide not to. I'm posting fewer images of myself as I don't feel the need to share myself so much. It's not like a genuine anonymity because I'm still behind the image, but I don't want to be in them. I know what I look like - for better or worse. Instead of a heavily edited selfie I would rather show where I am or the feeling it evokes. Editing photos for me now is about how to arrange a series of images to best effect.

How I look in real life is also an act of editing my appearance to suit the situation. Ok so I'm at work and that is a particular look, but if I'm going out it's different. Having been a stay at home parent for so long I haven't needed to adapt from day to night and got used to being pretty low key all the time. If I went to the theatre I would just change my jumper, but still wear jeans. I didn't want to draw attention to myself so I didn't dress up at all. As it's Sunday I have been in scruffs all day. We've been building a bunk bed and I've been sorting out the house so it hardly warranted getting properly dressed. I do like to have my armour when needed though. Whether that is make up or clothes that make me feel powerful. I've had some pretty tough meetings at work lately and I go into them dressed and made up in a way that makes me feel self assured and strong. It isn't how I really feel, but I'm not letting on that I am nervous or out of my depth.

There may not be an edit facility in life, but I am making it my ambition to recognise when I need to and doing it anyway. It's a work in progress so if I still get it wrong just bear with me please.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Ooh aah just a little bit

Have you made a plan for this year ? Do you make resolutions ? Is it all about New Year New You ? If I'm entirely truthful I usually do. I decide to make a fresh start and make unrealistic plans to do things every day or or eat different things or stop eating things. Every January I give myself a 'reset' by stopping sugar, alcohol and bread. It isn't for long and I've been doing it for a few years now so I don't really notice it much any more. It's not a detox. That's what my liver is for thanks very much.

You already know that last year I was a hot mess. At the end of the year I lost my voice, my energy and on New Year's Eve my capacity to move as I put my back out. The upside to all this has been that not being able to move has forced me to stop. Every time I wanted to go and tidy or declutter or wash up or something urgent I would get up, feel dizzy and have to sit down again. In the end I gave in and decided it was best to just let my body and mind have what they were craving. Rest. For the first time in a long time I don't feel tired. I'm not exactly bouncing with energy yet, but that endless exhaustion has lifted - finally. I haven't been well enough to swim or run, but I also don't want to overdo it.

The thing is I'm taking my time because I don't want to fall into familiar bad habits. I'm already doing things differently. Instead of getting up and 'doing' from the minute I wake up I'm embracing the art of the weekend lie in. Ok sometimes I do have to get up to do my radio show, but if not I'm in no rush to get up. Yesterday I was out early because I went to see my gorgeous friend Yasmin for some pampering. After a relaxing facial and soothing massage I felt ready to take on the task of taking down the Christmas decorations.

This morning Hubbie went for a cycle ride (his new thing on a Sunday morning) so I made myself a cuppa and went back to bed. Brown Bear climbed in with me and Neo and we relaxed. It was blissful. I honestly don't know what I was doing on a Sunday morning before this (probably getting up and going for a run or something), but you know what this feels good to me right now.

Clutter stresses me out. I spend a ridiculous amount of time planning how to reorganise my home. Hubbie bought me the Marie Kondo book two years ago and it stressed me out even more. I now accept that as I have young children my home isn't going to be pristine or minimal. Yesterday while the boys were at football I sorted out the DVDs and CDs - are we the only people who still have those ? - and reorganised the living room. I am really pleased with how it looks. Hubbie laughed when I told him to sit down and appreciate the 'flow' of the decor. Brown Bear came in and immediately said, "it looks really good Mummy." Blue Bear asked, "What did you do ? It all looks different." Neo miaowed his disapproval at me, then settled down on the newly moved sofa and promptly fell asleep.

Yoga has always helped me to deal with stress both mentally and physically. With everything that happened last year I should have been doing more yoga. Instead I did less and finally I wasn't doing any at all. It's my promise to myself to get back to taking care of myself and others through yoga. I want to share the gift of yoga with other people, but if I'm not taking care of myself, how can I offer it to anyone else ? Self care has always eluded me. If I swim I go hard and swim until I'm shattered. If I run I go until I need to see a physio. Today I went for my first swim of the year. I didn't set a goal, I swam until felt I had done enough and then splashed around with Blue Bear. We played and he showed me how well he can swim now. It was just enough.

My lovely friend Pippa has been a great help in teaching me about taking care of myself and she has created these lovely 'Sea Soul Blessings' cards. Hubbie gave me some for Christmas and I have made a special place for them by my bed so I can draw a card whenever I feel the need. I am hoping to see her in a few weeks for a mini retreat as I find being in her presence does me so much good. Pippa is a big fan of sea swimming - her bravery and wisdom inspires me so much.

No resolutions then. Let's call them habits of kindness. A promise. To myself. To others.