Since our peaceful, joyful, family Christmas day, I’ve spent some uncomfortable hours with the dull ache of disappointment and embarrassment, wondering how to make amends to my sister and brother-in-law for forgetting their invitation for my husband and me to share a special meal with them and our brother on the Friday between Christmas and New Year.
I’d looked forward for weeks to spending time with my siblings, but without checking my diary I’d invited another person to our house that evening. There’s no excuse. Not only did I hurt people I love, but John and I also missed one of the highlights of our festive Christmas season.
When my sister rang to ask where we were, I confessed that I’d forgotten. As if that wasn’t bad enough, when I eventually looked in my diary I saw that it was the birthday of one of my granddaughters. I’d bought and wrapped her present before Christmas, but I’d forgotten the day completely.
On one level, not checking my diary was a simple mistake, but not to use it or the calendar by the phone for a week? There’s something about this forgetful behaviour that disturbs me. My decision to make some changes takes effect from today.
It’s mere coincidence that it is almost the end of the year. New Year’s resolutions have never been part of my life. In the past couple of decades, each year on my birthday I have reviewed the previous year. A long time ago, a friend gave me an illustrated notebook with beautiful paper, and I’ve used that to record any past achievements and write to plans for the next twelve months.
One year, I worked through Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity. I began to write three pages in longhand every single morning, followed by a long walk. That process changed my life as I allowed myself to become more creative across all dimensions.
The next year, I read Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy. In 365 little essays, one for each day of the year, Breathnach writes about ‘six practical, creative, and spiritual principles – gratitude, simplicity, order, harmony, beauty and joy’. It took some work to transpose meditations about seasons and celebrations applicable in the northern hemisphere to Australia, but the effort was worth every moment.
But over the past few years, some of the foundation elements that made up my well-ordered life have slipped. This is partly the result a dramatic change in life-style brought about by remarrying when I was almost seventy, after living alone for almost thirty-five years; and partly because I’ve become less physically robust as I’ve aged.
Since I sent the completed manuscript of a book to an agent three months ago, my life has been in the limbo of ongoing waiting for her verdict on my work. A writer of any age who isn’t writing can be very grumpy indeed, as well as disorganised and forgetful.
THREE TOOLS FOR AN ORGANISED LIFE
Now it is time to change, to return to the simple principles and practices that I love and that help to keep my life ordered, abundant and creative. I am a writer and I write! And I promise to use my diary regularly.
There’s a happy ending to the story of the meal with my siblings. Yesterday, our brother invited us to his place for dinner tonight. And my sister sent me a reminder message on Facebook, complete with exclamation marks. I’m loved and forgiven.