Not with a bang…

It’ 2013. In truth, it’s been 2013 for 75 days now, so my “belated Happy New Year” is more than moot at this point. It’s been a busy few months—yes, months. Infrequent-posting Shannon rears her ugly head once more—since I blogged about Calgary Fringe in August. A fair bit has happened in the seven months since: The People’s Poetry Festival has come and gone for another year and we survived (this, you need to understand, is a significantly greater feat than it sounds, what with the hours of sleep deprivation and only three organizers running the show); I started seeing, and subsequently fell in love with, a very nice fella; I left my recently acquired job for another one that didn’t try to, vampire-like, suck the life from me; and, somewhere in the middle, I turned 30.That’s right, ladies and gentlemen—30.

Some of you may recall my earlier concerns leading up to this particular “milestone”; and people close to me can attest that I experienced some significant existential fear about growing another year older. And then the strangest thing happened—I just didn’t care. Somewhere between March 2012 and September 2012 I realized that “30” is just another birthday: I would still be me, with the same friends and family, dreams and goals; I’d simply be another year older. I think one of the things that did it was when a friend asked me if I really, truly wanted to return to an earlier age. I thought back to my happiest year—26, when I was a post-grad in the UK—and younger: 18, 21. Would I really want to be back there? Most definitely no. I like my life. It’s not that I didn’t like it back then, but it’s true that with age comes certain realizations about ourselves, the people and world around us. You get surprisingly unapologetic and unconcerned about the little things that used to take up so much time and energy.

And so my 30th came and went, not with a bang, but not with a whimper, either. In fact, the day was chock-full of celebration, most of it not “me-centric”: a BBQ reunion with my high school crowd; a BBQ farewell for a friend leaving Calgary for the rain-dappled shores of Vancouver; dinner out to mark another year of my existence followed by Calgary’s first Nuit Blanche. It was lovely.

In the months that followed, 30 didn’t factor in my life at all. In fact, in characteristic style, I’ve been increasingly busy: planning for the 2013 People’s Poetry Festival; learning the ropes at a new job that fulfills me in a way no other job has in the past; spending time with my fella; trying to make some space to write; and building a life that lets me live. I can see why so much emphasis is placed on birthdays and new years: they’re beginnings of their own kind, little births that mark the falling away of one life and the start of a new one. Even when nothing remarkable changes, we have a benchmark for what’s passed and what’s yet to come. I’ve never been much for making New Year’s resolutions, but this year—at the start of my next decade, launching into a new career path and making my way through this life with renewed interest—I took a look at what I wanted to accomplish over the next 365 days (or so). Simple things that I’d always wanted to do but somehow never did.

For example: for years I’d wanted to take bellydance but just never made the time. And so, as I approached 30, I resolved that I would make this happen. One week before my birthday I started my first class and I’ve been dancing ever since. Before you get too excited, I’m no dancing queen—it’s surprisingly harder than in looks. In years of doing yoga and tai chi, bellydance is by far the most complex, requiring the kind of coordination and multitasking that I am as yet incapable of (and I was pretty confident in my multitasking skills…). Why had I put this off for so long? Why hadn’t I make it happen sooner when it was so easy—click online; find an instructor; email instructor; show up with a cheque. And so with that newfound resolve, I’ve done the same for my 2013 year. I’ve compiled a list for 40 things to accomplish this year. Some are meant to motivate me (join the Writer’s Guild of Alberta); some are reminders to be good to myself (meditate regularly); and some are less meaningful than others (go one full day without my iPhone). But they’re little things that, when put together or considered separately, will be good for me: they’ll challenge or frighten me (or perhaps others, such as “don’t shave my legs for one month”) and, I hope, help me be more mindful.

I’ll post the list shortly and will check things off as they come. Hopefully, by December 31, I’ll have accomplished 40 simple tasks that either make me more aware of myself and the world around me, or I will have learned that I don’t need to accomplish an arbitrarily-determined number of mini-goals to be happy. Either way, win-win!

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