1. Accept that you don’t do things exactly the way everyone else does. Embrace that. Accept that sometimes life is too hard. Just cry, and move through it. Don’t accept things that aren’t yours, like misdirected shame and blame. Accept everything you are and nothing you are not.
2. Ease your way out into the world; don’t thrust into it. Ease into a new job; ease into a new relationship. Learn to let things take their natural course. When you see someone struggling, offer to ease her way. When you see that you are struggling, remember to ease up on yourself.
3. Walk in the morning so you’ll start your day on the right foot. Walk to solve any problem, answer any questions. Walk barefoot whenever you can. Walk on the grass instead of the side-walk. Walk tall. When he won’t listen, walk away. When someone criticizes the people or things that matter to you most, walk out. Walk to the store, walk to the movies, walk to work. Walk where you usually drive, and notice all the things you’ve missed seeing.
4. Guess if you don’t know. Filling out some insignificant form? Just guess. Throw away your scale and guess your weight. Guess within 10 or 20 pounds and leave it at that. When the officer asks, “Do you know how fast you were going?” guess low. When your boss asks, “How much of a raise do you think you deserve?” guess high.
5. Treasure the value of everything that really matters to you. Treasure your time, and take care not to kill it. Treasure the friend who never judges you and who always carries you in her heart. Treasure your health, and do whatever you can to polish it up to a dazzling glow.
6. Change something about your life. Make a big change or a small one. Change into someone entirely new. Strip yourself of old, tired patterns, Change the route you take to work. Change the color of your hair. Change the way you’ve arranged those pictures on the shelf. Be brave enough to change your view. And when those around you cry, “Change back!” just refuse to change your tune.
7. Insist when you have to. Insist that you be given the opportunity to speak. Insist that others be given the same. Insist that they listen. Insist that the people around you be civil and respectful. Insist on a square deal. Insist that people look at you when they talk to you. Insist on nothing less from yourself. When polite isn’t quite enough and demanding seems over the top, insist.
8. Decline graciously, gratefully, steadily. Decline when you are over committed, when it’s the wrong thing at the wrong time or when you just don’t want to. Decline the invitation without telling the whole long story. Learn to say no. It gets easier every time. Thanks. No. Sorry, I simply must decline.
9. Renew your passion for being alive. Renew your spirit. Take a long walk, a short trip, a week’s retreat. Renew friendships. Renew your vows, the promises you’ve made to yourself and others.
10. Balance when you find yourself teetering in one direction in your life. Balance your work time with playtime. Balance your social life with quiet, uninterrupted periods of solitude. Balance your diet. If you’ve been giving too much, let everyone know you’re ready to receive. When you feel you’ve been balancing too many things for too long, put some down.
11. Mend things when they are frayed and torn. Mend yourself when you’ve come apart at the seams. Sit down with that basket of clothes and mend them. Bring our your threads and needles and buttons. Put your pieces back together with a steady stitch. Mend your broken heart. Piece together all the beautiful squares and circles and diamonds that you are. Find how your mothering self and your child self. your business self and your artistic self, can all fit together in a colorful, integrated whole, like a patchwork quilt. Make amends. Mend that hole where you have let parts of yourself be sucked away.
12. Befriend someone you don’t know. Strike up a conversation, and go where it leads you. Befriend a child, an older person, befriend a friendly dog. Befriend a person who seems more lost that you can ever imagine being.
13. Be absolutely every bit of everything you are. Be tough, be soft, be dramatic, be subdued. Be a little bit of this, a little bit of that. Be happy when you feel like it, and be sad when you’re down. Be who you are - not who they told you should be. Be willing to be yourself. Be ready to drop your protective armor. Be in the moment.
14. Appreciate your friends. Appreciate that a friend listens when you need to talk, need to be heard, need to cry. When friends are in short supply, appreciate being with yourself. Appreciate having a job where you don’t have to wear killer heels.
15. Observe everything around you. Just watch. Don’t try to figure out exactly why or how a bee drinks sweet nectar from a lilac. Just observe. Don’t stare, observe. Watch with the keen eyes of a stalking feline. Keep watching, and learn to see the invisible. Watch a swan move across a lake. Observe how effortless it seems - and remember that she’s swimming like crazy the whole time, just below the surface.
16. Forgive injuries or insults, and mean it. Learn the power of forgiveness. Forgive him for breaking your heart. Forgive her for telling everyone your deepest secret. Stop holding grudges, and forgive. Forgive yourself for being human, for not knowing all the answers all the time. Let the sweet and simple rain of forgiveness wash over you.
17. Learn more this year than you learned last year. Learn something different. As soon as you learn something, start teaching it to someone else.
18. Smile for no reason except that it will make you a happier person. Smile at a perfect stranger, at your beloved, at a child whose adults are too busy to smile. Smile broadly, shyly, mysteriously. Smile from ear to ear. Like a Cheshire cat’s, your smile will remain long after you are gone.
19. Whisper a lot. Discover how powerful this soft sound can be. When everyone else is shouting for attention, whisper. Whisper into a nearby ear. Say “I think you’re wonderful” or “You have chocolate smeared across your shirt.” Whisper in the morning, in the dark. Bend down and whisper to something much smaller than you. Once you learn to whisper, you may never need to shout again.
20. Reach a little further every day. Reach for a star, then reach for the moon. If you can’t quite reach your goal, move it a bit closer. Consider asking someone for a boost. Reach over and help someone who is struggling. When you think you’ve reached the end, reach out and touch a brand new beginning.
21. Yearn unashamedly for what you want. Yearn so much it hurts. Want it bad! See it everywhere you look, in your dreams and awake. Yearn for the touch of your beloved’s hand. Yearn for a beloved. Yearn to be alone, to be together. Yearn to be so entirely who you are that you’ll hardly recognize yourself.