I'm looking at getting the best out of myself as a human right now - really getting to grips with understanding myself as an adult but also dealing with my sensitive emotions that sometimes make me feel like a child. This year I am really focusing on finding out when I am at my happiest and then utilising that to develop a life that I love. We only have one shot at this, so we may as well enjoy it.
I have done a lot of emotional digging this past year - facing my demons in their different forms. Looking in the mirror and seeing the real me clearly, with all of my imperfections - and doing my best to accept all of those parts and to develop the better ones.
I've realised that a lot of the time I care too much what other people think and I kick myself when I discover I am bending to please their idea of who they think I should be. I know this is a common human weakness and yet thankfully it seems to improve with age. Take Helen Mirren for example who is quoted as saying - "At 70 years old, if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use the words "fuck off" much more frequently."
Being a bit too hot-headed is definitely another one of those lovely imperfections that seems to pop up in my life. I'd like to blame it on my DNA as I come from a hot-blooded Italian family, but really, it is more a case of this way having become a habit and it is something I am now choosing to change. Not once have any past emotional confrontations left me feeling good about myself and so, like training a muscle, I intend to develop patience instead. This year, my focus will be on being kind rather than having to be right - I'm going to dump the drama and aim for peaceful outcomes. I will take a leaf out of the book of author F. Scott Fitzgerald - "To be kind is more important than to be right. Many times, what people need is not a brilliant mind that speaks but a special heart that listens."
I have discovered over the years that being creative really is a true key to my own personal spark of happiness. Even getting crafty with my daughter leaves me with a sense of having accomplished something that doesn't involve practicalities. Taking the time to create something for the pure joy of it is a kind of meditation that takes the mind away from responsibilities. It is a case of simply enjoying yourself so thoroughly that you are really in the moment. I have tried to actually meditate on a daily basis but I can't quite commit to it. Sometimes I am just too tired or even hung-over to be quiet and breathe without the danger of falling asleep, but those times that do I sit down and focus on being creative - however rubbish it looks -takes me back to within myself somehow.
Taking life at a slower pace is absolutely something else I want to make a priority. My generation has had the benefit of witnessing the birth of emails and mobile phones, yet our children will only ever know a technology driven society. I really believe that their brains are going to evolve in a different way to ours and that this will allow them to cope with this faster pace of life, but for me, I know I benefit from slowing down. My instinct to answer emails and texts right away needs to be curbed. I'm excited by my mobile phone and use it like a toy, but I don't necessarily want my children to see this and I know that I could probably be reading a book instead. So this year I am going to force myself to take time out from my iPhone - it is going to be tough.
Friendship is another area that I intend to focus on for the coming year. Looking at the friends I have, I realise that some of them really are the family I have chosen, and that actually includes my own gorgeous mother. However, since becoming a mother myself, I haven't been able to give most of these relationships the attention they deserve. I don't take my friends for granted, far from it - but life has taken over. Instead, I am going to commit to spending quality time with some of my favourite people. I am going to take the occasional time away from my kids, knowing that their world will not collapse without me and instead just be with my friends that bit more.
Ultimately, knowing that loving life is the best example I can give to my children, makes me want to commit to focusing on the things that properly make me feel good. Obviously there are going to be days when things don't work out, but I'm hoping a good attitude will get me through and I'll be keeping Elizabeth Taylor's advice to hand for those less-joyous moments - "Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together".