Monday #19: Five Good Things


Hello, Friends and welcome to the last 52 Mondays post of 2013. As you know, one of the things I like to do for the year-end post is take a look at which of the year’s posts were most read and think about what made them important and why they resonated with all you wonderful people. I’ve identified the Top Five from this past year and present them here to you today for your consideration:

  • Number Five: “Make It Fit,” 7.29.2013. This post was one of my rare posts actually about fitness. Ironically, this blog started as a photo project that accompanied my weekly Monday runs down a beautiful, rural road (which, incidentally, is now paved and bordered by brand new McMansions sitting vacant) but it is not a blog about fitness. I’m not a fitness instructor of any kind, nor am I a strict and rigid exerciser or dieter, but I do have a strong fitness component in my life and, quite simply, it is part of what makes me feel whole. I came to this practice kicking and screaming a little bit and, given that the New Year and all of its resolutions are on the way, I think this post reminds us of something important… new beginnings are often challenging but almost always doable.

…the place that people can be in when they aren’t yet someone who is involved in some sort of regular fitness activity affects how one might think and feel about fitness. The idea of beginning anything new can be very overwhelming and our comfortable habits are, well, comfortable–even if they aren’t what’s best for us. So, today’s blog is not just for all of you who do fitness already, but also for those of you who don’t but who might be thinking about having it as a part of your life. One of the ways to begin anything is just to begin to think about it. What does it feel like to imagine a life that included fitness? What would it feel like to take that first, small step toward truly being more connected to your body? What would that first, small step look like?

  • Number Four, “What If Kindness Were The Way?” 4.18.13. If there is one thing I have come to learn in all the years I have lived it is that we all need to be constantly reminded to be kind. Rereading this post was powerful for me because only a few months after it was written, I found myself embroiled in yet another silly Facebook squabble. When our first response to anything is not kindness, we react and our reactions can be strong and emotional and come from places that often have nothing to do with the situation at hand. Everyone suffers from the human condition, after all, and our experiences, thoughts and feelings define who we are. This is thick stuff and sometimes it makes us work very hard to be objective and, well, kind. Now that 2013 is just about over, I don’t know that I was as kind as I could have or should have been and I am certain that I need to meditate on that for a while. I’m really glad this post came in at the Top Five because it is one of the most important things for all of us to think about as we go into the New Year. The film critic, Roger Ebert, who passed away this year, reminds us that it all begins with us when it comes to being kind and confirms how poignant this idea is.

To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find out.

  • Number Three, “Birthday Wishes,” 8.26.13. 52 Mondays turned three years old in 2013. It is so gratifying to me that there are people out there who read and respond to the things I think about and say on Mondays. While my legions are not enormous, they are loyal and they have beautiful ways of letting me know that the work of this writer is of value. Sometimes, like everyone, I feel despondent about parts of my life and wonder whether this or that thing is important. It seems like whenever this feeling occurs, I’ll get a nice email from one of you out there who was impacted by something that I said on a Monday blog or I’ll run into someone somewhere who tells me face-to-face that they love reading my blog. And, this birthday post represents kind of an epiphany I had last year–that the two things that keep us from living an authentic life are our egos and our fears. The authentic life is a hard thing to get at sometimes but I believe it should really always be the front and center goal. The journey toward authenticity is a never-ending one but one well worth our effort.

When I think about the moments in which I am not my true self, my most authentic self, I realize that I am, instead, being driven by either my ego or fear.  My ego likes to show up and play boss when I feel like I’m not getting what I deserve, when I feel unnecessarily competitive with others and when I suspect I’m not being heard or understood. Fear rears her head when I’m too afraid of having my heart broken by opening it, when I allow myself to be overwhelmed by the world outside of myself and when I am not believing in my own brilliance.  But, when I am most my true and authentic self, I am not trying to impress or perform, I’m not doing something to fake someone out, and I am not making choices or changing my behavior because of fear. These are the moments when I can live and love in a truly authentic way.

  • Number Two, “Live,” 11.25.13. A tribute post to my friend, Dan Rogan, who passed away just a little over a month ago. Its popularity is undoubtedly linked to the fact that Dan had, literally, thousands and thousands of real friends all across the country who collectively mourned the passing of this sweet, generous and larger-than-life man. Dan didn’t live his life as practically as some and, perhaps because of this, he was able to master the art of truly being present on a profound level. Thinking about my friend, Dan, reminds me to never miss what is really important in our lives, to never miss an opportunity to tell someone how we really feel and to really try to remember that this present moment is the best and most right place we will ever be.
  • Number One, “The Real Deal,” 4.4.13. After attending a conference on healing arts, I was very touched by one of the presenters, a young artist with autism named Justin Canha, and the piece I wrote following that event was 2013’s most read post. In a world where we are so often struggling to get the spotlight, so often dying to be recognized as important, and so often waiting for that “best” moment where all the stuff in us and our lives is perfectly aligned and satisfying, it is both moving and confounding to behold a person who, because of a really different brain chemistry and set of social filters, finds what appears to be an authentic life without these familiar trappings.  I don’t know Justin well enough to know whether he needs the same personal reminders for things like kindness or being present, but what I do know is that, in addition to all the ways we can constantly be better at being our selves, there is one remaining truism and I think no one said it better than the wonderful and wise Dr. Seuss.

Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

So, there you have it. Five good things from 2013. Health, kindness, authenticity, being present and being who we are.  Recently I read another blogger’s post about how to end the year reflecting on what we regret. I am not so pollyanna as to believe that we should all live a life of complete optimism and positive thinking. That wouldn’t be realistic. And I think that the notion of regret fits perfectly with all those resolutions we are about to make because, after all, what other feeling makes us most want to change what’s comfortable? But, before you make your resolutions, I’d like to encourage you all to take a moment to be still and quiet and really tune into those “good things” from these last 365 days. If you are anything like me, you might be surprised at what you are reminded of.

Wishing you all the happiest of New Years. May you spend the next 365 days as the very best versions of your selves.

TRY THIS WEEK: Find your five good things.


About Dar Hosta James

I am an artist living in New Jersey. I write and illustrate children's books, paint, draw, blog, coach, teach and speak about creativity.
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