During her time here, author and filmmaker Nora Ephron said many brilliant things such as “if pregnancy were a book they would cut the last two chapters”, “summer bachelors like summer breezes, are never as cool as they pretend to be” and “when your children are teenagers, it’s important to have a dog so that someone in the house is happy to see you.” But maybe the wisest was “above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” I do not know where you live or what job you have or how your year has panned out, but I do know you need that last quote because it is one I need right now. For October is coming to a close and the festive season is near but not here, so we exist in a state of either panic over what needs to be done or exhaustion from what has already occurred. And you have probably experienced a few adversities along the way, which you have either moved beyond or are still dragging around with you. Emotional debris on an invisible leash. And as we work through the next few months in either a state of panic or exhaustion, it helps to lighten our loads before we enter a new year. It helps to leave the baggage behind, or at the very least, thank it for being here and then unpack it.
Which brings me to the heroine of this newsletter and our saviour in these final few months, who is not Marie Kondo but Cheryl Strayed. If you are not familiar with Cheryl Strayed, she is the podcast host of Dear Sugar, an author and a woman who walked a thousand miles to find herself. Only to later have Reese Witherspoon rewalk those thousand miles in the film, Wild, made following Strayed’s New York Times’ bestselling memoir. However we will lean on another of Strayed’s books today. In her book, Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar, Strayed wrote: “Nobody’s going to do your life for you. You have to do it yourself, whether you are rich or poor, out of money or raking it in, the beneficiary of a ridiculous fortune or terrible injustice. And you have to do it no matter what is true. No matter what is hard, no matter what unjust, sad, sucky things befall you. Self-pity is a dead end road. You make the choice to drive down it. It’s up to you to decide to stay parked there or to turn around and drive out.” I stumbled upon that quote while listening to her conversation on Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversations podcast recently, and as I heard it I wanted to write three novels in two hours, go for a 10 kilometre run, and win an Emmy for something I definitely couldn’t, all at once. When I should have just finished my To Do List. But Strayed and Oprah did not just discuss the benefits of moving beyond adversity and self-pity. That would be silly. They had suggestions around how to do it as well.
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