January. It’s such a cliché. Everywhere I look, there’s diet food on discount, gym membership leaflets being handed out, blog posts on resolutions and people vowing to take up this, and give up that. It’s nothing more than a recipe for failure, for the solution is probably just as cliché – you have to change your whole attitude and approach, but only little by little; because nothing is more doomed to disaster than going cold turkey on the things you enjoy or committing yourself to a huge amount of something you don’t.
I’m not immune to the hype, of course. I have made some promises to myself for this year – a combination of personal challenges to push myself further, stand for less nonsense and, most of all, to believe in myself a bit more, and stop putting up with situations, people and things that are in turn stopping me from achieving my dreams. Though really, in my life, the biggest thing that’s stopping me from achieving said dreams is myself.
As you all know, I have become something of an evangelist for all things sporty in the last ten months or so. It seems hard to believe that this time last year, I hadn’t put foot to tarmac for any reason other than getting from A to B, and not run for any reason apart from catching public transport in well over a decade. It’s now one of the most important things in my life, and one of the main things that keeps me sane. Furthermore, it’s caused me to meet lots of amazing new people and the most fantastic thing of all, it’s even build a better, stronger relationship with my sporty brother. While we’ve always got on fine, we’ve never been hugely close, but now we’re WhatsApping each other several times a week, planning training sessions, signing up to half-marathons together and we even went on holiday back in November. It’s wonderful!
But I am a firm believer in doing things that scare you. Last night, I did something that made me super nervous – I put on my running shoes and long-sleeved lycra and headed into London to meet up for the first time with the Run Dem Crew – a 150-strong collective of creative minds that get together once a week to run London under cover of darkness. I’m so glad I did, as I got to meet Bangs and a Bun, who is a HUGE inspiration to me, both as a blogger and as a woman; as well as lots of other awesome people. I won’t bore you all with an account of the run itself (though hot-footing with a group of 30 people it around the areas I know so well through driving and socialising was rather smashing), but the whole experience has filled me with inspiration and motivation – something I would like to pass on to you. I did promise motivational posts for this January, and I will try to make it relevant to all you vintage-minded souls; but the sentiment is universal. The message put out during the rousing speech before last night’s session by Run Dem Crew’s founder and leader Charlie Dark can be summed up quite simply: ‘Be the best you can be’.
This struck a chord with me, because I have always strived to make the best of myself… albeit not in any way that benefits society. I have never been career-minded in the way many others are. I have now made a career out of doing things I love and will hopefully continue to do so for many years to come, but my clients tend to find me, not the other way round. I am not all that good at pushing myself to get work, which is why I’ve quietly launched my ‘Hire Me’ section above… I will be plugging it more in the future, of course!
The things I want most for myself have nothing to do with careers or material possessions: a loving, fulfilling relationship, marriage, children… these things are kind of beyond my control, so I can’t push for those either. But something that occupies me constantly is the desire I have always had to look my absolute best. That’s why I’ve dedicated my whole adult life to my various looks (vintage being the longest lasting and deepest passion), and the result is that I have become known for how I style myself. It’s vain, it doesn’t change anyone else’s life except mine. But it makes me happy. And, actually, it HAS improved some other people’s lives – the emails I receive every day would seem to illustrate that!
You could quite rightly say that me taking up running doesn’t really benefit others, either. But my enthusiasm HAS infected others – both friends and readers. And the difference being fit and healthy has made to all areas of my life can’t be denied. I know I’ll never be an Olympic athlete, nor the next Chrissie Wellington, but I have the drive to constantly improve and be the best I can be at that given time. Improving by small increments is better than standing still or sliding backwards. Just getting out there is the key, whether you walk round the block or run a marathon. Charlie Dark put it best last night when he said that he’s not impressed by someone who can run a marathon in two and a half hours. Someone who runs one in six however… to be out on the road, striving to succeed for that long… that takes some serious guts. But the rewards of achieving your goals are phenomenal: when you do, no matter how modest said goals are, it makes other aspirations seem well within your reach. You’ll be surprised at how this attitude inspires others around you into making their own inroads!
So, set some achievable goals this year, and really start to better yourself. Do things that scare you! Take up a new hobby and meet some new friends (even if there’s nothing wrong with your old friends), find an activity that fits in with your life – be it running, cycling, yoga, zumba or swing dancing. Wear that dress you’ve never felt brave enough to sport in public. Try bright lipstick, a new hair-colour. Start looking for a new job. Ask out that boy or girl; or ditch the one that’s making you miserable. Cut down on smoking, eat more vegetables, drink more water! Don’t try to change everything in one go, because it’s way too hard.
And it is a cliché, but 2012 should be the year that we all try to better ourselves, in small ways or large. Taking on projects that will help others is brilliant, and I applaud and admire altruism in anyone. I aim to do more myself in that vein this year. But we all need to be happy within ourselves first. And I am on my way to achieving that – let’s do it together! Share your goals with me here, and we’ll revisit this over the course of the year. If we don’t prove the Mayans right and get wiped out by a giant asteroid or alien invasion, or whatever.
- Run faster and stronger.
- Cycle more and save up for a road bike.
- Eat more protein, and drink more water.
- Meet as many new people as possible, from different walks of life.
- Do some more acting!
- De-clutter my home and donate all the clothes I haven’t worn in a year or more to charity. NOT the vintage, I hasten to add!
- Go on more dates. Even just with my girlfriends! 😉
- And because we need at least one vintage-themed goal: acquire one of those 1940s phone cord handbags in red, yellow, blue, green and white!
That’s it for now, but I’m sure it’ll grow as the year marches on. And other exciting things are happening soon, too. My new Heyday Fleur dress design will be out this spring, you will LOVE it! I have secret projects in the works, of my own and with the Vintage Mafia. I have races, and possible holidays, and potential acting gigs, and a BIG MOVE TO LONDON, where I’ll be living with VM girlies in a massive and awesome VM HQ. Far too much going on to feel glum about the things I *can’t* change.
It’s going to be a good year, I feel it in me bones. Let’s make it happen together!