E.J. Gore

I was just relaxing, staring into the fire when my muse, Arabella rode into the room. Arabella doesn’t wear flowing robes and speak Greek like most muses. Nope, she’s a cowgirl who herds me to my desk, gives me a none-too-gentle kick in the ribs should I dawdle and once I’m sitting down, pulls no punches inspiration-wise. Some days she’s pushier than others, dictating the exact words she wants me to write. This was one of those days.

I mentioned I’d been thinking about writing something to herald in the New Year.

“Herald in the . . .?” she shoved her hat back on her head. “Well. You might could write somethin’ like that, just don’t get all high falutin’ about it.” She swatted her horse out of the way, “Now, to my mind, what you’d need to be sayin’ is somethin’ folks could actually put to use to make their new year a better one, you know like . . .”

Give yourself a pat on the back. We’re brought up not to brag on ourselves, but it doesn’t hurt one bit to give yourself a little pat when you do something right for a change. Not just the big stuff like getting a new job but the other ones, like when you don’t say what you really want to, back to your Aunt May who, bless her heart, is just downright rude.

Sit still. Like your mama made you do in church. Once a day or week, take some time to quieten down. Meditate or levitate or talk to the good Lord but take some time away from all that’s going on in your life, as important as it acts like it is. Just be by yourself for a while. With maybe your horse. Looking at the sunset.

Be nice. Or as my own mama used to say – be sweet. It’s easy to go through life not being that thoughtful of other people but a little kindness goes a long way in this old world, whether it’s the lady checking you out at City Market or maybe even that person you married. And somehow the nice you give away seems to come right back and make you feel nice too.

Stop trying to get a word in edgewise. Try just listening to what someone is saying to you for a change. Skip thinking about how you need to convert their opinion to yours. Or that they sure can talk a blue streak can’t they? Just listen. You might even hear them.

Spare me your judgment. If you decide I’m an idiot because I voted different than you, or that I’m a lousy mother because I yelled at my kid in the supermarket (who, unbeknownst to you, just smeared jam all over his face) you accomplish two things. First, you get to experience that yummy self-righteous feeling. Second, you decide with one single iota of evidence who I am and what I’m worth. It doesn’t feel right to you when others jump to conclusions about who you are, so don’t leap to yours about me.

Do what floats your boat. Life is short. If it feels too long, it’s usually because you’re not making or taking the time for what my Uncle Luke used to say, “Fills you up.” It might be painting a picture or painting a house; riding your horse, pony or mule; knitting or fishing or coaching Little League. If you don’t know what fills you, find out: it’ll make your days brighter and help you through some dark nights.

Notice what you’re riding in with. Folks say we’re known by the company we keep. But we’re known too by the attitude we trot into the room with. Not to get too California woo-woo about it, but we all have what’s called energy – “I’m mad at the world” or “I just love everybody to pieces” or “It’s not such a bad day after all.” But you’ve got it and you take it everywhere you go. So if you’re having a bad day (you’re allowed) try to button your lip. If you’re having a good one, share the feeling.

Count your blessings. Don’t take a single one of them, no matter what size it is, for granted. Doing this after you climb into bed or under your saddle blanket after a long day is the best way to get a good night’s sleep. And it’s funny but being thankful for the good you have in your life multiplies it.

Arabella was still holding forth when I reminded her that even muses and their faithful servants have word counts to attend to.

“Well then . . . Happy New Year, Y’all!” She shouted.

So. Like she said. Happy New Year, Y’all!

E. J. Gore is a professional life coach and author of the best-selling book “French Lessons, The Art of Living and Loving Well.”