“If you are speaking of music… it is of all subjects my delight. There are few people in England I suppose, who have more true enjoyment of music than myself…”
~Jane Austen’s Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Pride & Prejudice
Fun Fact: I am one of the greatest music lovers you will ever meet. Music is most often a sanctuary for me – it moves me in ways that I cannot explain. If you ever attend a sporting event, watch America’s Got Talent, ride in the car, see a concert, are within earshot of my shower, or attend a middle school band concert with me, you will see me cry. It used to embarrass me, but I have learned to embrace the fact that music is one of the elements of life that speaks to me on a very deep and spiritual level.
Instead of the usual New Year New You Resolution announcement, motivational post, the planner that’s gonna help you get it all done, the diet plan that is for sure going to work this time, the goal diagram, or the casual cynicism that claims “not much is going to change and that’s OK” – I’m going to use my greatest delight to illustrate the lessons of 2019 and the promises of 2020.
Before you read on, if you haven’t heard it, click below to listen to a song by Sara Bareilles called “She Used to Be Mine.”
I have never seen the Broadway show for which it was written and at first listen you might think it’s about a waitress who was treated poorly by a man and is dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, but I’m going to tell you that the song is actually about everyone who has ever outgrown a version of themselves and ‘given birth’ to a person they didn’t (think they) want or need. Change in life, much like a pregnancy, is inevitable. You will be different one day to the next, just not always in an obvious way. That song is about that inevitable change and the power that resides in saying goodbye to the versions of ourselves that no longer belong in our lives. Sometimes those goodbyes are highly anticipated and welcomed – like saying goodbye to the version of myself that was fifty pounds heavier – while others are mourned, missed, and leave us hopelessly disappointed with no choice but to move on – like the sudden loss of a relationship. If you look back on your life carefully, you will find that you have said goodbye to yourself many times without knowing it. You have experienced disappointment and loss and yet, here you are. You have experienced moments of indescribable joy and excitement and still, here you are.
The 2019 Katie is well summed up by Sara’s chorus:
“She’s imperfect, but she tries.
She is good, but she lies.
She is hard on herself.
She is broken. But won’t ask for help.
She is messy, but she’s kind.
She is lonely. Most of the time.
She is all of this mixed up and baked in a beautiful pie.
She is gone, but she used to be mine”
If you have ever had to or needed to let go of a version of yourself and in the process made hard, impossible choices, or endeavored to ride out the storm because it was the only choice – maybe you’re crying with me while you’re listening to those words. Growing through our life experiences is a necessity – one that is often painful – but I am here to tell you that every day that you continue to draw breath is worth the storms and struggles of the day before. This is not a novel concept, but if you want to avoid the bitterness that is born of struggle, you better learn to grab hold of it and keep your eyes WIDE OPEN. Demand to know its secrets and lessons. If struggle were a sweater, I’d be wearing it most of the time. I am good at it. One of the most significant things anyone said to me this last year was this: “Katie, you have never been able to find the easy way. In everything I have ever seen you do, you have struggled.” There was a lot of pride and conviction in that statement. And healing in this one: “But I have never seen you fail. You always find your way.”
There is no secret formula to success – not even when the calendar turns over and gives us the magic of a New Year. You just have to use what you have while you’ve got it and let go of it when the time comes. You’ll know when because it will either be a welcome release or a tearing away of your soul. Just know that the change is happening because life is growing inside you at all times and there simply isn’t room for the old. You’re going to need people to help you along. You’re going to need that planner, that budget, that personal trainer, that nutrition coach, that encouraging community, and that accountability partner – so go find them. You’re going to stumble, struggle, and fail – but don’t doubt that what you really need is the life that is growing inside you with a mix of fear, dread, excitement, and promises. I hope you acknowledge the you of 2019 for all of their lessons, experiences, victories, and failures. And I look forward to the new you of 2020 – because that version of yourself is inevitable. Expect them. Embrace them. And keep your eyes open.
Dear 2019 Katie: I am so proud of you. You kept your eyes wide open. You stayed where your feet were. You believed in the inevitability of change and held onto hope. You walked away when it was hard. You paid the price. You accepted the reward. You embraced the wilderness in all of its many uncertainties. You were vulnerable and you were brave. You were so strong. I will miss you and I am grateful for you. I promise to make you proud in 2020.
“And then she’ll get stuck.
And be scared. Of the life that’s inside her.
Growing stronger each day.
Til it finally reminds her
JUST. A. LITTLE.
And bring back the FIRE in her eyes.
That’s been gone… but used to be mine.”