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Take my advice or, better still, take the bits of it you most like and ignore the rest.
For my 40th birthday, my husband gave me a cloth bag with ‘Ignoring advice since 1974’ written across it. He also gave me several other gifts but that one, given mostly in jest, was actually my favourite.
Most of my best life decisions and favourite memories are based on the times when I
ignored advice. But I couldn’t have ignored it if it had not been offered.
One piece of advice I regularly return to is from a famous newspaper column by Mary Schmich.
Entitled ‘Advice, like youth, wasted on the young’ reached global recognition when
released as a Baz Luhrmann song ‘Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen)’.
If you have not heard it, or even if you have and it’s been a while since you last listened to it, I would strongly advise you to play it again. I am aware you may ignore this advice!
The single line which most resonated with me, which I often repeat to myself and to my husband and children, is the one which offers counsel to ‘Do one thing every day that scares you’.
This does not have to mean rollercoaster rides, ghost hunting expeditions or walking in the woods at night, although I have tried and heartily recommend all of these for getting your heart racing, your senses on high alert and making you feel alive.
I take it to mean ‘do one thing every day which challenges you and pushes you outside of what you know and are comfortable with’.
The pandemic and resulting lockdowns have closed off many opportunities and offered quite a lot to be scared and worried about. The impact on our mental wellbeing of the events of the last year has been much debated along with the physical risks of both contracting and avoiding Covid.
There have also been a host of new things to learn, from the meaning of ‘R’ numbers and lockdown tiers to the correct way to wash our hands. Who knew you were
supposed to sing along while you did it? Many of us learned new baking skills, got involved in online choirs or took up a new form of exercise.
I have found myself searching out online courses and workshops to learn more about things I always meant to but had never quite found the time for. Suddenly rural living is not the barrier it was to joining a choir, signing up for creative writing workshops, exercise classes or guided meditation.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a dreadful night for driving and I don’t need to worry about
whether I’ll feel overdressed walking into a room full of strangers. The peripheral scary things about learning something new have all gone away and now I can just focus on the challenge of trying something new.
‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’ has long been a mantra for wellbeing and building positive mental attitude. With so many free and low cost options for having a go at something new which pushes you a bit beyond what you feel comfortable with, maybe this is the right time to choose learning a new skill as the something that scares you today.
In the coming weeks, I am signed up for a songwriting and creative arts workshops with local mental wellbeing charity Ewen’s Room, a feather identification workshop with UHI and a photo editing session with the National Union for Journalists.
Am I a little bit daunted by all of them? Yes I am… but if you can’t take your own advice then who can you listen to?!
Ewen’s Room – www.ewensroom.com workshop information on the website
West Highland University Highlands and Islands https://www.whc.uhi.ac.uk/business/best-
courses/National Union of Journalists courses https://www.nuj.org.uk/events/
NO F30 Nic Goddard byline pic