A Year of Living Differently

A letter from the editor of Tallahassee Magazne



Invariably, the first-of-the-year issues of magazines include a story about making and keeping New Year’s resolutions. Usually, our resolutions fail, which is why it’s such a popular and perennial topic.

Heaven knows I’ve done so. Very publicly three years ago, I shared my weight with the world in this very column and swore I was going to lose 50 pounds in my 50th year. Didn’t happen — although I am about 10 pounds lighter than when I made that ill-fated pronouncement.

I decided to take a different approach to the resolution article this year when Jamie Bullock shared her story with me over breakfast last fall. You see, she resolved to make changes in her life in 2010 — and actually did so. A plugged-in thirtysomething, Jamie spent her early adulthood achieving and striving and go-go-going until her health and (un)happiness led her to a yoga retreat — which led to a new attitude, which led to weight loss, which led to starting a small nonprofit, which ultimately led to quitting her job. Where it will lead her in 2011 is a story still in progress.

Even though the vast majority of us aren’t willing or able to make such drastic changes, I find her story inspirational; that positive, lasting transformation is possible.

I had sort of given up on resolutions, but a couple of things happened in 2010 that caused me to do a little rethinking. While every issue of the magazine and every day here is different, there’s also a lot of sameness to my work: Report, write, edit, manage, meet … and so forth and so on.

In 2010, I was given two opportunities to get out — way out — of my comfort zone. Last spring, I was asked to participate in the Celebrity Comic Challenge, a fundraiser for the Challenger Learning Center. In the fall, I was a last-minute substitute in the Dancing with the Local Stars competition that benefitted the local chapter of the American Lung Association.

Now, I fancy myself a humorous person and thought “how hard can it be to do five minutes of standup?” I learned the answer to that right quick. It’s easy to know what you want to say. But actually saying it fluidly, without pausing or grasping for the right word, takes a lot of practice. I was a bundle of nerves the night of the event, even more than on my wedding day.

I considered myself a dancer during my disco college days, but that was 30 years and — let’s just say, lots of pounds ago. I told my instructor I would make up for my lack of training and finesse with loads of enthusiasm and promised to go “all out” and do whatever he asked of me. He asked a lot. Over-the-top gestures, a miniskirt, crazy faces, head bobs, shimmies … . I always thought I was pretty much shameless, but this stuff was embarrassing even for me.

So I joked and danced and did my best. I didn’t get the top prize for either (sorry, this isn’t the movie version of my life) but I learned I could work hard and do something I’d never done before — and have a great time in the process. In the weeks leading up to both competitions, I was filled with energy and anticipation I hadn’t felt in years. And it was great.

I want that feeling to continue. It might not be comedy or dancing, but I will be challenging myself in 2011. And I hope this will be the year you add some zing to your life by trying something different.

Best of luck in all you do.

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