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New Year’s Resolutions seem like a good idea at the time but then life happens, right? And we say, “the heck with it” and revert back to whatever behaviors are comfortable, or convenient, or just plain easy.

It takes a good deal of time to establish new habits. But I have one that I’m going to pursue this year with passion: me time.

When you’re a woman, especially if you’re a wife and a mom, taking time for yourself can be a simple luxury that isn’t easily afforded. I myself, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, often feel guilty for not just wanting some time to myself, but needing it. I always feel like I’m shortchanging someone or some thing when I make time just for me. 

I have never lived alone. Even after my divorce, Reagan was there and a year later, I was remarried. Now that I understand exactly what an introvert is and that I am, in fact, one myself, I have begun to understand how much I need alone time to keep my sanity, keep me centered, and “refill the vessel” so to speak.

I know there are people out there, probably people who read this blog, who are not alone by choice. People who are lonely. It is my hope that you don’t think I’m not so very thankful for my family or my wonderful friends. I am. Deeply and profoundly grateful for the people in my life. I just know that it is entirely possible to be surrounded by other human beings and feel alone, especially if your soul isn’t getting what you know it needs. And sometimes, not always, but sometimes that is where I am.

When I say “me time” I don’t mean a mani/pedi or a trip to the mall or anything that externally benefits me or my appearance or wardrobe. I’m talking about quality me time. Activities that feed my artist’s soul. And this year, come hell or high water, that part of my soul is going to stop being neglected. And as I work on that, I want to document some of it here. Maybe to inspire you, or maybe just to document the journey. And if I’m blessed enough to see New Year’s Eve at the end of this year, my reflections will be that much richer and vibrant.

To kick off this new habit, I did something yesterday that I haven’t done in 12 years. I went to a movie. Alone.

I’d like to tell you about it. *Spoilers ahead.*

When I first saw a preview for the new film, “Collateral Beauty” some weeks ago, I thought, “I want to see that.” It’s not a “chick flick” exactly, but it’s an emotional drama, and there were definitely more women in the theater than men to see it. 

It follows the story of Howard, a grieving father who lost his 6 year old daughter to cancer.

Howard writes letters to Time, Love, and Death and due to his inability to run his share of a corporation, his friends and business partners hire “actors” to show up in his life and personify these abstractions so he can confront them. They really have ulterior motives at heart, but throughout the process, each of these abstractions teach them something that they themselves need to face in their own lives. 

The film itself has a great cast: Will Smith, Kate Winslet, Edward Norton, and Helen Mirren for Pete’s sake! The cinematography and score are absolutely beautiful. The script is powerful. But the heart, rightfully so, is in the performance of Will Smith. Smith is an incredibly underrated dramatic actor, in my honest opinion. For someone who got their start in TV sitcom, his depth as an artist is one that I never pass up the chance to see because he’s got so much of it. 

I think the only place that this movie failed was in the way it tied up some of the stories. When people are really dealing with some of the things that these characters are dealing with, there are often not tidy resolutions. And something about the ending felt a little too tidy. But, after all, it was just a movie. Comparing to reality can only go so far in 90 minutes. 

One of the best concepts from the film comes from the title itself. When one of the characters, another grieving parent, is faced with losing her child, Death tells her, “Don’t forget to notice the collateral beauty.”

Collateral is a word I use every day, in very different terms. But here is the definition referred to in this movie:

  1. a :  accompanying as secondary or subordinate : concomitant <digress intocollateral matters>b :  indirectc :  serving to support or reinforce :  ancillary

  2. 3:  parallel, coordinate, or corresponding in position, order, time, or significance<collateral states like Athens and Sparta 

The character says that, at first, she didn’t understand what Death meant by telling her to notice the collateral beauty. But as time went on, she would suddenly be overwhelmed by it. She would burst into tears at the overwhelming beauty that surrounded her, every day, and the thought that she felt completely and utterly connected to it. To everything.

Grief can deeply and profoundly change us. I related to her statements on those sudden and consuming realizations of the beautiful fragility of life and the interconnection between ourselves and the world we live in. It was, and is, a powerful concept to reflect upon. Grief just doesn’t stop for some people, but it can radically transform the way they perceive life and the world, and hopefully, that transformation is positive. And I think that is one of the biggest messages I took away from this film. What ways will you allow yourself to be changed by Time, Love, and Death? Will you fight against them, only allowing them in your life on your terms? Or will you embrace them, and let them simultaneously lift you up and bring destruction.

This concept is what I, not so eloquently, tried to get across in my post yesterday. 

Pain itself is part of the collateral beauty of loss and grief because of its transformative ability. 

I would recommend the movie. I would recommend tissues. And I look forward to sharing more of my reflections from my “me time” experiences with you in 2017.