Like many of us, when I first saw a headline for Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity and Change by Maggie Smith, I thought the author was Dame Maggie Smith, who played the Dowager Countess of Grantham on Downton Abbey. The actual author and poet, Maggie Smith, is known for “Good Bones,” which she describes as something that “sprung from a mother’s worry about what’s hard and unfair in the world, and yet wanting it to be a good place for my kids to live in.” She wrote Keep Moving as she was getting divorced, to “pep-talk myself through this really dark time,” she explained to NPR.
Dame Maggie Smith had many of the best lines in the Downton Abbey series including one of my favorites: “Marriage is a long business.” Poet Maggie Smith has many of her own great lines of wisdom to help us navigate through to our best selves. I encourage you to read the book. These are some of my favorites to keep us moving forward:
“Ask yourself what you would do if you had an unlimited supply of both courage and hope. Now begin answering that question with action. Take one step today – then repeat, repeat, repeat. KEEP MOVING.”
“Put one foot in front of the other and believe that the road will be there. Be proud: you are not only traveling a new road but making it as you go. KEEP MOVING.”
Set aside expectations
“Consider that your ideas about happiness – what you think it should look like, feel like, entail, provide – might be hindering your experience of it. Set aside your expectations. Watch, listen, learn, feel. KEEP MOVING.”
“Do not hold yourself to some impossible standard. The word amateur comes from the Latin amare, meaning “to love.” Let yourself be a beginner, an amateur – someone who is learning to live a new life, someone who loves it for its potential. KEEP MOVING.”
“Know yourself by your actions. You are not what others say about you, good or bad, or what you say about yourself. You are what you do. Do good. KEEP MOVING.”
Be kind to yourself and others
“Go easy on yourself today. If you feel a little weary, a little ragged, that’s okay; that’s how soul hangovers feel. This will pass. KEEP MOVING.”
“Choose your words with a jeweler’s eye, considering their facets, their clarity, their ability to reflect light. Speak without silencing others. Listen without losing your own voice. KEEP MOVING.
Tune in and be present
“Raise your antenna and tune in. Ignore the static and turn your dial to a kinder frequency. Call in whatever you want – spirit, life force, the universe, the soul, G-d – but know it’s there. Listen closely. Pay attention. KEEP MOVING.”
“The best way to prepare for the future is to be present. The best indicator of future peace is peace in the present. You can’t know what will happen, but you can ready yourself. KEEP MOVING.”
Make your own magic
“Think about the word spell – meaning “a state of enchantment” or “a brief period of time.” When a chapter of your life ends, you may feel that a spell has been broken; you may be disenchanted, but new magic is coming. Better yet: Make new magic. KEEP MOVING.”
“Your life is your own, and your work is your own, and those things can be anything you want them to be. It’s up to you. KEEP MOVING.”
“Do something today that will bring you joy even if you know you will not do it well. Let go of the idea that you have to be the best at something to do it. Train yourself to crave experience, not perfection. KEEP MOVING.”
A quote often attributed to Winston Churchill says, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
Maggie Smith gives us the words and inspiration to help us keep going, to keep us moving forward.