Palimpsest (n.) – a parchment, scroll or stone that has been effaced from earlier writings so that it can be written on again.

I learned about the palimpsest concept from a new business acquaintance. For some reason, this concept is fascinating to me. I tend to look for deeper meaning in just about everything, and this subject is no exception.

One of the exciting things for me about getting to know someone is hearing about the diversity and intricacies of their life story. I never imagined that when we sat down over coffee to “learn more about each other’s business,” that my conversation with a colleague would include an ancient history lesson. Turns out that he had lived in Italy and while there, had learned of this age-old practice of cleaning scrolls with an acid-type wash so that they could be reused.

On the drive home, the discussion was all about palimpsest and the notion that what appeared to be new, actually held a deep history. There was a literal record of what had occurred in the past, and the residue of that history was most often quite visible because the stones and scrolls were never erased in their entirety. And in complete transparency, when I said “discussion” I should add that it happened while I was in the car alone. So yes, I was talking to myself. Really? Like you never do that.

It was a long drive home (DC traffic) so there was plenty of time to go deeper into “conversation.” I kept thinking about the notion of “A record of what has occurred before.” I repeated that a few times. So, this idea of starting over with a clean slate doesn’t track at all. The slate literally is NOT clean. Oh my gosh! Other than stone and parchment, what else could this possibly apply to? And then it happened. And I will share that my eyes still fill with tears as I consider all of the years that I made an earnest effort to start over. Like you, I trusted that as the calendar turned to a new year, with it came some ethereal cleansing that erased all of my failed attempts at whatever it was I had failed at the year before. Somehow, I actually believed that every January 1, with a countdown and the clink of a champagne-filled glass I was ceremoniously restored to my original condition. NWT – That’s “new-with-tags” for the non-consignment shoppers. I realized that I was hoodwinked and bamboozled!

No wonder the hope I held at midnight to create a new reality for my future often ended the following December 31 in a pile of ashes. Yes, I accomplished some things. In fact, I have gained traction in many areas of my life. Yet there are some mega goals that just don’t seem to happen. All I could do that day in the car was shake my head in disbelief and let the tears flow. Trying to start new was never going to work. There is no new. New has history written on it already. And like those ancient stones, even if the history is not evident at first, it starts to show through as time passes. It’s often that history that keeps us from making the big leaps. And there we are, January 12, in our brand-new exercise gear, walking 40 miles a day, struggling to make it through the first month of our New Year, New You program.

Okay, so if new isn’t really new, then what the heck is it? Here’s my assessment:

New starts off as new. Even when you say the word, “NEW.” It feels fresh, light, sparkly, hopeful. About a week or so in, NEW starts to reveal its real persona. Turns out NEW upon further inspection is Refurbished. Refurbished or as we now know it to be, Palimpsest holds history. And that history has only one option and that is to become SAME. Aha! Yep, there it is. SAME.

SAME is familiar, comfortable and not at all interested in growth. No change, no change. SAME is old and ineffective. It likes to travel in the grooves in the road that have already been formed. No wonder we keep having the “same” experiences New Year after New Year. Truth is, they’re not new at all. Be on the lookout for refurbished disguised as new. Refurbished holds the history of what existed before – good or bad.

Let’s say this word together: “DIFFERENT.” What do you feel? It makes me feel proactive, decisive, determined and responsible. For me, there is an immediate twist of the head as if I am looking around for my best option. DIFFERENT tells me that although I may not have the exact answer on how to get where I want to go, I am absolutely certain of a road that doesn’t lead me there. I am an engineer, and I can do a lot with a singular data point. Even if I have to move it around a few times. With DIFFERENT as my target, I can strategize to achieve a particular outcome. Foraging my own path, one thing I know for sure is that I won’t be relegated to SAME. Where NEW was entirely focused on the start, DIFFERENT is entrenched in the result.

You are probably wondering, how then do I know where I will end up with DIFFERENT? Truth is, I don’t, exactly. It will require work and support and a plan. I can only use my best resources, and the wisdom and experience of those who have a view from the place where I want to land. I will have checkpoints at regular intervals, always on the lookout for SAME. And believe me, I will recognize SAME immediately. WE have traveled together many years and I know all of the disguises that SAME wears in my life. Complacency, paralysis, excuses, denial, blind spots, comfort – all faces of SAME.

As I move forward this year, I will likely veer off track a bit. I will have days when comfort and complacency will be all that I can offer myself. The good news is that with DIFFERENT as my target, I will have fewer of these days than ever before. By holding myself to more frequent checkpoints, I will realize long before December 31 when I have fallen back into those old grooves and can immediately course correct. I also make it my business to travel with a stellar group of advocates who are as driven about their journey as I am. We do not sit silently by and watch each other get pulled back into a rut. We challenge that behavior and offer help.

So, it’s still January. You can get this thing right if you want to. When the clock strikes in 2023 and you look back at this very moment, how will you see yourself?

Did you choose NEW or did you choose DIFFERENT?

I am calling all ladies who wish to accomplish your goals for 2022! Join us for an evening of intention and inspiration, and finally get traction on the goals you have been wanting to accomplish.

Discover why your vision boards did not work in the past, tap into your creative energy through guided activities, and connect with a community of powerful visionary women!

Make 2022 the year that you step up and take charge of your life!

Register here:

We’ll see you on Thursday, January 20 at 6:00 pm CT.

The Future of Connection for Women

Valari Jackson
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