“To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I hope this newsletter finds you in good spirits since the celebrations of Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year’s. Are you ready to begin a new year filled with hope and promise? Are you ready to embrace what comes next and continue to move forward?
Today’s quote is one of my favorites and I thought it was appropriate to share it with you this first week of January, 2017.
2016 was filled with many ups and downs, not only for me but I’m sure for you as well. Grief doesn’t seem to leave us regardless of what may be going on or what time of year it is. If 2016 was an emotional and challenging year filled with sadness and sorrow, my heart goes out to you and I wish you so much less pain and peace throughout the year.
I hope as you begin this new year that you can look back at 2016 with kind eyes and realize that you managed as best you could throughout the year and here you are today with a new opportunity to begin again. But before that can be done, I think it’s important to review the year gone by and spend some quiet and reflective time, mostly to take some honest and gentle inventory without being overly harsh, critical or judgmental and acknowledge all that you have accomplished as well as all that alluded you and was not so successful.
We tend to get to the beginning of a new year with a laundry list of promises and resolutions that we say in January will be our goals for the year. And by February 1st, the wind is gone from our sails and we have lost our motivation. I’ve been guilty of this many times. I’ve had the best of intentions to give myself a fresh start and a clean slate but I did not really look at things realistically nor created a plan that I could get excited about when my motivation wasn’t where it should be.
I have sometimes felt that with all that comes in caring for my Mom from what I do as well as my family, too often we scratch our heads and say, “are we doing enough?” There must be more we can do. Mom’s health is constantly changing. More days than not right now she is stable but lurking in the back of our minds is when another infection will creep up and we have no warning.
We deal constantly with various changes that occur with an agency, our regular aides need a day off or get sick, leaving us to a new person who will cover for a short time, exposing our home and privacy only to fill in for a day or two. It all can leave us rattled. Mom has acquiesced; she has the knowledge somewhere inside of knowing that she needs the help. Her privacy is a distant memory and she goes along with everything. Me, on the other hand, it can be far more upsetting. I am grateful that every aide that has come into our home has been respectful, competent and connects with Mom immediately. That’s just who Mom is. She is well taken care of and I am relieved when I leave the house every day knowing that she is in good hands. It is far from easy sometimes to take in all that it means when a necessary “stranger” is in your home.
Having the word “Grace” for 2016 has been a Godsend to me and will continue in 2017. That’s the beauty of choosing a word for the year. It doesn’t end or stop at the end of the year. Somehow, someway, no matter what word I’ve chosen for a given year, it continues as each new year comes. Every word has held such significance. “Grace” more times than not felt like a warm hug, a cozy blanket of love that I could hold close and know that “this too shall pass” (another one of my favorite quotes) and all would be okay. “Grace” gave me the soft nudge to be kinder to myself; to let go; to forgive in the moment; to cry my heart out and not judge; to pick me up when I wasn’t feeling my best and to remind me that everything is happening as it should.
It’s an interesting concept to think about a word for the year but to be honest, even though there are things that I didn’t accomplish for myself in 2016, made excuses, etc. there’s no time left in 2016 to make up for what didn’t happen. What did happen as I took the time to review the year and be very honest with myself about what I did and didn’t do, it was a take ownership moment that I want to do better this year, not a “rag on Mary” session that I’m no good or that I failed.
2017 is here and I have a couple of words that are resonating with me. This year, my words are “Personal Integrity”; “Deliberate Action”. Choosing a word does not mean that you can’t have more than one word that means something to you. 2017 is about taking complete responsibility for everything that is my life more so than I have before. I am a caregiver and I love taking care and being there for everyone I love and hold dear. This side of me should never come at my expense. I cannot give what I don’t have. It is so very easy and habitual for me to put aside something that is important to me so that I can be there for someone else. I love being there for those I care about but at the end of the day, it feels awful when there is something I want to accomplish for myself and I chose to put someone else before me. That’s why these words this year are so very important to me.
Having shared this with you, can you think of a word that resonates for you that may help to turn resolutions into something that is more doable each day?
I would love to hear any thoughts you have about this concept of a “Word for the Year” vs. “Resolutions”. Your reactions and comments are always welcome.