Saturday, January 18, 2014

Welcome 2014

Over the first few days of the new year I took several naps, went to bed early, and scoffed at any notion of doing anything responsible. I didn’t put away my clothes. I didn’t do any dishes. I delayed in paying bills or balancing the checkbook. Instead, I allowed myself to be sick with a head cold. And I’m glad. I needed that allowance. But I couldn’t shake the realization that for the first time in countless years, I did not stay up to watch the ball drop in Times Square. More shockingly, as of January 1st I hadn’t made any resolutions. Instead I faced a different milestone of January 2nd, my Dad’s birthday, the first without him. I steeled myself the entire day. I did not mention his name even once. In fact, as my husband noted the next day, I barely spoke at all. It was not only the first time his birthday had passed since his death, it was the first time I’d begun a new year without him. 

The next day I took a shower in hopes that I’d wash away the feeling of sickness and sadness. It helped. I made a big pot of chicken soup and after taking a nap in the afternoon, I prepared a chicken dinner. The five of us gathered on the couch together to watch Harry Potter and I turned in early but not before cuddling with my kids and our pup. Later that week I sat in my recliner in front of our Christmas tree. In the middle of the afternoon, as the sun came streaming in from the back windows, I decided I’d try to figure this resolution thing out. 

In this walk of grief I have learned some important lessons. I have learned how very important it is to cut myself a break, to remain honest and true to myself. It’s also vital to me to hold onto my faith and gratitude, to continue to serve others, and to live, laugh, and love in earnest. I strive to walk in the sunshine, even if it is a bit elusive some days. To reinforce my foundation which has been shaken a bit, I resolve to achieve the following: 

Resolution #1--Be kinder, gentler to myself. I will talk to myself the way I talk to others. I will cut myself a break when I am tired, vulnerable, sad, or frustrated. I have a natural determination to do better. But what I need is to be patient with myself, to say, “It’s okay. Tomorrow is another day”. As part of this resolution, I will also be more fiercely protective of my well-being. I will sometimes rest, but I’ll also take time to run. I’ll get outside. Sometimes I’ll jump in puddles. I will dance. I will sing at the top of my lungs. And to preserve my energy, my focus, and my sense of humor, I will surround myself with the people in my life who are loving, kind, and generous in their attempts to protect me and my heart.   

Resolution #2--Remain honest--When I am feeling the most stress, I later come to realize I am pushing aside feelings I am not dealing with. Or sometimes it’s that I am running at a pace that is not my natural rhythm. This stifling of my feelings or keeping a pace that isn’t my own is not healthy. No feeling is good or bad, it just is. Like the weather, feelings come and go. It is okay to feel sad one evening because by morning, that feeling may very well dissipate. It is okay to feel joy without feeling guilt. It is healthy to express my needs and wants, my feelings, whatever they may be. Feelings are what they are. I give myself permission to JUST BE and to JUST FEEL, to take what comes and to live in the moment. Right now as I write this, I am feeling hopeful. If I wake up and feel something else tomorrow, that’s okay; the hope will return because overall, that’s the kind of person I am. I’m an optimistic, humble, and grateful woman. I’m also a responsible teacher, mother, wife, daughter, and community member. But at times I push aside my own needs and wants to a point that isn’t good for me. I am vowing to remain honest and free to express my feelings in any way that I deem best for me. 

Resolution #3--Give back. I work to make a difference, to serve others. I am out in the world--working with teens at school, interacting with people in my communities on a daily basis. But I also give back when I write and share openly. Wherever I am, I’ll continue to help others to the best of my ability because that’s what I know is right. I also want to return to my practice of “paying it forward”--finding novel ways to add sunshine to the daily life of other people. I am blessed and I do not take that for granted. I’ll continue to give back, however I can. 

Resolution #4--Hold onto faith and return to the confidence I had before some pulled at my wings in an attempt to knock me down. I’ve always had natural instincts which I’ve trusted to bring me to the right place. I’ve also been blessed to have a strong faith in God and I have lived nearly 46 years following my conscience and it has served me very well. I’ve had my share of insecurities like any other, but I have long been a confident child of God--not arrogant, but confident. But in recent years there’s been too much noise and others’ voices have drowned out my own. This will change in 2014. And following His guidance, I’ve already secured reinforcements--people who see me clearly and who do not pass judgment, people who are secure and who l want to learn from. 

Life isn’t always easy but our lives are meant to be lived with kindness, honesty, service, exuberance and joy. Welcome 2014. It’s going to be a good year. 

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