I have a thing with New Years, the resolutions, the partying, the masses of people, the need to kiss someone at midnight… I hate it all. It is a reminder of time passing, goals unfinished, a year gone, a year older, a year sicker. Too much pressure. YUCK!! BLAH!!

Why do we put so much pressure on one night? Maybe it has been my unpredictable health, one day I would feel great the next horrible, that has conditioned me to never put too many expectations on a single day. There was always a pretty good chance I would look forward to it, plan every detail and then not be able to make it, or spend it throwing up in the bathroom. So I don’t like these events that put too much pressure on one single day.

But my dismay with New Years is more than that, it is also the expectations we put on ourselves for the next year. Not to mention the reminders of those resolutions we didn’t keep from the year(s) before. You see, I really don’t like to fail. So why set yourself up for failure? Resolutions tend to be lofty ideas, dreams really, that we have of what we should be but aren’t.

I found myself this year getting up on Christmas day to the most beautiful sunrise over Lake Michigan. And I found myself contemplating where I was a year ago; I  was in Cleveland stronger but still a shell of my former self. Isolated from my life wondering if I was ever going to be home, healthy and happy. As I remembered my mental and physical state last holiday season I just stood at my window watching the sunrise and cried big tears of joy. The last few years have been hard, but despite the journey I stand here a better version of myself in my home with my family. I am no longer in pain. I no longer spend days sick in the bathroom. I am optimistic about my future (although cautiously). I look and feel like a normal person. I am healthy, happy and at home. My heart wanted to burst, my smile needing a bigger face.

So for the first time as an adult New Years actually corresponds to a point in my life where I do need to reflect and plan for the future. A luxury that I did not have in years past. The gratitude that fills my life is boyant right now; I only hope that I am soaking in every ounce because there is a day in the future I will need it. That is the awkward place where I reside right now, so happy for my current state but leary and well aware that this will not last forever. I am not being a Debbie Downer, it is my reality. And it is the reality of millions of chronically ill people throughout the world. And honestly it is the reality for millions of other people too. All we have is the current moment nothing in the future day, week, month, year or decade is guaranteed.

That reality has me enjoying life, while also putting my health and happiness first. I have really never done that before, always feeling obligated to others needs and demands, slave to life goals I thought I needed to meet. Now starts my priority of self-care and happiness, for real this time. It is also my time to tell my story and use where I have been to inform where I am going and what others will experience along the way.

These are not New Years resolutions, these are my life’s priorities. There is a difference. Life’s direction, values and priorities shift as we learn, change and age. We should give ourselves permission to take the time to reassess when we need to, not when the year changes on the calendar. We should understand that not reaching a goal isn’t a failure as long as we are growing and evolving along the way. Striving for a goal and almost making can still be a proud accomplishment. Changing mid-course can be gutsy courageous if it brings happiness and fulfillment. That is what we should strive for in our everyday lives and not just at New Years.

So tonight when the clock hits midnight, if I am not sleeping, I will be giving thanks for all the progress I have made in health and happiness. I promise to myself that I will continue to grow as a person at whatever pace life will allow. I will encourage myself to make goals and then change them before they are complete. All that matters is that we are going somewhere better than where we are today.

Happy New Year!! Wishing all of you joy, laughter and hope in 2020.

Onward and upward!

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