Counting Down to the New Year is a series of 12 posts in which I reflect on 2014 and prepare for 2015.
Chronic pain lends to wishing time away; it does not easily lend to contentment in the moment. We while our days away enduring and tolerating each moment as it comes, with the wish for new and better moments often forefront in our thoughts. We wish for another time, another place, another future or past that is perhaps less horrible and less painful. And as the painful moments tirelessly pile atop one another, we look back and realize that we are continually wishing away a life that may not become the “better moments” we are imagining anytime soon. It is at this point we must seek to move beyond the enduring and the tolerating to finding the good, the laughter, and the truth in even the most difficult of times.
Counting down to the New Year cannot become about wishing time away. It is not about the grass being greener on the other side, or the inability to find any semblance of contentment in the now. It is not about putting all of my eggs in the 2015 basket. It is not about ignoring God’s blessings and presence in 2014 that have sustained me and continue to pull me through. God is the same God of 2014 as 2015. He does not change with the changing years.
But I do change. And one of the ways that change is measured is through the passing of the seasons. Counting down to the New Year is not about wishing time away. Counting down to the New Year is about hope – hope that just maybe I can enter a new season of life, a season of acceptance, understanding, purpose, and perhaps even healing. So I look forward for the possibility of hope and change, but continue to live in the moment, making the best of the rest of the year.
Here are 12 ways I would like to live in the moment during the month of December. Twelve ways to make December a great month, leaving 2014 with all the life and laughter I have to muster.
(1) Use my time off from work to write. December is filled with extra time. The class I am taking will be over, and the holiday falls in such a way that I will have two weeks off over Christmas. Between my most recent setback and Thanksgiving, I have found so little time to write. December is all about using my extra time to work on my book.
(2) Get excited about gift giving. In so many areas of life, I feel inadequate in my ability to give, contribute, and be a part of things. But, giving gifts is one thing that I can do! I have time to be thoughtful and thorough in picking out gifts. Looking for and perhaps making a few gifts will be good ways to spend my time.
(3) Find one reason to laugh every day. November was all about finding something to be thankful about every day. December is all about finding things that make me laugh every day. Things like funny videos and pictures, stupid jokes, and just laughing at the absurdity of life with chronic pain.
(4) Daily Advent readings. This is the one I will be using at the suggestion of Jill at Even More Beautiful. It is short and to the point, drawing us in to experience the fullness of Christ in the Advent season.
(5) Read two books. I do love to read, but it is certainly more work than zoning out to a mindless TV show when I am not feeling well. I would love to read one book for pleasure and one book for learning during the month of December.
(6) Set my ego aside. The month of December will be all about setting my ego aside. My biggest goal of December is to get through the holidays without injuring myself or triggering a huge setback. This will mean saying “no,” allowing other to help, asking for help, and refusing to do things that I know will compromise my health. It will mean lying down when visitors and relatives are over, not letting insensitive questions and comments bother me, and doing what I need to do without worrying what others are thinking of me.
(7) Cook one meal for pleasure over practicality. Cooking used to be one of my favorite hobbies. These days I tend towards mediocre slow cooker meals that can be eaten for many days over the course of the week. But, if I plan carefully and take my time, I should be able to cook at least one easy but delicious meal just because it is delicious.
(8) Pick one day to skip my diet and indulge. I know that not everyone has the luxury of being able to do this. But, for me, I have found if I am extremely disciplined to only take one or two days off of my diet, it doesn’t set me back in the long run. Perhaps it will be Christmas day. But, for one day I will eat whatever my heart desires and enjoy the gift of good food.
(9) Do everything possible to not isolate. Most of the time isolation is forced on me. But, sometimes I choose isolation because it is more comfortable or because I am depressed. I always have the choice to not isolate in terms of my blog and using online resources. I also have the choice to call, text, email, and send letters to anyone I please. And hopefully I will have the choice to get out and see people at least a few times over the holiday season without risking a setback. I will do my best!
(10) Take things as they come. My plan is to let go of expectations for the month of December. I don’t have high expectations for the holidays, that it will be the most wonderful or magical time of the year. I’m just being realistic here, because the higher my expectations, the more I would be disappointed if things did not turn out as I wanted. So, I am going into December excited to see what will happen, without placing any expectations on how it should turn out.
(11) Rest. For those of us who are chronically ill or chronically in pain, rest is part of our job. It is a task that must be completed for us to live life to our fullest potential. This December I am embracing my need for rest without guilt.
(12) Work hard on my physical therapy and health goals. I go through ups and downs when it comes to how hard I work at PT and implementing all the things I need to do each day for the best of my health. It gets exhausting doing the same things each day, and it felt too completely overwhelming to keep up with everything over the last month of constant flare. December is about picking up the pieces that have been left to the wayside during harder days. It is about faithfully exercising, eating as I should, taking my vitamins, scheduling and pacing my days, and resting. Hopefully this will allow me to start the New Year with a bang!
How will you make the best of the rest of the year?