Each January, I choose a word to focus my attention, guide my intentions, and establish goals for that year. Usually, I participate in Ali Edwards' class, One Little Word, which provides monthly thought-provoking exercises and activities to help keep the word visible and affect change as the year progresses.
In late 2013, I started contemplating what I wanted to see happen in 2014. That's how the selection of my word begins: I ask myself what's missing or what I want in my life. For 2013, the answer was writing, and that was the word I chose. When I thought about what was missing in my life in this new year, the answer was unequivocal.
More than three years ago, I began taking care of my mother who has dementia, and last March, when my nephew was diagnosed with leukemia and embarked on the long, difficult journey to recovery, I became his full time caregiver, too.
Sacrifices went without saying. Exhaustion, too. Being torn between two or more equally important priorities became almost de rigeur. I juggled, and I dropped balls, and I felt woefully inadequate. For someone like me who has spent most of her life doing her best to please others, it was all too easy to put aside my own needs to take care of these two people I love who needed me.
It was necessary, and it was appropriate, but I wound up neglecting myself in every arena of life, and I needed to put Melissa back on the list of priorities, sometimes even at the top of that list.
That's not an easy commitment for a veteran people-pleaser to make, believe me.
That choice shifts my focus, at least in part, to my body, my mind, my needs and desires, my health and well-being.
That choice reminds me, I matter, too.
Just selecting the word me has already altered the tone of my everyday choices in subtle ways. Doing the assignments for the first two months of this year has already begun an adventure back to myself that would not have happened otherwise.
As my nephew and my mother transition into new phases of their lives, I am transitioning out of full-time caregiving, embarking on an adventure back to myself.