Happy New Year! Happy Renewal of Life!
2016 brings with it many new resolutions for me, most of them arrived at after deep thought and with some deeply felt regret about my lack of responsibility for my health. Choices are good things, in and of themselves. They offer opportunities to reflect on how things have been going and to decide how to make changes for the better. I spend a great deal of time thinking with and affirming others, especially 20 and 30-somethings, on their lives and their choices. Caring for others is something at my core, and I’ve been devoted to this caring my whole life.
The recent hospitalizations of my husband, Herb (77 on January 13th), and my mother, Frances (90 this past October 15th), and our dear friend Keith (near my age, which will be 67 in March) have served as major wake-up calls. I can no longer ignore the admonitions of my primary care physician to pay attention to the unacceptable measurements of my high blood pressure readings and high finger prick blood tests. I can no longer ignore my weight, my mobility issues, or aches and pains that come and stay. I can no longer ignore the predictive nature of these facts.
I am already not ignoring my duties as primary caretaker of a household of seniors with health issues. I already have undertaken the primary cooking, grocery shopping, laundry, driving, and housekeeping. I just haven’t been paying attention to my own health. And I recognize that I can’t be here as everyone’s caretaker if I’m not taking care of myself.
So, for me, unlike for others, I just have to get all the way off the merry-go-round, because I don’t know how, and never have known how, to do things in half-measures. I simply have to STOP all the extracurricular activities and spend my attention on the people in my household. I need to remember to take my medications daily and at the scheduled intervals instead of my haphazard habit of missing days at a time. I need to prepare meals suitable for people with cardiac and diabetes issues. I need to declutter our house that I’ve ignored for the past eight years of intensive volunteer service. I need to nurture my relationships with my children and grandchildren and adopted family members.
I need to be present in actuality and not just in theory. I need to practice presence versus merely embrace the ethos of presence.
So, for 2016, which I dub my year of sabbatical, I am resigning from all the wonderful volunteer activities that I have been blessed to undertake. I am deeply grateful and humbled by the trust and faith that others have placed in me. I apologize that my decision may feel like I am letting you down.
I am planning to stay close to home, except when traveling to visit family and friends or to vacation with Herb. I am planning to spend time with our aged cat, Tink, and nurture some houseplants as external indicators of my mental and spiritual health. I am planning to walk daily, use the exercise equipment in our house, and join a gym. I am planning to read for pleasure. I am planning to write regularly and try my hand at drawing using computer programs.
If it can’t be done from home, I won’t choose to do it, because home is where I’m needed right now. It’s taken me months of agonizing thought and prayer to arrive at this decision, and I have no doubts that I will agonize about it some more when I feeling wistful about what might be, but isn’t anymore. I realize that I love the gift of life for all the creatures of God’s Creation not to choose otherwise.