Presents have all been ferociously unwrapped, the christmas decorations have been taken down, and 2015 has been erased to make room for a new start that 2016 promises us.
It’s been a time of reflection, in which we acknowledge the people, events, and the changes that helped to define what the year has meant to us, as well as a time to look forward to the future and all the hopes and possibilities that it may bring.
In my notable absence from blogging, I have been experiencing some of the lowest points in my journey of living with a neurological condition. The pain and trembling in the legs has been so bad that it has almost overpowered everything else; overpowered in a way that concentrating on anything has been increasingly difficult. There have been so many moments that I wished, like a faulty computer I could simply press CTRL+ALT+DEL to reboot my troublesome limbs.
Consequently most of the Christmas period was spent on the sofa, doing my shopping online and enjoying the overly cheesy and sentimental films that the festive season brings. Of course, all of these festive films are all essentially different versions of the same clichéd premise: chaos ensues into the lives of the films protagonist only for it to eventually remind them what is important in life as they emerge from it a better person.
Furthermore, these Christmas films, also emphasises the importance of hope. The hope for a happily ever after. The hope of children that the myth of Father Christmas is real, as well as the hope of presents under the tree on Christmas morning!
The concept of hope and acceptance is important in the chronic illness community and one which I have mentioned in previous posts. The hope that despite chronic illness and its limitations upon our lives we are still able to find purpose and carve out a successful and fulfilled life. That is not to say that we all hope for a miraculous recovery or cure from our ails, as this very often the case would be extremely remote, but hope for a better tomorrow despite the circumstances of our lives.
It is strange that before the deterioration of my symptoms within the last few weeks of 2015, I had thought I had reached acceptance of my condition and wore hope like a badge. However, like items such keys or our mobile phones, hope and acceptance can become mislaid and we are once again navigating the ‘stages of grief’. It is a continuous cycle of ups and downs in which our journey to acceptance starts again and again.
We are now at that time of year when New Year Resolutions are made and trying to be kept! Often these resolutions are not meaningful, unattainable and are completely out of reach of our expectations. But what if we focused on how we would like to feel during the year instead of what we would like to achieve? By focusing on our ‘core desired feelings’ we are much more likely to achieve our goals (if these goals are consistent with how we want to feel).
Many people are doing this by creating a ‘one word‘ for the year. A word to focus upon every day for the 366 days of 2016. One word that perfectly epitomises who we want to be or how we want to live our lives. The choice of the word is important as for the year, it will become a compass in life, as it directs your decision-making and guides you through each day.
My word for the year is…HOPE.
I had thought that HOPE is something that I live with everyday, as I live with the neurological condition. However, after reflecting on this last relapse, and its effect on my emotional health, I realise that like many other people experiencing difficult times, hope is something that I feel is out of reach.
However, during 2016 I would once again like to pick up the torch of hope and run with it for the duration of the year and through the finishing line at the end of this year. Yes, hope is often difficult during the trying days with chronic illness. But I also think, that hope is an important word for those navigating life with chronic illness, as if one has hope then it can lead to many other things, such as acceptance and peace for example. William Wordsworth once said ‘not without hope we suffer and mourn’, and I for one agree as in the times I have been without hope during my own personal journey with illness, life was much more difficult; mourning for an old life that was no longer mine to live.
This year, I intend to focus on the positives despite living with a long-term condition. To appreciate and embrace the small achievements made and accept that these small steps has an impact no matter how insignificant; and furthermore to see these small steps as building blocks to bigger achievements.
I am starting this new positive and more hopeful outlook by creating my own ‘happiness jar’ in which I am going to write all the good and positive things that is going to happen during the next year. These notes will be then placed in the jar and on New Year’s Eve, only then I can open the jar and marvel at all the wonderful events that has shaped the year.
I would also like to see this year as a blank slate. To not look at the past failures and bad times that 2015 saw, and get caught up with the things that I did not achieve, but rather see the new year as a fresh start, with endless possibilities and opportunities to explore.
And as I experience bad days due to unrelenting symptoms, I will focus on my one word and remember that it is just a bad day, but it does not have to mean that the entire year will consist of days like them. I will focus on hope and move forward with life; neurological condition and all,
What is going to be your word for 2016?