By Carol O’Dell —
New Year’s is a time of hope. Wipe the slate clean. Begin again.
I was on a walk the other day, thinking about resolutions. Thinking about the word, resolve. To re-solve. A resolution is a re-solution. That means that once upon a time, it wasn’t a problem.
That’s true. We weren’t always overweight. We didn’t always drink too much, smoke, spend too much, or see our loved one’s too little. So, a resolution is just getting back to that former state.
Think back, when was it that you weren’t overweight? Perhaps your teens? Before kids? For some of us, we have to think back even younger. But there was probably a time. You didn’t think about food all the time. You rode your bike. Played little league.
Your body remembers this. In sports, they call this muscle memory. If your body (or mind) has ever done it once, it remembers-and can do it again.
This works for more than just weight. So I thought about it: I used to spend copious hours on my bike as a kid. I can bike now. I used to sing for the heck of it. I can sing in my car. I used to draw. I think I’ll go outside and draw that live oak tree in my back yard.
As caregivers, we can make resolutions too. So just for fun, I propose a Top Ten Caregiver’s Resolution List:
1. Sleep. Sleep more. Sleep anywhere, any time, any how. Dream of uninterrupted sleep.
2. Not totally blow my top at anyone–a nurse, my loved one, the pharmacist.
3. Not eat my way into oblivion–food is not my best friend (repeat 10 times a day)
4. Remember where I’m driving–zoning out is dangerous. I may need a loud buzzer horn or taser. Stess causes zoning out, I’m sure.
5. Walk every day. Even if it’s just to the mailbox. Walking is good. Sun is good. I need this.
6. Get out and meet people. Normal people not in the health-care/elder-care profession. There’s a great big world out there and I need to see it once in a while.
7. To actually want sex and intimacy and do something about it. Sex drive? Is that like, four wheel drive? Yes, I remember….vaguely.
8. To get dressed in something other than a jogging suit–something NOT with an elastic waistband. This relates to not eating a whole frozen pizza and walking to the mailbox, doesn’t it?
9. Do something for me, just me. People do that? Lunch with a friend, getting my nails done, putzing through an antique shop-caring for me is actually part of caregiving…who knew?
10. Ask for help. Pray, cry, meditate, journal, scream, go to a support group, go to church, ask for respite care, pay for care for an afternoon off, try adult day care for my loved one. Ask, ask, ask-caregiving is not a lone sport. It takes a village.
11. Not be afraid-of caregiving, cancer, Alzheimer’s, ALS, or death.
Fear is a big woolly monster trying to gobble up your precious days. Turn around and face it–yell big and loud–“I’m not afraid! I can do this!”
12. Adopt an attitude of gratitude. Each night before I go to sleep, I ask myself, “What was the best part of the day?” Usually, it’s a dragonfly that stopped right in front of me, or a neighbor who gave me a big smile when she saw me. It’s the small moments that stick. Being grateful in a time in your life when so much is beyond your control is a way of turning the tables in your favor. The more you’re grateful, the more you have to be grateful for–it’s like a fan that keeps expanding.
The beginning of the year is a magical time. Resolutions represent hope. Hope for change. You already know how to do this. After all, it’s just a re-solution.
Carol O’Dell is author of Mothering Mother. Reach her at [email protected].