As a New Year starts it’s usual to think about the year ahead and set goals, both for your personal and business life, and perhaps plan holidays or other adventures. I did for years.
It’s summer in Australia and generally, from Christmas to the end of January, is known as the holiday season. Schools are closed and many businesses have reduced hours and reduced staffing levels during this time.
Many of my Specialists are also on holiday, so that allows me a little time out from some tests and appointments. Although this year seems the exception to the rule as I do have a number of January appointments.
I’ve always loved the quietness of the summer holidays, particularly when I was working, as it gave me time to slow down a little and think about the future and the year ahead.
Do You Have Plans?
I’ve been asked a few times over the past week “Do you have any plans for the New Year?” I’ve also been asked a question I generally struggle with…..”What are you doing today?
Since medically retiring due to an idiopathic rare bone disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis and a permanent colostomy, both of these are probably the hardest questions anyone could ask me.
The questions per say dont upset me, and I’m not incapable of planning, it’s just I haven’t been able to make many concrete plans now for a number of years.
Well actually that’s not technically correct. I can make them, I just can’t guarantee I can achieve them and the likelihood is, I would have to bail out at the last moment if I did make them.
So as I pondered the question, “What are your plans for next year?”, I had to admit I don’t have any set plans.
I have health hurdles and challenges I intend to get through with as much grace and determination as I can muster. I have purpose in terms of blogging, writing, Podcasting, administrating my online support forum, and the online volunteer work I do for Arthritis Queensland.
Outside of those activities, I am living one day at a time, often one step at a time…literally.
There is something quite liberating about taking one day at a time. I don’t know what lies ahead, none of us do. So instead of looking ahead for the next goal to be achieved, or the next adventure to come along, I am hoping to enjoy each special moment in each day. It’s all I can do.
This year much of what I can’t do is the same for everyone due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funny how it hasn’t changed people’s mindset in terms of asking about New Year plans or daily plans! We are really all creatures of habit aren’t we!
Would I like to have a holiday booked? Yes, although I don’t have a travel bug which is probably fortunate given my situation.
Would I like to be able to work? Absolutely.
Would I like to be able to book a restaurant for a special occasion? Definitely.
I’d like to do many things. To say otherwise wouldn’t be true but focusing on what I can’t do isn’t going to help me live well with my rare disease.
Focusing On What I Can Do
Focusing on what I can do, no matter the limitations, helps me remain positive and outward looking.
Some of my moments are so full of pain I long for those to pass. The moments when I can do a little bit more than the moment before it, I “plan” to enjoy as much as possible.
I might not be able to set great goals or plan adventures but I’m still glad a new year, or new day, lies ahead. It will be full of surprises whether I plan them or not.
It will be full of joys and disappointments too. The best I can do, the best anyone can do, is to embrace each and every experience. If I do, I am embracing life and all it has to offer.
I might not be able to make concrete plans, thanks to my rare disease, but after living a crazy life, before chronic illness, of copious agendas, schedules, conferences, appointments and constant phone calls…..you know what? I can breathe, I can relax and just allow the adventure called “life” to unfold as the year rolls along.
Setting realistic New Year expectations not only helps us start 2021 in a manageable way, it also lets our friends and loved ones know we need to live differently.
We need support from others. Often we feel hurt when we don’t receive it but it can be because we haven’t communicated our needs and chronic illness restrictions clearly.
So “What are my plans for the New Year?”.
My answer to anyone asking is simple but honest:
“I plan to live as well as possible, within my limitations and enjoy what I can, when I can….nothing in concrete.”
What are my plans for today? Doing what I can, as I can and being content knowing whatever I achieve is worth celebrating.
Maybe only I can truly know the effort it takes for me to achieve something like, writing a blog post, administering my forum, recording a Podcast episode or getting out to a medical appointment.
All of these things are epic achievements in my world, when pain levels are through the roof and moving one leg in front of the other is a physical feat.
Each of you living with pain, chronic disease and disability will know your own daily challenges so well. You’ll also know how awesome you are when you’ve got out of bed, managed to get dressed, socialised with others online, or got out of the house.
Be proud of your daily achievements. Don’t underrate them. Don’t let a question like “What are your plans?” intimidate you.
Move through 2021 at your pace, according to your needs, and make sure you celebrate everyday what you have achieved. You are amazing and never forget it!
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29 v 11
If you’re looking for genuine support, care, understanding and friendship, you are so welcome to join my closed Facebook support forum, Medical Musings with Friends . It’s a safe place to connect with others living with chronic and complex diseases, who truly understand the daily challenges. A warm welcome awaits.
If you prefer an audible version of more blog posts, please check out my Podcast, Medical Musings With Sam
I’m a Contributor at “The Mighty”. You can check out my published articles at My Author Page
I also write @ Blogs by Christian Women
If you would like to read a little more about my journey, here’s the link to My Story