Editor’s Note: JSA welcomes a new contributor, Shelly Christensen. Shelly Christensen is a Baby Boomer parent of an adult child with a disability whose mom is a vital 83 years old, and whose brother is a cancer survivor. She is the founder and president of Inclusion Innovations. Her book, Jewish Community Guide to Inclusion of People with Disabilities is widely used by sacred communities worldwide and she is a frequent keynote speaker on inclusion in sacred communities and parenting a child with special needs.
We know what the start of the secular new year brings with it. Resolutions. Did you vow to lose weight, exercise more, call your mother more often, spend more time with your kids?
How is that going for you?
The reason we struggle with those resolutions is because they are rarely specific, and although they are made with good intentions at the time, they really don’t carry much weight (no pun intended) when it comes to getting things done. One of life’s certainties is change which throws our loosely based “plans” into the air. We have no idea whether or not those plans are even going to land!
Resolutions are generally non-specific. We don’t take the time to create a plan of action with goals and a time frame. If you’re like me, you get so caught up in your daily lives that suddenly that resolution becomes one more burden to carry on your shoulders and it becomes expendable. We are left with the same situations that drove us to consider those resolute changes.
As caregivers, we have heard that oft quoted airline phrase, “Put your own oxygen mask on before anyone else.” Every time I fly, I think about the deeper meaning of the oxygen mask metaphor and spend some time in flight thinking about how I do, or don’t take care of me before the needs of others.
I recently read this quote, “What if the only resolution you make is to love yourself more.” This is a resoulution, an opportunity to connect with that spiritual part of ourselves. Resoulutions recognize that our oxygen masks go on first and create the opportunity to balance our lives. We have to place ourselves before others at this level. Once we think about self-care, we can commit to doing those things that give our souls the nourishment needed to be present with our family members.
What will your resoulution be? What treasure do you want to give yourself? Calmness, joy, resilience, less urgency driving your life, peace? What is your plan to ensure that you stay with your resoulution?
The oxygen metaphor reminds me that sometimes I just need to breathe when the demands of life seem to be pulling me in every direction. Taking several reassuring breaths fills our souls with energy and reminds us how important it is to rebalance ourselves.