A New Year – Looking Back and Looking Ahead

Karen Lee Richards Health Guide
  • Looking back...


    As I sit here on New Year's Eve thinking back over the past year, I realize 2012 was a year of extreme highs and lows for me.


    I went through the heartbreak of losing my dog Becca, who had been my constant companion for nine and a half years; but then I also experienced the joy of adopting Elli, a precious new little puppy who has filled my days with laughter and love.


    The economy kicked me around a bit, as I suspect it did many of you. At one point I even had to cash in the jar of change I'd been collecting for months and months just to get by for a few more days; but then a few weeks ago I was blessed with some ongoing extra work that has allowed me to repair my car, replace my old TV and do a little extra for my family for Christmas this year.

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    As far as my health goes, I struggled through an ME/CFS relapse and FM flare that left me barely able to function much of the time for several weeks; but then I've also had some extended periods of time during which I felt better than I have in years.


    As I mentally reviewed the past year, I began to see it as a microcosm of my life as a whole. Yes, I've had my share of tragedy, heartbreak and pain––both physical and emotional. But I've also had a big helping of happiness, joy and love... which brings me to my thoughts about the new year ahead.


    Looking ahead...


    Instead of making a list of New Year's resolutions this year, I've decided to take my cue from Reader's Digest. In their January issue, they declared 2013 to be the “Year of Optimism.” I like that.


    It reminds me of the time about 20 years or so ago when I made a conscious decision to focus on the positive things in my life and not allow myself to dwell on the negatives––in other words, I decided to be an optimist. I don't mean to sound flip about it. Becoming an optimist wasn't as simple as putting on a pair of the proverbial rose-colored glasses and suddenly seeing everything in a positive light. I had to work on it.


    For several years in a row, it seemed like my life had been one tragedy and heartbreak after another. I would catch myself thinking about all the hurts I had experienced––reliving them over and over again in my mind. I finally realized that dwelling on those negative things served no purpose other than to make me feel worse.


    That's when I decided to make a change. Whenever I caught myself thinking about the negative aspects of my life, I would force my mind to focus on something more positive. Praying, getting involved in a project or trying to help and encourage other FM patients who were having a rough time were all things I did to turn my thoughts from the negative to the positive.


    Why did I work so hard at becoming optimistic? As I saw it, I had two choices––I could be miserable or I could be happy. Happy felt better. So for me it was well worth the effort. And the good news is––it gets easier with practice.


    I don't know what 2013 may bring my way, but I'm recommitting myself to facing it all with an optimistic attitude.


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    I wish each of you a very Happy New Year full of hope, optimism and much less pain!


Published On: December 31, 2012