IBD New Year's Resolution

Elizabeth Roberts Health Guide
  • As I mentioned in my last Sharepost, I'm not a huge fan of Christmas. But, I have become a fan of New Year's Resolutions. The older I get, the more grateful I am for getting older. As my husband likes to say every year we celebrate another birthday, "I love getting older because it means I'm not dead." He's a 35-year cancer survivor and he's made me realize that while having IBD and IBS isn't fun, it isn't going to kill me, and for that I am forever grateful.


    So, while my husband has heartily embraced making a New Year's Resolution for the 18+ years I've know him, I'm more of a newbie at it, having taken it seriously since my IBD diagnosis in 1998.

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    There are some New Year's resolution that really stick with me year-after-year, like the one I made in 2000 - "Life is not Black or White, Embrace the Grey Space." I used to be a very black and white thinker. You know, a yes or no girl, things were good or bad. I could or I couldn't do something. Well, when my husband finally introduced me to the myriad shades of grey that exist in every day life, the world seemed more open and accessible to me.


    The diarrhea, fatigue, and special diet that came along with my IBD had, at first, made me a very black and white thinker. I had to realize that life wasn't an either I can or can't participate sort of deal. Instead, I had to take the attitude that life might have to work a little more on my schedule and according to my rules. Living a 24/7, multi-tasking lifestyle was only going to make me stressed which was going to make me sicker. So, I took the plunge and changed jobs to something that was able to fit with my fluctuating energy levels, bathroom calls, and odd habit of eating many small meals throughout the day.


    In 2002, my New Year's Resolution was, "To take back my power, and not let fear lead me anymore." I found as an adult that I was acting like a child, being fearful of success, fearful of failure, fearful of what might or could happen, and thus, I wasn't focusing on what was in the here and now. So, throughout 2002, I made fear my enemy. I gave him a face and when I felt him creep into my thoughts I fought him with every ounce of energy I could muster. I forced myself to do things I wasn't sure of and even when I failed, I picked myself up and fought my way to try another day. Today, fear still rears its ugly head in my life and when he does I still fight him and forge ahead.


    This year, my New Year's Resolution is to Live Authentically. It's a big resolution. But I decided to break it down into bite-sized pieces that I can achieve each day, each week, and each month. For years, I've had a ton of things on my "want to do" list, from learning to play the guitar, to getting back into my daily meditation routine, to traveling more extensively without fear tagging along.


    So, I'm going to take this year and live it for Me. To some that may sound selfish and in a way it is, but I refuse to accept that selfishness can only be a negative. I'm going to take selfishness and turn it on its ear. I've spent much of my life feeling bad or guilty about what I'm not doing for other people, who I'm not able to see or visit, what I can't do, or don't have time to do. And this year, I've decided I'm going to flush the negative thoughts out of my brain and focus on the positive - what I want to do, what I can do, and what I'm going to try my very best to do.


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    I already have a good start on my daily mediation, and am happy with myself even on those days when I'm only able to sit quietly for 5 minutes rather than 20 or 30 minutes. A little meditation is better than no meditation. My husband and I have reactivated our gym membership and so far we're back on our old schedule of going to the gym three times a week. I have also started guitar lessons, and while I feel like a rank amateur, I now know how to play the first three strings when just a week ago I didn't know how to play any strings. I have two trips planned in the next three months, and instead of worrying about how my gut will be, I've just decided to go and see. If it's unhappy, I'll deal with it, and if it's a-okay, I'll have a new experience to file away in my memories.


    For me, the point of Living Authentically is not to wrack up more material possessions, but to have more experiences that I want to have. I plan on letting family and friends know where I'll be this year, and if they can join in or come along then the more the merrier. With regards to my meditation practice, I am aiming at being able to sit in meditation long enough to participate in a week-long meditation retreat come summer or fall. As for the guitar, I intend to be the person playing the guitar on my front porch this summer, rather than the one walking by that person thinking, "I wish I could play the guitar." As for travel, I'm going to forge ahead even if that  pesky voice of fear niggles in the back of my thoughts.  


    I am grateful my husband is alive today to have taught me that every year and every birthday that goes by really is a reason for celebration. And I'm even more grateful for being able to see that while I wish I didn't have IBD or IBS, I don't have to let them control me and what I can or can't do. I need to remember the grey space, fight against the fear, and just let the real me come out so that I can live authentically for the rest of my life.


    Happy New Year All!

Published On: January 05, 2010