Here I am pressing the “rewind” button on the year. In not a shocking twist, my highlight reel includes the reality of life.
A relaxing kick off to the New Year; kind encounters in the springtime; Covid friendships that are strong as ever; hard work; a debilitating sinus infection that lingered until I was on the operating table; a Celebration of Life that was bittersweet; vacations that soothed the soul; and holiday moments and memories that will last a lifetime.
You know me well enough by now to realize I accept and relinquish power to the timing of my life. I trust the process.
Whether you choose to fast-forward through the moments of pain, pause on the mundane tasks, or zoom in on the sweet celebrations and milestones, it’s a nice habit (and that time of year again) to look at where you’ve been, where you are at, and where you desire to be.
You’d laugh if I told you how I started the 2021 New Year. I truly said out loud, “It can only go up from here!” I was helping with a very strenuous outdoor project that worked muscles in my body I didn’t know existed. For three days my body continued to remind me.
Come to think about it, on New Year’s Day, I look back and am glad that’s how it started. I was up early, felt 100%, and literally put my best foot forward to help accomplish tasks.
Putting my best foot forward might have been my theme for the year. Because as I sit here writing this, in all categories I feel that I put my best foot forward in 2021.
Here we are now – a new year approaching at lightning speed, the holidays barely behind us, and our hearts and minds full of dreams and goals for the coming year.
I’ve got that glimmer in my eyes for 2022. I feel its energy.
I continue to surprise myself. I went into 2021 with patience, more than in previous years, but in closing out the year I realize that I have nearly doubled my level of patience. And it has benefited me and those around me, as well as provided a sense of internal calmness.
Harnessing the power of patience is allowing me to be the best version of myself. That best version of me doesn’t include self-pity, envy, or as many refer to it “FOMO” (fear of missing out). It has boosted my confidence, my trust, my faith in myself and my actions, thoughts, those who surround me, and goals.
I am authentically me. You, just like my loved ones are getting the real “me.” There’s no price tag for that feeling. I’m content. I’ve removed my mask – have you?
I’ve released, re-routed, and realigned. I only have love for my life. Instead of expending precious time and energy on what hasn’t served my highest good, I’ve allowed those experiences to harness the brightest light within me.
I’ve learned grace. I’ve learned to show through actions, not words. I give my all – all the time. Feeling as aligned as I do, giving my all is not taxing or sigh-worthy – it’s fulfilling.
If you are my doctor, you know I’m committed to my health. If you are in The Honest Migraine (THM) community, you know I’m dedicated to bridging the gap between under-represented chronic conditions and real-life experiences including answers to questions. And as family members and friends, you know I’m here for you through thick and thin, in sickness and in health.
Being at peace with myself, my mind, and my body has improved my mental wellbeing, made me unflappable in the most dizzying of circumstances, and puts less stress on my body.
So with considerable reflection and without further ado, I’m sharing my three main takeaways from 2021:
VULNERABILITY – It invites compassion and serves as the foundation for relationships (professional, personal, medical) that endure the test of time.
There have been many times over the past 8 years that I’ve fallen ill with migraine, landed in my neurologist’s office and divulged that I’ve been stressed. Instead of lecturing me on finding work / life / sleep balance, he didn’t. He stated, “It’ll all be okay. Are you walking the coast, partaking in yoga/pilates?” Basically, he reminds me to dedicate some “me” time.
And from my research and findings thus far with THM, it’s been reaffirmed to me just how those pieces of the puzzle fit into our overall migraine management.
SELF-LOVE – I recently took a “me” day. I slept in. I quickly checked work emails then signed off, took a long bath, and headed to the coast for a yummy, healthy meal and day perusing the shops while inhaling the ocean breeze. I immerse myself in solo days when I can squeeze them in. They are important to me. To me, it is valuable time spent.
We commonly hear you’ve got to take care of yourself before you can take care or be a part of something else. I do have a lot of responsibilities (personal, professional, and medical) – and if I don’t feel at peace, whole, and happy with myself – it’s quite tough to be the partner, patient, daughter, cousin, and friend I strive to be. It also makes it tough to prioritize health, what I consume, how I move my body, and ensuring I get adequate sleep at night. The last thing I want is to throw off my circadian rhythm.
Our bodies crave self-love. The reward for pampering ourselves is profound. I can’t say enough about presence. The more present you can work toward being, the better you’ll be able to feel shifts in your body, feel the energy of the influences around you, and feel what you need to live a full life. We all define a full life differently and I love that. I admire our differences.
It’s okay to be alone, go at life alone, or sit for a meal alone.
YOUR VOICE – Your voice can move mountains and improve your health. Take my life as an example. I feel like I embarked on a new life when I was hospitalized and was refused a neurologist. Then fast forward to today where I’m leading a much healthier, proactive life and using my voice to encourage others. Quite simply, health matters to me more than ever.
My final note for the year is to remind you that your emotions are valid and the chronic illness or disease you are living with is real. It has been made crystal clear to me through personal experiences, family, THM friends, and experts that gas-lighting is prevalent in our society pertaining to illness.
If you’re living with an ‘invisible illness,’ I hear you, I see you, and I’m here for you.
While our medical community strives toward advancements, I know it can be a lonely, disappointing road but under no circumstances should that allow for anyone to tell you that the pain you experience or the symptoms that present themselves are not real. No one has that right.
I’m borrowing a good friend’s idea by choosing a word to live by for the New Year. I’ve chosen the word “whole.” This word is going to guide me to see and to feel whole in each facet of my life: medically, professionally, emotionally and mentally.
Please enjoy a safe and sound New Year’s! Talk to you soon!
Coming next: The secret life of your body under anesthesia