The holidays are a time of rushing around, squeezing the budget, and sometimes losing our tempers as we try to cram more and more into each day. And if you’re a caregiver, you may find it’s difficult to schedule time off for yourself and to find gifts and meaningful ways of celebrating that will honor and delight the person in your care. For caregivers, money is often tight, making the holidays feel more dismal than other times of the year because we can’t do what we wish, and can’t give what we want to give.
But here’s another way of looking at the holiday season. It’s the turning of a corner, the dawn of a New Year. It’s supposed to be a celebration! So instead of rushing, why not take one hour to quiet your mind. Just one hour.
Light a candle.
Take a breath.
Now close your eyes and review the year you just lived through. Watch your mental slideshow month to month, and pause at the heartening moments. Remember those who have helped you. See the faces of your friends, your partner, your children or parents.
Now open your eyes and look at the candle. Imagine the light is creating a path for you. Who do you want to be in the coming year? What can you do to make that happen? Making New Year resolutions is common, and breaking them is even more common. But what if, instead of a resolution, you set your intentions? This is a worthwhile tradition to start, and it doesn’t cost any money at all.
I’ve had some emotional ups and downs this year, and I think a lot of people are concerned about ongoing disputes that have caused divisions that seem to be growing deeper in our country and abroad. Tension in the news can create tension in families. That’s why it’s important to step back and make sure we are not engaging in passive aggressive ways when we disagree with family members on issues or beliefs.
As caregivers, we are hands on; we are forced to practice patience and seek answers. The people we care for depend on us to be consistent and reasonable, stable and strong, yet sometimes it’s hard for us to cope amid all the turmoil around us.
Setting our intentions may be one way of realigning ourselves with our values and goals, so we can continue to give care in a positive way. With that in mind, I’ll share with you what my intentions are for 2017:
To listen and respond in love
To have strong convictions and eloquent ways of sharing them
To be mindful when communicating without belittling
To try to understand others even when I disagree with them
To strive for peace in myself, my family, and my world
This is a tall order. It’s especially tall because I know I will fail repeatedly. But recognizing that I sometimes fly off the handle, or misinterpret what others are saying and take offense, or fail to listen closely is an important step in figuring out what I might do to calm myself and to be a better caregiver going forward.
I know that I’m responsible for half of the stress I feel and blame on others. I think it’s a common affliction—the tendency to react rather than think through a response to what we perceive as annoyance. And so I’m going to take responsibility and try to open my mind a little bit more.
One of my favorite carols is “Let There be Peace on Earth, and Let it Begin with Me.” The lyrics are heartwarming, but this year, this song leaves me disheartened because there is so little peace on earth.
I hope that by setting my intentions, I might be reminded more often that I need to look within as often as I look outside for the peace I seek and try to be a part of the solution instead of simply feeling helpless.
I’d love to hear some of your intentions for 2017. Please comment below, and may peace be with you in the new year.