UP FOR DISCUSSION … A brand-new year is upon us, and as caregivers we can either look forward or look back. When we look back, we see just how far we have come. As we look to the future, we can only wonder what might lie ahead. Perhaps the only thing that really matters is to focus on today!

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It is the eve before New Year’s Eve … do you recall all the plans you used to make related to New Year’s Eve?  For us it was always some party or family get-together.  When our children were young it was often an early countdown celebration toasted with orange juice and maybe watching the new year dawn on television in some foreign country located in a later time zone.  For some it was fireworks – handheld sparklers on the street corner or attending a more formal presentation in the community.  Later it was seeing the new year in on the beach … sea fog making it very difficult to actually “see” anything – even your watch – on more than one occasion!  Whatever the chosen event, it was a time of celebration, anticipation, and well-meaning fresh resolutions for desired changes, improvements, and adventures.

As a caregiver, my approach to seeing in the new year has changed dramatically.  As I look back at the year that is now departing, I do not see the good or the bad in the year’s events, but rather marvel that we have seen it through and are still here to recall it.  Nothing really needs improvement or change.  Celebration feels far less important than pure gratitude and a great appreciation for our ability to welcome the next year as it arrives.

As I look forward to the coming year, my expectations are few.  Self-improvement resolve really seems unimportant.  Specific plans for desired accomplishments or personal gain are elusive to even dream about.  Goals for the coming year do not seem to be an important component to help define our future.  There is a sense that the new year will unfold exactly as it is meant to be with little control or intervention from me.

Instead, the only thing that really matters to me is today – maybe with some thoughts toward tomorrow.  The goals for today: maintaining calm and accomplishing a few desired chores on my ever-present list of to-dos, finding a simple joy or two to experience, and making connections with my loved-one and people important to us.  Our excitement about our future extends mostly to planning events like watching the Cotton Bowl on television last evening (our team won).  A big two-person party!  The only preparation needed was how I could make the football game a joyful experience no matter the game’s outcome?  Another example: in light of a fun Cotton Bowl, should I add anything different to our routine tomorrow to recognize that it is New Year’s Eve or plan something special to see in the new year?  It certainly won’t be the beach, but is there something we would enjoy that is fun and easy?

I am reminded as I write this, there is a lot to be said for one-day-at-a-time thinking.  I worry less.  I am rarely disappointed.  Maintaining our routine helps me remain calm.  Making new year resolutions and big plans for the future might be fun, but it takes energy and follow-through.   So, I don’t get ahead of myself too much … for this caregiver, I only have a plan for today.  Boring is beautiful!



Up for Discussion:  How about you?  How will you and your loved one(s) celebrate the new year?  As a caregiver, how do you revisit the past and plan for the future?  Are there ideas that work well for you that you can share with others?  Please comment below.

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