At this time of year, I try and tread lightly. For me, Winter brings a melancholy that would only be weighted down by a list of resolutions. A list of little words yelling, "You are doing this life thing wrong you idiot!" I already have an internal asshole that likes to question what I do and think and say all year round. I call him "Gary". Gary does NOT need a wingman. Gary needs a muzzle.
It's so easy to forget what matters most to us. And it's so hard to live an intention filled life. But I think we all want that. I think somewhere inside, we actually need it. It is my fear that when I die my only regrets will be that I did not live enough, I did not love enough, and I did not focus on the right things. Spiritual guru, Deepak Chopra says, "An intention is a directed impulse of consciousness that contains the seed form of that which you aim to create. Like real seeds, intentions can’t grow if you hold on to them. Only when you release your intentions into the fertile depths of your consciousness can they grow and flourish." So for me, all good thoughts must be born as intentions, and then planted into the world.
And since we are the boss of our own life, it is our job to make sure we create the life we want while simultaneously existing with the things we didn't want to come into our lives. We can't blame those circumstances as an excuse for unhappiness- because we deserve more from our one given life. I don't think we have those challenges to ruin us. No siree- quite the opposite. I believe we have those lessons in order to learn how to be the me we were always meant to be. They can help us focus on what is important, and learn how to let go. Those challenges are lessons we all need, and only in pain can we find true growth.
This is my fourth year of picking three ideas to guide my words and actions for a new year. When it comes to picking words, here are my rules:
They must be phrased in the positive (Like a social story! Autism has taught me so much)
They can't come from a place of brokenness (like we are unorganized or fat or a bad wife or human or mom)
They need to be measurable. No- "Be kind," unless we have specific ideas in mind that we want to carry out- answer what does kind look like in action?
See what happens when a Type A tries to come up with some intentions? I LOVE RULES! Unless they are broken. Then I love rewriting rules!!!
So, here are my words for this year.
1. Health: Mental and Physical
2. Writing/Reading/Learning about my craft
3. Gratitude and Gratitude in Action
Health is a big one for me. For awhile there, I put my own physical health on hold while we were in Early Intervention survival mode. Going to the doctor was not preventative, it was to fix what was broken. I didn't go to the dentist for five- yes FIVE years. I was three years late on my mammogram. Last year I started to take care of me better, and it helped me see just how important it is. I got caught up on all my appointments (Mammogram, eye doc, dentist, Endo and more- check check check check!) and I plan to continue treating my health like a priority. This includes working out regularly, and taking a list of supplements in addition to healthyish foods. Sunday-Thursday I'm pretty healthy, and over the weekend I am sooooo not. I need this balance in my life. And I need fat and sugar!!!
I'm also going to start seeing a therapist just for me. It is my belief that everyone needs a Shrink. I have high anxiety and am prone to depression. Every time I mention this, someone inevitably says, "Oh yes. Moms of kids with autism really need to take care of themselves and go to therapy." While yes, that is true- it also discounts the importance of mental health and the importance of therapy for EVERYONE. It assumes that you are entitled to therapy or anxiety ONLY if you have a kids with super powers. I think it's important to mention this is how I'm wired and has always been a part of me. I was prone to this brain pain way way before kids and way before autism. And to be honest- many of my biggest stressors and ALL of my "The straw that broke the camel's back" usually have nothing to do with autism.
I intend to work on the book I am writing, "Little Light Bulbs Daily." Here's a synopsis...
Chrissy Kelly’s enviable life – handsome husband, great job, house on the beach, beautiful baby boy, and another one on the way – shatters on impact when her adorable son, Greyson, is diagnosed with autism. And just as she’d gathered up all the pieces again, his younger brother Parker receives the same diagnosis, smashing this meticulous, hyper-organized, Type A mom's world into a million more little pieces.
Little Light Bulbs aims to be the book Chrissy searched for in vain when her world came crashing down. She found countless grieving memoirs, platitudinous “recovery” guides and manuals for living with the disorder. But she never found a book that promised she could laugh again. Little Light Bulbs chronicles the tiniest of realizations that the bottomless well of pain she’s enduring might just help her find herself and find a purpose in her life she didn’t even know was missing.
But Little Light Bulbs isn’t just for the parents of kids on the spectrum. It’s for anyone who’s ever been so scared they didn’t dare dream of being happy again. It’s for anyone who felt so isolated by their fear that they nearly suffocated themselves with grief. It’s for anyone who needs hope and perspective instead of a bulleted list that pretends to fix the unfixable. Chrissy’s raw, vulnerable and honest writing style sanitizes nothing for readers on her journey. It’s going to hurt like hell, but she shows them that, if they tackle it with humor, grace and an open heart, it might just also be amazing.
My youngest, Parker will be starting to go to school soon, and it will give me a little extra time to write. I also want to read books that inspire me, and learn more about how to be a good writer.
I believe all the hype that says grateful people are happier people.
He is my poster child for happy.
Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.
One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them, and the third wrote about events that had affected them (with no emphasis on them being positive or negative). After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.
There's so much Science focusing on the benefit of gratitude.
Sometimes I'll admit though- when you're in the thick of it, sometimes gratitude is the last feeling I am feeling. I want to wallow and kick gratitude in the shins. But I also want to be happy, and live a life with meaning, so gratitude for the win.
I have a little notebook in my nightstand and every night I am writing down three things I was grateful for that day. They don't have to be big and sweeping, I just have to mean it (Yesterday mine were peanut butter, black pens and Jack the dog.)
I also intend on carrying out gratitude in action. I am grateful for my community, so I will find ways to contribute to it. I am grateful for being in a position where I can be an autism advocate, not just for my boys but for all kids with autism, so I will continue to help reach the people who may need my
Writing down your intentions is key in carrying them out. That way we can contribute in big and small ways and hold ourselves accountable. You may even want to buy a new blank notebook. As a little girl I remember my Dad telling me about a 1979 Harvard MBA Study. Interviewers asked graduates about their goals. Of the graduates:
- 84% had no goals
- 13% had goals-but only in their head
- 3% had clear, written goals and plans to accomplish them.
Ten years later these students were interviewed again. The 13% with goals not committed to paper were earning twice as much as the 84% who had no goals at all. And the 3% with clear, written goals- were earning ten times as much as the other 97% PUT TOGETHER. Pretty amazing-right?
Who wants to join me and come up with some intentions? Or do you already have some? I'd love for you to share yours with me. Here's to an amazing 2017. May it be a year filled with growth, love and strength.