It’s a beautiful crisp sunny day on the west coast. At dawn, when the red sun breaks over the horizon, I hear the first melodic notes of a chickadee signalling a change to come. The hummingbirds have been extra busy since the snow melted and the gulls have return to the rooftop preparing their nest for the season. It’s almost mid-February, the first month of 2023 has flown by and I barely noticed January had ended. The groundhog predicted six more weeks of winter but today feels like spring and a new beginning is germinating in the soil of my life.
This post is a month overdue. I have been busy preparing for new changes– the end of one job, the continuation and further development of a career. I’ve been thinking on how to navigate these changes and the goals I’d like to work towards. I don’t make resolutions per se – it’s in the word. Resolution. It sounds so final, and I don’t believe that anything in life is final – finality means the end and while there’s still life, there should always be room for growing and learning.
Changes are not easy to navigate when there’s chronic illness in the mix. I settled into a routine with my RA, where I could control it with minimal flares. The stress of a new and uncertain future has upset things a little, but the excitement of it is much stronger. It’s a wonderful thing to have goals to pursue, especially if it’s a passion, but we should also be conscious of what is within our reach to avoid frustration. The size of the goal means nothing if we can’t achieve it – the smaller more focussed the goal, the more likely we will accomplish it. I used to hate (and still do) the question that was always asked in job interviews – where do you see yourself in five years? I don’t think anyone really knows – so much can happen in five years, so I always say that I prefer day to day or weekly goals, ones that can be achieved and are not so far in the future.
My plans are not so ambitious that they are out of reach. They’re simple things like a more focussed wellness on myself, listening to my body and responding to what it’s telling me. Treating it well with nutrition and exercise so I have the energy to go the distance. My body houses my soul and if my body is healthy, my soul will thrive.
I started the year with a thirty-day yoga challenge that helped centre and restore my energy. I was finding it difficult to get back into my exercise routine after an extended break over the holidays. Giving ourselves little challenges in life, whether it’s with fitness goals or any other aspect infuses a new spark into our routine when it starts to become a little stale. It can also clarify just how much energy we should give to each task. Productivity works in mysterious ways. Sometimes when we’re not feeling well, we face that self-imposed guilt of not being productive and it helps me to know that the energy we wanted for our friends, family, work and hobbies isn’t really gone – it’s just been redirected to ourselves and we must let it restore us, so we’ll be ready for another day.
The morning light comes a bit earlier these days and the sun sets a bit later in the evening. There’s a feeling of regeneration in the air, both in nature and in the birth of another year. My RA-solutions will change with each new day, that is the only constant, but they will bring with them those little challenges I need to light the way to the star within my reach.
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J.G. Chayko is a writer, actress, and international arthritis advocate who’s been involved in theatre for more than 30 years and has published poetry, fiction, and creative non-fiction.