Resolutions & Commitments

We make lots of resolutions about how we are going to change our lives “next year”, but the reality is we can do that any day of the year.  We don’t have to wait until the end of this year to decide to improve our lives.
The expert analysts tell us that very few of our resolutions take root and bear fruit.
So this year is going to be different for me.  I’ve started already, some weeks ago with a few changes.  I set myself the task of walking for a minimum of twenty minutes every day, which doesn’t sound very hard.  Gave myself a limit of ninety days, and now I’m up to day forty, or thereabouts.  It really hasn’t been hard to do, although some days I’ve really had to push myself to do it.  I’ve only missed one day, and that was because I completely forgot about it, until I was getting into bed.  A bit late to do any walking then!
Rather that calling it a resolution, I labelled it a commitment, set an end date, and then started.  Of course, now I’ve been doing it for over a month, and I’m almost halfway through, it has become a habit.  I don’t plan when I’m going to do it, but as I haven’t walked yet this morning, I will walk when I get home from work. It’s only twenty minutes, so is relatively easy to fit into a busy day.
I also find it a great time for reflection and planning when I’m alone, but often Ross comes with me.
I know that I’m fulfilling my commitment to myself, and I’m also looking after my health in many more ways than just getting fitter.  I also know that I can commit to something and then stick to it.  I’ll most likely keep on walking for twenty minutes a day – I may miss one here or there, but it will be a habit I’ll keep.  Knowing I can stick to it, means I can look at other areas of my life I might like to change, that I could work on as well.
So how about starting with a commitment for yourself now, or it could be next week.  But rather than making it a “New Years Resolution” which can easily be discarded, what could you do to improve your life right now?

Self-Care

As we move closer towards Christmas, it seems that we get busier.  Along with this comes multiple stressors — attending various social functions; decorating the house and tree; planning the gifts; preparing food and so on.  I’m sure that many of you could add another stress factor or two into the mix.
In past years I’ve had work commitments plus hosted christmas lunch.  Not that I ever had to do it all on my own, other family members shared the meal preparations, which has been great.  But there is always the worry that perhaps there won’t be enough food — the reality is that usually there is too much food, and we are stuck with all these leftovers despite sending food home with people!
Then there is the stress of money — or lack of.  Despite attempting to spread the load cost-wise for food, someone always seems to end up with a larger share.  Add to that the cost of buying presents then that can mean serious financial hardship.
In my early married life, I can remember sitting up till the wee hours on Christmas morning finishing off the gifts I’d made to save money.  There is a certain satisfaction in that, but it can also mean lots of stress.
Or the time we as a family made the decision that we weren’t going to buy presents for everybody, just for the children.  Then when we arrived with our share of the food, we discovered that not all of those attending had got this memo, and we were embarrassed because we didn’t have presents for everyone.  In hindsight that should have been our cue to turn around and go home, but unfortunately you cannot predict the future, so we stayed, had a great day until it all came unstuck because of too much alcohol.  But I prefer to remember the good parts of the day, because focusing on the unpleasant can lead to more stress.
So with all the stress surrounding us at this time of the year, what do we do to relieve it?
I  walk every day for a minimum of twenty minutes, which I find quite relaxing and rather therapeutic.  Then I use my essential oils, I diffuse them around the house, inhale them directly when I find myself getting uptight.  I also use them in a relaxing bath – Lavender plus  some Epsom salts, dim the lights, play some relaxing music and just lie there for twenty minutes or so.  It can really make such a difference in that it relaxes and sets you up for a great nights sleep.
Getting a good sleep is so important, especially at such a busy time.  After a good seven or eight hours you can achieve so much more, be calmer and can plan a lot better.
This year I’m making a point to take more care of myself, so I don’t get too stressed like past years.  Sometimes I just go and sit quietly, pick up my crochet and do a few rounds before getting back to my lists.  Deep breathing works well too.
So what will you do to de-stress this week?

Christmas Blues

It’s that time of the week again, and I’m feeling a little melancholy.

Earlier today I had the pleasure of attending a breakfast meeting at the local chapter of BNI – the Bay City group in Geelong.

It was an informative and interesting meeting, and there were a few people there with whom I’d like to connect again – but that’s the whole idea of the group – networking.

I’d been invited to go along with the view of promoting my book, and I have been asked if I would like to come back early next year to talk about it.   So that’s great news for me, because it’s really time to promote the book, and to live up to my promise that I would get the message out that we all have a responsibility in preventing suicide.

After the meeting, a member came up to me and introduced himself, and then proceeded to talk about a suicide that had occurred yesterday here in Geelong. We seem to be getting more than our fair share of them lately.

We talked for a while and he was quite upset, despite not being closely associated with the family of the victim.

Now hearing these types of stories is nothing new for me, in fact I get it a lot since I have written the book, and started talking about it. All of these sad stories touch me deeply, but this morning it really had an effect on me.

As I walked back to my car I kept thinking “Crap!!” ‘Shit!!” There’s another family in total devastation and just before Christmas too. Not that it is really any different at another time of the year. It’s just that Christmas comes with it’s own special reminders, and to have a suicide fall into that time is doubly painful.

So now we are coming into that period of time that wherever you go, people are saying “Merry Christmas” and “Have a lovely Christmas”. It can be difficult when you are thinking that there isn’t much to celebrate when a loved one is not there anymore. My first few Christmases after Kelly died were awful, especially the initial one. I think I cried most of the day, but now I just remember her as the special person she was to me and to many others. I still get sad that she’s not here in the flesh, but I know her spirit is with us and I choose to honour that.

I set out to save a life, and I may never know if I have, but I’m going to think that if I haven’t already, then I will shortly. Kelly’s story is probably not much different from thousands of others, but in telling it, my hope is that it will resonate enough to make a difference in the life of some one.

Since starting to write this post, I have been asked to tell my story to three different groups next year, so I will definitely be honouring my promise to Kelly.

Now as someone cheerfully pointed out this morning – there are only twelve more sleeps until Christmas day – to me it is not about presents anymore, but rather about being with the people that matter to you.

And, if you can’t be with them, remember them and enjoy the memories.

The Eulogy

When a loved one dies, it usually falls to an immediate family member to deliver the Eulogy.

Sometimes there are a number of family members who participate in delivering segments of the deceased persons life.

Or it may even be a close friend who is called on to recount stories and facts about the life just ended.

As the eldest and only son, it fell to my husband to write his fathers eulogy – a tribute to his life. A big responsibility.

Out came the foolscap pad, and he proceeded to write pages of things that he knew about Dad, peppered with facts from his childhood, memories of his sporting achievements plus his participation during World War 2.

He laboured over this, scouring his memory banks for interesting things to mention, to raise it above a dry and boring recital of Dad’s life.

Some amusing incidents were recalled – and they generated some laughter amongst the mourners – most likely bringing their own memories to life again.

Because Dad was a Veteran, a member of the RSL came to share the facts about his service during the war. Dad, like many who returned from those hellholes or “Theatres” of war, didn’t speak much of his time in the RAAF.

He’d mentioned bits about his training; some anecdotes like being violently seasick when he was moved via ship up the coast of Western Australia, and his last flight home to Melbourne from Darwin.

But what was most interesting was to hear the places he’d served in, that none of us had heard before.   It was a “Wow – I never knew that he’d been there!” moment of discovery. Amazing really when you think you know all about someone, to learn a whole new part that hadn’t been talked about.

Fascinating.

Still, unless these snippets of information are written down for the family to use, it makes the task rather difficult for someone who wasn’t around for a lot of that part of life, and then spending years growing to the point of being interested enough to ask the right questions.

So our discussion this morning, the day after the funeral, was about the lack of information available to surviving family members. We have decided that as it will be our lives that are summarised at our funerals, then it is up to us to write a basic eulogy of the facts of our lives.

Then it will be up to those left behind to use or not, or to add their own special memories to the facts.   That way they will know the facts are true, and wont be worried that they’ve left big chunks of our lives out because they didn’t know about them.

Quite thought provoking actually, to stop and think about what you have achieved so far in your life. Have you done enough? Is any of your life of interest to others? It probably is, but we generally don’t think much of what we’ve done and tend to make little of our achievements.

Writing Kelly’s eulogy was both difficult and easy. When a person hasn’t lived a very long life, there are not that many achievements to speak of. All you can really talk about are the positive aspects of their life, and talk about the funny moments. The difficult part is that you have to write it at all, too soon.

So the next task on the list is to work on my eulogy, to ensure that all my facts and achievements are recorded accurately.

What about yours?