By Jackie Shea
Growing up, September was both exciting and scary for me. As the month settled in, so did my new school year. I spent the first week of September eagerly picking out my first-day outfit and organizing my strategically purchased binders, folders, notebooks and pencils. I had innocent and steadfast resolutions: This year, I'll use all of the cool new ancillary school supplies, and I'll always have time to do my hair and eat breakfast. It was always September that felt like the start of a new year for me-not January.
As a sometimes jaded, overwhelmed-by-adulting adult, I have a very different feeling in September. I almost feel like the year is mocking my intentions and to-dos - the things I eagerly set out to accomplish. There are still so many things on the list, and I wonder how the year flew by so quickly. I end up feeling really anxious: So much to get done in just four months, and the holidays get in the way, and my treatments get in the way, and it's just too much! As we all know, anxiety is not a friend to the sick (or to anyone). Today, as I was thoughtfully running over the last eight months, I realized I could have an entirely new outlook. I can start my year over any time I want.
Life happens. And, while I don't necessarily make resolutions because I don't really believe in waiting for a new year to start making changes that I can simply make today, I do make plans and set goals and intentions for the year. In 2014, I had a lot of plans. In fact, I was excited for what I imagined to be the best year of my life. I didn't plan for Lyme disease, and I certainly didn't plan to spend countless hours a day in bed crying alone and watching the leaves outside my window change color with the movement of the sun. I was as resistant as a young, hysterical girl being dragged and wrestled into the first day of school. But if I was going to get well, my goals, plans and intentions needed to change, I needed to move with life, not against it.
Life happened this year, too. While I look over my 2018 goals and intentions, I see why some of them aren't crossed off the list. I made different decisions, some things were more time-consuming and challenging than expected, I needed more time to rest after treatments than expected, and life led me to destinations I didn't map out. But, I have a choice: I can work with life, shifting gracefully, or I can fight it and spend this time being down on myself, playing my old "I am not enough" tape. And, if I have a choice, I'll take the former!
What if I choose to make September the beginning again? What if I start my year over? Now is a perfect time to set intentions for the remaining year. Four more months with the new information I have. I can make a new to-do list. I can get all of my school supplies and a new outfit. I can use this time to review the last eight months. What worked and what didn't? Why? Where did my self-care suffer? What would make my heart sing in the fall? What do I want the rest of the year to look like? Do I really want to hang on to my resentments? I can trash the old intentions and write new ones - ones that are in line with where I stand today. And, as always, I can leave a radical amount of space for all of my imperfection. Care to join me?