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I’m not much for New Year’s resolution, but the start of a new calendar (following the excesses of the old one) is a good time to reflect on ways to make your life better. Here are some of my thoughts as we begin 2018:

  • Balance. Since I left full-time employment about two years ago, I’ve been almost exclusively focused on RA advocacy. This has been incredibly rewarding in ways that I couldn’t begin to imagine. But I’ve come to the conclusion that my disease is now dominating my life. I spend hours each day researching, writing, emailing, and on social media. While I intend to maintain the wonderful relationships and existing activities, I have declined some new opportunities and adjusted some other commitments to make more room in my life for other things.
  • For better, not for worse. We all have situations or people that cause us varying degrees of stress or grief. This might be an annoying friend or co-worker, a job where we cry on our way to work, or even an abusive life partner. We often “go along to get along” because there are benefits in these situations or perhaps we just don’t want to go through the drama (or trauma) of change. Many years ago, I adopted a strategy I use when I start to think that “enough is enough.” My bottom line assessment is whether my life is better with or without that person/situation. And while this assessment has led me to move, change jobs, and even to divorce an abusive spouse, it has also given me the commitment to work through issues to improve a situation or relationship to where it is rewarding (or at least acceptable). It seems like the last couple of years I’ve fallen into the habit of saying “yes” to temporary things that have morphed into longer-term obligations that do not provide a positive return for me. I have realized that these things are actually robbing me of the time and energy I could use to do things that bring me joy, enrich my life, and feed my soul. As these situations raise their head this year, I am committed to being honest about my feelings and whether they should continue to be part of my life going forward.
  • Sustainability. In 2016 I lost 25 pounds. In 2017, I kept them off. It’s time to take the next step toward losing more weight. But I know that I have to do it in a manner that works for me. I started walking in 2017, and that works for me. Basically all I have to do is lace up my shoes and head out the door. While something like water aerobics might be better for my joints, if I have to get dressed, drive to a pool, then take the time to dry off, get dressed and drive home, I won’t keep the commitment. I need an exercise program that is sustainable. Similarly, I’m looking at a temporary diet modification to jump start my weight loss. I have a neighbor who has had amazing results with the GBOMBS plan, losing 28 pounds and relieving his gout symptoms. The Galloping Grandma reports incredible results following Clint Paddington’s eating plan. I know that I would last about one week following either of these highly regimented diets. I’m not saying they won’t work — but they will only work if you adhere to them and I know that I won’t. Rather, for the month of January, I am adopting the Alternate Day Fasting (ADF) where you restrict calories (to 500) one day, then eat normally the next. The 500 calorie days take a bit of planning, but it is actually quite a bit of food if you stick to lean proteins and vegetables. I’m modifying it slightly, doing the fast days on M-W-F which give me two days during the week and the whole weekend to eat reasonably. This schedule also is a bit easier on my husband who has to endure my diet attempts. If this works, and I can do it, I might adopt it for a longer period.
  • Kindness. I continue to be amazed at how cruel we can be to each other, especially online. In other cases, we tend to be very self-absorbed (in ourselves, in our phones, in our own desires) that we forget about the other people around us. It’s always easier to criticize (How could you be so stupid?) than say a kind word (That must have been tough for you.) I am continuing my quest to be kind, not only to myself, but to others. I implore you to do the same and, if you can’t actually be kind, at least try being polite. The dividends for you and for those whose lives you touch are amazing.

So happy 2018 to you and yours. May the year be filled with blessings for all of us. I hope whatever you resolve that it brings you health and happiness. Thanks for checking in.