Stepping back, stepping forward into a new year

A new year begins. Here’s to hoping that all of you who believe that such beginnings matter are finding yourself poised well for the future, happy with whatever you’ve decided to do or not do, or happy that you shall not decide and let yourself go on with the flow. And hoping, too, that what is available to you–time, energy, capabilities, moods, support systems, whatever–is aligned to your choices and directions.

In one sense, an year is just another collection of days, with the first day of the year being notional and conventional. But this convention, a beginning marked by a number, also gives us an opportunity to pause and think before we venture forth. It provides us an occasion to consider options and make choices and decisions which we may or may not implement in the year that follows.

To me, new year resolutions have never been a big deal, because I make resolutions and changes even without the year-beginning marker. But this year I am choosing to be especially soft and gentle with myself, the way I often suggest to other caregivers and ex-caregivers 🙂 I am staying free of new commitments because I would like to play with the possibility that I can be curious and explore–and resolutions (even a resolution that determines that I must be curious and explore) can be binding.

For the last few years, I’ve been starting the year with a 31-day blogfest (one blog a day all through January), but this year, I am skipping that blogfest to release spaces within me–spaces of time, energy, mindset, emotions. I shall be continuing with activities I am committed to, both on the personal front and in areas related to dementia care. But hey, I may use the rest of my time to indulge myself in luxurious activities or just do nothing or I may use it to ponder or explore…

I think this could be an interesting year ahead. I hope that is true for you, too.

Till the next post, then.

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Day 31: the year’s target met, the blogfest completed

Oh boy, what a relief! Making 31 entries in 31 days is an endurance test, and as it is the only target I set in the year, I am so glad it’s over. It’s not that I will be couch-potatoing the rest of the year, but the January blogfest is the only activity where I aim at time boundaries as such; the rest of the year I just keep going at whatever pace I can manage, for whatever work I want to do.

When this year, on January 1, I kicked off this year’s blogfest, I had been very shaky about it, but all in all, though there were days I found the writing tough, I am glad I took on this job.

Because, you see, like in previous years, it has helped me notice things. The sheer intensity of a daily blog means one has to think harder, search more inside.

Here are some things I found:

  • My concern about caregiver role recognition and support remains a major one for me, and that I am also very concerned about caregivers being able to pool their knowledge and tips and be a continuing community even though individual caregivers may move on and away when their loved one passes away.
  • I have thoughts and ideas and wishlists that I want to share with concerned persons, and while I have been communicating these whenever I met someone who seemed interested, and while I have also been blogging about it, I have not been clear and systematic about it. I have created some resources that could be useful to others, but I need to find ways to make them easily available to anyone who may benefit: I am adding this to my to-do list.
  • I confirmed to myself that I remain a brick-placer, and am not a cathedral builder (I even blogged about this). I am a document creator and a resource person and not a change agent and so what? I can, in spite of my limitations, continue to contribute so long as my energy and commitment remain. My blog entry yesterday consolidated my role, scope, and limitations as a dementia care resource person and hopefully my putting it down will make it simpler for people to know my scope of involvement. At least, I am clearer about myself now 🙂
  • I discovered that I am getting increasingly concerned about ageing and eldercare in general, especially on how well the problems are understood and how well support is available to those who are not on the gung-ho positive side of the ageing curve. I see this as important because dementia care that fits in this context, but I am also concerned because I and many people I know will need such support in some years. I feel not enough is happening in this area in tangible ways, and not enough resources are available. (This is not yet an area I plan to do anything in, except share random thoughts).
  • And finally, I reconfirmed that blogging continues to help me sort my ideas, meet people, share concerns and ideas, and even act as a journal for work-in-progress.

So I’ll be blogging more this year, of course, possibly managing a weekly blog norm, but that’s more like sticking to a habit than hammering myself for a target.

For today, I declare the January 2012 blogfest closed and I’m off for some celebratory chocolate.

Posts referred to above are here: My involvement in dementia care support: an explanation and (Build cathedrals or place bricks, everything helps…just do something

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What blogging means to me

Day 21, and I am well into this month’s blogfest, past the 60% mark, which (in my student days) was the cut-off for “first class”. Which makes me a “first-class blogger”, in a manner of speaking. Given that I was reluctant about this year’s blogfest, it is a relief that I have managed to blog every day so far. It has not always been easy, but it has also not been as tough as I had feared.

Blogging is, for me, a strange medium, both intensely private and openly public.

One some days when I sit down to blog, I am in a small little world of my own, just writing to sort out my thoughts and emotions. On those days, even though I know I am blogging, I forget that others may read what I write. On the sadder days, each word draws out with it a droplet of my blood, or so it seems. It is so private. It is only when I am about to click “publish” that better sense prevails and I go back and try to clean out things that are just too private or could be intrusive for others.

Read the full post here

New year, another January, another blogfest

Another year, another bunch of head-scratching contemplation on where the old one vanished, and a bubbly little hope that this one won’t vanish as quickly. So yes, a happy new year to you and everyone (me included) and not just for this year, but for every year to follow.

Over next, to what “new year” means: “resolutions”. In my younger days I would typically come up with impressive resolutions that faded away unsung, unnoticed as the months passed by (though they proved useful starting points for the next year’s resolutions). Now, I don’t do any resolutions except one: my January blogfest. For the past three years, I have blogged through every day of January.

TIll a few days ago, I was swinging back and forth on the idea of attempting a blogfest for January this year. I wondered, do I really have anything to say each day for 31 days in a row?

But there is something to be said for having only one resolution for a year and for getting over with it by Feb 1, celebrating with dark chocolate (well-earned) with the rest of the year stretched out long before me, free and targetless.

I wasn’t bothered that I had no theme in mind. I thought I’d just pick up any top-of-mind idea and do a short blog on that every day throughout January. It could be about anything (hey, that’s what blogs are supposed to be like). I’m a dementia caregiver and a volunteer, and that occupies a bulk of my mindshare, so I may end up sharing some episodes that pop up, or some observation or philosophy related to that, but I’m not trying to get down to understanding stuff or drawing conclusions. Just exploring. I may end up with conclusions one day, and with counter-conclusions another day, and just unashamedly meander about weird and irrelevant stuff on a third. Stuff like jigsaws. Stuff I see when walking down a road. My claustrophobia, my fear of social interactions. Dark chocolate. Writing stories, and having stopped writing them, and struggling to resume.

In a way, all this serious work I do keeps me so busy that I sometimes forget to let in irreverent thoughts and new dreams, and irreverence is needed, or what is life for! Maybe I needed a pick-what-comes-first-to-the-mind type of shakeup. And so I thought I’d go with the flow and wondered what would emerge.

Then yesterday evening, New Year’s Eve, the attendant who looks after my mother got the news of a personal tragedy, and for the hour as she wept, I remembered my own bereavement on that day, many years ago, when my father had died, and I wept alongside in my heart. Then she packed and left for her village, and hubby and I were back at the 24×7 care for my mother.

Care for a bedridden patient takes time and energy, and added to our already-made January commitments, what stretches before us is a packed and tiring January. When I remembered about the blogfest, I thought, hey that’s something I can chop off.

But I didn’t, and here’s why.

I have worked from home for over twenty years now. I work to self-imposed deadlines, using self-imposed discipline, accountable to myself, driven by myself. And as I thought through last night and today morning, I realized I owed it to myself to give the blogfest a try. So it may not be the best blogfest, so what? Maybe I’ll end up skipping a few entries or taking shortcuts on some days and posting one-liners. And if someday I can’t think of anything, I may just post a picture; after all, a picture is worth a 1000 words. All of this is better than not trying. And at the end of January, I can step back happy that I gave it a shot. (As against feeling bad that I didn’t even try)

So yes, the year is new and fresh (and fragile and ready to bend one way or the other, depending on where I take it), and so yes, it promises to start off really busy, but that’s okay. I’ll give an update on my mother tomorrow, because it’s been ages since I did that, and then I’ll let randomness take over. I’ll flow along, snatch fun and happiness as they come. My 2012 January blogfest begins.

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