How can one word change your world?
Last year I did not set any New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I chose one word, impact, to use as a touchstone for the year. With intention, I measured the positive impact activities, people and commitments had on my life and, based on that, came to some decisions.
I’d be lying if I said these decisions were easy, but I acted. I resigned from an organization that was not serving me well. I became selective about the time I spent with acquaintances that were draining my energy. Others, I stopped seeing altogether. In taking these steps, I had the ability to spend more time with people that I love. I had the space to branch out in my work and publish the book “Your Caregiver Relationship Contract.” I must admit, I struggled all year with a decision to leave another organization that has been in my life for years. I know in my heart-of-hearts that leaving is the right thing to do. Plans are in place and this is the year I will move on.
The truth, is some commitments are not going away. My commitment to caregiving for mom. My commitment to making Advocate for Mom and Dad a business that is self-supporting. My commitment to self-care in the form of exercise and eating healthy, which I did a really lousy job of achieving in 2019.
Which brings me to my word for 2020. Grace.
My best friend and I have a standing call on Sunday nights to talk about our high and low of the week. It keeps us in one another’s lives when we can’t be in one another’s presence. It grounds me for the week.
One Sunday at the end of a long mom weekend, I was beyond stressed. I did not get anywhere near the amount of work done for the business that I’d planned. I got no exercise, made poor eating choices, second guessed some caregiving decisions and was cranky with mom. In sharing this litany of all these low’s, I felt like a failure.
“Why don’t you give yourself some grace?” That was all she said. It brought me up short.
What does it mean to give yourself grace? What does it mean to give your elder grace?
This Meriam Webster definition of grace captures the type of grace I want and need in my life. “Grace is the disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency.” I will add that grace is to act in love and forgiveness.
Being kind to myself when I have neglected my own self-care is an act of grace. Being courteous to my mother in the face of my frustration means recognizing she is doing the best she can and is an act of grace. Learning to grant myself clemency when I fall short of accomplishing all that I have outlined for my business is an act of grace. Loving myself and my mother despite our faults is an act of grace. Forgiveness for myself and my mother in the face of times when I am angry or resentful is an act of grace.
Giving yourself grace is a choice. You choose to be gentle and kind with yourself, to give yourself a pass amid feelings you want to deny.
Giving someone else grace is also a choice. It means letting go of things that you may have held onto for years. It means not always trying to be right or hurt someone in retaliation. It’s remembering in the face of resentment and anger that you don’t always know what people are going through, so give them a pass.
Giving yourself grace is an art and it takes practice. Giving yourself grace can heal and bring you peace.
Every year for Epiphany, we have a practice at my church where you blindly pick a star with a word printed on it. The intent is to meditate on and discern what the word means in your life. This year my word was love. It seems fitting that my Epiphany word is part of my definition for grace. I picked the word meant for me this year.
What word will you choose for 2020? Let me know in the comments section.
Disclaimer: The material in this blog is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace, nor does it replace, consulting with a physician, lawyer, accountant, financial planner or other qualified professional.