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New Year’s letter to my support group

For many of us, the end of one year and start of another is a time to evaluate our life and to identify things we want to change. Maybe we have made resolutions such as, “This year I am going to stick to that diet!”  These resolutions can be hard to keep, as our very demanding lives compete for our attention.

For parents of special needs children, this can be a difficult time. Often the previous year is something we would rather forget. When things are going well, it can be scary just to exhale, as the anticipated disappointment can be too much to bear. When your most heartfelt wish is that your child makes a friend, making wishes can be difficult because so much seems out of your control. Setting a goal can seem like a waste of time when everything seems so uncertain. Making resolutions can feel self centered as you think, “Don’t good parents always put their children first?”  Yet, how many times have we heard the analogy about parents on an airplane? In an emergency, we are told, we must secure our own oxygen masks first. The message is that we can’t take care of our children if we don’t take care of ourselves first. Easier said than done!

A friend of mine who is an author writes about spirituality and self exploration. She wrote:

One of my annual tools is to pick a word-of-the-year in early January, and explore it for the next twelve months. By the end of the year I hope to be able to sum up my findings in one short sentence that rings true for my particular essence. Last year I found that Gratefulness produces abundance. The year before I found that modern day Humility is voluntary simplicity. These findings are now part of my DNA, as is anything you sit with for an extended period.  R.M. Allen

She picks a word that scares her a little, and lists the reasons it scares her. I like this idea a lot. It’s a way to spend time working on me without taking time away from other obligations. I can think about my word when stuck in traffic or doing the dishes. Maybe I will post the word next to my bed or in my medicine cabinet, so I don’t forget. 

My wish for all of you is that you know, down to your DNA, that your best is all you can do. That you can let go of some of the guilt that you may be carrying around, and that you are able to exhale from time to time. I wish you and your family a very happy and peaceful new year.

Nancy Collier is our guest blogger.  She is a Family Support Specialist north of Boston where she supports families as well as providing them with information and resources.  On her days off, she plays with her grandchildren and walks the beach near her home.