Writing a New years Eve post is somehow much more challenging than I thought it would be. Normally I would be writing about the many many great things and experiences of the last year, except this last year has been anything but normal in any capacity. I don’t want that to sound negative but I want it to be honest.
This was a really really hard year and to pretend anything else well just would not feel right. For those of us living here in BC, we started 2021 with the hopes of seeing the end of covid 19, instead we saw a new strain, the Delta strain, another wave, we then saw unprecedented weather events, a heat dome never experienced here before, then raging fires that destroyed communities, then came the floods, causing so much devastation to our communities, to our infrastructure, our highways systems wiped out, supply chain issues ensued, then the Omicron Variant of the Covid 19, and now we sit in a record breaking cold snap, and although we here in Canada have seen and expect to see cold snaps as part of our winters, this one is far colder than any on record in a lot of our regions. It is not expected to break until we hit 2022. However, the more snow and the longer it stays cold the better for many things most especially mother earth.
That is not to say that there has not been some good as well, heck I’m still alive that in itself is something to celebrate. I still am independent, also something to celebrate.
So looking at 2021, there was a lot of lessons for me, some I think I have been learning over the last few years but 2021 seemed to really be a year of solitude in ways like I have never experienced before. I have been on my own for many years, that is not new, but this year amidst the most isolation thus far, in large part due to pandemic and my own understanding of how fragile my system is at this time and doing all I could and can to protect myself. So far so good, I am still alive.
Not everyone thinks I should be as careful as I have been, not everyone agrees with how I am managing things for myself through the pandemic, at one time that would have weighed heavily on me, the opinions of others mattered, I no longer give a rats ass, I do what I need to do for myself and make no apologies for it. I have learnt it is not up to me to make others understand the why’s or how’s or the reasons behind my decisions in how to protect myself.
I have tried very hard to be non judgmental on others decisions and to be respectful of their decisions as long as they offered the same. It has been a really big year of understanding what I am responsible for, I am responsible for the decisions I make and on how my decisions impact the greater good, or my community or the world in which I live. This has made me even more aware and conscious of everything I do, water use, power use, recycling, not buying more than I need. Walking and riding my bike more than driving, although the last few months and in particular the last two I have not done much of those things, with evolving health crisis. Yes even though I have done all I can to protect myself during this pandemic, I have dementia, I have vascular dementia, which brings with it a host of health crises, some of which I am not yet ready to discuss, much more coming on that front. So I have spent an enormous amount of time alone, and enormous amount of time in bed, usually 12 to 16 hours per day.
I have struggled trying to understand how to make others understand why I apparently ” look good” but am not well. This is an issue for many with Dementia along with many other ”invisible illnesses”, it’s cruel that people have to endure others questioning if their illness is real or not. I have over this year learnt to also change how I look at how others see or don’t see my illness, it is again one of those things that used to bother me, but like so many things I have come to settle into the fact that there are those who will try to learn and expand their knowledge to help them with their understanding of the illness so that the relationship can continue and very likely grow in unexpected ways, or they can stay stuck in their mindset, unbendable, and the relationships will suffer or fade all together. I have learnt to liken my illness to the structure of a building, some people go to buy a house they look at it the structure of the building looks great, they don’t look any further, assuming that if the structure looks great the rest will or must be ok too, however, if one looks further, you can see that the wiring is not good, the plumbing and heating is not good, there is a lot of internal elements that are faulty. Well thats like my being, the structure looks fine to those on the outside but on the inside, hidden away from plain site the wiring is faulty ( brain), the pipes ( vascular system), doesn’t function properly, the pump ( heart) doesn’t work properly, the system has faults that effect the whole building and all that it houses ( kidneys, Liver) and on the list goes. So part of my learning over this last year is to not worry about others view of me or my illness, others views or thoughts are theirs, they don’t live within this house ( body), I do, thats all I can control, or more often not, for the engine ( brain), actually controls it all. I just accept what it gives me.
It has also given me time to reflect on other areas of my life. I have really learnt to let go of things that are out of my control, for example, if you want to be part of my life, I have learnt that it is not just my responsibility to ensure that happens, so those that don’t, won’t, can’t for whatever reason, its ok, I have said for several years now that I am living my life under the old adage of “A reason, A season, A lifetime”, and I believe that this year was the year that I finally mastered that.
It has been evolving over the last few years but this last year it feels as though it has really settled and I have really settled. I have learnt that its ok for people to come into my life, its ok for them to leave, its ok for them to come back in, its ok for them not to. Its ok for me to look at the relationships I have had and be grateful for each and everyone of them for they enriched my life in many ways, some taught me lessons that I needed to learn, some provided richness through the relationship and lasting memories but regardless of the ways or hows and whys they were all of great value to my life.
I have found ways to continue to have value and purpose in my life through my advocacy work. It is my way of giving back, which feels good. Working with many organizations and groups has also brought about a lot of learning about myself, I continue to learn, I continue to grow and I hope that continues until I take my last breath. Having Dementia does not make one stupid or unteachable. In fact, some of the most intelligent people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing have dementia and their outlooks and views on life and living are something to admire. One thing 2021 has done is made me much more aware of the importance of “just being”. Thats what 2021 has been for me a year of just being. It truly has been delightful to relish in that.
I am so grateful to all those who have stayed in touch in whatever ways we have been able to from video and face time calls to zooms calls, good old fashioned phone calls, and the very very few in person visits, each and everyone of those has been impactful, joyful and so very important to me, I will treasure them well beyond just at this time, just as I treasure friendships from times past, memories that will last a lifetime.
So as 2022 approaches, do we dare to hope, and what should we be hoping for. We all need to have hope, so yes, I will forge into 2022, knowing that it may well prove to be a really difficult year once again, especially health wise, but, as long as I am still standing, I will continue to do what I can as I can. I will continue to plan, to work towards making some of my bucket list items happen. I will continue to adapt and change my life as required, I will continue to be as resilient as I can. I will continue to try to make a difference in the lives of others, my advocacy work will continue for as long as my health allows.
So yes I will welcome 2022 with hope, hope for more kindness and understanding for all. Hope that we all take better care of Mother Earth, she has provided and looked after us for a long long time, it is time we look after her. I pray that we find a way to provide a better way for all, less homelessness, less addictions, less trauma that creates so much devastation for so many. That people have enough to eat, that everyone can have a place that is warm and comfortable to live, where they can feel safe. I hope the way forward is done in the way of being gentle and kind to all humans, animals, all living things.
For many it’s been a year they would rather forget, but for me living with dementia, forgetting is something I would never hope for. Rather 2021 has been a year that I can look back on be proud of surviving the storms never giving up, never stopping to hope for brighter days in 2022.
I hope we can all be happier with less, less stuff, less stress, that we can all have more, more love, more joy, more contentment, more inner peace.
This is my hope and wishes for all of you as you enter 2022, may you all find inner peace, find joy in each day, give thanks and be grateful, and always be willing to lend a hand, spread love. I thank you all for being part of my life.
2022 I’m ready.