It's been quite a year for many people, and 2009 is now in it's waning hours. As the year ends, so many people seem poised on the brink of change and flux, ready for new adventures, letting go of the old and welcoming the new. It's a time for reflection, self-evaluation, congratulations, repentance, and embracing of change. I've always loved the New Year and the opportunity to start again.
For myself, it has been a year of momentous change, uprooting, letting go, and moving on. In 2009, I lost at least 15 or 20 pounds, continued to live with chronic pain and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS), quit my job as a Public Health Nurse, sold our house, sold or gave away most of our possessions, bought a mobile home, and left our beloved Western Massachusetts for parts unknown. What a ride!
As 2010 begins, Mary and I find ourselves in Americus, Georgia, making our way down the East Coast of the US, ready to turn West and continue along the Gulf of Mexico in search of a new life, community, improved health, and an opportunity to "reboot" our lives as we enter our third decade of marriage.
In terms of my health, I am not sure where to turn next. My chronic pain continues unabated, and my hope is that living in a warmer, sunnier climate will ease the pain that challenges my body most every day (but at least not every moment!).
In terms of MCS, we must make a concerted effort to avoid exposures to fragrances and chemicals that make us sick, and this is one of our greatest challenges from day to day. Nasty and toxic chemicals are everywhere---in homes, businesses, and even as we walk down the street. Laundry detergent, perfumes, scented candles, emissions, cleaners---we are surrounded and under siege.
When it comes to work and career, my identity as a nurse remains strong, but my resolve to work as a nurse in the future is wavering. I will most likely seek employment as a nurse again, but will also continue to explore other options---such as health and wellness coaching---as I take time to contemplate what I have already dubbed "my occupational navel".
The world itself is also in flux. Some form of health care reform is on the table here in the US, even though it has been watered down to some shadowy semblance of what many of us would like to see. War continues unabated, and injustice and violence run rampant in many countries as the world economy sputters and burps.
Still, people of good will can be found everywhere one turns. Service, compassion, volunteerism, community, sustainability and peace are common, and more and more people are dedicating their lives and livelihoods to causes in which they believe. Suffering can be found anywhere one looks for it, but responses to that suffering can also be seen, and it is in the response to suffering that we see hope for the future. In the mainstream media, bad news can dominate and overwhelm, but the alternative (and mainstream) media can also offer hope, with reports of amazing work being done to assuage the disparities and injustices of the world.
So, I ask myself how I can assuage the suffering of others in this New Year, how I can give back and improve the world in which I live. At the same time, I ask how I can continue to heal myself and improve my own well-being, since I can only help others if I come from a healed and healthy place. Sure, there are wounded activists out there who try to save the world while ignoring their own needs, but I am a true believer in the notion that one can only help others if one is willing to help---and heal---one's self.
With the New Year comes new opportunities for growth, self-reflection, self-improvement, service, positive change, community, and all good things. My desire is for 2010 to be the dawn of a new life for myself and my wife, and also a year in which every person moves closer towards their greatest desires and their own optimal well-being. Every day is a new chance to start again, and my hope is that many people will achieve their dreams, live in peace, live healthier and more prosperous lives, and take time to work towards a better world. Yes, it's a troubled world, but it's the only one we have, so may 2010 bring us closer to the vision of a world in balance and at peace.
Happy New Year to all, and may all brings be free from suffering.