January is a month of new beginnings and reflections. I began the year looking over my value list of what matters most to me. This led me into reviewing the goals I made in the past, and adding or taking away goals I have completed or no longer seemed relevant. Having a chronic illness can be challenging, but it will never take away my desire to dream. Two areas that stood out to me were my occupational goals and exercise goals. These were two areas that I wanted to change in, yet it wasn’t exactly how I planned. What could have looked like failures, in reality were fulfilling my goals, just in a different way. Living with a chronic illness requires a lot of adaptations. Learning to recognize the real value in situations and the having a positive outlook, keeps me moving forward even if the path is down a new road.
When I made my goals for the year 2011, it included many occupational goals. Having worked at my job as a vocational consultant for only 6 months, I was looking forward to learning more about the field, becoming more savvy in social media, and building relationships. Unfortunately shortly after my goals were made, my job position and hours were reduced significantly. Since the explanation for the changes didn’t make sense to me, I was being treated differently than other people, and the standards of procedures were ignored, I began researching about discrimination in the workplace. I later wrote about some of what I learned on my blog. What I thought would have been a big part of my growth in 2011, became something else entirely. I saw a different side to disclosure in the workplace, and how sometimes this can create more tension and mistakes rather than build a better support network. I also became stronger, having to face my own vulnerability, and make decisions on what it is I want to stand behind, or when and where to be silent. I had to adapt to the reality that I am no longer a career woman (I quit my job 6 months later, when things continued to decline) and how this effected by identity. However, I do see that my initial goals were still met. I did become more savvy in social media, and created several websites, one for my soccer teams I co-coach and another on chronic pain. I also learned a great deal through my experience, and was able to see both the positive and challenges of working with a disability. The clients that I met through my job, have changed me to the core. I have seen persistence, hope and joy through my clients, and how the right support can make all the difference.
My world of exercise and health were also quite diverse in 2011. When I went back to work, my standard exercise routine was rather sketchy. I went to yoga periodically and occasionally lifted weights. At the beginning of the year, I teamed up with a couple of girl friends, and trained to walk a ½ marathon. I found that walking wasn’t as difficult on my body, and the gab time was good for my mental health. I also tried filling in on two team sports – basketball and soccer. The basketball team experience was rather disappointing, as I wasn’t aware of positions and where to be, and the team captain wasn’t too happy with a newbie who was short. Soccer however, was so much fun and quite the workout. The team was supportive, and I at least knew the game better from years of coaching my daughters. The most difficult part was driving to the game that was located on the other side of town. No one knew how much it meant for me to have this experience of being part of a team, if only for a couple of games. Having never played as a kid, it was something I always regretted. I realized as an adult, this is one dream I could recreate. Even with my health challenges, I accomplished something big, by taking the risk to be the new kid at a new sport. During the year, I also kept active by helping coach in soccer. My husband and I coach together and often would play and workout right along with our kids. When I couldn’t find the time or energy to exercise on my own, participating in four soccer practices a week really helped keep me somewhat fit.
As I prepare to review and write about my goals for 2012, I will keep in mind the importance of flexibility in my goals. Life isn’t always simple, and there will be lots of detours. As I continue to see the progress I make, it will give me the strength and courage to continue striving towards my dreams. Perhaps along the way, as I reflect on my values, I will realize the dream I had, is exactly the place I am standing.