January is the time when many of us look to the past for lessons that will shape our resolutions for a new year. December 2016 brought some unexpected and unwelcomed events for my family, but I do welcome the lessons learned that are now shaping how I view this new year before me. With one month already gone from year 2017, I’m reviewing what December taught January.
Make the Moments Count
On Christmas Eve, my husband received a call from our neighbor to inform us that our German Shepherd/furry member of the family, Hans, had been hit by a car. The next few hours were a blur of dropping off our twins with my parents, rushing Hans to an emergency clinic, and ultimately having to make the decision to have him put down while our 14-year-old watched (his decision to be with his dog). On the car ride to the clinic, I rode with Hans in the back seat. I knew the injury was bad, but during that car ride, I still never considered that NOT bringing Hans back home might be a possibility. On the long and silent ride back home, without Hans, I once again sat in the back seat and looked to where Hans had sat just two hours before. I thought, “If only I had known that those were the last moments I would have with him.” Sure, I had watched him closely, talking to him and trying to comfort him on the ride to the clinic. Still, I know that had I known it was the last time I would be with him, I would have tried to make the time more precious, more valuable somehow.
Lesson One? I should be making my time with those I love as precious and as valuable as I can. I am not guaranteed another phone call, car ride, or Christmas dinner.
Plans (and Pictures) don’t have to be Perfect
December 2016 was our twins’ first Christmas season, so I wanted to mark the occasion with special mementos. I entered the month of December ready with a Pinterest collection of Christmas photo ideas, Hallmark ornaments ready for baby handprint impressions, and visions of reading Christmas stories to two calm infants while sitting by a fire (laughing at myself as I type that part). At the end of December, I had almost none of the pictures that I had planned to have, the Hallmark ornaments were still in the boxes, and I had baby teeth marks on Christmas books. I did have, on the other hand, some really good pictures that I never planned on getting, as well as wonderful memories worth a bookshelf full of picture-perfect Shutterfly albums.
Lesson Two? If things don’t go as planned, I can still enjoy what does happen, with all of life’s imperfections. Maybe imperfection IS perfection, if I choose to look at it that way…and I can still get the twins’ handprint impressions for those Hallmark ornaments in January (no one will know, unless you’re reading this!).
Don’t Put Off Anything of Critical Importance
I know I have high cholesterol. I know it runs in the family (both sides). I had unusually high cholesterol even in my early twenties, when I was otherwise completely healthy. As of December 2016, however, as a thirty-seven year old woman, had I really done anything to monitor my cholesterol or try to lower it? Nada. That’s right, the former childbirth educator who encouraged new moms to be their own health advocates, and the former science teacher who encouraged students to be educated about the health history of their families, kept putting off getting my cholesterol checked. Then, on December 28, I found myself sitting in an emergency room with my father as we waited to find out if he had suffered a heart attack. Two days later, as my father awaited a serious procedure, a cardiac surgeon put in my place when it comes to the dangers of familial hypercholesterolemia. I googled the statistics while my father underwent the procedure: my risk of developing heart disease is twenty times greater than the general population! That day, I made a call to schedule a doctor visit.
Lesson Three? It is so important to face health issues head-on. Putting off getting help and/or ignoring the issue is NOT the responsible way for me to take care of myself and my family. (My dad is doing great, by the way!)
Are you like me, at risk for heart disease? Visit http://www.heart.org for more information. If you have been putting off investigating a possible health issue, or do not have a plan of action for a known health issue, please let 2017 be the year that you take care of yourself!