Here it is, February already. I’m a little late to the 2021 party as I have been dealing with a relapse of my Multiple Sclerosis that has been challenging, but I feel like a bear coming out of hibernation – I am slowly coming out of it, so here I am getting stronger and better every day! It’s another new year, but this one feels different, more unsettling than any other new year I’ve experienced in my 50+ years and I’m sure that it is the same for the majority of the WORLD. Our experiences in 2020 have likely changed all of us both young and old. It has shaped us, challenged us, broken us, healed us, and transformed us into totally new people with different and sometimes polar opposite opinions than we were at the end of 2019. 2020 was the year of life changes, loss, loneliness, sadness and for many of us a change in our priorities in life – those changes may have been big or small for some, but I am fairly certain that nobody ended 2020 without having been affected by the year’s challenges.
Before I start, I thought you may enjoy one of these quotes that are speaking to me right now –
Life is a question and how we live it is our answer – Gary Keller
The only way out is through – Robert Frost
There are years that ask questions, and years that answer them – Zora Neale Hurston
Life is not a matter of holding good cards, but sometimes, playing a poor hand well – Jack London
Every year, Dictionary.com selects a word to describe the year coming to a close. And it seems like there has never been another year that brought so many buzz words and hot topics to the forefront than 2020. About the incredible year of 2020, they said: “At Dictionary.com, the task of choosing a single word to sum up 2020—a year roiled by a public health crisis, an economic downturn, racial injustice, climate disaster, political division, and rampant disinformation—was a challenging and humbling one. But at the same time, our choice was overwhelmingly clear. One word kept running through the profound and manifold ways our lives have been upended—and our language so rapidly transformed—in this unprecedented year. That word is pandemic, our 2020 Word of the Year. As most of us now know painfully well, a pandemic is defined as “a disease prevalent throughout an entire country, continent, or the whole world. And yet, the loss of life and livelihood caused by the COVID-19 pandemic defies definition.
The pandemic has wreaked social and economic disruption on a historic scale and scope, globally impacting every sector of society—not to mention its emotional and psychological toll. Most of the other events in 2020, from the protests for racial justice to the heated and contested presidential election, were shaped by the pandemic. Despite its hardships, the pandemic inspired the best of our humanity: resilience and resourcefulness in the face of struggle. And we thought 2019 was an existential year” …
But that’s dictionary.com, not cookingincowboyboots.com. I will leave dictionary.com to look at the global word of the year. I take a much more insular approach to determine my guiding word for 2021. For starters, I’m not looking backward, I look forward, I’d much rather set my intentions than worry about what last year did or didn’t do for me. I’ve also taken to doing this exercise in lieu of making New Year’s Resolutions because I am sure we can all agree that it is easier to be accountable to one single word as it is to a whole list of way too lofty resolutions, that I am likely not going to keep and realize in January that my resolutions are already a lost cause. Now, you might think that coming up with ONE word with which to guide you throughout the year would be easy, but I assure you, it is much more difficult than you think.
There are a lot of words (273,000 in the dictionary) and it’s quite the process to whittle it down to one (or 2) word(s). Especially for a year that you know will probably be full of ups and down and most likely more difficult and / or challenging than you have ever faced (except for those of you that are in the over 60 year age group, because what you have witnessed has been significant changes to how the world operates and the older you are, the more significant and life altering those changes have been).
Some of the words that I have toyed with include these 100 best of the best words (in my humble opinion), any of which would be a fantastic word to have:
- Abundance (abundant)
- Grace (Gracious)
- Intentional – My 2018 word
In choosing my own personal word this year I asked myself what I’m going to do differently in 2021? There are tons of good ones that fit in with me personally like adaptable, balance, blessed, simplify, persistence, courage, hope, journey, wisdom to name a few but I think I have landed on 2 words that fits me right here and right now. Yes, I’m going for 2 words (I didn’t pick one last year, so I’m entitled right?!)
Wisdom – “The ability to reach intelligent conclusions. Wisdom implies sense and judgment far above average”. If that isn’t necessary right now, I don’t know what is. There is so much misinformation right now and so many differing opinions, more than ever before I’m finding the need to look at the facts intelligently and come to my own conclusions, instead of relying on the media to think for me. Both about the world as a whole and for my own health and set of circumstances. I know that I can only rely on my own wisdom and judgement to figure it all out and there is A LOT to figure out. But my main word for 2021 is:
Recharge – “To make a new attack. To regain energy or spirit”. I spent the last year and a half off any disease modifying medication and while I felt great for the first ½ of that, the last ½ was definitely a health challenge for me. Did I feel stressed? Not necessarily. Did I feel sad? Yes, I miss holding my grandkids, laughing, singing, baking and camping with them. I miss my friends but nothing really leads to the conclusion that my MS was progressing again. A year and a half ago, we were certain that I had transitioned into Secondary Progressive MS, which would mean no new damage would likely happen anymore and I would just deal with old damage. So, why was I feeling like my MS was ramping up again, call it wisdom if you will. I had an MRI in May of 2020 that showed my disease as being fairly stable. Then, in December I had another MRI because of my relapse (which if I was transitioned to SPMS, shouldn’t really happen as it was new symptoms) and BAM, 3 new lesions magically appeared, in less than 7 months. WTH. In front of my face was the answer. So, I am now back on my monthly infusion and hopeful that it helps settle things down again. I have now had 2 infusions and am starting to feel back to myself which is refreshing!
So, in keeping with the theme of Recharging myself – my husband and I have started a lifestyle challenge called the 30-Day Clean Food Crush. What is Clean Eating you ask? Clean eating is not a fad diet as some people think, it is a lifestyle change and one which hopefully will encourage further healing and health for both of us. We usually eat pretty well, but it’s not really been an intentional choice of what or why we choose certain foods. Eating clean encourages you to consume more whole foods such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats — and limit highly processed snack foods, sweets and other packaged foods. We are almost finished with Week 1, which by the way is quite restrictive and is a sugar detox so I will just leave that there. Even with all that, it’s going pretty well if I do say so myself, however, I am looking forward to weeks 2, 3 & 4 as there seems to be quite a few more options so bring it on! One of the other things I love about this challenge is that it only cost $97 US for both my husband and I to participate and it is totally planned out for you, right down to the grocery shopping lists. NO thinking, just the way I like it! It also helps that I have been utilizing many of the recipes for the last couple of years and they are so good and so easy! Anyone really can do it, even me!
The other thing I am doing to support my word of the year is that I have been chosen to participate in an exercise trial for people living with a variety of neurological conditions based out of Cornell Medicine in New York. This trial will happen 3 times a week for 12 weeks – all exercises will be done in a chair and I will be participating via Zoom. It’s a perfect time for me to take something like this on, I’m home anyway – so what do I have to lose? Only pain and stiffness and hopefully a few pounds!
Other plans for my recharging include:
Meditation – each day, even if it’s only for a couple of minutes, but ideally right before bed and upon waking. Sleep is fickle with me, so bedtime meditation is a must. I’ve done it off and on for a while now, but I plan to get into the habit of doing it nightly.
Yoga – because I know when I stretch, my body is much happier with me! I have searched out some specific yoga routines for people with Multiple Sclerosis so that is where I am starting. Goal is to aim for 3 times a week, likely on the days that my exercise study doesn’t meet.
Walk more – I’ve put my Fitbit back on and am shocked at how little I was actually moving – eek! I don’t normally walk much in the winter months as my MS doesn’t do well in the cold, I don’t have a lot of feeling in my feet, so if conditions are icy, gravely, rocky, etc its difficult for me (hence becoming a snowbird). Hopefully this year I will also get back into golf. This last summer was challenging for me with what my MS was throwing down, but I am hopeful that my monthly infusion will allow me to get back into the only sport I can actually participate anymore!
Garden – I have thoroughly enjoyed my garden the past couple of summers so I have plans to plant again and I have even thought about how to expand what I grow and to be more intentional with what goes into the ground.
More Gratitude – it seems like there is so much right now that we can’t do, like visiting with our family and friends, however I am still determined to fill my cup with gratitude for the things I can do.
Cooking – continue focusing on cooking for my health 80% of the time and allowing myself the joy of eating what I want 20% of the time. Sounds like a pretty great way to have some more control over finding a balance in my life, don’t you think?
Speaking of cooking, here is a great recipe for Garlicky Hummus – one of my personal faves and even approved in our clean eating plan from week 2 on! Try it, I don’t think you will be disappointed!
- 19 Oz Can Chickpeas Drained
- ¼ Cup Tahini paste
- 3 Tbsp Lemon Juice
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 2 Tbsp Water
- 1 Tsp Cumin
- ¼ Tsp Paprika
- ½ Tsp Salt
- 3 Cloves Garlic Minced (more if you are a garlic lover like me)
- Blend all ingredients in a food processor. Makes approximately ½ Cup
Now, it’s your turn, if you had to choose one word, or a short phrase, to sum up what you want to focus on in the new year, what would it be?