At this time last year I was at a crossroads. My life was disordered – truly out of order – and I needed to set it straight. I had joined a venture that I knew I had to get out of, and doing so was going to be difficult. There was no other viable option though, and the lack of alternatives helped push me down a difficult path.
I picked the concept of order and priorities for 2015 because I desperately needed it for that initial decision, but I held onto it quite consciously over the year and it has served me well. On the top of my list of priorities is my family and my time, and with the amazing and generous support of my workplace, I’ve been able to extend my leave of absence from paid work. Expanding this window of time to care for my still young children feels good and right and orderly.
We also finally committed as a family to visit my birthplace Malaysia for a month in the spring. This feels really, really good. I haven’t been back for over almost 9 years, which is the longest I’ve ever gone. That decision was also made somewhat consciously but I’ve never been that comfortable with the absence. Travelling across the world with three young kids (but my youngest will be 5, so it’s totally do-able, right?) on a single salary has its challenges but it would be harder to put the trip off again. The rightful order of things requires that we go, and I am so relieved that we have tickets in hand.
Also in order for the agenda for 2015 was putting my health and wellness into the fray. I hadn’t taken good care of myself while being the primary caregiver for my kids (ie. going on 10 years!), and I was finally not too tired to really miss feeling good in my body. The timing was perfect, I thought, for me to turn a new leaf come September, the unofficial new year for mothers everywhere.
Then in July, I had odd pains travelling down my right leg, and by the end of August I couldn’t walk anymore. I’ve been diagnosed with a herniated disc, with a full recovery period estimated at 9 to 12 months. The gym and yoga mat were shelved for trying to stand long enough to make dinner.
I’m 4 and a half months in, and I can walk again, thank goodness. But I can’t go about normal activities without hurting myself again, and everything is slowed down. The new order of the day is getting by, our kids aren’t registered for activities because no one can take them there, and we’ve eaten more takeout the last few months than in the last few years.
When I’m not completely frustrated – I had such a well-ordered plan! – I try to remember that this extended period of forced rest could be a lot worse and I look for whatever big or tiny message it may hold. Part of the order of 2015 was to prioritize my health, and although we all could have done without the drama off being knocked off my feet, it has finally put me on the family agenda as someone with needs too.
It also tells me that while Order has been an excellent companion for 2015, it’s not much a match for Chance, or Chaos, or the Natural Consequence of Neglecting One’s Body. While the herniated disc was not exactly predictable, I suffered a serious back injury when I was 30 and am prone to back trouble – a stronger core would certainly have helped me. I can’t do much about chance or chaos, but I can take better care of myself, just as soon as my back permits it.
So the first order of business come 2016 is improving my own health and wellness, just like 5 billion other people. Totally boring I know, but my tired and protesting back insists. So be it.