So here we are; at the beginning of a new year. A time when we all get reflective, thinking back on the year that has passed, and often boldly claim that next year is going to be better.
If only we had such control. If there is one thing life has taught me it is that we cannot control it all of the time. Life happens. And if you'll excuse me... shit happens. Living with a chronic illness this is often one of the hardest things to come to terms with. But what life has also taught me is that we can to some extent control how we deal with life and the things it throws at us.
Having lived with a chronic illness since the age of 14 and with M.E for nearly 4 years now I have always tried to be as positive as possible. And when I could to make things happen for myself. But at the end of last year I pledged that I would actively appreciate life. I thoroughly accepted that life can be hard and that overall the situation I am in being chronically ill is one that can easily make you despair. However that's no way to live your life. A quote that I try to live by is...
So to help me do this. Last year I did a memory jar. A memory jar is where you write down any good/ lovely/ amazing/ funny things that happen. Whether it's an achievement; something funny your child says; a nice day out; a great quote; tickets to events you've been too; cards or letters you receive. Then you place them inside the jar and at the end of the year you open it and read through them all. You can use any jar or box and of you like to be crafty decorate it how you wish. Or get your children to decorate it so it's extra special.
|My Memory Jar|
Personally I use a cookie jar in the shape of a house. I'd like to think that it's a symbol of housing my memories but actually it was just something that happened. I read through all of my notes on New Years Eve and it made me feel really appreciative of what I have done this year. Some of my highlights were:
* Welcoming twins (a boy and girl) into the family. My heart melts every time I see them.
* Going on holiday
* Organizing Team Princess and raising over £4000 for charity as well as much needed awareness
* Going to watch Pasha from Strictly Come Dancing and meeting him afterwards
* Meeting up with a friend I had met online, Ali and her family and our friendship growing stronger
* Having a lovely birthday party with family
* Some lovely "spa days" (it's in brackets as wasn't whole day
* Making more friends
I've even learnt a new skill in learning to make jewellery and have enjoyed being able to make pieces for friends, family and even for charity.
Then their were smaller achievements, that actually for me were quite big considering my health. Like:
* Making a cup of tea/ food
* Getting downstairs for 4 days in a row
* Leaving the house
In a year in which my health has got worse and I've seen the house fill with more mobility aids and adaptations, being able to see what I have achieved written down. It's about living life one day at a time and not generalizing a year. Because if you classify your time into years chances are you'll focus mostly on the negative.
I would recommend starting a memory jar to anyone. Too often we can forget about things that have happened that at the time made you really happy. Whether they get swept away with the busyness of life or totally overridden by a sad event that happens that year. It's about learning to live in the moment or one day at a time and not generalizing a whole year all together. Because if you classify your time into years chances are you'll focus mostly on the negative. And yes sadly there are years that are going to be worse than others, and you may spend a lot of the year feeling sad. However in general if you live life from day to day you can learn to say 'well today was not good, but hopefully tomorrow will be better.' One quote that I like to bear in mind during the roughest of days, and one I have passed on to a few friends when they have been struggling is:
Or a funnier version is this one:
So although we cannot always have control there are little ways in which we can try to live a more positive life. To appreciate the things that are good. And learn to think more objectively about the things that you can and cannot control.
I look back on that list above and through all the notes that were in my memory jar and I'm amazed. I've achieved so much. The bigger achievements have required better health and a lot of rest and recovery time but there are things that I've also managed when I was stuck in my room, like making jewellery and raising money for charity. It makes me think how great that list would be if my health was better. So, just think how fantastic your list could be? What's particularly important to me is that I'm happy and as someone that has struggled and can feel that they are trying to stay a step ahead of mental health problems that to me is priceless.
I now keep all the notes from 2014 in a box as a keepsake, as shown below:
So now to start on filling my 2015 jar. I'm also going to try make more notes in my diary to see daily achievements and track my progress.
Will any of you be starting memory jars?
* For the rest of the month I'm going to be blogging about mental health and then in February I'll be blogging about some more ideas on ways to promote more positivity. So if a memory jar doesn't sound like your cup of tea you might find something else then that does. *