Posted by Heather Krill in Life After Paralysis on January 04, 2022
First published on the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation Blog
We have this amazing friend, Diane, who takes our annual Christmas card and turns it into an ornament for our tree; they historically have become some of our kid’s most favorite parts of Christmas– the “Diane ones” as they are affectionately known. Decorating the tree together is always fun, and I use the term “always” loosely, of course, because inevitably some are broken; some are retired, and some are put on branches too low, and the dog’s tail takes them out entirely. But no one wants to help in taking the Christmas tree down, except Mom, who is happy to enjoy her while she is up but equally happy to take it all away to have more room in the living room again.
So, the time spent– taking the ornaments off, dragging the tree to the end of the driveway where my farmer friend Annie will, at some point, pick up for her goats to nibble on, and then vacuuming up the pine needle carnage– is normally passed reflecting on the years– both the one that has just passed and the one that lay ahead. However, my husband and I have learned over the years NOT to make New Year’s resolutions. Instead, we RESOLVE to actively do things better or differently or better– did I say that already? Resolutions are the decisions themselves, but when we resolve to do something– it is the very act of making the determination or decision and feels more active and less passive than to just have this list. For example, I am not going to make the resolution to lose weight. Instead, I resolve to exercise more often. I love to exercise, especially outdoors, and, well, our family’s mental health depends upon being active outdoors regardless of how much I weigh.
Back in 1995, when my husband Geoff was first paralyzed, he did not make a resolution to overcome challenges associated with his spinal cord injury. Instead, he resolved each day upon waking up, whether first from the surgery itself which fused his spinal cord, or later in the rehab hospital, or when healing at his family’s home in CT, to choose the positive path– to be happy– and to find work that he loves. Then the spinal cord crap would have to just sort itself out. And you know, it has– for the most part. Are there moments each day when he would LOVE to be able to walk again? Sure. We would be lying to ourselves and to you if we said there were not those times. However, when we resolve to act, then there is little time for feeling sorry for the situation.
So, when we look back on those ornaments, the ones from our own childhoods alongside the ones of our babies, we see the great work in progress. Reflecting on the past and making resolutions about the future isn’t something we do just at year’s end– rather, each morning, we wake up to face the day we resolve to act. I can’t promise one percent better or 10 pounds per month or no sugar or no gluten, but we resolve to move our bodies and laugh every day, maybe even when we want to cry. Crying is okay too, and then we resolve to stop crying and fold a laundry basket of clothes, one day at a time.
January is significant for many reasons for our family– Geoff’s spinal cord injury anniversary, the 12th birthday of our son after years of trying, my dad’s 35th year of sobriety with the help of Alcoholics Anonymous– but it’s also 2022, a new year, a rebirth, a chance to resolve and act each day. My high school students always think it’s funny that my chosen quote in my senior yearbook was the last line of a book, for goodness sake–how odd that I became an English teacher. Fitzgerald ended his novel The Great Gatsby with, “And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” So, row your boat. Resolve. We are ready for you, 2022! Happy New Year from our home to yours.
Heather Ehrman Krill is a writer- wife- teacher-mom who lives in the White Mountains of NH with her husband, Geoff, a paraplegic and professional skier, and their two children, Carver and Greta who are 11 and 10, respectively. Please check out her novel True North, website www.heatherkrill.com, author FB page Heather Krill, and @heatherkrill1 on Twitter.