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Resolution Evolution

Thursday, January 4, 2018
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Resolution Evolution

With the dawn of a new year, thoughts often turn to reflection on the past; the past week, the past year, the past life we used to live. This March will mark 7 years since my John died. Seven years.

Whenever I think about it, I have a hard time understanding how I even reached this point in time. My kids tease me that I have the worst memory, and I believe it’s true. I also believe that my memory started to go bad about 7 years ago. I’ve never been good at remembering past dates, or specifics about events. I usually remember how I felt, or how I met someone or solidified an opinion about something.

But the last 7 years have been unusually full of gaps. Right after John died, I was so shocked, despondent, terrified, angry and confused that it rendered me generally incapable of functioning. That lasted about a week, then everyone went home and I was left to live my life, still feeling all those things (and more), still unable to function and yet, given no other choice, I had to move forward. In the absolute tiniest of baby steps, even when my mind was in the past, I was actually moving forward.

Almost immediately, I developed a set of triage questions to get me through each day. It all started the day my 4 year old pulled on my sleeve at 3pm and said “Mom, I’m hungry.” I looked at her stunned, realizing none of us had eaten yet that day and also immediately realizing that I needed to get my act together if any of us was going to survive. I resolved then to make sure I fed my children 3 times a day. Have you ever heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs? Thanks to Psychology 101 in college, I learned that Maslow proposed that people are motivated by a clear hierarchy of all needs.  Our most basic need is for physical survival, and this will be the first thing that motivates our behavior. Before we can move on to fulfilling other needs, our most basic needs must be met. I couldn’t seem to pull any actual meals together myself, my motivation to shop or cook was zero, so we became regulars at restaurants and fast food joints. I was not able to think about organic foods or sitting down at the dinner table to have meaningful conversations about my daughters’ day, or any of the other things parents are supposed to do, I just needed to get them fed. If I did that, and they remained alive, I considered it a successful day. (I gave myself bonus points if I actually fed myself too.) It sounds dramatic but it’s true. Some days this was actually very, very difficult.

Somehow, with millions of baby steps in between, continually ranking and prioritizing every need, want, task and demand that has come my way, I have managed to not only keep my family alive, but we have all evolved to, not only functioning members of society again, but ones that give back and help others whenever we can. As everyone knows, this is not a straight walk up the side of the pyramid. I have fallen down many, many times, oftentimes silently, only to crawl my way back with a new set of priorities.

But this year, when looking forward and looking back and looking inward and outward, I’ve realized that the same motivation to meet basic needs is still happening daily, it is just happening at a much faster pace. I can feed my kids AND be productive AND be joyful AND be grateful for that joy, all in one day! (Not every day, mind you, I am no Oprah!)

Just as the alligators roaming the golf courses in Florida have no idea how they ended up there from their more pre-historic ancient selves, I have no idea how I am sitting here today, so far removed from that barely functioning shell of a person I was before.  I cannot remember the changes that took place. It is some sort of evolution for sure.

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