As 2015 begins, I cannot help but think of all that has happened in my in life in 2014. I lost my beloved husband Randy to ALS in March. He fought the disease for nine years, but the months leading up to his death were the cruelest times I can remember. After Randy died, the remainder of the year was pretty much learning how to live life on my own again and letting myself experience the stages of grief.
Now the holidays and year have ended, and I am thinking about how I want to live my life in this new year. I realize I am no life expert and I write these blog posts for myself as much as anyone else, but they are sort of like my cathartic (and public) journal. It helps. So here are the five principals I personally want to live by in 2015. If they help anyone else besides me, then great!
1. Live in moment, really. It's not productive to spend too much time looking back or forward. For me it's best to try to be as present as possible in the "here and now." Not easy to do but I am getting better at it.
2. Do what makes you happy. Life is short, so it's important to live it in the manner that you want. If something in your life (job, home) does not make me happy, change it. You can come up with a million excuses, but it's better to make the change. I have made some changes, but I think there could be more on the horizon.
3. Be grateful. This is something you hear a lot: "Be grateful for what you have..." Now I understand that it's kind of hard to feel that way when you meet a wall of adversity. But the truth is, no matter how bad things are, there are gifts in your life that you can (and should) be grateful for. For me, it's Randy's love (which will never leave me), my friends, family, and my cats Max and Molly.
4. Go back to being the kid you once were. A wise person recently told me that when people experience extreme grief, they either become further hardened or they have the opposite effect and they soften. I am trying to let the walls down and open up, like when I was younger. I think, and hope, I am softening.
5. Try to be happy. I know when I lock myself away in my home I feel my grief deeply. It is what I need to selectively go through and it's my choice. However, when I get out (to ski or see friends) I feel better and my outlook changes. Sometimes I need to push myself out the door, but I will continue to allow myself to have moments of happiness this year.
I know there are still tough times ahead, but I think following these principals will help me. So I am going to try. I think that's the best anyone can do.
Mark Malinowski is a marketing executive and continues the fight against ALS begun by his partner Randy Pipkin.