Posted by Pattie on 7/28/2012 02:26:00 PM

On the occasion of my 55th Birthday.

To all who have touched my life,

Let me begin by stating I am grateful to have made it this far. Being a fat woman, I can't tell you the number of times I've been told in my life that I would be dead by now. I seem to still be kicking even though I've slowed down a little.

I am grateful also for the wonderful people who are in my life. Of course, my husband of 20 years, Carl Wilkerson, is at the top of that list, but there are many others who I interact with on a daily basis both in meatspace and in cyberspace. I am rich beyond comparison with friends and that is a good place to be.

I am grateful for what I have materially. I sometimes get depressed about what I don't have, but I am reminded often that things could be much worse and for that I am humbled. At the end of this 55th year I find myself living in a nice apartment with some amenities in a relatively safe neighborhood, with a rewarding job as a teacher. While things need to improve in this area, this is a pretty good place to be and I've been in much worse places.

I use occasions like birthdays to think about my life and re-assess things. This year is a milestone and I have felt it in many ways. I have health issues and disabilities that remind me of my mortality and limitations and after 15 years of living with chronic illnesses, misdiagnoses and deteriorating health, I find facing this milestone a little disconcerting. In short, over the past few weeks I've been experiencing some existential angst. (Something that I suspect is good for me in the long run.)

There is one particular issue that I've been fretting over and only this morning I've come to resolve that this year will be different:

I say "yes" way too often. My "yeses" exceed my limitations and this has led me to become unreliable. Perhaps, dear reader, you are someone to whom I have said "yes" and then didn't deliver. For that I am profoundly sorry. I know that I tell people I will do things all the time and then take a long time to do them or never do them. This behavior has increased greatly over the past five years and I am ashamed to admit the extent to which I've let things get out of hand.

I am finding that my days are not reliable. I am finding that my illnesses and disabilities have left me never knowing if I can do things I intend to do or not. I am finding that along with my well-being, my illnesses and disabilities are robbing me of my character and reputation and I am not happy with this. But I have realized the past few weeks that my "just trying harder" isn't going to fix this. I am simply not capable of this kind of consistency any more. I need to admit and stop saying I can, when I clearly cannot. I'd rather be honest than undependable.

So here are my resolutions for the new year of my life on earth:

  1. I am not going to commit to something unless I am absolutely sure I can complete the task. So, dear friends, if I say "maybe" it means I will try but I cannot say for sure that I can.
  2. I am going to stop feeling guilty about what I have not done and start plugging away at catching up. If I owe you something, know that I will do my best to do it, but I have no idea when. I am getting up everyday and doing something. If I said I'd do it, then I will. I am just not going to promise a deadline at this point. If you are disappointed in this or what to discuss, please contact me. There are some people for whom I owe a lot and I will contact them individually to make amends and discuss. But if you think I should be talking to you and I have not, please feel free to contact me.
  3. My priorities for completing work tasks are as follows:
    ~First, students/teaching, (because these are hard and fast deadlines);
    ~Second, Carl and SINdustry CITY projects;
    ~Third, Tax Business and other clients;
    ~Then, Living Sociology Club;
    ~Then, Disabilities Advocacy;
    ~Then, Fat Activism (which comes after other things because I've given a lot already to this and I need to pay attention to some other things)
    ~Then other things that might capture my attention from time to time.
  4. I am also making a commitment to fill my tank a little more often by taking better care of my old body. This means spending some time each day doing something I enjoy, meditating, self-care and so forth. It also means some friend time, which I've sorely missed. 
So you may wonder why I am being so public with this rather personal decision. I have several purposes: I want to hold myself accountable for this. I want to record this so that next year I can look back and see if I did change. I want to hear from friends and family regarding this, so feedback is welcomed, though I reserve the right to keep it private. 

I plan to live a long time to come. I still have much I want to accomplish on this planet before I go and I am grateful for each day I have a chance to do so. But reality must be addressed. I see this year as a milestone in my own personal growth and I am committed to make that so.

Thanks for reading this and for being my friend.

July 28, 2012


onesillyme said...

And in making your intentions public, you are encouraging others to improve their self care as well! Happy birthday!

Well-Rounded Mama said...

Happy Birthday! I'm just a few years behind you. It's not easy to be overcommitted and set those boundaries, and to commit time to your own self-care when there are so many things on the to-do list. But I think it's a healthy thing you are doing and I applaud you for being forthright about it. Many happy returns.