Thursday, January 4, 2007

Reflections on 2006

Now that 2006 has finally passed into 2007, I thought I'd reflect on the kind of year it was and what I've learnt. It's warm today so hopefully I can think straight enough to finish this. :-) If I procrastinate much longer I'll be reflecting on 2007 rather than 2006. Not that anything would surprise me at the moment. I wished my brother and sister-in-law a great 2008 on their 2006 Christmas card. LOL. Temporarily lost a year there.

2006 has been a difficult year for us in many ways. I remember school going back at the end of January and feeling so overwhelmed and tired that I had no idea how I was going to make it through the year. Perhaps I sub-consciously knew that I wasn't well and that making it through the year was going to turn into a much bigger challenge than I'd bargained on. DH and I always seem to be busier than we'd like and 2006 was shaping up very early to be no different to any other year. Despite our hearts desire to simplify life, it seemed we weren't succeeding very well. The wheels seemed to be turning faster and faster and we had no idea what we should cut out. It seemed like everything we did was important to us and we just couldn't make the decision "not" to do any of the things we were currently doing.

In May I had what felt like complete burn-out and the doctor later described as a nervous breakdown. That brought life to a screaching halt. Over the course of a couple of weeks I went from flat out to flat out on the bed. My brain and body just started to shut down. Figuring a few days rest was what was needed I succumbed to the desire to sleep all day. A few days turned into a few weeks turned into a few months. DH was flat out in a different way. Not only was this the busiest time of the year for him on the farm but he now had a wife to look after as well as a house and 3 kids. We went from not being able to decide which activities in our life to cut out, to having to cut out everything. I guess that's one way of simplifying. :-)

By about September it was becoming clear that I wasn't going to just "bounce back" to my usual self in any hurry. The doctor then told us that we needed to expect it to take at least 12 months for me to get back on my feet. At this stage we started considering some longer term changes that we might need to make.

In October we had to face the fact that what had started out looking like a reasonable year on the farm was turning into a complete fizzer. Ordinarily this wouldn't be something that would distress us too heavily (you have to expect a drought from time to time in farming), however, this is our 3rd drought in the past 5 years (we expect around 1 drought in 7 years on average in our area). We knew finances were going to be tight. It turned out to be our worst financial year on record so I imagine it'll take us a little while to get back on our feet again.

The interesting thing about the drought was that it turned my illness into a blessing. I've had days where I really thought I was losing my mind and you can't help but wonder if you'll ever live "normally" again. Some of that was my body adjusting to the medication and so it was short lived. It was still a timely reminder of how fragile life really is. We can get so caught up in having money and things that we forget that the most important things in life are not things that money can buy. We realised that money or no money, each day we have with one another and our wonderful children is a blessing. Tomorrow brings with it no guarantees and while I'm not saying that considering financial needs for the future isn't a wise thing to do, we do need to be careful that we aren't doing so at the expense of losing today.

As the year wore on we just felt more and more blessed with what we have. We live in a country where it's unlikely we'll ever go without food. How many people in this world can say that? We placed some pictures on the wall of our overseas sponsored children and sponsored Rickshaws and it's been a real blessing to us to focus on how much we have in comparison to so many. At times we've been guilty of losing our perspective on life and thinking that we're "deprived" when in reality we aren't even close to being deprived.

Changing our perspective on life and money wasn't the only blessing to come out of my illness. One of the highlights I remember was watching my 5 year old daughter who was just learning to read, share her readers with her 2 year old brother. It became a nightly before bed ritual for him to climb into her bed next to her while she read him a story. In fact, for a long time he referred to books as "readers" rather than books. I've seen all 3 of my children grow in so many ways while I've been ill.

DH has changed a lot this year too. He's been learning to cook (which I think he's quite enjoyed) as well as wash and do other household tasks that normally might have been taken for "granted". I noticed he didn't try and tackle the ironing though. LOL. He's found himself learning to be more patient with the kids and has also learnt how tiring getting them ready for school truly is. He's also a lot stronger in his resolve not to allow his family to interfere in our lives as they have in the past.

I've learnt to go a bit easier on myself. That it's part of taking care of my family to take care of myself. I've had to let go of a lot of my perfectionism. Letting my kids go to school with less than perfect hair or go out somewhere in clothing that didn't match. I just didn't have the energy to make things any different. And guess what - the sky didn't fall in! LOL. I've also been learning a lot about depression and what it is and how it works. And I've been learning ways to improve our diet and general health (not that we were particularly "unhealthy" but like most things, there's room for improvement). I also discovered that despite not working in a paid position, I really do make a financial contribution. It was amazing how much more money was spent while I was ill. The food bill went up as did the electricity bill. And poor DH did destroy a few items of clothing while he was learning to wash. LOL.

It's also been interesting seeing other people step into roles I used to have. All the time you do something, no-one else will volunteer to take over for you. But when there's an empty space created, it's surprising who may step up to fill it. It's been positive to see some of my friends grow in this way.

So, 2006 was a pretty awful year in a lot of ways, but a very powerful, high growth year in others. I know at times it's easy to wish away the bad times, when in reality they are just as important to our lives as the good times. That doesn't mean I'm not wishing for a far better 2007! :-)


emma said...

Hi Jodi,

I regard you as a truly inspirational person and one that I can learn a lot from. I agree that hard times really help us to grow as people, but I also hope 2007 is a much easier year for you.

Take care,


WendyC said...

Oh Jodi, you made me cry. You are one special lady!

Blessed to know you!

Kez said...

A beautiful post! I'm glad you're slowly on the way back up - here's hoping for a better 2007.