POSSIBILITIES – my word for 2017
I've been choosing a word to set the tone for the New Year since 2008 – I find it more helpful and longer lasting than resolutions.
This year I've chosen POSSIBILITIES.
2017 is a year of new beginnings for me. 2016 was a year of extremes and a year of endings for me (click here to read the post).
My son graduated from college and has a job, so my official mom duties are complete. (I raised a full-grown, self-sufficient adult – YEAH!)
My dad passed away in August – so our Alzheimer's Journey came to a close and now it's time to figure out what comes next…
My duties as a family caregiver are over but my work supporting other families isn't. With more time and energy to devote to it, what do I want it to look like? How can I best support others going through what I went through? What unique gifts, talents and perspectives do I have to offer and how do I want to offer them?
It's time to create “Tara 4.0”
Major life changes can cause major shifts in life. What is important, how you show up in the world, how you communicate… where you live, who you choose to interact with, what you do, etc.
I've looked at blocks of my life similar to product or software improvements. There are big events that cause big upsets and shifts in my life – and I'm at another crossroads.
I'm sharing this because I have found it to be an interesting way to look at things and think it might be helpful for you too.
A new version is like hitting the RESET BUTTON. I get to look at everything the current version of me has and decide what to keep and what to transform. Let me show you when my upgrades have happened…
Tara 1.0 – birth through 2004
I define the first version of “me” as birth through divorce. Everything went pretty much as I expected – I grew up, went to school, went to college, got married, had a baby…
Some might feel graduating from school, getting married or having children is a version upgrade but I came up with this idea after my divorce. It was a major disrupter and reinvention period so that's when 2.0 began.
Tara 2.0 – 2004 – 2012
I got divorced in 2004 when my son was 11. I went from a stay-at-home mom to a mom who needed to figure out a source of income. Life was turned on its head – I had little confidence, low self-esteem and even though I was 36 I felt like I was 70 and no one would ever love me again. I felt like a complete failure. It was HARD.
But I had this cute young man to raise and the tenacity to figure out what I wanted my new life to look like so I did a lot of hard work. There were lots of tears and a lot of therapy. I could write a comical book about my online dating experiences. I learned a lot about myself, regained my confidence and changed the way I interacted with the world.
My core values stayed the same but how I showed up changed dramatically. I found my voice and became more outspoken. While I'm still a recovering people-pleaser, I stopped letting that instinct keep me small, silent and doing things I didn't want to do just to keep the peace. (Total middle child syndrome!)
I fiercely protected my son and my relationship with him. Providing stability, love and structure for him was paramount. I built a successful business. Life was good!
Tara 3.0 – 2012 – 2016
Tara 3.o began in August of 2012 when I experienced a trifecta of change. I got remarried to an amazing and supportive man – in the beginning of Tara 2.0 I wouldn't have dared imagine I could find someone like him.
My son had just graduated from high school and went 3,000 miles away to college in Boston. I was excited to watch him spread his wings and also secretly thinking, “Save yourself! Get as far away from here as possible!” because of the third thing that happened in August…
In August, things with my dad had become bad enough that we could get confirmation from the medical community. YES – he has dementia. They did a spinal tap and on my son's birthday we got confirmation that he had Alzheimer's. (What a way to mix good and bad into one day!)
Thankfully my parents had recently sold their home in Reno, Nevada and were set to move to Portland, Oregon to be closer to me and my brother so we could support them through what was to come. (This was why I was silently screaming “Save yourself!” to my son.)
There were many adjustments for Tara 3.0. Becoming a wife again. A very new role as a mother of a college student. An unknown role as daughter of a man with Alzheimer's, a stressed out mom and no clue what was to come.
Pivot to Happy grew from these years. I became passionate about learning as much as I could and knew there was at least one book in me (published in Dec 2015) and more sharing, teaching and supporting that I wanted to do.
Tara 4.0 – 2016
My role as a mom has pivoted again – my son is now thriving on his own. I know he still needs me but it's very different.
My role as a daughter has changed as well – now that my dad has passed away, I'm no longer a family caregiver.
I'm dealing with the grief of loss – even though it was anticipated it's still a living, breathing thing with good and bad days. I'm working to allow it to flow through me and trying to resist my urge to control or judge it.
So what is next? What will Tara 4.0 look like? What will stay the same? What might change?
What are the POSSIBILITIES??
I feel that looking at these big changes as new stages and new versions of me helps me to be more present and proactive with my life instead of going forward on auto-pilot. It's like steering a ship vs. letting it drift with the current…
This year I'll be asking myself, “What is possible?” and “What do I choose?”
What is possible for you for 2017?
While no one can change the outcome of dementia or Alzheimer's, with the right support you can change the journey.
– Tara Reed