I choose a word for each year, every year versus a list of resolutions. After a rough end to 2018, I kept coming back to the word, rest.

I haven’t decided yet whether this is ironic or not.

In almost every way I can imagine, this year has been anything but restful. It has been painful, hard, tense, a battle, and frankly, hope-sucking, bone-wearying exhausting.

For the most part, it’s not my story to share. It’s my foster son’s story. What he has been through, what he has put me through as a result, and how far we have gone to find some semblance of peace is just . . . not mine to share.

But for four months, I have battled things that have happened in his life and now here I am.

A little over two weeks ago, my doctor said he wanted me to have a blood test to determine if my health issues were due to heart failure.

What the heck? I’m 43 years old.

Turns out my symptoms were a combo of medication (I have rheumatoid disease) reaction and anemia. My anemia is bad enough that I have go in for two iron infusions (IV iron). But the fact that he was even willing to consider a heart issue stopped me in my tracks – as did my subsequent appointment with him two weeks ago.

I am not resting – not in any way.

Reality has set in. We’re nearing the halfway mark of the year and I know that significant and lasting changes must be made in my life. While my health is a continued work in progress, that takes some work with my doctor – there are other changes I have to make on my own.

It’s hard to know where to begin at times. One thing I know for certain is that saying yes for the sake of people’s opinion of what you should be doing, running without stopping or slowing to take a proverbial breath, and believing work, other’s expectations, or their plans are more important, certainly do not help.

I’ve been off work since Friday. While we went to the beach on Saturday (that wasn’t restful at all – like I’d planned), I have done a great deal of resting this weekend. I had a long list of household chores to accomplish. But rather than do everything at once, I ended up slowly tackling my list over many days.

I’ve still got a couple things to check off today, before going back to work tomorrow. At first I was critical of myself for not getting it all done. And then I beat back that condemnation with a stick.

That kind of stinking thinking is one reasons why I’m here. So . . . I did a little bit every day. Yesterday, I napped on and off for huge chunks of the day while my foster son played outside or watched movies. It was until almost 6:00 PM that I worked on one of my “to-do” items.

Friends – this life is hard and if you’re battling chronic illness, are a single parent, facing down childhood trauma in your foster or adoptive child, or any number of other potential issues – be kind to yourself. Take it one step – one day – at a time. If you have to go hour by hour than do it.

Rest. I’m trying to get better at it. I’m probably going to get it wrong sometimes. But now that I’m here, I know there is no turning back. I hope you will take good care of yourself. Learn these lessons now – before you’re functioning at an extreme deficit.