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My 3 Intentions for the New Year as a Person With a Chronic Illness

I’m not a big fan of traditional New Year’s resolutions, especially since it can take so much practice (and failure) to learn how to balance personal desire with the limitations of illness and disability. I do find, however, that December and January, in the darkness and quiet of winter, is an excellent time for reflection and clarifying intentions. From this vantage point, 2016 is going to be an interesting year!

1. Harmonizing creativity and patience.

Creativity isn’t naturally patient, at least not for me. It has a fiery momentum and a desire to move towards itself in the outer world. Creativity spills over with enthusiasm and doesn’t care much about limitation. Recently I have been blessed to experience a greater level of creativity but also challenged with how to express it in a healthy way.

To be authentic and honor my health, it’s important I recognize that creativity isn’t an indulgence, an escape or something that surpasses limitation. It’s a part of me and, like all parts of me, is confined and shaped by the illness I live with.

And so I have introduced creativity to patience. Their first meeting didn’t go especially well. Throughout 2016, I intend to invite these two practices to spend as much time playing together as possible. They may not like each other much now, but I think they can learn to live in harmony.

2. Exploring my sexuality.

I have lived with chronic illness all my life. As a result, my sense of myself as a sexual being has been heavily influenced by it. Unfortunately, that influence has been negative. As I embrace my mid-40s, it occurs to me that I’ve never allowed myself the gift of developing my sexual health. I think it’s time.

So I have been wondering lately. What is my sexual identity as a disabled woman? How can I connect more fully with my sensual nature without inviting experiences that are too intense for my hyper-sensitive physiology? Can my body “wake up” in this way and can it nurture my overall health?

Considering all of my limitations, celibacy is still the healthiest and most practical path, and the challenges to exploring questions like these are not inconsequential. 2016, however, will be my year for experimenting, as I am able, with techniques like tantric meditation, yoni yoga and creative visualization.

3. Befriending the wild nature of illness.

Over the years, I have enacted resolutions to deepen self-love and grow in a healthy, resilient relationship with my body. In general, I have experienced great success. Lately a new calling has been emerging. With my lifestyle being decidedly healthy and my degree of functioning stabilized at a very low level, I’ve opened my heart and mind to a new way of relating.

There is nothing unnatural about illness or its limitations. It is life, being itself. It is an opportunity to remember my place in the natural world, where I am not the general manager of the universe. I am a part of a living, breathing, inter-connected ecosystem. Just as human activity has a great impact on the climate of the Earth, I also have the capacity to influence the climate of my health. But the weather is not mine to control. There is something beguilingly, and sometimes frighteningly, wild about illness.

In 2016, I intend to build a stronger relationship with this wildness — and see where it takes me.

Follow this journey on Small Acts of Devotion.

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