“So you got to please yourself” ~ Ricky Nelson

So, I looked at my post from last New Year’s Eve where I talked about things I wanted to do. I was going to write about what I accomplished and what I failed to do, but I changed my mind. Instead, I want to figure out what’s really important to me and how I can live 2023 in MY best way possible.

I know I’m going to miss ma…and I know this will never end. However, this year is going to be full of difficult firsts: Valentine’s Day, ma’s birthday, Mother’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, etc. And it’s also going to be hard to see spring come out all over when ma looked so forward to it. She loved walking with her friend and they loved getting out in the sun after a crummy winter.

And this winter hasn’t really started here in good ole’ Illinois. It’s 50 degrees (I don’t know how to make the ‘degree’ circle 🙄) right now and this warm trend is going to continue a bit. But then it’ll hit – January and February with dismal days, pretty snow that quickly turns to gray slush, and getting that cooped up feeling that always seems to really rev up after New’s Years.

However, ma loved winter and Lord knows she told me time and time again. There was nothing she liked better than getting into her bubble bath (from which she’d sometimes Facetime me…I’m still trying to heal from that 😳), slathering on her Bath and Body lotion she got when they were on sale – 3 for the price of 1, getting her jammies on that she invariably got from Kohl’s…but only if she had a 30% off coupon, and then sitting in her chair while either playing on her iPad or cross stitching while watching a show she’d describe to me the next day in great detail.

When I think about it, ma truly did try so so hard to make the best of everything. Terri and I were talking the other day about things ma told us when she was dying, and she said how she always tried her hardest with us. In fact, she said that a few times…and we don’t know why. She did her best for us…always…and we wonder if she didn’t think it was enough. So, let me put that to rest: “Ma. It was more than enough.”

And that’s all any of us can do, isn’t it? Try our best. Sometimes I think New Year’s causes us to not only look back at the year…but at all of our years. I’ve done a lot of crap I regret…as a mom, a wife, a girlfriend, a professor, and a friend. But I tried. I tried always to do my best in the situation I was in.

But you know, sometimes it’s hard to know what ‘best’ is. I struggled with that when O was a little guy. When he would have trouble at school, I’d struggle with whether or not I should intervene or let him stand on his own 2 feet. When he’d be naughty, I’d teeter between punishing him or hugging him since I knew he had to be upset about something. No matter what choice I made, I did my best.

Hmmmm. What’s best for us? You? Me? Is it pleasing others? Is it always putting other’s needs ahead of our own? Is it doing what is expected so it will be accepted? Is it lying and disregarding our own beliefs so we won’t be challenged on them? Is it making sure we put on our happy faces to make others comfortable when in fact, we want to cry?

Here’s the thing. When we always do what’s best for others…it’s often sacrificing what’s actually best for us. And that can cause resentment, emptiness, anger at ourselves for not seeing ourselves as a person who deserves the effort we put into others.

I’m not talking about selfishness. I guess I’m simply talking about being more attentive to our needs. Being more understanding. Being more forgiving. And I think I want to really focus on this in 2023. I want to always try my best for others…of course I do! But I also want to be more cognizant of making sure I’m in that equation as well. If others deserve that effort from us…shouldn’t we focus it inward as well?

I think ma would like this. She always tried her best in everything and for everyone, but after her divorce, she learned to try her best for herself too. She did things that made HER happy. She ate what SHE was hungry for. Decorated how SHE wanted. Spoke what SHE thought. And you know, it was amazing to see this in her. It never…ever…took away from what she gave her family. In fact, it added to it. She was content in her life…and that had a positive effect on us all.

Happy New Years, peeps. Thanks for spending a 3rd year with me in this blog and thank you for your kindness over these last few months. It truly means the world to me. Take care of yourselves this year. Work on making YOU happy. And remember that in terms of value, you are just as important as anyone else…and deserve to be treated that way.

Love you ma. Love you more.

Kristi xoxo

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