I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions. It feels like I’m endlessly striving to eat less, exercise more, spend less money…blah, blah, blah. Somehow resolutions make me feel like I’m trying to “mend my ways” which ends up being a set-up for failure. Lately I’ve been aiming for an “evolution” or a gradual shift in my happiness factor. I’m trying to make small adjustments to my daily life so I can do more of the things that make me happy and less of the things that wear me down. The seed was planted when I attended a workshop in 2018 and one of the suggestions was to make a list of “lifts” and a list of “drains”. It took me a full year to sit down and do it, but just writing those two lists has been an eye opener. I highly recommend it. To be honest, my list of drains was a little painful. It can be hard to admit that certain things or people in our lives are drains. That said, writing them down has helped me prioritize my time and energy more carefully. It’s inspiring me to practice more self care…something we could all use more of.
So here’s something to consider. Instead of resolving to mend our ways in 2020, we can try adding lifts and chipping away at some of our drains. This idea was the most powerful thing I took away from that workshop. Would you be willing to sit down and write your lists of lifts and drains? If so, do it as honestly as you can (make it for your eyes only). It’s interesting how easy the lifts list was for me. I want to be outside more. I want to be in and around water. Being in the water is a little challenging for this native Southern California girl but there’s no shortage of opportunities to be near the water in our breathtaking Central Oregon.
When it comes to our lists of drains, writing them down is hard enough, but the harder step is to chip away at them. For me, it felt like most of my drains were not optional things that I could choose to eliminate. For example, caring for my aging dad is a pretty significant drain (there, I said it). I love my dad dearly. He’s sweet, charming, funny, and appreciative. He’s also stubborn, sometimes inappropriate, increasingly frail, very slow-moving and extremely hard of hearing. He lives alone in an apartment nearby and needs a lot of help. I’m glad that I can help him…AND, it’s a lot of work. Doctors appointments, grocery runs, trips to the pharmacy, laundry, banking, paying bills…etc. It’s pretty much a part-time job. Juggling his care, along with running my communication and public relations business can be challenging. Then when I add in a few lifts like playing music, it can all feel overwhelming. Caring for my dad can be a drain but it’s not something I want to eliminate. I AM finding ways to do it more efficiently so I can chip away at the draining parts. Through the process of listing my drains, I’ve been able to identify a few things to lighten my load. I’m ordering dad’s groceries online and having them delivered. I also set up online automatic bill pay for him and take his laundry to my house so I can multitask while it’s in the wash. Finally, I’ve been leaning heavily on local nonprofit Partners In Care. I can’t say enough good things about this wonderful Central Oregon organization. They provide home health, hospice, transitional and palliative care to residents of Central Oregon. They have truly been a lifeline for my family. They guided us through my mom’s passing earlier this year and have provided so much support for my dad, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, grief support, companionship and overall mental and physical health advocacy. I don’t know how I could do this without them. They serve the tri- counties and have offices in Bend, La Pine and Redmond.
Reducing some of the drains that come with caring for my dad has allowed me to spend a little more quality time with him. We’ve been documenting his childhood and young adult memories which has been good for both of us. It’s a way for me to learn more about him. He loves recounting his memories of growing up in New York and then Los Angeles. After a story-telling session, I email my notes to his older brother and print them and put them in a binder for my dad. He loves reading the stories almost as much as telling them.
Through this process of listing lifts and drains, I’ve been able to achieve a small shift, with one of my drains actually leaning towards a lift. I still struggle with balancing my time and keeping up with my business and music, but I feel a little lighter.
At the top of my drains list is “guilt”. I’ll let you know if I ever get that figured out!
While I still have opportunities to add more joy and chip away at drains, it feels like I’m making progress. Join me?
Happy New Year and take good care of yourselves!
Linda Quon is Vice President and Director of Communication at Quon Design and Communication. Linda is working to promote everyday mental health awareness in partnership with Deschutes County Health Services and Central Oregon Health Council — which includes providers and health advocates from Crook, Jefferson, and Deschutes Counties. Linda was born and raised in Southern California and moved to Central Oregon with her husband and two children in 2005. Her mother lived with Schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder and her oldest brother also experienced bi-polar disorder. With support from family, friends, therapists and primary care providers, Linda has been navigating the world of mental illness most of her life — including her own struggles with mild anxiety and depression. Linda is proud to work as an advocate for mental health and a blogger for Mind Your Mind Central Oregon.