A new year. My Facebook newsfeed is full of good wishes and memes advising me to ensure I make the most of a new chance. The good wishes I’ll take happily, but the challenge to resolve to do something ‘more’ or ‘better’ with my life I’m happy to leave. 

As my karate Sensei’s said as we finished up training last year, “New Years Resolutions rarely stick, so lets not make any. Let’s set ourselves some goals instead.”

I took that advice, and sat down to write out some karate goals. I’m going to lose a little weight, increase my strength and fitness, work on my basic karate skills to hone my accuracy and speed in strikes, blocks, kicks and stances, practice some new kata and compete with it at tournaments, improve my kumite skills and confidence and compete at tournament with that too. I’m excited about these goals because I know I can achieve them, and I know I will be well supported and encouraged by my karate family as I work towards them.

Then I started to think about the rest of my life. What goals do I want to achieve over the next 12 months? I thought about it for quite some time, and came to the conclusion that my goals for the next year are pretty much the same as what I’ve been working on the past year.

+ I am working toward knowing and understanding myself more fully as an autistic person, and learning to unapologetically be my authentic self.

+ I am doing my best to be a part of changing the world so that my neurodivergent children grow up into a society that will accept and value them instead of stereotyping and trying to coerce them into ‘normality’.

+ I am seeking out paid work in neurodiversity and human rights, because I believe inclusion is necessary and that my voice and my time is valuable in conversations about this.

+ I am building strategies to help me balance my needs and the needs of my family so that I stay happy and healthy and am able to support my family well in the ways they need.

Laid out in this way, my goals look quite simple. But when I began to feel out what I need to do to achieve them I began to feel a bit overwhelmed. So, I went back and looked at them again to see if I could simplify down to one or two core values that I can keep in mind when I make decisions about how I spend my time and energy. I came up with this:

+ understand yourself
+ make sure your needs are met
+ seek help from trusted friends when needed
+ help others

I am not going to try to make up a twelve month plan of activities, or devise concrete strategies to determine how life will look. I’m not even going to write up a set weekly schedule. I know myself well enough to know I need more flexibility than that. I need to be able to ride the ebbs and flows of energy that result from wonky executive function brought on by sensory challenges, my body’s non-compliant sleep routine, and other things. I need to be able to adjust my intentions and expectations depending on too many variables to list here, most of which are disability related, and all of which I am glad to be able to say I am less inclined to berate myself over these days.

I am as excited about this approach as I am about my much more specific karate goals. I am positive that this year will be one of continued growth and self understanding for me, and I am looking forward to that. I know it’s not all going to be easy, and I know I will rise to meet the challenges that are coming. I know who my friends are and where my best support comes from, and I have people I trust to turn to when I need help. Best of all, I know who I am and I have made significant steps toward being truly comfortable in my own skin.

My wish for all of you who travel along with me through this blog is that you will experience the same:
I hope you move through this next year gaining increased understanding and acceptance of yourselves.
I hope you continue to learn how best to ensure your needs are met.
I hope  you find yourself in the company of people you trust.
I hope you get to a place where you are doing well enough in caring for yourself that you are able to also help others if you want to.

Happy New Year.

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