By Alissa Butterfass
3 Oct

Reflections on a New Year

Monday, October 03, 2011

This past week I celebrated Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The holiday service includes many beautiful prayers and many harrowing liturgies, and reciting them makes me think about the year that has passed—my accomplishments, my missed opportunities, my goals—as well as my hopes for the upcoming year. Whether or not you are Jewish, it’s never a bad idea to reflect on the past year and think about the year ahead. Here are some of the thoughts that went through my mind this week.

First off—it was a pretty good year. I celebrated the holiday with my husband and my two sons and that alone makes me a pretty lucky woman. All four of us are relatively healthy, my husband and I are both gainfully employed, and our boys each started attending new schools and they both love their classes—phew! We’ve seen friends and family go through some real challenges this year and we truly appreciate what we have.

Second, since according to custom this is when it is decided who will live and who will die, who will be in peace and who will suffer, and because I’ve been more focused on my heart condition since blogging for ACHA, I started to think about whether I am doing my best to live a healthy life.

I decided that when it comes to my mental health I did pretty well. Four years after moving to the suburbs I finally feel like I have an established close circle of girlfriends, and we’ve even made a concerted effort to have our husbands get to know each other better through monthly couples dinners. I’ve read some amazing books, thanks in part to my great book club. In November I co-chaired a fundraiser for a charity, raising several thousand dollars, and in June I was installed as a co-president of my chapter of that charity. It sometimes feels like the equivalent of another full-time job but one that is much more gratifying. The women I lead in this group make a real difference in our local community and abroad. Finally, I have become a contributor to the ACHA Blog, fulfilling a personal goal of writing regularly and also connecting me with a unique community from which to learn and grow.

Third, admittedly, I let myself down when it came to my physical health. On the positive side, I did go for my annual check-up with my cardiologist, which was especially important this year as my former cardiologist, whom I loved, retired in 2010. This was my first time seeing her partner. So kudos for me for getting over the sadness and—I’m not proud to say—the resentment (how dare she retire to spend time with her kids when I still want to see her as my doctor!), and initiating this new relationship.

But, on the negative side, I let myself down when it come to two of the most important things I can do for my own health—better eating and increased exercise. As it says right in my bio, I’m a self-proclaimed chocoholic, born with a sweet tooth that never seems sated. My weight isn’t where it should be or where I’d like it to be. I signed up for the Weight Watchers online program, but apparently just paying the monthly fees doesn’t make you automatically lose weight! As for exercise, thanks to a healthy living program at work, for several weeks I tracked how much I was walking with a pedometer, striving to hit at least 5,000 steps a day. But then the pedometer broke, and with it my motivation. Terrible!

Now, I don’t believe in making public New Year’s resolutions. I think you have to do something for yourself, and not because you made a promise in front of others. That said, by taking a few moments during the past few days to think about the past few months, I have a better idea of what I’d like to do in the year ahead.

The traditional greeting you wish to family and friends at Rosh Hashanah is “Have a happy, healthy and sweet new year,” and so I bid that to all of you.

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I would love to hear from all of you: What are your tips for healthy living, be it mental or physical health? What gets you going and keeps you motivated?

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