Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Trying Not to Fall


Ironically, this is not only #2 on my "Personal Values" list, but it is also exactly what I need to find right now.

I should start with the fact that I have made huge strides in finding balance in my life over the past four years.  
Most of my life, I was the poster child of an unbalanced life of chaos.  I am glad I figured out that I needed to make some changes, before  I lost my mind.

Letting go was the key for me.  I thought I needed to do EVERYTHING to be successful.  I thought the busier I was, the more impressed people would be with me.  I needed that adrenaline to keep me going.  If I slowed down, I would fall into a funk, and start sinking into the "black pit" again.  I took on every big, exciting project I could get my hands on. I said yes to every show, every recital, every concert, every gig that came my way.  I had a full time job, plus a church job, plus private lessons, plus whatever else I could squeeze in.  I was running on empty, but I had no idea how to do it any other way.  This was what I always did.  I ran myself ragged until I either got so sick I would be stuck in bed for a week, or until I just crashed, and the depression set in.  It was a vicious cycle.
Society tells us that to be crazy busy is the only way to get ahead.  All of the "important" people work this way....so if you want to get somewhere in life, you better hit the gates running.
Yeah.  Right.
All it got me was exhaustion and gray hair.

It definitely took a leap of faith to quit teaching, and leave my church job for another at the same time.  I had no idea if I would like the change, and I had no idea if we would able to swing it financially.  However, I also knew that my spirit was in a state of dilapidation, and if I didn't do something drastic, I was going to wind up one of those completely uninspired souls, just putting in my time, hating every minute of my life.  
I would much rather face uncertainty than live like that.
So, I let go.
And allowed myself to be open to all possibilities.
And, before I knew it, opportunities began to simply fall into my lap.
Opportunities that involved things I WANTED to do.  Things I LOVED to do.  Things that would feed my SOUL.
All it took was letting go of the things that were weighing me down and holding me back.  It really was that simple.

This is when I began to find a balance in my life.  
This is also when I started to practice saying no.
When I was just out of college, I felt it was important to say yes to every opportunity that came my way.  I needed to get my "feet wet", and I also wanted to get my name out there.  I had to build a reputation as a musician in the area, so more work would come my way.  It was important for me to "prove my worth" I guess.  So, that is what I did.  I paid my dues, so to speak.  
I worry about kids today.  I see a lot of them expecting things to just be handed to them.  I see then balking at the thought of having to work for less than they think they deserve.  I see them not even bothering to work, because the jobs available are "beneath them."
This is heartbreaking to me.  
Those crappy jobs, and bad paying gigs are where we learn about life.  Where we learn how hard our parents worked to provide for us.  Where we become inspired to work harder so we can move on to bigger and better things.  If everything was simple, or just handed to us, where is the learning in that?
We are sending out the WRONG message if we let our kids get away with that.
I think this is also how we find balance.  
We get out there, and we practically kill ourselves, trying to figure out who we are and what we want to be.  We work as hard as we can to prove our worth to others, so we can improve as people, as employees, as spouses, etc.
We learn how to stand up for ourselves.  We figure out what drives us, what makes us feel happy, what our passions are.
When we get all of these things figured out, we can finally take a step back, and really determine what it will take to create balance in our lives.

Today I found out that my mom is coming back to live with me.  The other arrangements we have tried didn't work out.  
If you have ever attempted to be a caregiver, you know first hand that balance is the first thing that gets completely knocked out of whack when you take on that role.
The first six months she was here went relatively smoothly.  I think I was in shock for the first three, just trying to adjust to this new situation that had literally been thrown in my lap overnight.  I was, quite frankly, shocked that I handled it as well as I did.  I am the LAST person I could ever imagine taking on the caregiver role.  I love my alone time WAY too much.  I need to be able to jump up and go whenever I want.  I remember how happy I was when my kids were old enough to put themselves to bed at night, because back then, that was the only "me" time I got...at night when they were sleeping.  Once I could skip the hour long bedtime routine (and yes, they would always drag it out for an hour...it was torture) I had that extra hour to just relax.

Taking my mom in meant I could no longer sleep until I was ready to wake up. (and I am NOT a morning person.  AT. ALL.) I now had to not only get myself ready everyday, but I also needed to bath her, and get her dressed, do her hair, make her meals, and keep her entertained all day.  And I was back to having a bedtime routine again.  Only she doesn't go to bed and stay there.  She usually gets up in the middle of the night to roam around the house, so you feel like you are always sleeping with one eye open.  (In other words, never sleeping well.)

There is no balance when it comes to Alzheimers.  She is locked inside her own little prison, and we can't find the key to get in and help her.  There are so many stages that a patient goes through....all of them are awful, of course.  She seems to be in the "paranoid" stage.  We can't tell if she is having dreams that she believes are real, or if she thinks she is seeing things.  Either way, whatever it is scares her, and she isn't able to tell us what she sees.
I can't imagine what it is to feel all of those emotions, to be scared or worried about God knows what, but not have the ability to tell anyone what you are worried about.
I know the next several weeks or months will be a time of adjustment for us all again.  Thank God I have such a supportive and loving family.  My sisters and their husbands are always there to help, and my husband tells me everyday "Whatever we need to do....I am on board."  
I am very lucky.
I hope she can find some peace and comfort from the demons in her head while she is here.  I need to just keep reading my compassion post from yesterday, and remind myself that her needs are far greater than my own.
I am sure there are little ways that we can maintain some form of balance. ;)

I hope you all will take some time to think about finding balance in your lives.
Is there anything that you are holding on to that is killing your spirit?
What is the worst thing that could happen if you let that thing go?
Are you capable of saying "no?"  Or, do you feel guilty, and end up saying yes to things you really don't want to do?
(My advice for that is to simply say "I'm sorry, but I am not able to help you at this time."  Make it a definite statement...rather than "If you can't find anyone else, give me a call back, and I'll think about it."  You aren't off the hook yet if you haven't given them a definite no.)

Do you feel like your work consumes your life?  Are you ok with that?
What order would you prioritize the following:  Work, Family, Friends, Me Time.
Does your life reflect the priorities you listed?

When your kids look back on their childhood, what do you think their memories of you will entail?  Will you be the one who always played with them, who always took care of them, who always made them feel safe, or maybe the one who was always at work, or was always too busy to play?

I think finding that balance in your life, where you can feel good everyday, knowing your work is something you truly enjoy, yet something that doesn't consume you, and your home life is fulfilling and joyful, is so important.
I also think that carving out time for yourself....just to be, is really important too.
We start to lose track of who we are when we are too busy being everything for everyone else.  We need to tend to our own needs as well.  If we feel renewed and refreshed, and in balance, it is so much easier to approach life with a great attitude and live each day to the fullest. 

Go out and enjoy your day!!

Happy Tuesday! xo

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