You may notice a theme in my blog posts lately. The titles include words like off track, undertow, and heavy. As in, it hasn’t been all sunshine and roses over here. I can’t even blame the horrid winter we had (the weather this winter was really quite mild and easy to deal with). Last night I walked into a house empty of boys, filled with only my lady animal companions, a situation that comes along very rarely for me (my husband works from home, and if he’s gone and I’m home, I usually have the kids with me). In times past this has filled me with delight–oh, what to do with a house to myself?! In the solitude yesterday however, I was confronted by the heavy energy that has surrounded me lately.
So here we are. Sometimes life is sad. Things don’t go down the way we planned. Accidents happen. Children get hurt. Parents get sick. Animals sustain injuries (I’m looking at you, Fluffy the guinea pig). Rock icons die (is anyone else tearing up throughout the day since learning of Prince’s passing?). Businesses fold. Relationships end. Job offers don’t pan out. Dreams and hopes and plans for the future are forever altered by circumstances beyond our control. We are reminded, once again, that we really aren’t in charge here and that life can turn on a dime.
I’ve been hanging out in this space for an amount of time that I can’t even clearly define. I’d barely know what day or month it is except that my kids have been home from school all week, so it must be April vacation. I feel distracted, and justifiably so. I feel disconnected from myself and in my head a LOT of the time (ignoring my mantra to not go there alone, it’s a bad neighborhood). It’s so tempting to make this space that I’m in wrong. I mean, there MUST be something wrong, right? Why do I feel so worn out, why can’t I focus, what’s going on here?
Two weeks ago (or maybe it was three? Can’t tell from inside my time warp) I decided that enough was enough. It was time to buckle down, refocus, and get back on track. Enough with letting my circumstances knock me around. I refocused on activities that I know help me feel more powerful and grounded. I made my meal plan for the week. I listened to some Institute for Integrative Nutrition lectures that I hadn’t yet completed. I made it to some yoga classes and worked out at home and finished a task that had hung over my head for months (hello, taxes). I basically flipped a switch one Sunday. I made the choice, and the next day I showed up a different person. One that wasn’t confused and murky and held down by the weight of the world.
And then…life showed up again. Cuz that’s what it does. And I lost track of time, and my kids were home from school, and my exercise plans involved more “massive overhaul of LEGO apocalypse bedroom space” and less “super zen yoga timeout.” Jerry and I celebrated 18 years together this past Monday. It was our 18 on the 18th and it fell on a Massachusetts holiday (Patriots Day). The weather reports predicted 70+ degrees. Jerry took the day off from work so we could have a family fun day. The day promised to be the stuff memories are made from…and it sure was when we awoke to screams of terror from our children. Fluffy (one of our two guinea pigs) had fallen out of Dylan’s grasp when he picked her up from her cage, and now she was dragging her back legs behind her. We rushed downstairs in a panic and, instead of breakfast in bed, I started my day googling what to do in such an emergency. We found an animal hospital that was open (thankfully not everyone in Massachusetts takes Patriots Day off) and could fit us in that day. Instead of enjoying a nice meal with my family at 6pm that night, I was instead waiting for the prognosis on Fluffy’s injury. We did x-rays and were grateful to learn that her spine isn’t severed and there’s no clear sign of spinal misalignment. I’ll be giving her steroids every day for two weeks, and we’re hopeful she’ll recover. I did enough google searches to see that this sometimes happens to guinea pigs, even in the most careful of households. I’ve read enough stories of recovery to have hope myself. But man, that sure wasn’t how I expected to spend my 18 year anniversary with my man.
The rest of this week passed by in a bit of a blur. Cooper had his cast removed Friday morning, just when we had all gotten used to it. He’s rocking a splint now, and we’re supposed to remove it at night and encourage him to exercise his arm. Apparently when you don’t move a body part for a few weeks while it’s in a cast, it’s REALLY sore when you start moving it again. Coops made that abundantly clear to everyone at University Orthopedics on Friday. He was NOT interested in us removing that splint Friday night. We did NOT have the energy to fight him. It has now been 27 days since he’s showered or washed his hair (we did sponge baths–he’s 6, so not super gross yet). I’m dying to clean that kid and Friday night as we were discussing why it was important for him to get a thorough washing he asked (with terror in his voice): “If you don’t wash a part of your body for a long time, does it grow hair? AM I GOING TO BE HAIRY LIKE DADDY?!?!?!” (It’s a fair question. Jerry was shaving by age 12).
I spent most of this weekend at a conference for Pure Haven Essentials, the company I partnered with in 2011. I educate people about toxins in personal care products and teach them how to make safer choices. It’s been a passion of mine for many years, and I’m usually thrilled to hang out with my tribe for a couple of days straight. However, Friday night at 10pm I could NOT wrap my brain around stepping away from all the drama in North Attleboro to spend the whole of Saturday, 7:30am to 11pm, in Providence at a business conference (only 20 minutes away, but miles away from what I’ve been focused on over here). I gave myself permission to leave at 4:30pm and not return for the dinner and awards ceremony. The thought of bringing an outfit to change into was just too much…just getting there at all felt like an accomplishment. After I arrived and settled into my day, it all started to feel more do-able. I gave myself permission to change my mind about going back for the awards dinner…I allowed myself to go with the flow. I knew I would be returning home after the daytime session ended (someone’s got to give Fluffy her steroids!), but the thought of going back in my fancy wear to be with people who I’ve worked alongside for the last 4+ years suddenly didn’t seem so daunting. As I sat in the daytime sessions, I still felt distracted, but I didn’t make it wrong. JUST SHOWING UP was important. I showed up again last night, and today. I spent some time formulating my plan to flip the switch again, writing down those things that I know I can do on Monday morning to refocus again: get up earlier; create a morning ritual that involves morning pages or meditation; schedule my workouts; create our meal plan for the week; start to integrate some of the tasks that I’ve been avoiding (i.e. changing out the kids’ clothes; decluttering my closet). Basically: just show up, and show up, and show up again. And when life shows up, deal with it. Lose track of time, and then refocus. Sleep. Eat. Play. Do laundry. Listen to music. Take your vitamins. Repeat.
As I prepare to turn 40 years old in September, what I’m noticing is that there isn’t any great trick to balancing life. It’s ALWAYS out of balance. The teeter totter never stays exactly in the middle for more than a few seconds. For me the answer is in not getting knocked off the beam for too long. Take a break as needed, drink some water (or wine), phone a friend, have a good cry, and then get right back up there. Life is lived on the beam.
This post is dedicated to my dear cousin Erin, one of my earliest playmates and closest confidantes. I have her to thank for the “beam” analogy above. Erin, my soul sister–it’s been an honor and a joy to journey through this life alongside you. Thank you for your support, your love, and your listening.