I recently found a different way. The caregiving after-effects can run long and deep. Just when you think you've got it neatly tucked away, it whirls back up like a tornado. Perhaps it's the 7th anniversary of mom passing, approaching along with the recent (and somewhat unpleasant) dealings of my brother's estate when he passed late last year. Perhaps, it's those little, tiny emotions that are tucked neatly in the back of my psyche that, even though I continue my practices, were still knocking. None of this was ruining my life, days, or decisions, but it was a constant, subtle, poke or prickle.
What if I challenged you to try something new today? Disrupt the cycle. Pay extra attention to the tiny details: the flowers popping up seemingly out of nowhere, a smile on a child's face, the older man giving his wife a smooch. Noticing those simple moments can slow your racing heart and mind by creating a positive shift.
The holidays are upon us, which adds yet another layer of responsibilities. Whether it's baking cookies or coordinating a gift for your mom from the family, this time of year has its own pressure. Or perhaps it's navigating the grief of a loved one no longer with you. All of this can have an additional impact this time of year. Speaking to a friend about this recently, we referred to this as "emotional whiplash." You might feel emotions and deep-seated feelings that others won't understand, side by side with the demands of what needs to be done.
All of this can chip away at your emotions over time. The emotional outcome might be feelings of failure, worthlessness, hopelessness, or any other emotion. Perhaps your head ends up filled with thoughts like, "I'll never be able to…" or "If only I had…." It's understandable. All of it. And the things your mind keeps chattering at you only serve to distract and exhaust you.
A strong, loving woman that gave so much to life and others told me two days later that cancer returned with a vengeance, and she had less than six months to live.
Fall brings on a sense of change and is a time of year that I look forward to. I am in awe of the colors changing, and the temperatures getting cooler gives me a nudge to turn inwards. A time of reflection and the ability to clear out what is no longer serving me.
Murphy's Law warns us: "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong." That is a mindset that many people carry with them; is that you, too? It's easy enough to do when you've hit your limit of things on your to-do list or experienced a series of negative events. But here's a different perspective I would like you to consider: When things appear to be going wrong, what if they're going right?
Anything that you can do, even the smallest of things can make a significant difference. Fill up your cup, calm the monkey mind because it increases your reactivity and decreases human error when caring for your loved one, your family, and yourself.
Doing something that fills your spirit up needs to be part of your daily to-do list as well. As necessary as deep breaths and exercise are, so, too is filling your heart with joy. When is the last time you felt truly alive and fulfilled? What activity allowed you to feel that way? I'm guessing it wasn't plugging through from chore to chore but instead an activity that filled your heart. Though you may not be able to skip off to Maui for the day, there is likely something that will give you a lift.
Your feelings come up for a reason, so burying them may seem like what you need to do ("I'll deal with it later.” Sound familiar?), but by doing so, you are creating a path for eruption later. Give yourself time. Allow yourself the downtime to reflect on what you are feeling and what is happening in your life. Pick up that journal and let yourself uncover what may be going on inside of you. Doing so may unearth something that has been needing light, and by addressing it, a solution may be possible. LISTEN to what your heart says - it knows a lot.