Balancing act 

I don’t seem to know how to write much these days. My mom has cancer and she is living with us now. Each day is totally different. I wake up in the morning and check on her and the day starts from there. I administer pain pills or talk finances or give hugs, then wake up the kids and take them to their various places. By the time I get to work sometimes I feel like I’ve had a full day already. 

She’s off to chemo today with a friend. She doesn’t feel well already but is determined to go. God Bless her strength and determination. 

I don’t know how to do this, I’ve never done it before. I see my self care slipping by the wayside with everyone else’s needs. I haven’t seemed to figure out how to get enough quiet, sleep, good food and exercise while managing all of these factors. Instead it’s been slow strolls, grabbing salads for lunch, coffee on the way to work, and ice cream before bed. I have goals of exercise first thing in the morning and bedtime routines that foster sleep, those goals are a work in progress these days. 

I read once that if you want to change something in your life you should live by the 5% rule. Do something 5% more or less each day. Get on the treadmill for 5 minutes if that’s what you have, do a little bit of straightening the house, have sorbet instead of ice cream. But then do that 5% consistently and add on as you can. 

So that’s my goal for today, be 5% more loving to myself, with a gentle walk, and some self compassion.

Balancing all of these factors is a challenge. Another way of saying that is… balancing all of these factors is an opportunity for growth. I choose opportunity. And I choose to be loving to my wonderful family and to myself, one moment at a time. 

Reflection on a spring morning

This morning I sit quietly,

my cup of coffee steaming on the windowsill,

as the rain streams down outside.

It’s late spring in our region,

the sky is watering my tiny swiss chard and kale plants.

The weeks leading up to this moment of peace have been challenging.

My body told me to slow down with bronchitis and exhaustion.

My stepfather passed away of a heart attack unexpectedly.

Two of my three kids are out of school for the summer.

And my mom’s cancer treatment continues.

I sit quietly this morning and reflect on all of this,

and all of the blessings that have come into my life.

As I write, I am enfolded by a comfort quilt gifted by a friend.

It was made by members of a local church and I can feel the love that went into making it.

My colleagues have set up a meal plan for my family.

I have been surrounded by comforting arms and cried with many loved ones.

I have received cards and love from far and wide.

In all of this, every aspect of life,

from the happy to the sad,

I know that I am surrounded by love,

and with love anything is possible.

 

 

 

I found time to miss you

I’ve been going like a freight train, 

for awhile. 

The last time we talked, 

you said you wanted more, different. 

And then the talking stopped.

I went my way, 

sad, but not super surprised. 

This is the first weekend I have had to myself, 

in 10 years. 

I found time to miss you.

You have brought so many gifts into my life.

I am grateful beyond words. 

I know it’s going to stick this time, 

and then, in the same breath I want to invite you over.

It’s a process I guess.

The rain comes down on this spring afternoon, 

I bet it’s sprinkling wherever you are too. 

Be well. Be better than that, be spectacular.

Because that’s who you are. 

reboot

You know how those wise computer people say to turn off your computer on the weekends so it can reboot and install updates? Well, I kinda learned that this week.

While I’ve started this post with computer references, let me just go on record and say I know nothing about computers and this, as with all of my posts, is about life, and figuring it out (or at least attempting too).

I have had a lot going on for awhile. Let me illustrate:

I’ve been a single mama of three hella bright precocious children for 10 years.

My beautiful, inspiring mom was diagnosed with cancer last year and is fighting with the strength of 1000 warriors.

I am the Executive Director of a nonprofit Educational Organization. I raised $400,000 in 4 meetings last week (woot!).

My daughter is graduating from 8th grade and plays club volleyball which has us all over the region every weekend.

All of my kids are musical, they take piano lessons, play guitar, sing in choirs, etc.

My two boys…one is building a rocket on the dining room table as I write, the other one is at grampa’s house, helping him make gluten free bread.

(When I write all of this, it looks ridiculous. Like hello, one person is not capable of doing all of this!)

So anyways, I started not feeling well a few days ago. I’m anemic and I thought it was that. Turns out after a long day in ER that my stress was so high, my heart created an irregular rhythm to try to deal with it. Oh.

The ER doctor gave me a letter that said, no work until next Tuesday. Huh.

So, I came home (by that I mean my dad drove me home) and sat on the couch, for a long time. My dad made dinner, and I worked on chilling the heck out.

I started with working on my belly breathing (thanks yoga) and figuring out what I can take off my list. I decided to send my daughter to the volleyball tournament this weekend with another family. I asked my dad to take the boys for the weekend. I wrote and I wrote and I cried and I breathed. I started to feel much better. Today, I feel pretty much back to normal.

This was a wake up call. I have been running for so long without stopping that my operating system was thinking about getting out of whack. Hence, the reboot.

Today, after I said goodbye to my daughter, I had a huge meltdown. She is getting older and I have 4 years with her before she graduates and takes on the world herself. Time is so precious. As I sat there with the tears pouring onto my hoodie, I felt like such a failure. Failing at doing all of the things I want to do. Failing at self care and being a good mom and spending enough time with my kids, my mom, my dad, my friends. Failing at holding it all together.

And then I remembered something a dear friend said to me once, she said, “Tanya, why are you being so hard on yourself? If this was happening to a friend of yours or one of your kids, you would wrap them up in your arms, tell them how much you love them and how capable they are. Do that for yourself.” Oh.

Another friend said, “it’s not you that is broken, it’s the system. The go all the time, crazy rush of American life.” Oh. 

So, it is with self compassion I say to myself, “you’ve come a long way baby. You deserve a break to slow down and reboot. Welcome it with open arms, it’s a message and you need to hear it.”

So, the rebooting starts. I will be offline, in nature, with loved ones and learning how to sustain and balance this precious life. 

Take care of yourself. Reboot if needed. Breathe and repeat. You’ve got this. And do do I. 

Time 

The hourglass,

The seasons,

Timelines and deadlines,

Graduations 

Beginnings and endings. 

Time sees all.

Occasionally I think I can control and affect time, 

But then I realize she is a force all her own. 

“It goes so fast”, people say. Others have “all the time in the world”.

I mostly say “I want more time”. With loved ones, to create poetry and art, to move my body. 

How do we create more time? Is there an answer the this mystic question?

I don’t know. 

But today, I will say how grateful I am for time.  

To be, laugh, rest, inspire, love and imagine. 

To grow, live, empower and adventure. 

I will acknowledge time as my ally in this walk.

With intention and grace I will continue to balance priorities,

and embrace time, 

as a friend.

Too much

Too much. There is too much on my plate.

I don’t even know where to start. Work is a full-time plus job. Three kids by myself with activities galore, sure that’s a lot. It’s my youngest son’s birthday this week so I will be belaying 8 boys at the rock climbing gym and then they will be all sleeping over. There is no time to get the food or clean the house because I am going to work and to hear the results of my mom’s cancer tests in Seattle tomorrow. But don’t worry, i’ve got it all, just like I always do.

But you know what I have to say to that? Not cool. Not cool that I am doing this all. In fact, it’s a miracle that I am holding all of this together. Tonight, I just lost all energy. I picked up kids from piano $80, after picking up my car from the shop $1569, ordered pizza $45, sat on the couch and ate 4 pieces, washing it down with a glass of wine and cup of chocolate chips while ordering tickets to my son’s concert on Saturday $66. Too much. Too much money, crappy food, work, stress, and lack of down time. Too much raising kids in isolation instead of a community. Too much sadness in my heart that doesn’t have time or room to release. Too many dishes, granola bar wrappers and dirty socks.

Too much.

So, you might be thinking, what is she going to do about it? Right?! Great question.

Well…

  1. take a bath with candles
  2. drink water (instead of the coffee I have been drinking all day)
  3. write it out
  4. make a plan
  5. go to bed on time
  6. show myself some compassion
  7. listen and express my feelings 
  8. Trust God 

I am so angry. Angry that I am in this situation. Angry that my mom has cancer. Angry that my house is a mess and I don’t have anyone to back me up. Angry that I keep up appearances, so that everything will look pretty and no one will worry. When in fact, i’m pissed. My room is a mess, no amount of buying clothes or watching TV is fixing the fact that my mom has cancer and I’m scared. I’m scared of losing her. I want time to stop and time for me to catch my breath and just sit and hold her hand.

Logically I know that pizza, tv or dessert will not numb the sad and scared feelings. But some part of me just wants some kind of comfort and respite from these feelings.

I should go for a walk, or pick the clothes off my floor but just have no motivation to do that. Because, why should I things be better for me when she has cancer. Why do I deserve more than she is having right now. I can’t take the cancer away, but at least I can be miserable too. (that is some crazy logic now that I write it down). Who am I to be powerful, strong and bold when she is uncomfortable.

Would I want my daughter to stop taking care of herself because I wasn’t well? Heck no. That is not a sign of solidarity, that is a sign of depression and self sabatoge.

Dear me, this moment is hard. It totally sucks. And, you are stronger than you know. Be strong for your mom and yourself.

So, as this moment comes to a close, I take a deep breath, feel the feelings and thank God for the beauty that is my life. In any situation, ALWAYS, there is room for gratitude. And #trustgod

 

 

 

Learning to deal with what is

I’ve tried it all over the last few days. Anything to make me feel better about my mom’s cancer. 

I’ve taken a day off, watched romantic comedies, made lasagna, green smoothies, and blueberry scones. 

I went to the gym. I danced and did more squats than I thought possible. 

I’ve written, reached out to friends and cleaned my room.

And… my mom still has cancer. 

It’s not fair for a lot of reasons. She is such a warrior and I still don’t want her to have to go through this. You shouldn’t get cancer if you eat kale everyday. 

It turns out I can’t control this one. I can usually try a new strategy at work or set up chores at home, but this, not so much. 

It turns out I have to figure out how to “be” with what is. That is hard when you don’t like what is.

Why is that so hard?! I guess I’m not the Buddha yet, because I’m pretty attached to this loved one. I have plans for her too. She’s supposed to be here when my kids get married, when I get remarried, when I buy a house. That was always the plan. And now, this disease is trying to change that. I do NOT approve.

I guess cancer doesn’t ask for anyone’s approval. 

And so, I write. I google new strategies to start tomorrow and I pray. Tomorrow I will try and do I little better. I will be gentle with myself.

I will hug my mom. And know that however long we have weeks or years, I am so grateful and slowly, I’m learning to deal with what is.