Friday, November 29, 2019

I Can Sleep Through a Storm

There's nothing better than a good night's sleep during a storm. Mother nature doesn't clatter about, making you certain of her presence when it snows, still you know she's changing the world as you know it. The aftermath of the storm isn't always visually beautiful either, yet the renewal of life and the joy our littles find in splashing through the puddles or digging through the snow is endless.

As a teenage junior camp counselor, I came across a devotional about a man who didn't seem like much, but knew he could sleep through a storm. I loved this story. It reminded me of my dad and my mom, who each took these giant leaps of faith and built dreams into successful businesses. As the story goes, the man was looking for a job. He didn't come with a robust resume or a long line of people to vouch for him. He needed a job and it just so happened that a nearby farmer needed a farm hand. When asked what his skills were, the talents he would bring to the work, the man explained that he could sleep through a storm. 

The farmer was pretty confused as you might be now. He wasn't really sure of the man, who didn't look like anything special, but he needed help and gave it a try.

Then, a storm rolled in. 

The farmer looked to the sky, saw the storm rolling in from the house and called for the helping hand. There was no response. Frustrated and frantic, the farmer ran outside to close everything up as the storm began. As he went from building to building, what the farmer found was that even though he hadn't asked the man to, even though he man didn't come with some sparkling recommendation of greatness, even though they barely knew each other, the man kept his word to himself and to the farmer. That night, they both slept through the storm. 

I've taken that story with me. I think some folks will tell you that I take on too much. And, they might be right. I'm finding that I have to really think about what I am all in for, in my life, and what doesn't fit anymore to achieve peace and balance. It's kind of a like a Goodwill donation. If we're just cleaning out the closet, we hang on to things. If we know it's going to go to good use, it's easier to stick with a straight Hell, yes! Or, Hell, no! (Let me tell you, when your clothes don't fit and you can't breathe squeezing in to them, it's just a no. Hanging on to that guilt is just not fair to yourself - enjoy the cookie and get rid of the shaming pants, people).

Now some of us, we just can't imagine sleeping through storms. We have a hard time letting go. Life doesn't always let us. Still, you can achieve this same type of peace.

I recently leaped to a new job. When I took the leap, it was on the wings of an incredible leader. She has faith in me that I don't always have in myself. 

This new journey came with changes both for me and the organization. When I joined the team, a giant project was presented and when asked if I could make it happen, I answered "I got this, I got you" without hesitation. Doesn't that just make it entirely personal? Insert enormous fear of failure. My very next thoughts were: Crap! How will I pull this off? I'm all in -- I didn't even secure an option for what if. Wait, I can do this. How am I going to do this? I think I just took on way too much. I got this. 

The other night, as I powered through the last days of this project, it kept me up until the wee hours of the morning. Truth be told, it didn't have to. I could have closed myself off in the office for the last few days and taken until the last possible second to wrap things up. I can't work that way. I can't sleep if it's not done, if there's a potential that I told someone I got this, when in fact, I have nothing. So power through I did. I ended up with the cold the family shared, that I tried hard not to get, but you know what? Cold and all, I can sleep through the storm. The peace is amazing.

I'm not saying you should take on things that are larger than life. I am saying, there is immense peace and joy in a job well done. Balance is realized. Simple has entered the building! A year ago, I am not sure if I could have done it. I was half in on so many things that I didn't want to be part of. The missing joy factor was sucking the life out of me. 

dark gray storm clouds over farmland
This crazy journey to simple, it's more work sometimes. Make yourself the space to hang on to the things that are a hell yes. Let go of the things that aren't. Maybe they're a sort of yes, or a maybe no. You don't need those. They are making you feel bad and they are making you tired. Find those hell yes's, pour your talent on in, and let them fill you with joy. Enjoy the work you do, relish your people, and you'll find yourself sleeping through the storm. 


Saturday, November 23, 2019

Changing Games

As a parent, there have been times when we're moving along thinking, we got this! Life is great, the people are great, everyone is doing and enjoying all the things. Then something happens.

I sometimes hear people say, well, something always happens. Or, some people don't get a break. Why me? Must be nice...

In my life, if something is going to happen (read: break, go on the fritz, not show up, show up wrong), it happens to me. Somewhere in my third decade I embraced my wanderlust spirit and just starting rolling with the crazy stuff that happens. It does happen to me, but it's part of the fun, part of the adventure. What a relief that was to just embrace the crazy.

 It's so easy to get caught up in why me, or why not me, to perseverate on the negative, and start to feel just overall defeated. The stakes are high. We're told to succeed. We're conditioned for perfection. There are even pictures of perfection for us: family pictures in fields, photoshopping of every model in print, any ad you pick up, television, make up, the family dog. (This family picture thing has gone a little crazy, but that's another blog post). 

So, we're going along through life, striving for perfection and never get there.  There's a huge cost for this never being perfect, never being the best, never being enough. It's your mental health.

Then you get hit with a big thing. Life changes. A factor that you don't plan for, one that's not desirable, it doesn't look like that perfect family picture in front of the barn that you had in your mind, and bam. How will we go on? How can I survive this? Why me? These things, they start to circle in your brain and your life, and you have to figure it out or it'll take you over. 

That's so much easier said that done.

Even as I sit and share these thoughts, I realize the date. Today, is my gramma's birthday. Today, she'd be 104. She left us when she was 73. It's been a long time, yet those vivid memories of why, how, the huge hole, they loom on a day like today. I was 13. How profound that is, as we are now helping our teen work through losses of a different kind, but heavy on the heart just the same. I didn’t think then about being on this side now. 

About a year ago, our teen had a seizure. We thought it would be a one time thing, though it hasn't been. Fortunately, they have occurred in a controlled setting, but that doesn't reduce the fear level, chaos, or unknown. 

Watching my child experience a seizure and not being able to stop it, just wait, is the scariest, most awful experience I have had in my life. I struggle with what to share after, how much she needs to know, and what if. I struggle with why. She struggles with why. It's changed how we function, as now we have to pre-plan our adventures and account for the meds clock, in all that we do. That is not how our spirits are and it's maddening.

I know there are those of you out there working through things that are so much bigger, heavier. I want you to know, that difficult change, the kind we just don't want to do, it can also be freeing. Change your game, instead of letting the game change you. The great thing about a game, is that it's never played alone.

I started this post talking about how we feel when things happen - out of control, ruined, hopeless; and, this discussion around perfection. What's the connection? 

It's easy to feel defeated. At work. As a parent. As a chef (yeah right, I'm no chef, but we're fed!) As a human. Doubt creeps in - you try to block it, hide from it, say you don't have it, but it's there. When these things happen, these game changers, and we're not ready to shift, oh how the grief (for what was or what could have been) is hard. 


When change happens, especially when it's not by our own choosing, we grieve. So, let yourself. Grieve the thing, the perfect picture, the spotless house, the dreams you had, the life you knew, your people. Let yourself do that. You don't even have to own it. Give yourself a break. Activate your army and just take it all in, be with whatever is going on to allow your heart and your mind to make peace with it. 

We forget to do this. I spent weeks drowning myself in work, creating the perfect routine, telling the story but never dealing with it. I kept the frustration, pain, guilt - inside, because I didn't want her to see it and I most definitely did not want to deal with it. I tucked this whole thing into a nice corner, questioned my decision to change jobs, questioned my performance as a parent, my self worth, and just kept pushing.

Let me tell you, that didn't fix things. I suppose I'll admit now that squishing the grief into a cute little box and duct taping that beast shut never does fix it, but for me it's nice to drown the sorrow in some work for a while, even soul work! (Definitely something I need to work on there...)

When I finally spent some time with my feelings and honored where I was with all of the stuff that comes with mandatory shift, it was freeing. It allowed me to change the game, to change my game, to change my perspective. I regained some peace. I traded in a little fear for joy. 

No doubt having a child who has some health challenges in her life, particularly ones that are not self-induced and we cannot control, requires a strategy. There is never a day when we can just go back to what we knew, but this new adventure, it's ok too. It's time for her to use those how to be a warrior lessons we've been working on all along. 

She's grown. She's got this (oh, was she mad!) It's not fun, perfect, simple (at all), or anything like what we thought the teenage years would bring, but it's the gift we've been given to use in a way that helps others. 

November is epilepsy awareness month. If you've never supported someone with a seizure, take this moment to learn about #staysafeside

The game changed. It even required change in us. We won't let change beat us. We've got this. Whatever you might be struggling with, you’ve got this. You're never alone.


Friday, November 1, 2019

Then, they grow up...

We love Halloween over here, getting our Jack Skeleton groove on, and watching those PG Halloween movies on repeat. Usually, we're racing around to find all the pieces to a costume, or picking up trick or treater candy at the last minute. As kids get older, Halloween becomes an observer activity and that my friends, is bitter sweet. 

They tell you when your kids are born, don't blink, it goes by quickly. Then life happens. You get caught up in the daily grind, no sleep, working too much, trying to figure out how to keep the littles alive. Terrible toddlers, kindergarten, middle school, moody teens, driving and before you know it, it's over. You realize this when you find yourself enjoying the little kids who stop by in their costumes, looking out at the freezing adults escorting them to your door, wishing you could get those little kid days back. 

Reflecting, I wonder how much of the little stuff I missed just answering that last email, taking a work call at night, getting ready for a training. I do think it's good for children to see us working. It's ok to talk about things at work that are frustrating, how we worked through them, and for our children to see that hard work can be good work. (I love to work. When I'm struggling, getting lost in work is a good way for me to hide and figure things out). And yet, we never get the time back that we miss with our people.

Ugh, balance. Damn balance. If we forget about the balance, we may also be missing the good stuff. And the good stuff, that's what our souls need. (Don't you hate it when you realize that only you can fix your malfunction?) 

This was my revelation last night. It's not too late to adjust, to balance, to connect to the soul work. This work I've been doing to shed the extra, the joy suckers, it's getting me there - back to simple, back to balance, back to my people. That last email, it can wait. My people, the ones who love me and support me through my crazy ideas and adventures, they deserve to be first. I need them to be first, because that's where my soul work is and that's where I achieve the balance. 

You might be thinking, yes, but OH THE GUILT and now I feel worse about myself, thanks. Sure there's guilt in what I missed. But there's joy that balances that guilt when I honor the time, put the tech away, and make some memories. The laughter, the joy, it fills that empty space. Yep. Self induced change needed here - order up!  

So today, this first fabulous day of Christmas season (we've been counting the days!), the first morning we woke up with sparkling snow on the porch, is an opportunity to get a little closer to where I want to be. No guilt, no shame, just doing better because now I know better. Baby steps. I sure do miss those baby steps. I definitely don't want to miss watching them grow up to who they are meant to be, who I am meant to be. Good news is, I don't have to.