Last Fall my life shifted in a huge way.
We were on vacation in Virginia (we live in GA) and my hubby was unexpectedly diagnosed with a serious illness. He had to have emergency surgery ASAP. Like, the next day. Our life has turned upside down. Thank God we had strong friends to support us.
To add to the pressure, I was already caregiving for another loved one who had devastating mental health issues. Worn down didn’t begin to explain my weariness.
It has felt like a series of tidal waves have washed over us again and again. Every time we got above water and gasp of air, we got pulled under again and the cycle would repeat itself. We’re still swimming, but the highs and lows are leveling out a bit.
After a few feeble attempts to ‘do it all’ I realized it was all too much. I decided to let go of working on my business day to day so I could spend more time caregiving, being a patient advocate and trying to retain some semblance of my sanity. After being in biz for 24 years, it was a huge adjustment.
So, I took a sabbatical until April 1st. It’s 6+ months later. Today’s the day I officially come out of my sabbatical. Aaaahhhh.
I’ve learned a lot. Mostly what’s truly important and what’s not.
- You Matter.
Whether it’s closing a deal or cuddling a love one, what you do matters. How you do it matters. You, wondrous you, matter.
Cancer and mental illness are an overwhelming duo. Whilst wading through the best care options, I’ve learned so much about cancer & mental illness. There are glaring differences between the two health care industries. We’ve worked hard to navigate our way through — whilst staying semi-sane. The operant word here is semi.
I will highlight the disparity of care in my next book. High quality mental health has such a loooong way to go.
2. Balance Suffering with JOY.
I’ve cried a river of tears and worked intentionally to balance out the suffering with JOY. Because we want to be cheerful givers, not grumpy givers. Right?
I’ve given great care and supported my family in a deeper, harder way.
My body speaks and I finally listen and give it what it needed. I’ve seen the idealized lies the media throws at us women and decided to be natural and be the real ME.
I’ve sat in more hospital rooms than I care to ever be in. I’ve developed hospital anxiety from all the scary moments in them. I’ve had to overcome the anxiety to do what’s best for my family.
Caregiving is exhausting and takes its’ toll on the caregivers mind, body and soul. I got sick and injured myself twice and healed me too. Us strong ones need more support.
3. Let Emotions Flow and Go.
When we bottle up our emotions for too long, they’re like boiling water in a tea pot. We’re going to boil over sooner or later. Feel your emotions. Claim them, name them and let them go. Writing your emotions down and putting them in a ‘Burden Box’ really helps!
I’ve felt emotions and combinations of emotions I didn’t even know existed and released a well of emotions over and over again. I’ve faced the fear of my loved ones deaths and my own. And I’m positive I’m not done releasing tears yet! They seem to come swifter and easier as my heart has become more tender.
4. God is Oh So Close. People are Good.
Overwhelming love and support has flowed to us from friends & family in unimaginable ways. God’s people are indeed good and their love overflows in amazing ways big and small. Friends have made meals, decorated my house and helped with a myriad of things.
Our team of ‘prayer warriors’ have gotten us through with many miracles. It’s awesome to see how God works in and through his friends.
I’ve thought a lot about life & death.
I’ve gotten real quiet inside. I’ve slowed down, listened and obeyed. I’ve prayed, pondered the Bible & truth and meditated.
I’ve felt the presence of God — walking beside me, hugging me, & letting me know, “This is MY plan and everything is working out for the good. I promise. Trust in me more.”
(I didn’t like ’His plan’ one bit but he won and I have a newfound trust in Him.)
I’ve learned how to really be in the present moment without jumping ahead to the next thing that needs to be done.
I’ve grown intolerant of lies, the Enemy and B. S. And I’ve let the enemy know my position.
5. Don’t Waste Time With Some People.
Relationships take time and energy. When you’re in crisis you don’t have a lot of either of those precious commodities. I’ve stopped hanging around people that I don’t want to be with or that I don’t have the bandwidth to be with.
6. Do What You Love (and don’t feel guilty about it.)
I had to take care of me and re-discover what I loved so I could fill my cup.
I’ve spent a lot of time in nature and absorbed its’ energy and sat in amazement of her beauty.
I’ve taken a lot of pictures of my loved ones.
I’ve read and research a ton! I learned a lot of new information in a short amount of time because I had to to make wise care decisions. I’ve advocated in fierce and mighty ways.
I’ve written a lot! Not for others eyes but for my own self expression and sanity.
I’ve written to make sense of the senseless and to foster creativity.
I’ve listened more, hugged longer and harder.
I’ve seen and heard others for who they truly are, in this moment.
7. Gratitude Restores Us.
I’ve been grateful beyond words. To see my loved ones come back to life after operations or procedures has been miraculous.
I’m oh so thankful for the caring doctors, nurses and healers!!! Some have been amazing and some have been dismal. Yet, we put our lives in their hands and the pressure they carry is immense.
I’ve appreciated life to a fuller level and decided to really see it, hear it embrace it all and treasure it.
My loved ones healing journeys are not over. In fact, they’ll be with us till at least the end of this year. Baring instant miracles from God, which He can totally do!
Life is a Wondrous, Bittersweet Ride.
This pause has been a much needed time away and it’s time to get back. Seeing life with fresh eyes and appreciating it for all it is.
I love life and the people in it more, harder yet gentler and deeper.
Life truly is a wondrous, bittersweet, beautiful ride. I’m embracing it in a new way.
It’s good to come back with a more open heart and fresh (albeit tired) eyes.
There’s so much work to be done – in a peacefully energized way. So, in the future I will share what I’ve learned with you so you can benefit from the lessons I’ve learned.
Onward & Upward, my friend.
At your service. You have all my love,