Overwhelmed. Exhausted. Tired. Grabby.
Of course we’ve had those times when life is all of those things and we don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. We don’t even see the tunnel! But over time, we have purposed to take the sound track of our life and change some of the noise into music we want to hear. It might be a station change or even pulling the plug and just enjoying the silence. We’ve learned to be very intentional to embrace the place in which we find ourselves-because there isn’t usually someone who notices when we are overwhelmed and then steps in at that moment to make it better. We have had great help, but there are still those times that creep into our lives that sidetrack our sound track!
In our previous and present homes we enjoy a small 10X10 enclosed deck. We spent hours there just resting. We often have plenty of work to do, talks to prepare, writing to do, bills to pay, appointments to make and keep, but we intentionally make time to just sit outside when the weather is nice. And when we don’t have good weather (hey, we live in Cleveland-good weather is a rarity!), we sit in our family room and turn on the automatic gas fireplace. We take time to talk, rest, and get restored. Sure, we’d love to take big trips around the world all the time, but this serves a great purpose for where we are on our journey and can even be a way to quietly and enjoyably rediscover each other.
During some seasons of our life, we had (what seemed to be) no free time whatsoever; and other times, some. Sometimes whatever free time there was needed to be for errands and catching up. Can you relate? The “luxury” of free time (sleeping in, vacation, time with adult friends, outings, etc.) was somewhat, if not entirely, non-existent.
We’ve learned the freedom experienced when we don’t have a lot of plates spinning. Like the “plate spinner” who tries to see how many plates he can keep spinning on individual rods without any of them falling off is how many of us run our lives. We’ve done it, too, but we’ve learned it’s not always the healthiest. After a huge downsize by 2/3’s from a large home to a condo, we had several projects outstanding. Those four projects were just hanging in my mind’s cyberspace and I was getting cranky because they were not going away, but could have easily been accomplished with a plan. What I (Cindi) didn’t realize initially is that of the four, there were three that were very “doable” and so together we made a plan to get them done. The fourth item was beyond our control (selling our previous home). Having those three things checked off my list made me feel so free as I steered in a new and right direction. Since then I have been very careful not to add more spinning plates (thus spinning our wheels) so we can enjoy some rest and relaxation with a clear mind. It is so freeing!
What are some things we can do to get to that place? Here are a few thoughts that with a little creativity can help us embrace the place:
ASK FOR HELP. Sometimes we need to ask for help: from a volunteer, family member, or hired caregiver. We know it’s hard to ask, but we must. And always be appreciative with a verbal thank you and perhaps even a small gift. When others feel appreciated they are often more willing to continue helping.
DIVIDE AND CONQUER. If you’re in a married situation: “take turns”! Joe gets to do something for his free time and another time I get to. Sleeping in can also be something where we take turns!
RECHARGE: Find a spot in your back yard (or somewhere quiet and comfortable) where you can sit. Alone. With your spouse. With a friend. While your child or adult who needs full time care is sleeping or resting, you can rest, too. And if doing something that you enjoy will recharge you, then purpose to get to it!
Realize that these things will look different during different seasons. It only took us 25-35 years for Joe and I to get to take walks together in our neighborhood knowing Joey could be alone for a bit. We eased into it, teaching him how to use the “redial” on a landline phone if he needed us. When he was 12 we never thought we’d see that day! Each day and each season will vary, and we will need to make adjustments, but when we do, we can certainly better embrace the place!
Excerpts used with permission from Love All-Ways: Embracing Marriage Together on the Special Needs Journey. Available at www.cindiferrini.com and Amazon.
Dr. Joe and Cindi Ferrini share their newest book: Love All-Ways: Embracing Marriage Together on the Special Needs Journey. They are authors, speakers, and bloggers for several blogging sites on marriage, family and special needs. They speak nationally for FamilyLife Weekend To Remember Marriage Get-a-Ways, authored Unexpected Journey – When Special Needs Change our Course, and have been interviewed on Focus on the Family, FamilyLife, and various other radio and television venues. Connect with them at www.cindiferrini.com and social media at: www.facebook.com/cindi.ferrini, www.facebook.com/UnexpectedJourney/, www.facebook.com/MyMarriageMatters/