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Coping with life’s curve balls

I wear many hats in my life. The most recent, and most unexpected, is being the caretaker to my husband. We could not have ever imagined the impact his health would have on our family this early in life, but his brain condition is not going away any time soon. Don’t get me wrong, he is still a high functioning person, however, there are definitely some things he needs assistance with that he didn’t previously. This is indeed a curve ball to my plans of fully acclimating into my role at work, having a clear separation of work and home, getting up to date on all of my children’s medical/dental/vision appointments, serving in ministry at our church, building up a savings, and taking care of myself. Right now, my life is filled with my husband’s numerous appointments, funding and managing all finances of our household, coordinating appointments at my children’s schools, coordinating everyone’s appointments for that matter, hanging by the seat of my pants at work, etc.

I was almost speechless one time back in January by a colleague’s comment to me after he found out my vehicle died on me at work and I had to get an uber ride. (By the way, that was my first and only experience with uber and I was thoroughly impressed). Remember, my husband was hospitalized for 17 days earlier in the month, then there was car trouble with both vehicles. My colleague actually said to me, with the most “poor thing” look I’ve ever received, “your life seems to be crumbling around you”. Ouch. Gulp. Pain. I’m dead. Hey…I really don’t feel like my life is that bad.

How do I manage to keep my family together and cope with life’s curves balls when everything seems to be crumbling around me? (My 12 year daughter told me the other day that I was keeping our family together. That made my heart smile.) First and foremost, I have a deep belief that things will always work out in my favor and that God covers me. I am also a rational person so I lean into that too. However, there are moments where it can feel unbearable. Things that I do to cope are:

  • Breathe
  • Pray
  • Take things day by day
  • Don’t look too far into the future
  • Lean into my organizational skills
  • Tell myself I can do it
  • Be grateful for the little joys in life (e.g., epsom salt baths, hearing my my children call me “mom” or “mommy”)
  • Care for myself by taking my medication, vitamins, eating well, and exercising
  • Squeeze in some time for the things I enjoy such as reading, writing and walking in nature

Inevitably, I believe being flexible and making adjustments relieves some of the pain and pressure that a loss of control can have. In the big scheme of things, there is very little we can control. However, we can control our attitudes and how we see the world. It takes practice.

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Sleepy head

I’ve had a couple of people say to me lately, “You must be up all night with all of your responsibilities”. I’ve paused for a moment to ponder the question, then respond with a confident, “No, I sleep like a brick”. There’s more to this story that isn’t pretty. For the hours I do get to sleep, I sleep soundly and deeply. That wasn’t always the case. I would be up in the middle of the night ruminating over the days events or worrying about various things. I think it’s a small victory that I’m able to sleep. However, I acknowledge that I need more of it. I often say that I’m chronically sleep deprived. My Fitbit goal is 7 hours of sleep per night, but I’m averaging about 6 hours…not ideal. Thursday night, I only got 4 hours and 58 minutes. I paid the price.

Yesterday, (Friday), I planned a pancake breakfast for my team. I also had back to back meetings all day. We had our team meeting with breakfast (I made the pancakes) and it was a long, but productive meeting. By 10:15am , I was beginning to feel the exhaustion. At 11am, I had a meeting with other managers and we participated in an ice breaking activity. We actually talked about what we did for self-care. Sleep wasn’t on my list at the time, but it needs to be. For the rest of the day, I literally had meetings every hour except noon and 4pm. By the afternoon, I found myself dozing off at my computer. Dare I say, at one point, I dozed off while looking up something for a staff member and SHE WAS IN MY OFFICE. It was a quick doze and sleep deprived people may know what this is like. I just had too much going on yesterday with very little sleep.

I’ve noticed that even while driving, I become very sleepy. Needless to say this is dangerous. I’ve also expressed my concern about possibly being anemic to my husband. I have a doctor’s appointment with my oncologist this month and I will share my concerns.

I love that my Fitbit shows me how much sleep I’m getting and also tracks the amounts of REM, Light, and deep sleep. Each stage is so important and impacts memory, rejuvenation, and healing the body. My husband bought the Fitbit for me for the purpose of tracking my sleep. It’s been over a year since I’ve had it and I still need to work on a good sleep plan so that I can feel refreshed.

In the selfie attached to this post, I think I look refreshed, but the truth is that I was likely sleepy. In fact, I wake up sleepy. My remedy last night after I got home was to go to bed early. I tend to awaken early every day despite the time I go to bed. Today, I can tell that I slept well, but there seems to always be a slight deficit. I’ll continue to work on my goal of getting more sleep despite all of the responsibilities in my life. In fact, I need sleep to deal with my responsibilities. I may even go back to sleep after writing this blog post. Sadly, it’ll mean I’ll miss my Saturday morning Zumba class, but sleep is a priority too.

I encourage everyone to take sleep seriously. Gone are the days of sacrificing sleep to get more done. There’s plenty of research demonstrating the benefits of sleep and the consequences of sleep deprivation. I want to function at optimal levels and getting enough, quality sleep will help me achieve this.