Thursday, June 13, 2019

Drowning in Priorities

How do you manage your life when you’ve already whittled it down to just your top priorities and it’s still too much?  Feeling like every day is another day of playing catch-up or worse, falling even further behind – it’s not a great feeling. Okay… reality.  It’s a terrible feeling.

As my illness really set in, I quickly realized that I had too much on my plate.  So, I removed the easy-to-eliminate extras in my life. However, I found I was still overloaded with outings that were causing crashes, daily activities that were too much to keep up with, and relationships that were a struggle to maintain.

So, I learned to say no more often (this is still hard for me!), I further reduced my outings, and I asked my caregivers for help (this too was hard for me.  I’ve always been a helper, not a “helpee.”) with some of my daily activities.   However, I found I was still playing catch-up.  I was still feeling miserable because I wasn’t feeling productive, only disappointment in myself and what I wasn’t able to accomplish.

So back to the drawing board to re-evaluate what was left on my plate.  But this is where it got hard.  Because I have already skimmed off so much, what was left was what I considered my top priorities.   Things that either kept me afloat financially, created a back-up plan for me when things changed, were dedicated to creating awareness and support for my illness, and the relationships in my life.  So, what do I have left to cut?

I’ve really been feeling stuck in this place for quite a while… and it’s not a pretty place to be in.  I still have a few days where I get the “high” of feeling like I was productive and made some progress, but there’s still too many days where I cannot contribute to my key priorities as much as I want to.  This disappoints me and I feel, at times, I am disappointing others.  And I am chipping away at the reputation and strong work ethic I spent decades creating.  And that is quite humbling.

So, I’ve stepped back. I’m still a little unsure about whether I need to re-evaluate my key priorities.  But I’ve decided to take a different tactic this time since I’ve already eliminated so much.  I’ve decided it’s time to simply look at my key priorities and determine how I can still contribute to them, but perhaps in a new way.  In a way that adds value but also doesn’t disappoint or overload me. I’m just starting this process so I don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but I’m going in with great hope!

Just in writing this I’m feeling a bit better as I’ve realized that I’ve prioritized my life perhaps in a way I should have all along.  I’ve learned to say no – there was a huge learning curve for me with this.  I’ve also learned to ask for help – even a bigger learning curve for me.  And as I review my process, I feel like it’s pretty solid.   So, while I have ways to go with solving my problem, I’ve realized that all along I’ve been creating successes and growing as a person.  And that’s productivity in action!

So, I guess my lesson is that we really need to cut ourselves some slack.  The reality is that we are doing more than we think we are.  It may not be with the concrete goals or projects that we’ve set for ourselves, but better yet, as people we are growing and figuring out how to solve advanced problems that affects us as a whole.  These are the kind of skills that will serve us well our entire life, not just the duration of today’s task.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Finding A Way…

I feel like I’m caught in the middle of a variety of places in my life.  I’m not complaining as I know that things could be much worse.  Rather it’s just something that’s come to mind as it seems to be a more prominent piece of my life now. 

I don’t think I’m unique in this feeling.  I think many of us find ourselves in some sort of middle ground for a variety of reasons that we didn’t always intend or want to be in so I thought it was worth exploring what it means, how it feels, and if there’s some opportunities that lie within it. 

Here’s a few examples of when I feel caught in the midst of conflicting states:

I am sick, sicker than the average person, but not as sick as many.

I still have so much I want to do with my career but my body says no!

I still crave to work out, my forbidden fruit; will that craving ever subside?

I miss my friends dearly but I’ve been forced to give up seeing almost all of them.

I don’t want to hide my illness but in certain cases, with certain people, I do.

I’ve always been the caregiver, not the receiver; this role reversal is a big change.

I want to say yes, to be that same go-to person I always was, but no is now my new mantra.

How do we find acceptance with all the changes that come with life – and more so, life with a chronic illness?  How do we adjust to them?  Does the grieving ever go away?  Does saying no get easier?   Can we find new ways to thrive?

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions.  Or maybe I have a few for some of my own questions – the lawyer in me at least wants to give my standard answer, “it depends.”   

I used to be a person that wasn’t comfortable until I had all the answers to questions like this.  Once I had concrete answers I could move on; I could not only find a way to succeed but I could thrive.  But now the answers are scarce, elusive, and often unknown.   If they are there, I have to work hard for them.

Time is a beautiful thing though.  Time has taught me that not knowing the answers is definitely okay.  To be honest, I really never did know as much as I thought I did.  Perhaps I had some answers or guesses at the answer, but if randomly getting so sick has taught me one thing, it’s that you never truly know what life has in store for you.  Or what one moment will be like to the next. 

While unpredictability and uncertainly can create uneasiness at times, a lot of what I don’t have the answers to I may never have had them or will have them.  So, I can worry, fret, and be stopped by that or I can just be okay with it and find a way. 

So, I am finding my way.  Many times in the darkness and many times by the light of my circle of friends or from within myself.   While my path once was a straight line, it’s now zig-zagged and sometimes even circular.  Graphically speaking, it definitely paints a more visually appealing picture.  It has its challenges, but it also has its successes.   

For example, some things time has taught me is that grieving for our losses does get a bit easier with time. While it doesn’t go away, it tends to ebb and flow at an easier pace.  I’ve also realized that at this point it’s safe to say that my love of working out is rooted deep within my core.  Having realized this, I’ve found viable alternatives to satisfy that craving, such as gentle yoga.  I’ve also learned that perhaps I should have been choosing where I spend my time wiser all along.  A few more no’s in my past might have been a good thing.  While I don’t like how often I have to decline invites now, when I can say yes, it’s a YES!!

In life we will always find ourselves in the middle of situations, challenges and opportunities.  The key may simply be to see them as temporary pit-stops.  There’s a lot of room in that middle ground area where we can carve out a spot for ourselves that satisfies our needs.  And sometimes we may find that being in the middle teaches us something we wish we would have known in the first place.

While being in “limbo” was not something I could have readily accepted at one point in my life, the unpredictability of living with a chronic illness has not only taught me to accept it, but to see it as an area that some opportunities and even better life decisions may lie.

Drowning in Priorities

How do you manage your life when you’ve already whittled it down to just your top priorities and it’s still too much?  Feeling like every ...