I came across a graphic with a quote I liked. It compared rebuilding your life to having a room redecorated. Things get messy and moved around. There is much uncertainty. But you know that, when it’s all over, everything will be fresh, new and better than ever. I like the idea that my life is being renovated. It shines a light of hope into an often dark and disordered time.
It’s so easy to fill the days before a major life change with busy work. There’s a longer than usual ‘to do’ list and a looming deadline. Extra adrenaline coursing thru my veins helps me get things done, most days. But I’ve discovered that I also need to make an effort to allow myself some space. Backing off from the many commitments that usually crowd my calendar has been key to my flickering sanity. I need time to hear myself think – to process and ponder. There has been time to plan healthy meals and to take solitary hikes. The range of emotions had been staggering. There has been pain, sadness, grieving and anger. There has also been wonder, freedom, opportunity and hope. The best gift I have given myself is to allow all of these, and more, to flow thru me freely.
Sometimes, I retreat and avoid situations that require social interactions that are taxing. Other times, I actively seek the company of others. It might be someone with whom I can be real, even when it’s not pretty. I quickly learned where I feel safe and not judged. Or, it might be someone new, with whom I can escape my old life for a few hours. I make no apologies and know that those close to me, who truly care about me, will understand my need to be selfish.
During these times, I have learned something else: That fear is my friend. I have sat with my fears and stared them down. Then, I listened closely. Fear shows you the places where you need to be nurtured in order to overcome obstacles and accomplish goals. The absence of fear is faith. Sometimes you have to dig down deep to restore your faith in yourself. Nobody can do it for you. And you won’t find it externally.
There is comfort in familiar, routine experiences: Spending an annual weekend away with good friends, hanging out at home with my grandson. These keep me grounded. They remind me what’s important when things are either falling apart or falling away from me.
In addition to giving myself space, I am also showing myself compassion. When wrestling with trepidation, shame, doubt or disappointment, it helps to approach yourself the way you might treat a friend who is experiencing something similar. When my emotions are raw, I call it quits and do whatever it takes to recover and move forward. It might mean curling up with a cup of tea, my favorite blanket and my writing. Or, it might mean a margarita (or two) and a dance floor.
There are many blessings in my life: The luxury of time, good health, countless friends and love of family. These are things that have been cultivated over time. Now, I’ve added the gifts of space and grace. It has made all the difference.