So, I have decided to take a break from writing this blog for a while. Although I have much to write about, sometimes the time, energy, and means to write it are not as available. And I’m in a place in my life right now where I don’t care to “push the river.”
I have to prioritize how I use my time right now. And I realized this is a good theme for my last Beliefnet blog (for now.)
What are your priorities? If you had only a limited amount of time, energy, and money (and this is true of all of us,) then how would you utilize those precious resources?
- Many of us, if we were conscious about these choices, would choose to spend more time with FAMILY. Do you have kids, a spouse, parents, grandchildren who would benefit from more of your time? Do you miss your family? This is certainly the case for me right now. My parents are both around eighty years old. Mom is relatively stable at the moment physically, but has a strong emotional need to be with her children. Dad is declining physically. He has Alzheimer’s and although he still has lucid days, his body is starting to break down quite a bit. He spends most of his days in bed, eyes closed, and we all suspect he isn’t long for this world. I want to have quality time with Dad while he’s still here on this physical plane.
- Another priority we might consider placing higher on the list is our own SELF-CARE. Do you find yourself continually putting others’ needs and demands first? If so, consider making yourself a higher priority!!!! I am learning (over and over and over again!) that I can’t pour myself so completely into the care of others that I forget about my own needs – spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical. I need to remember to set aside time for walking, being in nature, being creative, being with my spiritual cohorts, hanging with friends, spending time in solitude, having fun. All of these things are essential. Without these lynchpins of my own self-care, my own health starts to decline. And I can’t afford that – literally or figuratively.
- Are you making ends meet? Do you enjoy working? Are you able to live on this physical plane comfortably? As much as I hate to admit it, I do have to pay attention to my financial stability. The currency that is currently valued and needed in this world culture is money. As much as my spirit would prefer to live simply and trade for everything I need and want, the world is not yet set up that way. So, like it or not, I have to make money. Ideally, I make a living doing things I enjoy, or at least things that feel worthwhile and valuable, or at the very least, things which cause no harm – to me or others. And so, I focus also on my WORK (A caveat: If you are one of those people who spends the majority of your waking hours doing your job, and if it is not something you enjoy or something that fulfills you, then – I implore you – please do NOT let this continue to be a priority! Your happiness and health are so much more important than making money!!!!)
- And what about PURPOSE? Do you know what your purpose is? Are you in the process of fulfilling it? Ideally my purpose would be covered in one of the above priorities. But if it is not, then clearly doing whatever I need to do to fulfill my purpose is key! If you have never asked yourself what your purpose is on the planet at this time, I cannot stress enough how important this is. We each have a purpose and a place on this Earth. Our lives will flow along much better if we are attuned to our purpose. Don’t let this paramount task fall by the wayside! Let it be your guiding light. Ask yourself often: Am I doing what I am meant to be doing on the planet? Am I offering my gifts to the world? If you are not, then I encourage you to redirect your course.
There then. That’s my encouragement for the day. And it also explains why I need to pull back from this blog for now. I will certainly keep writing and I will keep looking for ways to inspire people, but at this time I need to take care of myself and my family, do my work, and be about my purpose.
I most sincerely wish you all the best. May you live your most glorious lives. May you be grateful, conscious, aware, loving, and joyful! May you be at peace. May you be blessed.
I have been greatly honored and blessed to have been a columnist for Beliefnet and to have been given the opportunity to touch the lives of others and to be touched in return. Blessings abound, for sure.
Two times in the last two weeks I was feeling incredibly depleted and fatigued. The first time it was after driving 2000 miles across the country in four days by myself – the third and longest day was through gale force Kansas winds that shook my car so thoroughly I had to slow way down so as not to be blown off the road. The second time was this morning. I had worked nine consecutive 17-hour overnight care-giving shifts, I had packed and moved half my belongings into storage, and I was preparing to fly home to help attend to the needs of my elderly and ailing parents.
Both times, the Universe/God/the Angels stepped in and gave me a thoroughly unexpected gift. And both times my exhaustion lifted in an instant! Both times I noticed this transformation in my body and spirit and marveled at the wonder of it. Grace. Absolute Grace.
Thank you. Thank You. THANK YOU!
The first time this happened I was on the last leg of my journey home. I had awakened that morning with very low energy, wishing like crazy I didn’t have to get back in that car. (I had to be home the next day to meet a guest and then later, to begin work.) My energy rose a bit when I got to the wide-open spaces of the beautiful Colorado desert west of Pueblo and then even moreso as I drove through the canyonlands and the beautiful Arkansas River. But after one and a half hours of driving, Beauty alone could not sustain me. Have you ever been so exhausted you just wanted to cry? That’s how I felt. I finally dragged into the town of Salida and had a quick bite to eat and then I slogged on.
I was now on the home stretch. I was back in familiar territory only an hour north of home. And suddenly it happened. I drove through Poncha Pass. This is a lovely place where the upper reaches of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains meet the Sawatch Range. Once one exits the pass, the whole of the great San Luis Valley spreads out, guarded on the east and west by a chain of gorgeous, tall mountains. Anyway. I had just driven a mile or so into the pass when I suddenly realized I was smiling. It was my first genuine smile of the entire day. And I suddenly realized that my fatigue had disappeared. It had just flat out disappeared. I felt light! I felt buoyant. I felt… happy!
Oh the gift of feeling that shift from exhaustion to delight. My whole body, mind, and spirit felt better. I felt so blessed.
This morning the shift was equally unexpected. I had ended my work shift at 9 a.m. I still had packing to do. Lots of it. Whatever didn’t fit into my suitcases had to be taken to storage or given away. I still had vacuuming to do. I had to go to the bank, get gas, clean out the car, make several phone calls. I was supposed to meet a friend for lunch. I had another part-time job to do in the middle of the day. I had a myriad loose ends to tie up before the long drive to the airport the next day. And I had no energy to do any of it. I was absolutely overwhelmed, exhausted, and sad, because deep in my heart, I didn’t want to leave. I dearly loved this town which I had lived in for only nine months. And the thought of leaving this place that was so special to me to deal with the impending loss of our family home plus attend to the needs of my two dear parents, one of whom was inching closer to death…. It all felt like too much.
Finally, after one and a half hours of procrastination, I put in my contacts, brushed my teeth, tried to cheer myself up with some lipstick, and ventured outside.
I confess I felt better simply stepping outside. I took a few steps, and then I saw it. There, right before me in the partially melted snow, was a perfectly shaped heart. This was not carved by human. It was the Angels’ doing. It had to be. Some snow had melted on the surface and below the surface leaving in its wake a hole that was shaped like a heart.
It was all I needed. I felt loved. I felt the gift of being alive and here in this place of Magic and Miracles.
Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You!
The Gift of Transformation. It can happen to any of us at any time. And it can happen in an instant.
On a long 2,000 mile car trip across the country recently, I found myself with some time to think. Car trips can be good that way. Somewhere along the way I found myself thinking about money and how we have come to place such value on something which is, in actuality, paper. Yes, I know theoretically it is supposed to represent a certain amount of gold which is stored at Fort Knox. But the reality is we have all collectively decided to place value on these pieces of paper that we offer for goods and services.
What if suddenly we all decided money was no longer valuable? What if we no longer placed value on these pieces of paper? What would happen to all these people who had previously been accorded so much status simply because of these pieces of paper they had in their bank accounts? Would they suddenly become no more important than the men who pick up our garbage each week? Perhaps they’d actually be less important because society would realize that some of the wealthiest people in the country may not actually do much to serve the greater good. Perhaps suddenly we would have renewed respect for those who collect our trash and those who grow our food and those who teach our children. Maybe we’d learn to place value on completely different things.
I’ve also been pondering the value of all the possessions I’ve been moving from one place of residence to another. (Something I seem to be doing rather a lot of in recent years.) I have learned this past year that I can live with relatively few possessions. Likewise, I have friends who have moved back to the States from Costa Rica and Ecuador, respectively. Both friends returned with only a few suitcases of possessions. We all marvel at how little we actually need to own (and cart around with us!) When I rent a furnished home, all I really need fits in one car. And although I have books and paintings and plants that I really enjoy, the fact is, I don’t need to own them. I actually need own very little in order to survive and be happy.
What do you most value? What would you most miss if you didn’t have it?
When I was driving and I got to the Midwest, I began hearing more country songs on the radio. What I began to appreciate about many of the songs I was hearing was the songwriters’ appreciation for the simple things in life. I heard at least two songs which mentioned feeling grateful for “a roof over my head and shoes on my feet.” How often do we forget to appreciate the most basic things?
What do you most value?
If you’re thinking of possessions, I urge you to broaden your thinking. Here is what I most value:
- Clean air,
- Pure drinking water,
- A healthy earth in which to plant food,
- A place of shelter,
- The people (and animals) I love.
The first four items on my list ensure physical survival. The last three things ensure emotional and spiritual health. Sure, I could survive without beauty, but my spirit would wither. Sure, I could survive with people telling me what I could and could not do, but it would not be a very pleasant existence. And what’s the point of any of the above if there is no one with whom to share it all? We all need someone to care about us, to love, to keep us company, to talk with.
I submit that if we suddenly had no money in this world, our sense of what is valuable would shift considerably. Suddenly we’d all be hungering for fertile land with good supplies of clean water, and either places of shelter or materials from which shelter could be built. If we get back to the basics, this is all we really need. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
Let’s put things in perspective. Let’s be grateful for the simple things. A roof over our head, shoes on our feet, clean water to drink, good food to eat, and someone to love.
We’re all familiar with that timeless piece of wisdom found in Ecclesiastes:
“There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8)
Well, I am realizing there is a time to serve and a time to refrain from serving; a time to give care and a time to let others care-give; a time to immerse myself in the health and well-being of others and a time to immerse myself in the health and well-being of self; a time to wear myself out and a time to restore myself.
Most of my friends know that I took a leave of absence from my beautiful and beloved home in Colorado to help my father in his transition into a nursing home and through the latter stages of Alzheimer’s. I’ve also been supporting my mother emotionally as she experiences life without the daily presence of her husband of fifty-six years. What has additionally changed this last week is that, sadly, my mother also had to be admitted into the nursing home – and not because she needed more care, but because the she and my father and the rest of the family are very simply running out of money.
It is sad to me that after a lifetime of working so very hard at his work as well as investing in some property, everything that had been earned has disappeared in the face of taxes, fuel costs, health insurance, and the cost of hiring caregivers. We simply had to take a bed when one was available because otherwise the money would have completely disappeared and we’d have had to wait for a Medicaid bed.
It has been a sad time in the Greb family. In addition to now supporting Mom in this painful transition into a home, we are also faced with the imminent loss of our family home – the wonderful two-story home my father built when we had outgrown the rancher. It will be falling into the hands of the bank because we’d had to get a reverse mortgage to help pay for my parents’ expenses. Everything is changing.
Meanwhile, the Universe has been conspiring. I’d been away from Colorado for seven weeks. I was missing it, but Dad’s health was so unstable that I felt I needed to stay. Suddenly, however, wonderfully, he showed tremendous improvement. In addition, my dear friend needed her car driven from Pennsylvania to Colorado. In addition, there was a huge opportunity for me to do some short-term, good-paying work in my hometown. I told my therapist friend that I found myself wondering whether I should take a short two-week break. And she was feeling strongly guided to encourage me to return to Colorado – to my home, to my work, to the place that made my heart sing.
At the time of this therapy session, Dad was feeling much better and Mom was still at home. We didn’t yet know of what was to transpire. So Betsy masterfully guided me through all the parameters. How would Dad feel about me leaving, she asked. How would you feel if he passed over while you were away? I found myself realizing that when one begins to flow from this world to the next, they begin to not care so much about what is going on in the physical world. I began to remember that his spirit could communicate with mine whether I was by his side or not. And yes, I would most definitely want to be by his side. However, I was really burned out. I was exhausted from caring for both parents for large portions of every day. I was exhausted from overseeing Dad’s care and attending to so many details and nuances. Ultimately I began to realize that maybe the world wouldn’t end if I left for two weeks. I began to entertain the notion that maybe it would not only be extremely healthy for me, but actually a nice break for the staff from my hyper-vigilance, as well as an amazing opportunity for me to learn to move into a greater place of trust. I began to realize that it might be for the highest good of not just me, but for those around me as well, if I allowed myself this break.
As I seriously entertained the idea of a short respite, I found my joy bubbling up again. Home! Mountains! Hot springs! Friends! Beauty! My own space! A palpable presence of Spirit! Nature in all its magnificent glory!
Oh oh OH! It felt so good to give myself permission to return for just a short time to a place where I knew I could restore and renew myself.
And then we got word of needing to move Mom.
I gave my dear sister the space to give Mom the painful news of her imminent and unwelcome move. (Karen is so much better at that kind of thing than me!) Afterwards, I and Mom’s caregiver were there to comfort Mom and to help her see different ways of looking at the situation. She would be closer to Dad. She would have more support, more care. She would have the opportunity to make friends, engage in more activities. We would still be going out to breakfast with the family occasionally, she could walk around town. It wasn’t a prison! And slowly, gradually, Mom began to bravely shift into a position of acceptance.
At one point, there was an opening in the conversation and I confessed to her that there was an opportunity for me to return to Colorado for two weeks to make some decent money. (I’d been virtually without income during the whole time I was in Pennsylvania supporting my parents.) To my surprise and delight, she understood. She said she would have help, she’d be okay. She gave me her blessing.
I cannot thank Mom enough for having the courage to let me go. And I’m so very grateful to Betsy, who lovingly and firmly encouraged me to consider this respite.
And so I gave myself permission. It’s okay for me to let go of managing the Universe! It’s okay for me to not be physically present for a couple of weeks. It’s okay for me to tend to myself for a couple of weeks. It’s all very much okay.
And so, right now Mom is safely ensconced in her new home and, at the moment, adjusting better than I could have hoped. And I am in the process of driving across the country. I am – very gratefully – spending the evenings and nights in motel rooms – blessedly alone, doing whatever I want or need to do. I am writing, resting, taking long hot showers. I am returning to myself.
That’s my story, friends. Thank you for listening. Blessed be.