Balance Archives

Hanging Onto Your Dreams in Times of Crisis

A number of us find it challenging to act on our goals and dreams when we’re busy supporting someone in our life that’s in great need. That can be an elderly parent, a sick relative, or a hurting friend.

Hand and Heart

For a few years now, my sister has been the person of great need in my life. In 2004, she was in a terrible car accident and sustained a traumatic brain injury. Unfortunately, she’s been left with serious difficulties as a result of her brain injury. Her needs come in waves. There are times when she’s doing well on her own and other times when she crashes and ends up hospitalized, almost dying. Each time she crashes, it’s a major crisis for my family. We all put in a tremendous amount of energy to try and support her.

My sister is going through one of those times right now. It’s been a challenge for me to find the right balance of supporting her, supporting my family, and not neglecting my own life.

During this time, I went on a business trip. It was wonderful to get away and forget about everything going on at home. On the last night of my trip, as I socialized with the my fellow seminar participants, my husband called. He had been mugged and sustained a terrible blow to his head. After seeing what my sister has gone through, it was terrifying for him to experience a serious head injury.

Jon’s orbit around his eye had been fractured and there was air in his cerebrospinal fluid. This was devastating to me. But as I left the group of seminar participants, my teacher told me to remember to still do my homework. Now you could take that as being insensitive, but her advice was actually good. It’s easy to drop everything when a crisis like this occurs, but that’s not always the healthiest choice. She knew that doing my homework would help keep me in balance. I’d actually be stronger in supporting others when I was talking care of myself.

Fortunately, it looks like my husband will fully recovery.

Sometimes, I wondered what other people thought when I was taking time for myself while my husband was recovering from his head injury, but I did it any way. It made me stronger overall, and I’m able to give to my sister, my family, and my husband in ways that I couldn’t have if I hadn’t taken that time out to focus on my own goals and dreams.

A New Way of Looking at Balance

One way of looking at ourselves is that we are composed of four different aspects:

  1. Physical/Doing
  2. Emotional
  3. Thinking/Planning
  4. Intuitive/Inspiration/Spiritual

I’ve noticed that one cause of stuckness is repeatedly addressing an issue from one of these aspect at the neglect of the rest. I’ve seen people who were afraid to deal with their emotions try over and over again to address emotional and relational issues from their intellect without making much headway.

I’ve also seen myself do the opposite and get stuck in the emotional aspect. One year my husband was working 80 to 90 hours a week. I passionately oppose that lifestyle. It was tearing me up to see him live like that. I knew staying stuck in those intense emotions every day wasn’t helping me nor the situation. So I hired a Byran Katie counselor. With Byran Katie work, you take something highly emotional and work with it with your intellect. This helps you see it more clearly and have a larger perspective. I went from daily aggravation and despair to being able to detach and focus on my own life.

Sometimes, it’s one aspect that we’re neglecting. I’ve gotten all inspired, which led to great planning and emotionally excitement, but then got distracted by another inspired idea and never got around to actually doing anything about the first idea.

Some people will neglect their physical body because they think they should keep going when what they really need is a rest.

Others will try to stay emotionally positive about a situation, when what they really need is to think about what’s causing their negative emotions and do something it.

Each of these four aspects work beautifully together when balanced. If you’re currently stuck in an area of your life, here’s some question you can ask yourself to begin to return to that working balance:

  • Do I need to take better care of my body?
  • Do I need to take action on something?
  • Do I need to bite the bullet and feel difficult emotions in order to work through my current challenge?
  • Do I need to listen to what my emotions are trying to tell me?
  • Am I habitually doing the same things over and over without thinking through whether it’s still working for me?
  • Do I need inspiration?
  • Do I need to develop spiritual trust in the process of life?

It’s like a puzzle. Keep playing with balancing these aspects until you’ve hit that sweet spot and things begin to flow again.

 

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What’s Your Longing Trying to Tell You?

A few years ago, for a period of six months, we lived in Portland, Oregon. We knew it was temporary so we rented a small one-bedroom apartment. Our focus was to enjoy that beautiful area of the country. One of our loves is food. Portland is a major restaurant town so we decided we’d eat out 3 to 4 times a week for the whole six months. It was luxurious!

Pazzo Restaurant, Portland, OR

 
Recently, both my husband and I had suddenly started longing for Portland. My husband even asked if I wanted to move there. Fortunately, I knew this longing was about something different than actually moving. We both love where we live and really missed it when we were in Portland.

One day as I was deciding what to have for dinner, I realized our lives had become too much work and not enough fun. On weekends we had long lists of things to do in our yard and house. We had gradually come to a place where we were no longer taking a day to go have fun.

This life style totally snuck up on us. The first weekend we started it, we did projects the whole weekend. We felt so good about what we had accomplished. We thought we could continue at that pace and make major headway toward those things we’d been wanting to accomplish around the house.

The ironic thing is we quickly became inefficient. We were making long lists to do for the weekend but we weren’t really getting much accomplished. Part of us knew we needed a break and was slowing us down. That part was also trying to communicate through our fond memories of Portland.

When I realized what was going on, I decided to have a Portland-style dinner. I relished the gourmet foods I had and even drank a Portland beer. It felt so nourishing, not only physically, but in my whole being.

I told my husband that one day each weekend I was going to have fun. He was welcome to join me. But I was no longer going to fill my weekends with to-do’s.

I’m glad I had the discernment to know that my longing for Portland wasn’t about actually moving. It was about a small change I needed to make in my current life, much easier than making a total move. And I got instant results.

Is there there anything you’re longing for in your life? If so, what qualities about what you long for can you incorporate into your life right now?

With some projects, we don’t show the world our rough drafts, our struggles, and our weaknesses as we create. We polish them up before we let the world see them. I do that with most of my art, writing, and dancing. But there are times to let the rough drafts show, and doing that can build confidence.

One example in my life is the water retention basin we dug in our front yard. It’s a big ugly hole 2 feet deep with 2 trees planted in it. We are landscaping a little at time as we have time. We wanted to plant the trees first because we knew it would take time for them to grow tall enough to give us the privacy we wanted. We put the water retention basin in because we’re creating an environmental-friendly landscape to match our environmentally-friendly house.

After we dug the basin and planted the trees, our next priority was to plant shade plants on the east and west sides of our house. We live in Albuquerque and don’t have an air conditioner nor a swamp cooler, so shading the house in the summer is essential. We decided to postpone beautifying the retention basin until after we planted the shading trees and bushes.

This retention basin has sat looking ugly in our front yard for months. I’ve had neighbors ask me why we would put such a hideous hole in our front yard. We’re not breaking any rules of the neighborhood, and we do plan on making it pretty. But we’ll be doing that in our own timeline.

People’s mean criticism has been like barbs jabbed into my heart. I felt insecure. It’s scary to publicly expose a non-polished project like this.

When I’d feel one of those barbs, I’d take care of myself. I’d visit the Albuquerque Museum of Natural History to see their beautiful finished retention basin and remind myself that I’m not crazy. I’d get emotional support from my husband. The barbed wounds would heal, and I’d be more confident that I could expose my rough draft and still feel good about my ideas.

I have a better understanding of what  Noah went through when building his ark. And I really appreciate that we’ve kept that story alive. It gives me strength to think about it.

Have you ventured out with your own “Noah’s Ark” project? It’s definitely great character-building!

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