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On Shifting Focus

It has been some time since I published here, and that was no oversight or accident.

September began with birthdays, for my loved ones and then for me. We transitioned into the 'hybrid schedule' for school for my eldest child, and I continued full-time care for my youngest child. I changed my 9 to 5 work schedule to part-time.

Then I celebrated my birthday morning with a Woods Walk - my favorite activity - where I unfortunately slipped and threw my back out.

I am the last person I tend to during challenging times. I fight with myself to take my own good advice about self-care. When I make the time to read or knit or create or rest, it is only after all the caretaking boxes have been checked. These are not complaints, or excuses. This is just how I like to operate, and even after the physically uncomfortable and instructive September I had, it is likely how I will continue to operate. The upside is that I have gotten very creative in how I check the caretaking AND self-care boxes.

The main activity I engage in with my children these days is an Outdoor Explore.

Nature has been our Sanctum Sanctorum - for anyone familiar with Man in the Ceiling by Jules Feiffer - the place where we come alive and put to the side the weirdness that is 2020. My children get the wiggles out, get to 'learn remotely' about different animals and trees and fungus, and I come back online, wake from my own state of Busy but Bored. Our plates are overly full, and we are not alone in this. The news is noisy. Our lives are noisy, despite the shadow of coronavirus dampening our comings-and-goings. I've had even less time than usual to engage in the material I'm most excited about. As someone who spends my waking hours actively and passively in tune with how others are feeling and thinking and doing, it can be exhausting if I don't take the time to find center.

As an anchor for others, it was even more important that I spent September in a state of reset. I've been researching, studying, working with clients. But I have not published here, because this is intended to be a space for sharing wisdom, giving others resources, and lifting others up.

What I found is that I am not immune to overwhelm. I am not immune to worry. I am very skilled and intuitive when it comes to helping others, but I was not applying those same skills to myself, even though I needed to.

As a result, my body said, "HARD STOP. That's Enough."

Right after I got back home from that birthday walk, after a truly uncomfortable car ride, I took the very first bath I've taken in the house we have lived in for four-and-a-half years. I shuffled around the house after my injury, moving slowly, wishing I had a cane, laughing at my own inability to climb the stairs. I diligently alternated ice pack and heating pad, reduced inflammatory foods, drank glass after glass of water, stretched, took acetaminophen and ibuprofen. I remarked to those who knew about the injury that I can always count on my body to let me know when I'm overworked or exhausted.

And so when I took September off from publishing here, I did so with reluctance, but with intention. I knew I wouldn't be able to be buoyant and full of life advice when I felt so low and fragile. I didn't want to burden others with my difficulties. I worried I would feel vulnerable, something I try to avoid at almost any cost, and that others would not want to hear about what I was going through, since everyone is going through so much right now. I didn't want sympathy, because I didn't feel like others would have it to give. A long conversation with a dear friend reminded me that what folks need right now isn't necessarily a smiley-bubbly-shiny perspective, but real talk. And when we give others the opportunity to support us, we are helping them as well.

We want to support others, just as we want to feel supported.

Coming out the other side of September, I recognize that it was the care of others that helped me move through the past month with some grace. My partner, my children, my mother, my friends, all who knew gave love and support and wise words that in no small way contributed to my recovery.

Happy to report that I've rehabbed nicely, although I am still on low-level alert for warning signs of a flare up. I intend to go further and do an online inflammation reduction program for 21 days, offered by a local - to me - Health and Fitness Instructor (Fitness by Danielle).

My commitments to myself, which I encourage you to consider as well:

I will actively filter what responsibilities are worth keeping, and which are worth shedding.

I will make more pockets of time and space for mental and emotional rest and recovery.

I will purposely work toward following my own good advice, and learning to lean on others when I need help.

With Love, Hope, and Humility -

Rachel V.

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