“Pending no major life interruptions, let’s look at a date to get together,” I texted a friend, trying to re-establablish a schedule which, six weeks ago, I thought was “normal.”
Or one I was trying to make normal with a new work schedule and an emptier house with only one high schooler at home. I lived with what I thought was our new normal for (2) days before unexpected interruption(s) entered our life.
- Major water damage in our home (and the reconstruction and clean up).
- The website crashing the day I travelled to teach at a large writer’s conference.
- 2 unexpected, tragic deaths, and ten long days of ups and downs leading to the third significant death for our family, that of dad and grandfather.
Have I been exhausted with these events in the midst of my fall speaking schedule, a sports season taking my son to the state cross country meet, a book proposal, counseling and coaching others (if you join me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ve caught some of these in the moment!)?
Yes, I have. “I just want to sleep” is what my husband and I have said to each other recently. With some sleep, self-care, and tears behind us, here’s what I’ve learned about big life interruptions (BLI):
- The impact of BLI is lessened when you proactively balance what you can control. That book I released last year on balance, busyness, and not doing it all? Living the principles in our normal craziness makes the fall a little lighter when the big interruptions come. Though life is still busy between parenting, work, and ministry in my normal routine, self-care and managing priorities for this season of parenting are shock absorbers when reality goes bad.
- “Okay” is good enough. The physical and emotional messes exploding around me forced me to be content with “okay.” I wasn’t able to do a few things as thorough as I hoped during this period, and I told myself it was “okay.” My house hasn’t been cleaned in long while–it’s “okay.” I’ve been behind in emails, my website isn’t exactly how I want it, and I showed up with the sorriest bag of decorations for the mom-lockerroom decorating event. I kept up with what I could minimally do, knowing when time allows, these things will be done thoroughly, again. It’s okay.
- Taking care of what’s essential during times of crisis is important. During this six week period, I’ve rescheduled appointments, put off some responsibilities, and let event planners know the status of our family needs in case of an emergency. During times of crisis or big interruptions, it’s okay to let others step in where they can, or at least make arrangements allowing others to do so when you absolutely can’t.
- Self-care involves speaking up for your own mental or emotional health. When you’re in any role of caregiving or taking care of others (that’s you, mom!), it’s essential to take care of your mental and emotional health so you can best serve those for whom you’re responsible, both professionally and personally (sometimes you learn this the hard way). During the past several weeks, I had to focus on those most essential–my family, my clients, and conference attendees where I was speaking. At one point, I told my husband, “I’m not doing well” so he could understand why I may not be up for the regular chit-cat and daily activities. Being honest with those closest to you is a gift you give to them, and yourself.
- Give yourself time and space to recoup. Each of us handles disruptions, crisis, and grief differently. Some jump into routine to bring normalcy and clarity to a chaotic situation. Others need time and space to process, recalibrate, and feel grounded before going back to the normal routine and responsibilities. Whatever helps you the most between the crisis and the new normal, give yourself permission and grace to jump back into the craziness that “normal” may be–at your pace. If you need rest, then sleep. If you need to cry, then weep. If you need things back in order, then dig in. If you need someone to listen, then seek out the person who will do so.
Regardless of your needs, give yourself grace.
Even after the dust settles from your big life interruption, take the lessons you learned into the new normal. For me, I’m still working at a little slower pace. Not because I’m still tired, but because death brings a deeper perspective about what’s most important in life. There are huge cobwebs on the ledge in my foyer, I need to prioritize an important relationship, and I still have to reschedule some of those appointments.
Each day, I get more done, cross more off my list, and remind myself “okay” has a place in my life. I may not be the best friend, parent, wife, or social media guru right now, but I’m working at being okay+a-little-more at all of the above.
I’d love for you to join me in life that’s far beyond the picture perfect image, even on a good day.
What big life interruptions have you had? How do you handle them? What have you learned from them? We’d love to hear from you!