Wednesday, January 04, 2017

taking time to celebrate the little things

I've been on a really great track, updating my blog four times over the past week.  So hopefully, I'll keep the momentum up to write about what's been happening over here.  In between finishing the write-ups that I intend to do regarding our 2016 summer vacation. It's so important that I capture memories about the five national parks that we visited over the course of five days.  Ideally, I'll get to all of that before our 2017 summer vacation commences.

But you know, we've been busy.  So busy that in the fourth quarter of 2016, I logged more than 20,000 business travel miles.  I went to the Caribbean twice, and Europe once.  Sprinkled in between, were domestic travels around the US.  There was a month-long stretch where I didn't even bother to put my suitcase away, because I needed it so often.

When I returned from the Caribbean - the week before Thanksgiving - I was thoroughly wiped out.  So wiped out, that I literally could not get out of bed for four days straight.  On Day 1, I thought to myself, "I've been busy, I just need a day of rest. I'll surely feel better tomorrow."  On Day 2, I thought, "Hmm, I must be really tired." I was more tired on Day 3, than I was on Day 1, and couldn't even open my eyes.  By Day 4, Charlie was sounding the alarm because I actually slept through Thanksgiving, while he and the children made plans to celebrate the holiday with our friends.

My mother kept calling me to ask if I'd gone to the doctor yet, and no - I hadn't.  I was too tired.  And I was trying to convince myself, it was just fatigue from all the travel.  But that Sunday after Thanksgiving, when I was still feeling completely depleted, I dragged myself to the Emergency Room, where they gave me an IV and antibiotics, and referred me to a host of doctors. Including a hematologist who is doing a deep dive in to why my cortisol levels tend to plunge to levels like say, ZERO.  

Over the past month, I've been doing a lot of reading up on adrenal fatigue, and how sustained stress can really, really, REALLY mess with your system and cause all kinds of problems.   I'm definitely not alone in this …. I am amazed at how many people I talk with who are stressed to the point of exhaustion and burnout.  It seems that we American humans at a certain age in life, are entrenched in this crazed pattern of busyness and putting out one fire after another, with very little (if any!) down time.   And at some point, we might stop feeding our soul and doing the things that bring us JOY and PEACE, and nourish our spirit.

As for me: I love writing this blog.  I love taking pictures. And I love putting pictures with stories and as you might have noticed, over the past couple of years, I haven't done very much of either because too busy. Or, more likely, I don't have the energy at the end of the day because I'm tapped.

But taking pictures, and writing stories that force me to stop and reflect on things that are happening, and my feelings about them - really feeds my soul.  So does knitting.  And cooking. And gardening.  And visiting neighbors.  And believe it or not, cleaning the house. Dusting, and vacuuming, and organizing drawers.  I love an orderly space so much it hurts.

All this to say, I'm currently exploring a reduction from full-time to part-time work status so that I can slow down and savor these days with my children before they're all grown up and moving away.  Or, are at an age where they no longer get super excited when they see me walk in to their classroom to volunteer for an afternoon.  These are such precious times, there is nothing more important in my life than stepping back (and in to life) to really experience them.  It's all about energy conservation and putting that energy to its best use.  Especially when you have so little energy as it is.

The way I see it, I need more downtime so that I can have an opportunity to THINK about what's important, and validate that I'm on the right track with our priorities in proper place.  I've been taking a yoga class with the thought that it would give me that critical time I need to meditate and reflect, but the fact is - my energy is on remaining upright and not wobbling during a sun-salutation.  And when when we are in corpse pose at the end of class, while everyone else appears to be properly quieting their minds and bodies in Savasana, I wake myself up from snoring when I doze off wondering what I should make for dinner.

I'm hopeful that less time "working" will give me more time for "living".  And executing ideas like this one that sprung to me last night, when Henry mentioned that TODAY would be his 1/2 birthday.  That's right.  Exactly six months from today, my baby will be double digits, a whole decade.  In honor of this momentous occasion, I took a break from work to make O'Henry's for my Henry.  Seeing his thrill over this small surprise gesture was more important, and precious than anything else I might have accomplished today.  Or perhaps this month.  He told me that he made a wish when he blowed out his candle.

I did, too.


For more moments of simple happiness, just like this one.