“We all have the power to create the life we really want to have. The key is finding the tools and support system that will help us to most easily and quickly bring forth, from within, our highest and our best”.
~ Author unknown
Life Must Go On- It’s Time To Fly
“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood”.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Life stops for no one. Time stood still for six months. Everything was on hold and we were truly living day to day. I literally felt like I was holding my breath and my shoulders were permanently parallel with my ears for six months. No future plans. Even our ability to make doctors’ appointments depended on my parents’ health. All I could think about was how to get through each day, each hospitalization, and each health decline. Around July 2010, after six months of intense immersion of hospitals, neurological rehabilitation centers, tests, doctors, surgeries, and radiation, and moving through all my emotions, I finally started breathing and feeling like we would live week-to-week; maybe even month-to-month! This was the point where I decided to start living again…. As mentioned earlier, I honestly didn’t think my dad would have lived that long. I thought when I left my job that we would have…maybe four (4) months tops. I wasn’t sure how long my mom would live but the hardest work, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually was caring for my dad.
When I realized my dad was still vacillating on whether he wanted to die or not, I felt trapped and mistakenly thought my future depended on whether he lived or died. When I took back my power…my life… I released this belief. This opened us up for the people, situations, and opportunities needed to move forward. We had everything in order. Nothing was left unsaid on my end and encouraged the same for my children, sister and mom. I felt completely at peace with everyone.
“The first step toward success is taken when you refuse to be a captive of the environment in which you first find yourself.”
~ Mark Caine
As best we could, we slowly brought our heads up from the suffocating sand to above ground and started to breathe! Life! Yeah! Let’s bring laughter in our lives again. Not that we didn’t find humor in our journey but… still, there was this tightness, constriction, and tension in the air at times.
It was time…Amanda would return to college and I would return to work. I worked during the day and she went to college at night. My decision to reenter the workforce and continue my career manifested greater opportunity. We made additional changes in our home to maximize space and privacy needs, ensured all arrangements were made, whether one or both of them passed away a day, month, year or decade, confirmed funeral options, and worked as a true team to support each other.
Thankfully, my sister was at a place physically and emotionally where she can help be a more equal partner with me moving forward. I realized how thankful I am to have three kids. I never realized this before until a friend once told me she and her husband wanted two kids because when she and her husband are gone, they wanted there to be two siblings to support each other and be with each other the rest of their lives. How profound and selfless, I thought! I tucked this tidbit away and realized just how grateful I am to have my sister.
Through all of these experiences and feelings, our family’s love for each other grew. Things that used to annoy me about my parents suddenly didn’t matter. I started practicing the very wise saying and way of life “Don’t sweat the small stuff.”
If you are a caregiver, all your feelings are completely normal. You may be ‘stuck’ with a particular emotion for a longer period than others and you may quickly move through other emotions and healing stages. The key thing to remember is there comes a time when, for your health, you must move from a place of being stuck or entrenched in the daily experience to acceptance and peace. This is what allowed me to move on in my life’s journey.
Remember, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
It still amazes me that we all lived together as one big happy family. Looking back, I see the synchronicity of this journey. The seemingly distinct events and circumstances came together in the order in which they needed to for our benefit. For example, I doubt I would have left my twenty-one-year career had it not been for my dad’s accident. Despite my stress as a caregiver, the stress I left behind with my career probably extended my life considerably! I am a better leader, mother, daughter, sister, coach and friend because of my experiences.
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
~ Maya Angelou
This journey has profoundly changed me in so many ways. I feel an expanded capacity for compassion. We’ve all healed in ways we needed to, grown in ways we couldn’t have imagined, and created even stronger bonds of love. I’ve always felt our family was close. I feel our family has grown so much more through the challenges, trials, and tribulations in ways I didn’t think possible. To summarize why I did what I did and how I got through this journey, here’s what I know for sure:
1. Now, more than ever, I live consistently and in alignment with my values and beliefs. When I live consistent with my passion, life purpose, and values, things are easier, everything is clearer, I am open to receiving the lessons in all experiences, and making time and getting results seems almost effortless. I truly ‘got’ that when we aren’t moving in alignment with spirit, our values, and beliefs, things are a struggle. Disease manifests somehow and somewhere in our lives or in our physical bodies.
I would have waves of living my truth of who I know I am over the years and feel that I am now completely detached from my title, position, or other labels we put on ourselves. I know, feel, and believe I made the right decisions for my growth. There were so many people who tried telling me that it’s not my responsibility to take care of my parents, or say “I couldn’t do what you are doing or just put them in a home and visit when you can. I knew, felt, and believed this wasn’t in alignment with my values and beliefs. It isn’t how I would want to be treated if the roles were reversed.
2. I drew from life experiences to help me grow. I am a better mother, daughter, sister, friend, leader, and person as a result of increased compassion and enhanced space available for things anew than I was. All of my experiences carry over and impact how I lead my teams, raise my children, spend my time, and honor myself.
3. My spiritual beliefs without question served me well through my darkest hours. I believe that when our physical body dies, our soul lives on. When my grandmother died in 2002, I mourned her loss. I cried knowing I would never hug her again or eat her cooking. I had a deep knowing she would watch over us, be there for us, and help us in ways she couldn’t in the physical realm. I had comfort in knowing that my relationship with my parents would and will be just as strong, if not stronger after death because, they, too, could help us and protect us. My beliefs about death and dying and what happens after death brought me comfort and joy. I knew that no matter what happened, we would be ‘soul’ family.
4. My faith and belief that our Heavenly Father will guide me through all things brings immense tearful joy every day. I believe if we put our worries in God’s hands and truly listen to guidance, He will pave the way through anything. He carries us, wipes our tears, listens to our prayers, and always guides us in the right direction at the right time.
5. I knew, felt, and believed in the power of the mind. My dad is a prime example of the power of our minds to heal. I have healed myself from hernias, helped shrink cancer, helped clients overcome a variety of things and through my spiritual journey, I always knew the power of our minds could do literally anything we put our minds to. Although I fell off the cart, so to speak, in recent years, this experience has reinforced my belief in something greater than ourselves and in the power we all have inside to change our lives.
6. I drew from my immense strength. I’ve always been a strong person. This buffer I built over the years helped me navigate through all the craziness, tragedy, senseless, hopelessness, and anger and turn tragedy into inspiration, make sense of the senseless, turn helplessness into hope and anger into peace.
I think Maya Angelou sums it up best:
“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.” I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Here we are at the end of this caregiving journey so far. There are moments of impact that turn our lives upside down. How we choose to handle these moments is up to us. It takes courage to do the right thing and the right time and for the right reasons. I feel grateful to have been guided to do just that.
It is time to fly. It is time to soar. Now is your time. There is no time like the present!!
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