I am learning to soar. To dance.
In a life crammed with care-giving responsibilities, it is easy to forget about snatching moments for myself. So I recently invented what I call “Me” days. Times when I drop those heavy responsibilities that feel like a carrying a backpack crammed with college textbooks — and soar free for a few hours.
Admittedly, the learning curve is jagged. My primary occupation at the moment is care giving. This involves paying close attention to the details of other people’s lives. In this setting, I work with people who live with steep challenges. Individuals who move about, courtesy of wheeled mobility devices such as wheelchairs. Who struggle with learning to use I-phones and use one hand to lace up sneakers.
This job calls for vast amounts of energy, humor, empathy and patience. Fortunately, the agency I work for trains us on how to best assisting clients. My role is to support each person, to engage with them. Help them find ways to accomplish life goals they have set for themselves.
Recently, I realized although I was supporting my clients — and rightfully so — I was failing to support me. I felt like the residue that remains at the bottom of the cup after I’ve finished drinking tea. So what roadblock stood in the way of me advocating for myself.
Even caregivers need time to pursue the lighter side of life.
Re-setting one’s focus is difficult. For many years my time away from home was spent working, either on free-lance writing projects and as a customer service representative for companies. I got together with a friend for occasional walks but that was about it. I questioned the value of doing that after my (now ex) husband suffered a serious stroke, and I added being the only driver in the family and trying to look after his needs as well to my weighty list of “must do’s.” When I got too tired, I made myself repeat over and over, “I am strong. It’s my job to take care of everything. Mine.”
Well, my must-do’s list has shifted. But it still exists. My mother needs assistance to sort through the many (never-ending?) boxes of her life’s possessions. I continue to worry about my youngest 20-something son as he works to establish himself in a demanding job.
Can i really say this is my time? My time to find joy, to do more of what I want to do?
The answer is yes. One reason is depression. I am prone to chronic depression and will live with knowing it can crop up — if I don’t take care of myself.
Only I can make myself seek out times for fun and growth and chill-axing, such as a few weeks ago when attending an outdoor concert with a friend. Flowing Celtic style music buoyed my spirits, the pizza and salad she shared with me was crisp, tangy, sweet. At evening’s end, music soared and I bounced up and danced. Like a butterfly. Dip and spreading my arms. Laughing as my friend recorded the moment with her camera.
A time to be me.
(C) 2016 by Mary Louise Van Dyke. All rights reserved.