When Taking Care of Others Means Taking Care of Yourself

If you can’t tell from reading the title of this post, I’ve been feeling a little burned out. No, actually, let’s make that an extra crispy, black-as-charcoal kind of burned out. Like these poor pieces of toast.

Image courtesy of flickr.

Image courtesy of flickr.

Between getting the munchkins ready to go back to school and the release of 2 books, it’s been one crazy, busy month! And September’s not even over yet. Aiya. :O I’m not complaining though; I am very, very thankful (especially about school starting again, haha). But I have to admit that I’m tired … and when mama’s tired, she can get a bit grouchy. Okay, make that very grouchy.

I found myself getting impatient and frustrated with the kids more often recently and had to ask myself, Is it them or is it me? Sure, there are plenty of situations when they push all the wrong buttons and squeeze out every last drop of long-suffering juice I have left in me, but lately it’s been more a matter of me already feeling dried up with nothing to give. Especially last week when I was overseeing an all-day Facebook party and discovered that due to some technical glitches I couldn’t leave the computer for more than a few minutes at a time. Which meant I even had to bring my laptop with me when I went to pick up the munchkins from school (don’t try that at home, folks!). When we got home, I was running around like a mad woman trying to cook dinner for ourselves and my in-laws (the tables have turned ’cause my mother-in-law had knee replacement surgery) and check Facebook and help the kids with whatever they needed help with. Whew, I’m tired just remembering that day. 😉 Thankfully, the party went well and everyone was fed and in one piece by the end of the night. 🙂 But boy, was I pooped the next day … and the next and the next. And because I was pooped, I was not feeling my best or being my best. So yes, it was definitely me.

Lesson learned: I need to take care of myself in order to take care of those around me.

A friend commented recently that she realized she needs to drop one of the balls she’s been juggling. When I read that, I was like, Wow, I wish I could do that! But the truth is, I can. And I should. For the sake of my family, but also for my own sake. ‘Cause no matter how amazing a juggler I think I am, my arms need to rest once in a while. And most of all, my heart needs to recharge and refuel so I can be the best juggler wife, mama, sister, daughter and friend that I can be.

Here’s a verse I take comfort in when I’m weary.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

And here’s a beautiful, calming song for you when you’re feeling weary: “All is Well” by Voctave.

How do you know when you’re juggling too many balls?

#Rest

A dear friend of mine just sent me a message reminding me to take time for myself during this busy season. My first reaction was, “Time for me, what’s that?!” 😛 But then I took a deep breath and basked in the idea of it. Just thinking about being still and resting and even sleeping (this is my favorite definition of taking time for myself, LOL) gave me a sense of peace.

I wonder if there’s anyone else out there who’s searching for peace, too? (Yup, I see those hands waving in agreement!)

Hubby commented the other day, “I can’t believe the year’s almost over!”

I sighed and replied, “The end of the year always rushes by so quickly.”

And boy does it ever. Starting from when school starts in September, there’s Back to School Nights to attend, homework folders to keep track of, laundry to do, field trips to chaperone, Halloween costumes to buy, more laundry to do, birthdays to celebrate, Thanksgiving meals to cook and eat, Christmas performances to watch, Christmas shopping to do, Christmas plans to make and even more laundry to do. (Anyone else feel like they’re constantly washing and folding clothes?)

Image courtesy of MR LIGHTMAN/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of MR LIGHTMAN/freedigitalphotos.net

Just thinking about this long to-do list has made my shoulders tight and my face grim. Which is why I totally need and appreciate my friend’s reminder to SLOOOW DOWN.

So, I’m going to make an effort to not make an effort. 😉 Or at least I’ll try to loosen up the timelines I give myself and spread out the tasks I need to do. And when I do make an effort, it will be to sit down and enjoy the precious moments I have with family and friends.

‘Cause the laundry basket will still be there waiting for me tomorrow.

The song for today’s post is actually a collection of 51 instrumental hymns (over an hour of peaceful, calming music!).

What will you do to find time to rest during this busy holiday season? 

Multi-tasking = An Overtaxed Brain

There comes a point in your life (likely when you’ve reached the summit of the proverbial hill) when you start diagnosing your own medical issues. This happened to me about a month ago when I began doing research (aka. googling) on some of the “symptoms” I seemed to be exhibiting. I brought up my suspicions with my doctor at a routine check-up and this was the gist of our conversation …

Me: “I think my thyroid levels might be low. Is that what’s causing my high cholesterol, slight weight gain in the past year and my fuzzy brain? I have a hard time remembering simple words that I want to use.”

Doc (with a matter-of-fact look): “No, your levels are normal. Your brain is probably just overtaxed. It happens a lot to people who multi-task, like women. We try to take care of the house, a job, the kids, etc. It’s a lot for your brain to juggle.”

Hmm. No kidding.

I came away from that appointment a bit relieved that my hormones were in sync (though disappointed that I now had to blame my weight gain on the extra sweets I had been eating, haha), but also concerned that I might never get my brain back to normal. Because I’ll be the first one to admit that I am great at multi-tasking. I’m talking about being able to nurse a newborn and cut a napping toddler’s hair at the same time. Being able to listen – and absorb – most of what two little individuals are simultaneously telling me and have an answer for both of them. Simply put, I’m a “doing a load of laundry while cooking dinner while wiping a child’s bottom while opening the mail while crafting my next article in my head while feeding the pet guinea pigs while unloading the dishwasher” kind of multi-tasker. (All you moms out there know I’m only slightly exaggerating!)

Even though I may pride myself on being able to do a bazillion things at once, I have to say the time has come when I’m starting to question whether or not I really want to be a chicken. You know the one I’m talking about – the chicken running around with its head cut off. That’s not a pretty image to conjure up, literally or figuratively.

Couldn't find a picture of a headless chicken running, so this will have to do! :)

Couldn’t find a picture of a headless chicken running, so this will have to do! 🙂

It’s been gradually dawning on me that my brain might really be overtaxed. I realized this when I forgot to pay a credit card bill on time – two months in a row. And the other week when I picked up a pot of tea and almost poured what I thought was soy sauce into the dish of wasabi I was using for my sushi. And most recently, this morning when I woke up and for the life of me could not remember the name of an acquaintance hubby and I were just talking about last night. (It finally came to me ten minutes later after I ran through a whole list of names in my head.)

Sigh, I think it’s safe to say that we have all wandered around like a headless chicken before. Maybe even in this moment you are feeling rather “fowly” as you attempt to simultaneously read this post, eat lunch and make a phone call or two. (I’ll admit I scheduled an orthodontist and an ophthalmologist appointment while I typed this up!) If so, it’s time to give our cerebrums a break.

Let’s remember to focus more on being, than doing. To remind ourselves that the world will not fall apart (and that thing or multiple things we have to do will still be waiting for us) if we take off our multi-tasking hats for a little while. For me, it was telling myself that it would be okay to write this blog post one day later than I meant to because sometimes schedules need to be thrown out the window. 😉

And just how do we rest our brains? Maybe by spending a few minutes unwinding with a good book. Going on a walk and listening to the birds sing. Turning on the radio and dancing like no one’s watching (even if you’re stuck in traffic). Setting aside some time at the start or end of the day to pray and just be still. Taking some deep breaths and pausing for a moment.

Ahh. I feel a little more rested just by thinking about resting. 🙂

So let’s try to slow down a bit today. Take a moment to rest and renew your brain. Cause if it’s headless poultry you’re after, it’d be best to take a trip to the market than to become one yourself.

Take a listen to Otis Redding’s “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay“, that reminds us to “waste our time” once in a while. Here’s also a cover of the same song by Sara Bareilles.

What do you do to rest your overtaxed brain?