How would I ever get through the challenges facing me?
Life was full of unexpected events that seemed overwhelming and never-ending.
As I took time to be quiet and reflect, I had a vivid vision that painted a pictured of what was happening to me.
I am standing in waist-deep water in the ocean. Usually, I love the waves and salt water surrounding me as I prepare to swim and float. This time is different. The waves are swirling around me relentlessly and the sand is shifting under my feet. I can’t keep my balance because of the undertow that threatens to pull me under. The sky is angry looking with red streaks of light amidst the grey and black clouds. I feel a sense of panic and fear. I am gulping in the salt water and flailing my arms.
What do I do? I have lost control. How do I get my footing? How do I keep my head above water? What will keep me calm and centred in this time of turmoil?
This image is present for me because of what has been happening recently. As a family, we have been dealing with aging parents. My husband’s father fell frequently and was hospitalized several times. He became confused and unable to eat or drink. His wife was placed in a home and they didn’t see each other for weeks. They both needed permanent placement, which is almost impossible to access. With my background in nursing, I felt responsible for their medical care and I got impatient with the gaps in the services of the health care system. This was a time of loneliness, disorientation, and fear for both of them and a burden for us as children.
As I reflect on my life and the myriad of uncertainties and stressors I have faced, I am also reminded of the practices I have engaged in over the years. Sometimes these rituals seem mundane and I do them routinely, not knowing if they actually make a difference.
Here is what I know to be true. These actions are a powerful gift to me as I find sure footing in the shifting sand of tumultuous events coming my way. I stand solidly and firmly while the waves roll around me and the wind whips in my face. I am going to be safe as a result of the foundation I have built over the years.
What are the practices that ground me?
1. Walking in Mother Nature and noticing the rhythms of the seasons brings me joy and peace of mind. I breathe in the smell of the earth after a rain, or I watch the clouds race across the sky. The gifts of Nature never fail to comfort and inspire me. Moving my body is also a way to release tension and allow my emotions to move through me.
2. I begin my day in solitude as I sip my coffee and write in my journal. It is a way of meeting myself and setting my intention for the new day. Gratitude and venting take turns during this time of giving space for myself.
3. I focus on eating nourishing food and drinking plenty of water. I keep up my weight training at the gym and make this commitment a priority. I have learned that investing in my health in the midst of difficult times ensures I will have the ability to care for others.
4. My bedtime routine has become important in my quest to be grounded and calm. A seemingly simple action such as taking the time to wash my face and clean my teeth without rushing helps me to feel at peace. I have been experimenting with meditation and tapping before sleep, and it is calming my nervous system.
5. I am asking for help. Rather than thinking I have to “do it all,” I admit I am not managing, and I let others know that I am willing to receive support. Coffee or a phone call with a trusted friend are a chance for me to share my heart and receive comfort. My husband and I take turns with shopping and cooking. If we are both exhausted, we order in. I am learning to let go of all the medical details and trust that my husband’s parents will be cared for.
Time has passed and I continue to rely on my rituals to keep me calm and grounded. My husband’s father died in early May. We were able to be with him as he travelled his final journey, and I am honoured to have those memories. We found a home for my mother-in-law where she receives full care. After a marriage of 74 years, she is lonely and so we continue to support her and care for her emotional needs.
My rituals do not take away the grief and sorrow as we mourn the loss of our father and grandfather. And, I am grateful for the underlying peace that is available to me as I keep on with my practices.
I wonder what your rituals or practices are? I would love to hear what keeps you calm in the midst of upheaval and uncertainty. Thank you for witnessing me as I “found my footing” in the waves of change.