Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Lessons from struggle - Slow down!

We live in a fast-paced society. Hurry up and get there. Do it... finish it, so you can quickly get to the next thing. Hurrying sometimes gets the job done, but it also can lead to stress and accidents. When we are more thoughtful and deliberate about what we are doing, things still get done. And sometimes with more accuracy, thoroughness, and even creativity.

We feel the push to move quickly, and we pull our children right along with us. "Hurry up!" becomes a battle cry when we are frustrated that they do not understand our busy schedules. Then, the stresses of the day are felt by us all. What a horrible way to start the day!

Planning ahead for the day can help us set priorities about what is really most important. We can ask ourselves some questions - What are the most important things I need to accomplish today? What am I going to do today that will be fun, or will bring joy and pleasure? What am I doing today to relax? What am I doing today to enhance mental and physical health?

Children can be our teachers. They often take their time to explore with focus and interest. And we can be good role models for them. Slow down. Live more intentionally. Notice the details. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Lessons from struggle - we need each other

Hello all. I'm glad to be back. I had a very busy, and could even say, "Crazy!" last 10 weeks. There have been several major family challenges. Some days I wondered if I had the energy to do one more thing. I have emerged with some lessons learned that I will be sharing in my next few journal entries. I didn't always trust this wisdom in the middle of it all. But I am trying to remember these insights for the next time. And as we all know, there will be a next time.

The first lesson I want to highlight is - When we are in the midst of difficult times, we're not supposed to go through this alone. We can reach out to others. This is one of the hardest things for me to practice. I am the big sister. I was raised with the idea that I'm supposed to be the responsible one. And somehow that translated internally as "I can do this myself"... and even more so, I'm supposed to do this myself. It is not okay to ask for help. Yes, I know, this is unrealistic. We absolutely need others to live and to function from day to day. But it is very difficult for me to ask for help.

With the challenges of the last several months, the most important support I have gotten is knowing that there were people who loved and cared about me and had me and my family in their thoughts and prayers. During this emotionally intense time, I felt held by invisible arms. This created a tangible sense that I was not alone!

I also reached out and asked some people to help in very specific ways. I didn't insist on doing it all. I am grateful for those who willingly helped. One person described the value of helping. She asked, "How do you feel when you have the opportunity to help someone?" Of course, this is a good feeling. I'm glad to be able to help others. She reminded me that when I ask for help, I give other people the opportunity to have those same good feelings. People want to help. They often don't know what would be most useful, so when we ask for specific assistance, they are glad to offer what they can.

We all need help, sometimes. We are not supposed to go through this life alone, in charge of it all. One life lesson is to learn to ask for help.... and the flip side is to offer what we can when asked. We need each other.