Baby elephant on a tightrope
Cancer is a huge time sucker. Really! I had no idea. It takes over your life. One week I was supposed to have one doctor's appointment. A light week, really. Just one appointment! It was a long appointment. And after it was over, I had a whole slate of new things to fit into my schedule that week which required a bit of juggling, the help of other people, and a whole lot of time.
It happens to all of us, though. We are making it through our day or week, and then WHAM! Something happens that throws a wrench in our schedule. It may be a sick child, a big project at work, a home repair that needs to be addressed, a health crisis, a natural disaster, a family matter...insert your own challenge here. What makes it doable? How do you manage when that unexpected thing comes up?
I have never been a queen of organization, but I am learning that I am not completely disorganized, either. And guess what? All of those time management and organizational people may be right...the more organized you are, the more you can juggle these extras into your life. I hate to admit it, but I think they are on to something. Planning ahead has definitely helped me to cope.
Here are some things that have been helpful to me:
*Planning meals: I keep the pantry, fridge, and freezer stocked with meals made ahead, or ingredients that make putting dinner on the table quick and easy. For difficult days following surgery or chemotherapy, I lined up friends and relatives to bring in meals and help with cleaning. It has really been a lifesaver. Knowing there is always something on hand for my family to eat has been a tremendous blessing.
*Do your homework: Reading up on my surgery online helped me glean tips from other women as to how to prepare. A comfortable post-mastectomy camisole, button-up shirts, and pillows to prop up my arm were just a few amenities I was glad to have when I came home from the hospital. After attending chemo class, I stocked up on some basics to help with potential side effects, and it was nice to know going into the week without knowing what lovely side effects would hit me or when, that I had coping mechanisms in place. No late night trips to the store for me (or my nice husband)!
*Ask for help: This one is surprisingly hard. However, I am learning to ask people to take some things off my plate, and that relieves the stress, too. I am also learning that asking for help keeps too much stress from piling up on my family. So, when your own crisis hits, ask for help until you get your balance back. Friends, neighbors, and relatives are surprisingly willing to help with children, driving, cleaning, food, cash, and other things you may need when your life throws you a curve ball.
William Arthur Ward is quoted as saying "A well-developed sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to your steps as you walk the tightrope of life." I agree. Look for reasons to laugh. For me, though, my spiritual life is an even more important coping mechanism than a sense of humor. I recommend both.
What are the ways you cope with the unexpected events in your life? How do you keep your balance and keep your life moving forward in a crisis?