One of the most common questions I get asked is, in fact, formed in the prose of a question:
“How do you do it?!?!”
Wherein “it” refers to managing my five children, a job as a childcare provider (because I wasn’t bat-shit crazy enough with five of my own), a household, a design team spot for a wicked scrapbooking store, a President’s seat on my Condominium Board…whilst being a spiritual influence and a health advocate for a mo-fo autoimmune disease called “Lupus.”
Oh hellz yes, I manage!
Chronic Truth #1: Because I have to.
Well, I’ve certainly learned a few things having fallen down the rabbit hole…and I’d like to share how to pop up on the other side with fewest brain cell defections as possible.
1) Prioritize: How many times have you been told that “you’re spreading yourself too thin!”
Where can you scale back in order to provide yourself with some added minutes to…nap? Write? Pee?
Make yourself a “timeline” in a spreadsheet program. Enter in the cells to the very left time increments of half hours. Along the top of the spreadsheet, write all the days of the week. FILL ‘ER UP! Write everything you NEED to do, first. Then, WANT to. Then, WISH to. Bet you’ve already filled it up with the “need” to…it’s a fine illustration of how much we actually have on our overflowing plates!
[enter cosmic clue-by-four, stage left]
What happens when you overdo it? Muscle fatigue. Strain. Flares. STRESS. We all know that.
A “clue-by-four” is, then, when the Cosmos decides you’ve been being an asshat long enough and not taking care of your physical, emotional and spiritual needs…so it steps in and gives you a big smack-upside-the-head in the form of:
Chronic Truth #2: Exhaustion. Illness. Flares. Skin eruptions. Sensitivities. Heart attack.
And? It’s going to hit you when it is absolutely, POSITIVELY, the utterly worst time.
Choice? Prioritization is the less painful of the evils 😉
2) Find a hobby. I cannot stress how important this is, nor how much work it can be. Many with chronic conditions cannot function at their pre-health-snafu levels. Dancers can’t walk. Singers’ voices are stolen by Sjögren’s Syndrome. Knitters have laid down their needles.
Choice? Find. Something. Else. Then you can use your determination as a trump card to tell the world, “Hey, I’m tryin’ over here!” *Trying* scores good ju-ju points for the days that are less-than-stellar. People will know you’re all about the “balance.” The Cosmos will leave you alone.
3) Put the hobby ON the damn timeline! You schedule it in, people ask you for stuff, you say you’re busy…HUZZAH! If you don’t, your emotional, personal and spiritual needs suffer and the Cosmos sneaks up all ninja and smacks you upside the head. Not cool.
Choice? Be accountable. Do or do not. You can’t call Whine-1-1 unless you do the work.
Chronic Truth #3: Life with chronic illness sucks bollocks. And? You can *totally* persevere.
4) Communicate. Lard tunderin’ jeezus I wish people would, if they ever make a choice to do something, choose to do THIS. Doctors aren’t mind readers. Caregivers aren’t mind readers. Friends and family aren’t mind readers. Unless you can do the Vulcan Mind Meld…
Tell. Them. What. You. Need.
“I need to find a way to move without exerting myself!”
– I heard about doing yoga on a chair…check it out!
“I want to learn about photography…where should I start?”
– I saw something posted on Google about _________site for beginners!
Choice? Own yer shit. (see #3 re: accountability) If you need something, say it. Write it. Put it in a freakin’ pie chart!
5) Be proactive. No one can manage your self-care but YOU. You can blame the cosmos, your mother or your fourth grade teacher, but unless you want to be the resident cosmic punching bag…you really need to understand that the common denominator in your health, your personal well-being, your goals and dreams: IS. YOU.
All yours, baby. ;o)
About the Author
Pattie Brynn Hultquist is a geeky Canadian mom to five, health advocate & blogger afflicted with Lupus & diabetes living in a made-for-tv-movie kind’o’life…with #gladitude & a rapier wit.