I’m not one to swear much (at least not in print) but I just have to say MAN, has the schizzle hit the proverbial fan this past week!!! (see, still not technically swearing)
Just over two weeks ago, my brother and his two daughters moved in temporarily while he and his partner sort out their breakup and custody arrangements. It’s a huge adjustment for everyone, my nieces especially, and in the past week the situation went from nasty to nastier. As of yesterday it seems some light is visible at the end of the tunnel (at least temporarily) but everyone has been frazzled and exhausted.
On top of all that, one little thing after another kept going wrong: a container of olives and brine spilled all over my fridge, lightbulbs went out, my vacuum cleaner broke, an eagerly-anticipated appointment got rescheduled, and then accommodation reservations for a business trip to New York this weekend got cancelled and left us scrambling to find an alternative.
Like I said….schizzle has been hitting the fan from every direction.
And I seemed to be handling it the worst of anyone. Two nights ago, I barely slept a wink. My stomach was so upset I didn’t feel like eating for a couple of days (and THAT’s when I know it’s bad). My normal life, I now realize, is quite calm and…well…nice. This whole experience has been a huge stretch for me emotionally. It’s been testing every ‘how to be compassionate/calm/enlightened/firm/grounded/loving’ lesson I’ve ever learned. And I feel like I’ve been failing.
My tendency when life turns upside down is to go into control mode and write out lists of regimented solutions in an effort to get things back on an even keel, but the more I tried to control things, the worse things felt. The night I couldn’t sleep, I found myself focusing on the familiar mantra: ‘...grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.‘ I realized that the toughest one for me, personally, is the ‘wisdom to know the difference’ part.
Then yesterday, still scrambling to find a hotel room for this weekend and feeling like maybe I should just cancel my trip altogether, into my inbox came a timely tip in the form of Jenna Hall’s blog post from The Daily Love entitled ‘Don’t Quit When Things Get Hard!‘.
Right. Stay the course.
I placed a sanity-saving call to my BFF Kellie, and after hearing me out (bless her, a thousand times over!), she suggested I go to my hot yoga class. When life gets chaotic, my tendency has been to push my nose even harder to the grindstone and work feverishly until I feel it’s all resolved, but I knew yesterday that hot yoga was exactly what I needed.
As I sat on my mat waiting for class to start, I thought about all the things I was grateful for in my life: when my ex and I broke up, there were difficult times in the beginning (though never like this), but for years now we’ve had a solid co-parenting relationship. I thought about how comforting it is knowing that when my son is in his dad’s care, he’s in good, capable hands. I reflected on how grateful I am for my friends, my teachers and mentors, my savings, my freedom…
Then during class, one of the instructor’s reminders rang true as much for my yoga practice as it did for my daily life: always focus first on your breath. If you can’t breathe easily and deeply, you’re forcing the posture too much. Focus on your breath first, your form second, and the depth last. Sometimes you might not be able to go as deeply into the posture as you normally do, but as long as you’re doing the correct form and breathing steady along the way, you’re doing all you need to do in that moment. Things might not be happening the way I’d like them to, but if I keep doing the right thing and stay calm and steady, that’s all I need to do for now.
In the same way, ‘the wisdom of knowing the difference‘ between what you can and cannot change, and between what you do and do not have control over, is a gift for your inner peace. Sometimes you just have to let go of what you think things ‘ought to’ be like, and accept how things really are. Not to say you give up on your good intentions or the end result that you desire (you don’t), but it helps to acknowledge that they can’t get there instantly. Big changes take time. Sometimes you have to go in stages.
As I lay in savasana at the end of class, I thought of another verse from the Tao Te Ching: ‘Nothing in the world is softer and weaker than water; but for attacking the hard and the strong, there is nothing like it. The weak overcomes the strong; the soft overcomes the hard. Everyone knows this, but no one puts in into practice.‘
So last night, after sweating out my stress and consciously deciding to put this approach into practice, I for one am breathing a lot easier today.
What to do when the schizzle hits the fan:
Step 1: Recognize all you have to be grateful for, in any given situation
Step 2: Have the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, the courage to change the things you can, and the wisdom to know the difference
Step 3: Be soft. Let it go. Breathe easy, even when it gets hard.
Have you ever had a time when it feels like EVERYTHING is upside down? What are your coping strategies? I’d love for you to share what works for you in the comments below.