It’s interesting–the older I get the more I realize that I don’t really have control over the big things in my life–that’s up to a much higher power than I. What I do have power over is the little things. Control over attitudes and reactions, control over words, control over daily habits. These are within my power to change. And these are the things that can add up to a BIG difference. We CAN NOT change what others do; we can only change ourselves.
Think about something “little” that you have done that made a big difference. Or, maybe it’s easier to think of something “little” that someone else did that made a big difference to you. So many feel like their world is spinning out of control most of the time; I get it–I’ve been there a lot. These days it seems to happen fairly often. That’s the reason I’m trying to work on recognizing what I CAN do and celebrating these seemingly small victories.
Fall/Winter 2016: My husband has cancer, but I knew that, and I thought I was dealing with it ok. We moved to a smaller house to save money, I had gradually changed our diet for the better–fewer chemicals and preservatives, more fresh, real food. I had my essential oils to help me. I was teaching 7th grade English at a school I loved with students and coworkers I enjoyed. My husband and I were trying our best to give back where we could and enjoy life daily because we had been reminded that there was no guarantee of tomorrow. We had some other struggles within our families, but I believed that I was handling that as well as I could.
Christmas 2016: our family wasn’t all together (nothing I could do), Bobby’s bloodwork and fatigue were suddenly worse (nothing I could do), conflict within our family that didn’t involve me (nothing I could do)……helpless. And it kept snowballing. January 2017: diagnosis leukemia; treatment needs to be in Houston; money needed to help family, moving costs, medical bills for all of us; NO job; leaving the support system that has kept me sane.
Oh, and this move thing?? It had to happen within 1 1/2 weeks right after Christmas just after the new semester started at school. Yeah, find a place to live in Houston close to MD Anderson that will take a dog and cat that isn’t going to break us, figure out how to tell my school, friends, family and students, pack the whole house, and say goodbye to Arkansas. This was all while worrying about the fact that my husband just received a leukemia diagnosis on top of all our continued uncertainties about his past cancers, my son is living on his own for the first time in Austin with health issues, my daughter is leaving soon for Spain, my parents aren’t feeling very well at all and could use my help, and I’m the “family glue” known for being cheerful and optimistic, so no one else will stress. I am also trying to make it appear as if none of this is a big deal since I don’t want to add anymore weight to Bobby’s shoulders. While all the time swirling through my head is, “How can I survive this? How will I manage this? What do I do?”
What did I do?? Cried, a lot. Prayed, a lot. Talked to myself, a lot. Sat in the car and screamed, a few times. Little things, baby steps……still. The “little” things are what have saved me; they are still saving me; they are the only things within my control.
One day at a time; that’s my first rule. I never truly understood what that meant until the past few years. Now I GET IT! And sometimes, one hour or minute is all that can be done; that’s ok too! I’m trying so hard to let myself off the hook!
Finding something to occupy both my hands and mind is another small thing that offers great solace. Everyone has to find SOMETHING that is within their control that can take the stress away even if it’s just for a short while. Exercise is one of the best answers for many people and is extra productive because it is good for one’s physical and mental health.
There have been many activities that have helped me, and although they began as “little” things, they receive credit for keeping me lucid. One is researching, reading, and understanding my husband’s disease. For me, Understanding = Control. Another is yardwork and planting a vegetable garden because there is nothing to me as instantly gratifying as seeing a plant that I nurtured yield a flower that attracts a butterfly or a vegetable that can be included in dinner. Even better is the fact that I’ve been able to do this organically without pesticides; this makes me feel good, and feeling good is SO important! Walking my dog Max in our beautiful neighborhood is a blessing for me. Developing my Young Living essential oils from a healthy hobby into a business is another little thing that is actually becoming a big thing, and I am so grateful for that because it gives me hope.
Cooking is a small thing that I enjoy doing and gives me some sense control in my life. Grocery shopping, buying healthy ingredients, label reading–all of those are “little” things that keep me on track and in charge. Eating is an area where many of us lose control at the first sign of a crisis. Whether it is eating too much, the wrong things, or not enough, it is a common problem, and I struggle. BUT, just like exercise, it is one that gives a great sense of accomplishment if controlled and provides the double bonus of both mental and physical health.
There are also many many “little” things that OTHERS have done that have made a huge difference to me. There are all those who check in with me regularly and send love through phone calls, texts, facebook, messenger, email, regular mail, or prayers . There are my new neighbors who offer their help and even bring cookies! There’s an old college acquaintance who has rescued me several times with advice and friendship, and my best friends and coworkers from back home who mean more to me than they can possibly ever know. Many Young Living team members have encouraged me at just the right time. I’ve opened cards from one of my family’s dearest friends and from her church on just the right day. There’s the guy who owns the doggie day care who is unbelievably kind to Max and me. I could go on and on. Sometimes, it just takes one of these things to keep me going; sometimes, it takes several. Don’t EVER underestimate a small gesture or kind word! What’s great about these is that doing these things for others often works as well as or better than someone doing them for you!
If the little things don’t seem like enough, then I use one of my “little” tricks like going to my happy place in my mind to relax (the beach), remembering loved ones who were tougher than me who are now in a better place being my guardian angels, or reading Matthew 6: 25-34. To be honest, occasionally all I can manage is to channel my inner Scarlet O’Hara and say, “I’ll think about that tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.”
Being a caregiver is tough, but it is also rewarding. “How Caregivers Can Find Relief Beyond the Golden Rule”