everydaybalance

inspirational tools to create life balance in your everyday

the winds of change – november 2010

November14

Right now I’m sitting at the computer, the sound of rain mixing with the music as night kisses the cold windows. Music is a good friend to me. In my childhood home, the record player was the gathering spot for our family. In the evenings, shiny black saucers would spin round and round and our favorite songs would join us like old friends. From this upbringing, music has always had a way of making me feel relaxed and connected to a deeply authentic part of myself. This evening I was feeling open and spent, longing to feel more grounded after a big week. Thankfully something in me told me to turn on some music. My spirits lifted immediately. From this space of connection, I was able to reach out to another comfort, spilling these words on to the page. Music and writing are like hot tea and a cold night, they work well together. Music helps to bring my feelings to the surface and writing helps me to process and understand those feelings. We each have these unique comforts in our lives. When we reach out for them in times of imbalance, it can be as comforting as turning on a light in an otherwise dark room.

These past four months my writing has gotten swallowed up in my day to day life. I’ve been looking for it in between the grocery shopping lists and the changing of diapers, the laughter of my daughter and the joy of relatives visiting, the daily walks and the grieving for a family member, but it was hiding. I’ve been worried that it had gone permanently, but my experience kept telling me that when it had gone on a holiday before, it had always returned. Today, I caught a glimpse of an evening that was open like a window in summer and thankfully I was able to hold on to it. I sat and breathed and welcomed the voice of writing back into my life. Now, sitting here, black letters appearing rapidly on the screen, I can remember that with big change comes smaller changes and that sometimes they need time to settle.

In February, I had my first baby and she has been an absolute joy. She has turned up the volume in so many areas of my life, that some days I struggle to hear the steady beat of what used to be my day to day rhythm. Over the past few months, I’ve noticed that accompanying this shift of focus have been “guilt trips” in my self talk. The tasks that I used to accomplish with ease haven’t been fitting in amongst all the new activities that come with a baby. As each day goes by without completing the writing I’ve wanted to do or the heap of laundry in the baskets or the emails that I’ve wanted to return, I’ve been prone to giving myself a hard time. We all do this from time to time and it never feels good. The heaviness around the “not doing” of these activities can actually be blocking them as much the lack of time to do them in. One of the keys to start moving away from negative self talk is to simply realize that we’re doing it. By acknowledging the pattern, we can start to be aware when those thoughts arise and work on reframing the situation to put it in perspective.

Looking back on the major changes that have occurred in the last eight months, I can’t help but have a little giggle to myself that on some level I expected that everything would get done the way it had in the past. I’ve been expecting that the same strategies that worked in my life without a baby would work with a baby. I’ve realized now that this is a great time to start getting creative. Time no longer is often offered to me in large chunks so my activities have to downsize as well. Simply by being more aware of what is present often offers an alternative to feeling bad that the old approach is no longer working like it once had.

Yet with change, comes adjustment, and often with adjustment we feel a sense of discomfort. Our minds and our hearts need to be given a chance to catch up when we’ve experienced something life changing. In my case, I need to adjust my expectations to meet the reality of my time available. With this kind of consistant change, we can plan for it and adjust our expectations, but what about when it is an emotional change that we’re not ready for?

This past month, I experienced one such change. During dinner on a Monday evening, we received a call from Australia telling us that Peter’s grandfather Ray, or Gadam as he was known to the family, was ill. He had been taken to a hospital in Manly after the fluid in his legs reached a level that prevented him from walking. My heart clenched at the news. I feared the loss of someone so dear and so far away. Two days later, with many of his family members at his bedside, Gadam passed away. At the time, Peter, Ruby and I were walking down the leafy streets of Burlingame. We were talking about Gadam and the times we had spent with him when we received the news from the shaky voice of Peter’s sister over my mobile phone. Amongst the tears, I felt thankful that we were all together. If Peter had to endure this news, at least we could hold each other with Ruby sandwiched between us, her little heartbeat a reminder of the cycle of life. Her blue eyes a reminder that Gadam would always be with us.

Gadam was someone that was easy to love. He had a laugh and a smile that broke your heart open to join him in his joy. He lived close to us in Sydney and was a part of our joys and sorrows. Each time that I think about him not having met Ruby tears well up in my eyes. They would have been fast friends. I can see how there smiles would have mirrored each other for hours, calling out like bird songs that only they could understand. The morning after he died, Ruby lay in her crib and chatted and laughed and cooed. Peter and I lay in bed as dawn cracked its light through the windows and listened to her on the monitor. In my heart, I hoped that Gadam was there with her, leaning his tall frame over her crib and whispering the secrets of how he had lived a life so full of love to our precious girl.

In times like this, it takes time for our hearts to heal, our lives take time to adjust. When we lose someone, we need to give ourselves “down” time. Time away from challenging ourselves or tackling projects or our to-do lists. A week after Gadam passed,  I rang my mom and asked her to come help. She drove an hour to our house and created a time for me just to rest. My head hit the pillow after a week of decisions and grief and looking after Peter and Ruby and I slept deeply for two hours. Because of that rest, I was able to reflect and feel new space in my emotions. When we have a big change in our lives, we need to give ourselves the kind attention that we would offer a friend.

Looking back now, I can see that after having a baby, in some ways I expected my regular patterns to hum along like they always had. I could acknowledge aloud that I needed to approach things differently, but internally I was still giving myself a hard time. I didn’t give myself time enough to observe first so I’d know how to approach things in a way that would work in the new set of circumstances. My emotions got battered around a bit and some days I felt like I was swimming up stream. What I needed more of was trust.

Trusting that our lives will find their balance again, when we’re amongst new waters is a difficult thing. We haven’t been there before so we don’t know how it’s going to turn out. Trusting in what we cannot see takes practice. We have to hold on to our core intentions and loosen the reigns a bit. We have to let what is here now to have its voice rather than straining to hear the voices that we have known in the past.

This month, this was illustrated to me in the midst of tough decisions. Being here in San Francisco this month, especially for my husband, was truly painful at a time when we needed to be surrounded by his extended family. From the moment we received news of Gadam going into hospital, we were torn about whether we should jump on the next flight to make it for the funeral. There were obstacles at every turn. Pete only had five days off from work and Ruby didn’t have a passport. When friends offered Peter a standby ticket so that he could arrive a few hours before the funeral we came to the decision that Pete would fly on his own with a quick turn around in Sydney. He was torn about being this far from eight month old Ruby who didn’t have a passport. Exhausted by emotion on Friday evening after having a long conversation with his Grandmother, we got a text from our friend saying that the standby seats were no longer available. She wrote how surprised she was. The business class seats on a Saturday flight hardly ever get booked out. Pete wasn’t going to be able to fly.

We both looked at each other awash with mixed emotions and wondered if this had perhaps been Gadam letting Pete know that it was okay to stay with his young family, a country away from where he felt he should be. We talked about how we could be at the funeral without actually being there. The next day, Pete tucked himself away and sat with his grief. What came out was a beautiful letter to his grandfather. My contribution would be a poem. I took Ruby for a walk next to a reservoir where I often go to clear my head. As I walked, Gadam’s voice started playing in my head. Beautiful memories spanning the last thirteen years bobbed up to the surface. I looked out over the tall white reeds and my mind rested on the gray water so still that it reflected the clouds. I spoke into my recorder and weaved parts of a poem from the flood of memories that played through my head. In the midst of this, my phone rang. Pete’s mum’s voice landed in my ears. I could feel how heavy her heart was. I wanted to write something not only for Gadam, but for the people that had lost him as well. A few days later, when we pressed send on our email, we hoped that the heart in our words would reach those that needed us far across that ocean.

The day of the funeral was Halloween here in America. Everything felt upside down and gray. We could hardly comprehend that someone who only fourteen months earlier had celebrated with gusto when we had told him we were finally pregnant, wouldn’t be there anymore. At the time of the funeral in Mona Vale, we sat outside at our picnic table underneath Ruby’s window and lit the same candle that we had lit when we heard that Gadam had gone into hospital. We held it between two heavy hearts full of love, not knowing how to say good-bye. I thought of an email that my friend Denita had sent and I told Pete that from now on, we would tell Ruby that the brightest star in the sky was her great grandfather, Gadam, that he was twinkling at her from above, looking out for her in the way he had always done for us.

When the funeral ended, Pete received a call from his sister, Kylie. She said, “There is someone here to talk to you.” Across the phone lines came the voice of our dear friend, Juliette, who we had known since the time we had met over twelve years ago at University. Jules without telling us, had gone to the funeral. She had gone to represent Pete and I and the friends of ours that had known Gadam. Kylie told us later that when she arrived at the church, they were confirming who would read during the service and she was nervous because they were without someone to read my poem. Kylie felt at a loss for what to do and then as she looked up Juliette walked unannounced into the church. Kylie said that she suddenly knew that Juliette was there to read my poem. She asked her and Jules said “Yes.” Even with us being miles away, a part of Pete and I walked into the church. I don’t think Pete or I could express to Juliette how much this meant to us. When we spoke to her, we felt suddenly that we weren’t so far away. Though this, I learned that in letting go, there is a kind of magic that happens all on its own.

This week, with Gadam’s memory close to my heart, I am newly inspired to revisit those things that I am passionate about in a way that fits into my life now. A life where my baby girl sleeps soundly in a room above me and where someone who I hoped she would know, now will need to be known through me and the rest of our family. I am actively letting go of the shape that I “think” these activities should take and actively letting go of any guilt that surfaces when I don’t get as far as I’d planned with things. When we lose someone important to us, we are reminded that it isn’t the little day to day worries that are important, but it is the way that we love and the way that we embody that love amongst the day to day tasks that matters the most.

This month, and especially this week as we celebrate Thanksgiving here in America, I invite you to join me. Think about an area of your life where you may have been fighting with yourself a bit. Have you been playing a tug of war with your emotions at work, in your relationship, or amongst your life’s goals? Ask yourself if it is possible to let go a little? Try setting down that rope that you’ve been holding on to so tight and simply sit down around your expectations so that they can sort themselves out a bit while you have a break. Life moves swiftly and the tides can change at any time. It is normal to take three steps forward and two steps back with our goals. Make sure that while you are taking those steps that you are really there for your life. Let the celebrations sink in and sparkle and take the time to pause and care for yourself when there is sadness.

We deserve this, each of us. Our lives are unique to us, they keep their own beat with lyrics that surprise and delights us. Writing my poem for Gadam, I didn’t pause once. There was so much that I could say about him that sang of poetry. I can’t think of a single time that I was with him where he didn’t have all the time in the world to be present for what I had to say or how I was feeling. It is this kind of presence that I hope to bring into my today and my tomorrow and I hope you’ll join me and invite it into yours.

This monthly inspiration piece is brought to you by author Christina Adler at ‘everyday balance’. If you would like to share your experience with these tools, please feel free to email me by visiting the contacts section on the home page. To subscribe for a free monthly reminder for these inspiration pieces, simply fill in your name and email address on the home page under “subscribe to everyday balance.” For information regarding life coaching appointments in person, by telephone or online, visit the ‘for life coaching’ section of this website. Photo taken by Christina Adler in San Mateo, California

posted under 2010 life balance