Reflections

Sorry, I was Really Busy Being a Little Broken

How many times have you said, “Sorry, I’ve been really busy”?

Busy is the go-to explanation for a wide range of commitments we couldn’t keep or communications we’ve neglected.

It’s not necessarily untrue. We all tend to be pretty busy. Otherwise known as overworked, overscheduled, over-tired, or overwhelmed. There’s too much to do and not enough time to do it all.

But sometimes, time isn’t the problem. Sometimes there technically was time, but that time was spent sitting on the couch or lying in bed, staring at a ceiling, staring at a phone, staring at a TV, or otherwise checking out.

Sometimes the busy was our brains shutting down. It was our souls being a little (or a lot) broken.

There were some things on my to-do list that didn’t get done this week. This morning, I found myself thinking, “I was just too busy this week.” But then came the self-correction: “I was a little too broken this week.”

The week started out fine. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday were all reasonably productive and my schedule was relatively on track. Then Thursday came along.

What is it about Thursdays?

People often complain about getting back to work on Mondays or about getting past the mid-week hump of Wednesdays but, for me, it’s Thursdays. They tend to start out very well, then get derailed somewhere in the mid-afternoon.

Maybe I’m running down by that point. Maybe the little things that got missed earlier in the week are starting to snowball. Maybe I’m worrying about plans for the weekend.

It’s not every Thursday (thankfully!) but if I’m going to hit a wall, it’s likely to be on a Thursday.

This week, I think it was about Mother’s Day looming on the horizon.

Mother’s Day is bittersweet for me. It’s a lovely day to spend time with my husband and kids. It’s a painful reminder that my mother is gone.

My mother had 12 Mother’s Days with me, and 18 Mother’s Days in total (including years with my older siblings). She saw only one of her children graduate from high school. She didn’t see any of us graduate from college, navigate careers, or start families.

She never saw her children become adults. She never met her grandchildren.

It’s not fair. It’s not fair for her to have missed so much. It’s not fair for us to have missed so much with her.

I’ve been without a mother since I was barely 13 years old. Thirty years later, that still hurts.

And when I say it “hurts,” I mean it crashes in on me with waves of pain and loss and detachment and distraction.

When it’s bad, I can manage the main commitments, like teaching yoga classes and showing up for scheduled appointments. It’s the other things that become impossible. The things that can quietly slide without too many repercussions, like writing plans, returning social texts, grocery shopping… thinking clearly… processing emotions… sleeping…

We’re often too busy to do all the things we want to do.

Sometimes, we’re a little too broken to do the things we want to do.

When you’re a little too broken, know that you aren’t alone.

Our minds and hearts can ache with pain that is no less debilitating than having the flu or breaking a bone. When we’re suffering mentally or emotionally, we need rest and care, just like we would for any other physical illness.

If that means letting a few things slide—even things you want to be doing—that’s how it goes.

Sorry, I was a little broken this week and needed time to heal. 

Taking care of yourself is not a weakness. It’s a strength.

Take good care of yourself.

Life is a Roundabout

To me, life isn’t like a box of chocolates. Life is like a playground roundabout. You know that platform that spins round and round? I think it’s also called a merry-go-round, but without the horses. Or the fanciness.

Photo by Michael Rivera - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44979295

If you sit idly on a playground roundabout, maybe watching squirrels play or clouds pass overhead, you can feel the tremble of the world around you. From a distance. You can reach out a foot and set yourself in gentle motion.

It takes an effort to actually get yourself spinning. You have to stand up, run with it, and jump back on. You need a bit of timing. And coordination. But once it’s moving, you can enjoy the ride.

With a friend or two, you share the effort to overcome inertia. You take turns pushing. Or you time it together. You laugh more. You stumble over each other. You figure it out. You move faster.

Sometimes, a whole crowd of kids shows up to play. Some you invited. Some who showed up without warning. That happens. You don’t own the playground.

The more kids on a roundabout, all pushing and jumping, and edging for space, the more chaotic it becomes. It spins faster. Adrenaline rises. It’s all fun and games. Until someone gets hurt.

With too many kids, you can feel out of control. Overwhelmed. Maybe you’re shoved, or stepped on, or bumped into a handrail. Maybe you feel dizzy or are overcome with nausea.

Maybe you fall off.

This morning, I spilled my oatmeal and over-poured my pour-over coffee. My kitchen counter was one mess after another. I’m off my game. I’m off my roundabout.

It’s been a week like that. (A month like that?) More happening than I planned. Some good. Some bad. Just a lot overall. Sometimes that’s a rush. Sometimes it’s a challenge to hold on.

Sometimes I fall off.

And the world keeps spinning.

When I’m standing on the sidelines, I’m dusting myself off and watching the action. I’m timing when I can jump back on.

I’m waiting for the dizziness to settle and longing for some quieter playground days. Days when I can set the pace of the roundabout or even let it idle as long as I’d like.

I’m checking my bruises and maybe even wishing I could just go home and be done with the whole thing.

But I don’t go home. Because life is a playground roundabout.

When I fall off, I can still give myself time to catch my breath and dust myself off. I can remind myself that there are quiet days and busy days at the playground.

It’s easier to jump back on when the roundabout is still, but sometimes I have to jump while it’s still moving. Because it may be a while before the playground quiets down. And there’s only so long you can stand on the sidelines without the world passing you by.

When it’s hard to jump back on, my friends can catch my hands. They can hold on to me until my grip on the handrail is firmer. If I let them. If I tell them I’m slipping.

I can move to the center, finding a more secure—less dizzy—place and remind myself that there will be quieter days when I can watch the squirrels play and the clouds pass overhead.

In the meantime, I can hold on, laugh at the antics around me, and find something to enjoy in the ride. Appreciating life for the roundabout it is.

Jewelry Like Talismans

I don’t have tattoos, but I wear jewelry like talismans. Reminders that I can be strong, connected, and grounded. Sometimes, often, I need those reminders.

Some of my jewelry changes. Some of it stays the same.

A ring on my right hand reminds me to “be here now.” A ring on my left hand reminds me I’m loved. I wear the sound of the universe (om – ૐ) around my neck.

A ring of skulls on my pinky is a memento mori. It’s a reminder of mortality—not because I feel immortal, but because I’m too keenly aware of death. When I wear that ring, it can hold those thoughts, letting me focus on being alive.

My collection of mantra jewelry continues to grow and I choose the phrases that mean the most on any given day. It is what it is. Love yourself. She believed she could so she did. etc.

My beaded bracelets have their own meanings—especially those made and/or given by beloved friends. They wrap around my wrist with weight. They stack with soft clicks and feel smooth against my skin.

Even my Fitbit has earned its own meaning with its scuffed face from my recent fall reminding me that a little damage just adds character.

I have other jewelry, of course. The pretty kind that comes out on special occasions. The kind that is there for the fun of its sparkle and shine. And there’s meaning in that, too.

I wear my jewelry like talismans. Reminding me that I can be strong, connected, and grounded.

We all can use those reminders.