I spent almost a year living out of a shed in my backyard.
Not literally. I just spent most of my free time there – it was the only place I could go to deal with my life at the time. As I sat in the dank, musty darkness, crying while ants crawled across my toes and spiders wove webs in the rafters, I wondered how long it would take for me to be able to feel comfortable participating in my own life again.
Day after day I meditated in that shed. And wept. And journaled. And cursed the bugs. Until finally, I overcame all the reasons I was in there in the first place.
A combination of events had thrown a plethora of blended and extended family at my doorstep. My husband and I were living with both our newly adult children (19 and 21), my brother, my mother, two cats, two hamsters, and a dog. We all crammed into my 850 square foot mobile home for an intense year of bat-shit crazy.
It was challenging for everyone.
Little did I know, at the beginning of this particular family traffic jam, that what I was about to experience would become the ultimate test of personal growth and my ability to take care of myself.
For the first few days, everyone was simply happy to see each other. I felt as though we could, as a family, make this work. That was my intention. The optimism was short lived.
We were amassed for the sole (and Soul) purpose of healing. It didn’t take long for everyone’s wounds to come bubbling to the surface. By the end of the first month, my home was festering with anger, depression, angst, willful disobedience, ambivalence, and outright defiance.
Everyone’s stuff was everywhere. We were tripping over each other – physically and emotionally. My quiet, peaceful home had morphed into complete chaos.
What happens when your life suddenly spins out of control?
You begin to do things you never thought possible – like spending your ‘quiet, relaxing, me-time’ in a spider infested shed asking the Universe to please not let you fall down the prozac and valium hole.
I’m a big believer in the idea that the Universe never gives you more than you can handle. However, it can and will challenge the shit out of you when life lessons need to be learned.
When that happens, the best thing you can figure out how to do is take care of yourself.
This can be difficult – especially when you’re living with others who are struggling, too.
In my situation…
- My children were trying to figure out how to be independent adults while still receiving all the benefits of childhood
- My mom was dealing with high blood sugar – undiagnosed and untreated
- My husband was working long hours
- I was managing chronic pain and fatigue while doing my best to keep order
- My brother was between jobs, trying to figure out what to do next
It was the ultimate mix of – Who’s the most needy and how are they going to get those needs met without making it difficult for anyone else in the house?
That was the question we all had to ask ourselves – individually and as a family unit. How do we find our way into lives where we are each able to meet our own needs while living peacefully with one another?
The answers didn’t come easily. They required motivation and action, personal responsibility, and a willingness to be self-sufficient. We had to learn to be patient and loving. We had to take space and give space. We had to be committed to not lashing out at one another. We had to learn how to be better, kinder, more understanding people. We had to reflect on our lives – mentally, emotionally, and Spiritually – and commit to learning what the Universe threw us together to learn.
- My brother moved on, finding work he loves to do
- My children continue to grow and manage their adulthood, becoming increasingly more independent
- My mom moved somewhere sunny, got her blood sugar under control, lost over 60 pounds, and now looks and feels fabulous.
- I focused on meditating, going to yoga, managing my chronic pain, and saying goodby to the spiders in my shed.
- My husband found ways to tweak his schedule so he could be home more often
I don’t know how it happened – the grace of God – Goddess – The Universe – whatever it was – somehow we all moved forward. For some beautiful reason, things got better and so did we.
Life can and does put challenges in your way. The key is figuring out how to take care of yourself so fully and efficiently, no hurdle, road block, or crisis can stand in the way of you or your ability to be happy and healthy.
Now, every morning I ask myself – “How can I take care of myself today?”
I spend the rest of the day answering that question – with my words, my actions, and my thoughts. Doing this changed everything.
How could your life be different if you did the same?