Getting Off My High Horse…..Just in Time

A Golden Retriever going over a teeter-totter ...

A Golden Retriever going over a teeter-totter at an agility competition. Edited (cropped) by Pharaoh Hound (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a new word.

At the beginning of this year I chose the word “Open” to focus on this year.  To see where it led me.  It has had surprising twists and turns, but I think it was spot on for my journey this year.

Until today.  Today I heard the word that I’m going to focus on for the rest of this year.  Because it’s just that good.

Balance.

A doctor said it.  How important it is.  How good it is to have balance.  Out of balance?  Bad.  Very bad.  I’m thankful we didn’t find out how much worse out of balance could be.  Suffice to say, I wanted to wrap my heart my arms and my whole being around that word and make it mine, to make it ours.  Our whole family.

I came down off my high horse today y’all.  It was a quiet moment but it knocked the breath out of me.  Probably no one else even noticed, but I knew.  And I have spent a day in remorse.

Years ago someone I cared about very much had an anxiety problem.  He went to a physician who gave him a twenty question test, diagnosed him as depressed, and put him on medication.  He didn’t warn this patient against drinking with the medication or recommend that the medication be partnered with therapy.  Just “here’s your medication–take good care.  Be happy again.”  I knew something wasn’t right then, but it was five years later when I was in the Marriage and Family Therapy Masters Program that I realized why it didn’t sit well with me.  I believe in treating the whole person.  It’s a pet peeve of mine for doctors to prescribe psychotropic medications but not also refer the patient to a therapist.  They need both.

Unfortunately, I let the pendulum swing too far.  I became a huge advocate for therapy–for friends, for family.  I believe it’s every bit as important to have an emotional checkup/check-in as it is a physical one.  But I forgot one thing.  The opposite is also true.  It shouldn’t be one-sided either way.  The best therapist in the world (and I know him) can’t help if the body isn’t doing okay.  The body can’t do what the body can’t do.

And if things are wonky in the body, how in the world do we expect the emotions to be stable?

And yet we do.  Or, to be perfectly honest, I did.

Today, as I sat listening to a doctor describe imbalances in hormones and body chemicals, it hit me.  I had forgotten, in the midst of pushing for therapy and “talking it out” and mind over matter-ing it, that the body has a role in this too.  In the well-being.  In the wholeness and BALANCE of life.

Whoa.  Beep beep beep.  Back it up.

Something that should have been so obvious, probably is to most of you, had just flown right over my head and my firm belief in therapy.  And I almost messed up big time.  But then I heard the word balance.

As in, Tara, balance between mind and body.  Physical and emotional.  Thoughts and feelings.  Work and play.  Rest and activity.   That word is a part of every single part of our day.  Or it should be.

I’ve said it before.  We live in a very broken world.  Emotional illness and mental illness is all around us, yet we tend to make it the elephant in the living room that no one really wants to talk about.  We’ll talk about all kinds of physical diseases and ailments all day long, but we forget that as the creatures we are, it all is interconnected.  One is related to the other.  An emotional imbalance has at its root a physical issue.  Balance between mind, body, and soul is imperative for good health.  And good living.  Unfortunately, hurting people hurt people, including themselves.  People who have nowhere to turn, whose bodies can’t right themselves often find their health issues manifesting as emotional or mental problems.  And then where can they turn?   Many are afraid they might be called crazy–many might think they are crazy themselves.   If we don’t speak out on behalf of people and whole health–BALANCE–this world is just going to get more and more broken.  And I don’t know how much more this world and its precious people can take.

Tonight I am thankful for good therapists and good doctors.  We need both.  And for a healthy respect and cooperation to exist between them.   I am thankful for friends and family who leave no stone unturned when it comes to the well-being of someone they love.  And I am thankful for a doctor who respects balance and seeks it–for his patients and for himself.

Balance.  Here we are at the onset of what can be the best and yet most stressful time of year.  People are already sharing posts and pictures and emails about how many shopping days left until Christmas.  (*major Mike Wazowski eye roll here* Please people, stop the madness.)  For so many, whether for financial, emotional, relational, or physical reasons, the time approaching the “family” holidays is just plain hard.  Things can get harried and hard fast.  So yes, balance.  In quiet time and activity.  In contemplation and action.  In work and recreation.  In speaking and in listening.  In celebrating and in remembering.  Balance.  I think it’s the perfect lens to focus and view life through over the next three months.

May balance affect your vision and give you clarity as well.  And if it doesn’t, it’s ALWAYS okay to ask for help.  Sometimes balance is best illustrated by a seesaw.  And you can’t keep one of those balanced by yourself.  You have to have help. It’s okay to ask for it AND it’s okay to offer it.

Love to all.

The One Thing I Don’t Want to Be…..Especially on Sundays

pic of Sunday calendar

Another Sunday.

Today is the third Sunday since we have stopped serving meals on Sunday nights at Daybreak, the day shelter for folks in need up in Macon.  I hear that our friends are doing well at the other places that serve, and for that I am thankful.

My Sundays look very different now.  Actually they are still morphing, in transition.  No longer do I make sure my sink is totally cleared on Saturday nights so I can fill pots in the sink on Sunday.  No more inventory count no later than Friday to check my stock of coffee, tea bags, sugar, marshmallows, Swiss Miss, and so on.  No more getting up early to get things started–washing and sanitizing four coolers and then preparing ten gallons of sweet tea, over three of coffee, and then, season dependent–five gallons of hot chocolate or hot water.  It took me a while, but I finally had the process down to a near science.  It’s the little things in life, people.

I do miss our friends, but soon I will see them there at a different time and in a different capacity, so I am thankful for that.  What has surprised me is that I miss my Sunday ritual.  I do not mean to offend, but it had become a bit of a holy time, this preparation of the vessels and preparing the drinks.  I used the same pot and bowls and measuring cups and spoon each week.  And the cleanup was a special ritual as well.  This routine that took up much of my Sundays for over two and half years was familiar and it brought me comfort.  Each step I did, I knew what task was next.  There is something very comforting in that.  All the way through the day, knowing what came next.

Late last night I was thinking through our options of things to do today.  The past two Sundays have been good, filled with being with family and life-affirming goodness.  Things I love.  Today promised to be no different.  I have done things I would not have planned before, as my day was already full.  And in a good way.  Last night as I thought over the coming day, I wondered how long it would be before it no longer felt strange to have Sunday as a day to plan whatever or not plan at all.  I remember years ago, before any of my children were born, Sundays were very relaxed.  Up and off to church, dinner out with friends or family, then home to peruse the big thick Sunday paper and all those salespapers, and then usually a nap weaseled its way in.  Really, really laid back.  I was so complacent.  Maybe I was not completely unaware of my brothers and sisters who are living such hard lives without all their basic needs met, but I certainly was not mindful of it on a daily basis.

So I figured out last night that one of my fears in all of this is that I go back to that complacency.  Just because my Sundays have changed drastically doesn’t mean that theirs have.  I worry that the time will come when I don’t miss the ritual anymore, that a Sunday will pass that I don’t think about our friends and the fact that it’s raining or cold or hot and wonder how they are doing.  I don’t want that at all.  I want always to pause at some point in my day, particularly my Sundays, and appreciate whatever I am in the midst of; but I also want to have a quiet moment to recall and give thanks for all of these Sundays in the past and the people whom I have gotten to know–and what they have meant in my life–the people and the days.  I do not ever want to be complacent again.

Especially not on my Sundays.