Life's challenges are one of the biggest distractors we face as writers. It is so easy to get sidetracked. Sometimes it’s shiny objects that lure us to take on something new and we get derailed from our focus.
Other times life gets more dramatic to get our attention.
I’ve found this is often tied to prolonged stress. It might be coping with a bout of shingles because we’ve pushed too hard, too long, and depleted our reserves. Career changes, getting married or divorced, an injury or accident are full of stress.
But, I think the most challenging I’ve encountered is family issues.
Aging parent issues feel like Life up and slaps us across the face. In the past few months, the years of dealing with an aging mother have taken on new meaning.
Fiercely independent, she never conceived of leaving her home. She figured my sister and she would always look out for themselves. They would always overcome medical and care needs.
If you’ve had to go through this with a parent, you understand. If you have a living parent, hang in there, you’ll likely face it someday.
Here’s a tip—It won’t be convenient.
Two months ago, I relocated my reluctant mom to an assisted living facility near me. Twenty minutes is much better than two hours.
Then I got a call, “Your mom is on the way to the ER with chest pains and issues breathing.”
She didn’t want to go. “I’ll only go if I can be back home tonight," she'd told her nurse. She was tired of being poked, prodded, and not having a say.
In reality, there is no way to fix aging organs. (Dr. McCoy from Star Trek isn’t here with his magic tool that repairs all.)
That said, nothing can prepare you for tough conversations.
“Is hospice something you think she’d want to do? There is no medical fix for her, her organs are wearing out.” My defenses buckled. As tears rolled down my cheeks, I knew the answer.
Per the doctor’s request, I went to the hospital to have a hospice conversation with my Mom. It was a discussion that had never even crossed my mind.
In the Progressive Care Unit, Mom looked small, frail, and scared amidst the tower of equipment. Screens blinked multi-colored statistics amidst persistent beeps.
I’d never talked with anyone about hospice before, let alone dying. Mom was frightened about the reality of what lay ahead. We cried together, I held her hand and kept telling her, “we’re here for you. It’s going to be okay. We’re going to take you home. Would you like that?... I love you.”
It’s amazing when you need the right words, they find you. I don’t know what angels sat on my shoulder, but I know I had help finding words that calmed Mom’s fears...and my own.
It’s been a long few days. My planned first blog article topic sits in my file with only a fraction of an outline completed. My work-focused brain had hit a brick wall. Mom needed me and it had to be now. No delaying. No avoiding.
I only had a tiny inkling of what I might learn about humanity and this phase of life. I would not try to escape it, I would face it and help my Mom do the same.
When you have to face one of Life’s challenges, do it!. Step into the ring and embrace the experience.
I had to find the time slots with the fewest work interruptions. It may not be my preferred writing time, but it’s better than messages or texts, coming in. I block notifications, but always half-expecting a call.
I’ve found writing is cathartic. It can release anger, frustration, and pain. It can also be a great way to save the moments, memories, and lessons learned.
Think about all the times we’re told to learn all you can about your audience. “Get to know them.”
Life may be giving you a rare close-up of a future audience. You may be in your audience’s shoes. Or you may take a walk alongside them.
It’s a glimpse of life A-listers would relish. We may not love it at the time, but we can save the moments, the insights gained.
Look for times to focus. Seek small time slots to move ahead with your work, your business, your career, and your own dreams. In my scrambled schedule, I’m finding time slots to study, write, and do marketing.
Take care of yourself— body, mind, and spirit. Go for a walk, enjoy the clouds, the birds, and life around you. Stretch, move, breathe. Let it refresh you and help you find focus.
Plan and fix something healthy and yummy to eat. Choose foods to keep up your strength and combat stress. If you don't you'll pull yourself down.
So when life demands your participation, step into the arena, pretend to be strong—and do what you have to do. You’ll find more about life than you ever knew.
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