I've been a little short on the gratitude lately. I've noticed that I miss focusing on that. I've noticed that as my days have gotten busier and my time more scattered that I deeply miss my quiet center, the place from which good things flow. Instead, I seem to have been nurturing some other sort of center, a place from which cranky things flow. From experience, I am aware that this usually has to do with expecting more of myself than the quiet center likes.
My husband has been traveling more than usual ("usual" being pretty much not at all) lately. This is not in itself horrible--many spouses deal with this situation gracefully all the time in their relationships. So, travel is not the issue. The issue is that I haven't learned quite how to switch back and forth gracefully between traveling and not traveling mode. What I appreciate about myself as I get older and wiser is that I have higher standards of self-care, so I get crankier quicker when I don't meet them. This is good. My children may not think so, but in the grand scheme of things, I catch myself way sooner than I ever did before getting to a point of necessary intervention with extra self-care that might not be necessary under other circumstances, like a spouse being home and sharing the load.
The danger comes if we fail to appreciate each other for the extra effort it takes to a) be the traveler, and b) be the one at home not traveling. Or a) the person with a demanding job and b) the person picking up the extra slack because person a has the demanding job. Or a) the person who does the laundry and b) the person who goes to the grocery store and cooks. We both play both roles all the time--that's not the issue. The issue, I've come to firmly believe, is appreciation. Can I either a) stay grounded and cared for enough or b) step out of my cranky place in order to appreciate what others are doing?
In the midst of my realizing this was going on, along comes my friend Tara's blog today, all about recognizing others. Check it out. What I know about Tara is that she does everything she can to live out her faith, values, and spirituality in every minute of every day. She is one dedicated sister.
And then there's my colleague Cathy's post on Parenting By Strengths, all about using G-U-I-L-T to Take Care of You. The article is written especially for parents who have experienced a premature birth; however, I think it is useful for all of us, parents or not, to take heed of some of her tips, like "G--Get your rest." Simple things like this can make a huge difference over time in our ability to cope with the day to day expected and unexpected things life has a way of showing us.
Finally, I am reminded again of my good friend and mentor, Jean Clarke, who says, "Children deserve parents whose needs are met." I went to a meeting Wednesday, and the greeter asked me what I do. When I told her I was a Life and Parent Coach, her response was, "When do we stop parenting?" I told her I didn't think that ever happened. It just gets different. And, as I reflect now, I believe that children of all ages deserve parents whose needs are met. How many of us are dealing with elderly parents and concerned that they are safe and cared for in their environments? How many of us have children for whom we need to set limits on number of activities in order to model limits for them and to preserve our own sanity? How many of us have to choose between how much we help fund a college education and how much we save for our own retirement, so that our needs can be met? Through it all, remember to appreciate everyone involved--yourself, for all you do--you deserve to meet your needs. Your partner, parents, children, friends, for all they do and have done to make your life rich. I know they may have done other stuff, too, but appreciate what they have done that helps you live well. Step out of the cranky place and into the quiet center. It's nice here. I'll be waiting for you.