Antique French Compass

Our Hands Are Full

I sent this DM to a friend after learning she had suddenly begun taking care of her mom due to her deteriorating health:

Wow, so much. So hard to watch your mom not do well. You love her and you are there for her and in the end that’s all you can do. And it’s everything. Love you.

It takes a LOT of energy and resources to keep all the plates spinning while you care for your mom.

I was just packing up from a ski vacation today and had a bunch of things in my hands. Had to set them all down to open the door. Pick them all up to cross the threshold and then put them down again to close the door. It made me think about how much harder it is to cross a threshold when you’ve got lots going on. Adults our age are crossing 2 thresholds at once: our kids moving into adulthood and our parents shifting into old age. Sometimes we need to set all the stuff down.

Our hands are full, our lives are busy, and we care deeply for our people and how we contribute. What happens when we must transition in the middle of it all? We set things down. Sometimes thoughtfully; other times, we let things slide, drop tasks and to-dos, miss appointments. All of this, even the conscious decisions to do less can lead to frustration or disappointment or pushing ourselves to do more, which can lead to feelings of shame or resentment and anger. It can pile up quickly, adding more to our burdens. And since we are evolving continuously, we may feel like we are transitioning constantly. How do we find choice and ease in this?

If you are feeling this right now, take a moment for a deep breath. Give yourself a three-breath pause. Connect to your sense of self-compassion and listen for your internal voice that knows it is okay to be human, to make mistakes, to get overwhelmed, and to ask for help.

These three breaths won’t pick up the kids or get work finished, but it will give you a moment of perspective, guidance, and choice. As Victor Frankl is famous for saying: “Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” When you create that space by taking those three breaths (especially if you gave yourself permission to listen for your own compassion), choice naturally arises as a small curiosity: What if? The what-if’s will be varied depending on the situation but might sound like this: What if I did this differently? What if nothing gets done today? What if I asked my partner/kids/friend/coworker for help? What if I just cry or sing/scream in the car right now? (Very cathartic, BTW). Follow this intuitive lead of small curiosity and see where it takes you.

Have you tried this, but you still can’t seem to find any compassionate voice? Feeling cynical and thinking this is “stupid”? Let’s talk. It may take time to develop this internal support, but it is there and eager to connect.

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