Living in a near-constant state of habitual stress catches up to your body. It also, in powerful ways, affects your psyche. You may shrug it off, ignore it, muscle through it, make enough noise so you can't hear it. But that doesn't make it disappear. Chronic stress begs for attention and it won't let up until you notice it, call it by name, then actively choose to deal with it.
I am getting ready to audition for a yoga studio, a process two months in the making, and preparing to embark on a 200-hour training program for the next few months. I am creeping up on the half-way point of my nutrition program, chasing the curriculum and loving it but never quite feeling caught up, let alone ahead of the game. I should be doing two health histories a week yet in reality I have only done one. One of the six required for graduation. My list of "I'll revisit that slide show later" or "I'll delve back into that lecture again when I have more time to focus" grows.
I am trying to help manage a steadily growing practice - employees, payroll, accounts payable, patients. I am there part-time yet the job always stays with me, from home to gymnastics lessons to speech therapy sessions. It is constantly on my mind and in my heart, the ups and downs of co-owning something so complicated and inspiring. I am getting ready to transition from fumbling through front desk management, something that I've been struggling with for five years, to being part of the nutrition program, seeing patients - a goal both inspiring and terrifying at the same time.
I never quite feel caught up on my own yoga practice, on running, hiking, or any of the happy exercise pursuits that keep me sane and tranquil. Every time I drive out of my neighborhood, South Mountain to my left, I feel a twinge of something. Guilt, longing, or wonderment. "I need to get on that mountain," I think, as I rush to the next thing.
I never feel like I'm quite there for my kids in every way they need me. Aedan continues in an annoying, problematic stage he's in, of swearing, both on the sly and - today - in front of me. I feel guilty if he watched something on YouTube while I was trying to be my second person (that of student) and didn't have my attention on him. I wonder how to best manage his outbursts with loving guidance and attention, proper discipline and understanding.
Liam should be enrolled in a special needs sports program , but to be honest I run out of time to call places. Audrey got a D on her last Math test, demonstrating that she needs more attention to help her practice at home. ( I laugh, writing this, since I am a college Math Lab graduate) I constantly wonder how to better parent these kids when I also want to fit my own school and yoga in, doing the dishes left over from the am, helping Brendan with work tasks from home. Places are closed when I sit down to call; I wake up sometimes at 1 am remembering that I didn't get around to doing something I had every intention of doing four hours earlier.
Yet, I make home-cooked meals 75% of the time. I am internalizing all of the juicy knowledge from school, slowly, in a ways that I know I will be able to share with patients. Every time I roll out my mat I am again reassured that yoga completes me, both teaching and taking it, and gives me peace like nothing else. When I do squeeze in a hike, I am reminded of God's grandeur and am able to quiet my mind enough to pay attention.
I imagine myself standing over a bunch of little power balls - you know, the ones from the lottery? All hover above the ground, at about knee level, little bursts of air keeping them afloat. I keep hoping, waiting and praying that one will rise up , spectacularly, and all the effort of perseverance, stress, worry and effort will pay off. As it is though, I see all of them just biding their time. Doing work, heads down, focused, but not quite yet ready to rise. None give up though. They keep plodding away, determined, with the faith to believe that all will pay off.
And I know it will. In many ways, I live a blessed life, full of infinite potential, possibility and opportunity to make an impact. All the work in counseling I've done, working through triggers and issues and communication barriers, shows up in small, effective ways every day. The kids, I should be happy to report, are traveling through school pushing themselves through challenges like every kid before and after them. Liam rolls his eyes and says "whatever,mom" under his breath, as a sixth grader heading into puberty should. Audrey talks about her boyfriend - "you know, mom, the one I told you about" in 4th grade, as every little girl is bound to do at age 10. And Aedan, making videos of his toys and movies of his day-to-day life, should probably include a few remixes of "what the shit" and "what the crap" and even "what the hell" at age 8 1/2, as he explores boundaries and adult reactions.
Our business will succeed, through trial and error, I will re-discover my yoga teaching groove and make constant discoveries in my own practice, I will every day learn to be a kinder and more loving spouse, I will finish school and relish "aha" moments throughout the program, the house will be cleaned (eventually) and, without a doubt, I will be a health coach. I will love what I do and not let constant stress get me down. When it tries, I will stop to acknowledge it and attempt to stop it in its tracks.
Ownership is a powerful tool, as is letting go of expectations of greatness. It's a marathon, not a sprint. Chronic and constant stress can push me but it doesn't have to define me. In the power ball game of life, the balls will rise, in their own time and on their own terms, and I will be here to encourage them on and watch them soar.