Its strange how sometimes we become a stranger to ourselves, we get so busy and so immersed in something that is important to us, or that we are passionate about, that we forget to remember ourselves in our bid to do and make a difference, who we are and what brings us joy.
This happened to me recently, well no not so recently, since shortly after I was diagnosed with Dementia, wanting to make a difference for others, advocating, helping and working on many projects, many with my much loved Dementia Alliance International, ( my life saver I always say), some with researchers, with research groups, with other groups like Dementia Advocacy Canada, some all on my own, interviews, writing articles, always willing to chat with someone in their moment of need. This has been such a full filling place for me, giving me purpose, filling me with hope. Sharing some very special times with a lot of very special people, very special friendships made, laughter and tears shared.
But then the only term I can give it is I became zoomed out, my whole life was spent on my computer, it wasn’t just a few hours a couple times a week, or maybe a really busy week once a month, it became busier and busier. There was a lot of things that contributed but nothing more than the pandemic, on one hand needing the connections due to being alone and living in that bubble for an amount of time that by all accounts has been to long. It gave way to more meetings, more on line work could be done. This is not anyones fault just the times we are in. And me being me, I took on a lot, ok, ok, somehow thinking that I was immune to the effects it was taking on others. Oh how wrong I was, and on top of that I had a year of a lot of extremely challenging health issues, which of course one impacts the other until the perfect storm erupts.
Luckily for me, with the help of my doctor, I had made some very very difficult decisions, it was if I’m honest more agonizing to do than I have likely admitted, after all don’t we all want to be superwomen? I wrestled with it, until sitting at the hospital awaiting another test, knowing I was going to be rushing to hurry to get everything done for another meeting, I knew with everything in me that I couldn’t do it. My body was screaming at me, mind body and soul, to listen to it, so with a breaking heart I stepped away from some of my responsibilities, I take my responsibilities very seriously, whether they are for an organization or research team, even my personal life, so this was bigger than most would understand for me. I even tried to bargain with myself and convince myself while making the decision so that I wouldn’t have to, of course that did little to help me.
I am now doing things in the amount that I feel I can manage. This is all in a bid to take care of myself so that I may regain much of my health ( minus the dementia of course, it will always be with me), and perhaps be able to do more again in the not to distant future.
Those who know me, know that I have been spending a lot of very quiet and contemplative time. I have been re-introducing myself to all things I have forgotten that brought so much enjoyment, my time out in nature, time out driving the country roads, logging roads, taking pictures, exploring, finding those very quiet spots, where you can hear the sound of leaves as they rustle in the breeze, no sound of the water trickling in some yet to be seen creek, the sound of deer crashing through the woods, watching a moose somehow become invisible in the woods, even though his size says how is that possible. watching bear cubs scurry over the bank, fish jumping, birds calling, and I just sit and breath, and feel all that is and has been weighing heavy on my slipping away. I’ve gotten my paints out again, I haven’t painted in almost two years, I’ve spent time working on my next book, which has sat untouched for too long. Spending time being present for myself, thats not an easy thing for most of us to do. We push ourselves to quite the inner voice that is screaming at us, the busier we are the less we hear it, the less attention we give it.
I am grateful that I have been taught over many years, through many traumas and challenges the importance of self care, of talking about it when it surfaces, my doctor is my go to, he is objective, not invested in anything I may be doing. It is a safe place for me, no chance of being influenced and I admit I at times can be, this is true of most of us who are natural givers, we tend to make it easy to hear that one thing that will give us to keep doing something even if at that moment its not whats best of ourselves. I have many more times than I like to admit, allowed myself to stay and keep giving in many different situations, because I was convinced it was for the best or because someone needed me to. So my Doctor is the perfect person to be 100% objective. I am grateful to have a good relationship with him, I know many don’t even have the luxury of a doctor, so I don’t take it lightly or for granted.
Today I was supposed to be out in the woods again, I had an amazing day on Thursday, but today the weather has dictated that I be at home, which that to has been good, my music going, I’ve repotted all my house plants, they have needed my attention too, yes they all have names, I dance and sing to them, and I have been neglectful, so today they were pampered, I’ve got some organizing done of my house, my little dog Pheobe has even gone for a short walk with me in between rain showers. I’ve decided I am going to write letters to those that I care about and tuck them away, so one day when I am gone, they will each get a letter. I am spending time on researching some options for where I may want to live, but knowing that I will let things unfold as they are meant to, my angels are here with me, in a bigger way than in recent years, so I am paying attention.
I am grateful for the support and understanding I have received from many the support is important for all of us even though sometimes we don’t ask or say, it is important we support each other as best we can, life is tough, kindness matters.
So yes I am still advocating, working on various things, helping with some events, and just enjoying others. Its a tremendous time of rediscover me, I am still passionate about advocating, helping others, mentoring, being a support, but I am also learning to love myself in all my quirkiness.