Dang it! I muttered as I stumbled down the stairs at 4:30 am, hitting my recently sprained toe on shoes I had placed at the bottom, hoping they would magically migrate north to my closet. I scratched at flea bites on my arm, tripped over my grandson’s high chair, and made my way to the front porch. I hissed loudly (and unkindly) at my dog Gina to quit doing what dogs do, which is bark at unseen things in the wee hours. Gina usually sleeps inside, but because of her house guests (fleas!), she had been banished to the porch. It had been a long week. I really, really wanted a good night’s sleep. “Sheesh,” I said aloud to my sorry self. ” Why can’t I catch a break?”
But even as I said that, that calm, reasonable voice inside me said, “Eileen, breaks aren’t caught–they are made.”
I immediately realized the import of that. Sometimes I forget, and feel like I am caught in the vortex of my life, as if some tornado has swooped down out of the blue, rendering me helpless and flailing. I pictured my local weather man, arms swooping east and west, explaining that tornadoes are caused by weather systems colliding. (Seinfeld fans know what happened to George when his worlds collided…) I wasn’t a victim of happenstance. I had created the very reality I found myself standing in. After an abbreviated pity party, I took stock.
- I was the one that didn’t take an extra minute to take my shoes upstairs
- I neglected to do what was necessary to prevent the flea infestation
- I hurt my toe because I didn’t take the time to find my shoes before I went in the yard (and fell in a small hole–blame husband here). Come to think of it, my shoes were probably on the stairs.
What is the point of this sad tale? The point is we don’t catch breaks–we make them. I have many clients who rank getting healthy as very important, but their actions don’t evidence this. Their life is a whirlwind, and they feel helpless to make their health a priority. “As soon as the kids are back in school,” or “when the holidays are over,” or “when my company leaves,” or my favorite, “when my life settles down.”
We have created and ranked the activity in our life. We have created a weather system of flailing furry.
Once I am willing to admit I have created my present situation by my own choices, I am ready to take responsibility for my life. (Notice I said responsibility and not BLAME. Blame is where we go when all we want to do is feel bad and stay stuck.) Taking responsibility is actually very empowering. It also feels like a very grown up thing to do.
So shifting from pitiful to powerful I will:
- Deflea the dog
- Commit to spending 15 min a day picking up around the house as part of my bedtime routine
- Go to be earlier tonight and tomorrow to catch up on sleep
You deserve a break today. So make one for yourself.