Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Making Choices: It's Been Awhile, but I'm Back

Whoa!  It's been awhile since I've posted here.  It's been a trying, confusing, exciting, and rewarding couple of years.  Here's what happened, in a nutshell.
---- Do you get the feeling that you've hit on something really special?  You've finally found your calling?  But then, life happens?  That calling comes and you're raring to go and then---boom!  One thing after another comes along and delays that jump full force into this project, this thing, this life that you have been waiting for.  I spent two years consumed with other things, not blogging or coaching.  There were times when I longed to blog, but as I got further and further away from it, it was harder to get back to it.  Now I wish I had documented the events of those two years.  It would have been fun and also educational to look back on them.  It was a time of growth and adventure that I won't forget.

In August of 2015, our high school exchange student, Naja, arrived from Denmark to stay with us for the 2015-16 school year.  At first, I made time for blogging.  One post in early August of that year, then another in early September.  Then...nothing.  I made a conscious choice to concentrate on our exchange year experience, not on business or blogging.  I wanted to dive in and fully experience those 10 months, not be absent.  Live it, breathe it, feel it deeply.  Every part of it.

I understand where people are coming from when they are torn.  I love writing.  I love life coaching.  My business had already been put on the back burner shortly after getting my life coach certification the previous year when my mother came to stay with us for a bit.  She had had a stroke at the beginning of 2014 and could no longer live alone.  She lived with my sister at the time, but that sister needed to have surgery.  She asked if we (my husband and me) could take care of Mom for a couple of months while she recovered, which we did.  Although it was heartbreaking to see the changes the stroke had caused in Mom, we had a lot of fun during her visit:  reminiscing, going out for ice cream, hiking, playing games, and painting.

But we went ahead with hosting Naja.  We needed to go for what felt right in our guts, and this felt right.  

I dove into the role of host parent.  I drove Naja to and from school daily, braved the throngs of teen drivers navigating the streets near the school, and thanked my lucky stars each time I arrived home in one piece.  I have never been particularly fond of driving, but it was a whole different ball game with a 16-year-old riding with me.  That bumped up the pressure of responsibility just a tad.  It was one thing to drive myself around, but to be responsible for a teen, besides; someone else's child?  Yow!  Her parents had consented to allow their daughter to travel across the world to live with us, trusting us to keep her safe and well for 10 months.  I nearly broke out in hives the first day of school. 

Life seemed to go 110 miles an hour once Naja joined us and settled in.  We took her to many of the parks and sites in Utah, where we live, and the surrounding area.  She made lots of amazing friends, so there were often other teens coming and going, or we were driving her to a friend's house or school event.  It was: go, go, go for 10 months.  We had a blast!  

Then, it was over.  Her parents came in May of 2016 and stayed with us for 10 days.  We had so much fun.  They are lovely people and the time went so fast.  We didn't want it to end.  But it was time.  When we waved goodbye to them at the airport, we didn't quite know what to do.  We stood in the terminal kind of shell shocked for a bit. The fact that the year was over brought on both feelings of sadness and, admittedly, relief.  Naja was fantastic.  She was intelligent, witty, sweet, never got into trouble--no problem.  But we don't have children of our own, so when Naja arrived we were instantly responsible for a teen.  We didn't have 16 years to get ready for this exciting and challenging time in her life, as parents who raise a child from birth do.  So we were in a whole different world and learning as we went along.  It was very challenging and stressful at times.  So when she left there was that relief of not having the huge responsibility for her.  That said, it also was one of the most rewarding, exciting, and fun experiences we've had.

Before Naja left, I had all sorts of plans of what to do when the exchange year was over.  I was going to start my coaching business, join a local book club as well as a social club, write for online publications, volunteer all over the community, blog, and so on.  But I hadn't realized how tired I was.  Instead of jumping into all these activities, I slept.  And slept, and slept.  And when I was awake I just kind of went about daily chores as if on auto pilot.  Life was so different!  The house felt empty and was so quiet.  

I lost feeling for all things.  A wall went up around me.  I had a feeling of total disorganization and ineptitude that left me seemingly frozen in place.  I couldn't seem to get myself out of this funk.  For someone who had always prided herself on being organized, I was a mess.  I didn't know which end was up, I didn't know what to do.  I couldn't seem to get enthused about anything that I had, not that long before, been excited about.  I didn't join any clubs, I didn't exercise much, I didn't volunteer, I didn't write, I didn't coach.  It was bizarre.

It didn't help matters that I had bouts with sickness (colds, flu), foot, knee and shoulder trouble (old injuries that came back to haunt me), and as a result, weight gain.  I also had more time to think about Mom once Naja left.  She was so different after the stroke.  She still had that beautiful smile and positive attitude, but part of the old Mom was gone.  She couldn't do a lot of the things she used to love to do:  garden, read, hike.  She was always very active.  Seriously, she could out-walk anyone half her age, even in her 80s.  And we used to talk for hours on the phone, whereas 5- to 10-minute calls were now the norm.  I sort of felt abandoned and lost without my mom.  

I've worked through these feelings and problems.  I've done a lot of thinking; looking inside. I've done a lot of reading on the topic of parent illness, dementia, getting organized, life change, and parent loss.  I've gained comfort from my husband and dear friends.  It still frustrates me at times, but I know that I'm stronger for these experiences.

And now, I'm back.  I'm looking forward to blogging again on a regular basis--I'm planning on blogging once a week to start.  

Have you had to put something on the back burner that you were excited about to do something else that was important as well?  Comment below, or send me an email at amy@acnlifecoach.com.  I'd love to hear from you. 

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