Monday Musings...Land Ahoy!

Step forward if ever, at any point in your life, you have felt overwhelmed with too many responsibilities. Without fail, waves of people rush forward before I even finish the sentence. This apparent tsunami of stress crosses every demographic. It is the flood of our national psyche.

It seems that all of us feel like we’re drowning at times, and we wonder how we are ever going to get through the next moment, let alone the next day. We desperately need that life buoy to keep us afloat and take us to shore.

It’s been quite a while since I posted. Truthfully, many circumstances threatened to pull me into the undertow. It was the gravitational pull of demands and responsibilities, choices and challenges, that looked manageable at the time, only for me to find the force was way beyond human strength.

I took some comfort in knowing that I was not alone - that I am just like those in my seminars riding the tidal wave - but that platitude didn’t provide any hope, as the whitecaps of tasks and trials kept rolling in. Only now that I have safely reached land, can I reflect on the process of getting to shore.

One of the greatest lessons learned was the need to resist unrealistic expectations. We all have 168 hours in the week. Not one hour more, not one hour less. How do we manage that time? Or better yet, who manages our time? It’s easy to get side-tracked into other people’s agendas or demands, which leaves little time left to pursue what truly matters in our own lives. We willingly jump into someone else’s pool, only to find that we have become their jumbo inflatable swan that they lounge on to soak up the sun.

It really is a matter of prioritizing. We need to ask ourselves: what is this going to cost me personally? Is the time spent on the endeavour, really worth it? We might appear like everyone’s hero for doing X, or that we’ve got it all together because we can carry that extra weight on our shoulders, but the reality is we are headed for a swan dive! In the end, we are no good for anyone, our energy is drained so low. So, if you think the cost is too high, it is too high, and you need to stay out of the water.

The thing with life is the waves of demands just seem to keep coming. Just talk with a parent of young children, or a student nearing the end of a semester, or a person whose parents are aging? The solution here is to figure out what we can control and what we can’t. There will be some non-negotiables simply based on the stage of life we are in. These are the times when we must remain in the water.

My daughter and I travelled to Mexico a number of years back. We decided to be adventurous and chose to tackle swimming in an underwater cave. Not only was it pitch black, but there was very little head room when we entered. So, with a double dose of claustrophobia and a fear of drowning, sheer panic and certain death threatened to envelope us. This would have been our fate, but we thought it through, donned some life jackets and found a trusty guide with a head lamp! The antidote for drowning was learning how to stay afloat while moving forward to the exit point of the cave. We needed to continually restore balance to our mind and body. Had we not put on the life jacket before going into the cave, we would have sunk. If we could not see the light at the end of the cave tunnel and land up ahead, though it was over a kilometer away, we would have sunk. So, when we have to go in the water, because life demands it, we need to make sure we have what we need to keep us floating. We need to find those moments when we feel in control and not overwhelmed. We need to remind ourselves that we are getting ever closer to the exit. If the demands of life are time limited, it’s amazing how we can see them through.

So, like me, learn to let go of unrealistic expectations and protect your time. Get out of the water, if you can, so it doesn’t drag you under. If you must ride the waves, know what or who you need to keep you afloat, and keep looking for that light, a sure sign of land ahead.

Avril Lavigne’s song “Head above Water” beautifully depicts the cry of those who feel the undertow of life dragging them down. Give it a listen and be encouraged today.

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