I've been filling out a lot of paperwork lately - and making a lot of phone calls (let's not even talk about the phone calls - argh!) due to the Mr. having a stroke a couple weeks ago.
The experience has been interesting, to say the least -
I mean the paperwork experience has been interesting. The family-member-in-medical-crisis is interesting, too - but in a different (probably less objective) way. And the Mr. is home now, recovering nicely (but that's a story for another time).
Back to the paperwork. Here's an example: on said paperwork every time Short Term Disability Benefits are discussed the acronym STD is used. So STD Benefits appears all over the place in the paperwork. Which is disconcerting. Because when I see STD I don't think of Short Term Disability, I think of Sexually Transmitted Disease. And personally, I'd pass on any benefit offered by (sexually transmitted) STD's.
But there have been benefits to dealing with all this paperwork -- for one, I've been forced to practice some of the tools in my self-care toolbox.
I oftentimes forget to use my self-care tools. Well, to be honest - it's not that I forget to use them, I mostly put them off: "Yeah, yeah, I'll do that in a minute (hour, tomorrow, next week...)."
The silly thing about this is that I'd be the first one to remind YOU of the airplane story. You know the one? If there's trouble on the airplane put the oxygen mask on yourself first, before helping others - because you can't help others if you're in distress (or passed out). That story!
I'd remind you of it - and encourage you to take care of yourself in the ways that work best for you, using the tools in YOUR self-care toolbox.
But for myself I keep thinking: "I'll get to that later. After the towels are washed, and some of the effing phone calls are made. Or after I've played with some of the STD paperwork - or when I'm done making dinner."
Bah! The same rules that apply to YOU apply to me - I need to grab my oxygen mask (self-care tools) daily if I want to do work that matters. Hey, sometimes I need to grab my oxygen mask just to keep sane. And so I don't spend the day snapping at people - funny how jumpy that makes folks.
So I've been reminded - by the daily happenings related to the Mr.'s stroke - of the importance of my self-care tools. And I've been practicing them a lot!
Humor's been at the top (for me a life without humor isn't a life - but that could just be me - my funny bone might be overdeveloped) - I've been making sure to get in a silly DVD at least once a day (current favorites: Arrested Development, Jeeves & Wooster and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia).
Then there's music - I haven't played a lot of music lately, but I've been whistling the tunes from Jeeves & Wooster - and also Scott Joplin tunes (???). I began a 30 Days of Yoga practice, through Anna Guest-Jelley of Curvy Yoga (way to connect to the body! could not have done this at a better time!!).
And above-the-top, even before humor (muahaha, you didn't think I'd be logical, did you?) there's gratitude! Ohmyword! Unexpected illness/recovery, like grief, brings on - for me - those Our Town feelings.
Remember the part in Thornton Wilder's play, Our Town, when (the deceased) Emily says: "Oh, earth, you're too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it -- every, every minute?" Whenever I read those lines the same feelings that came over me the first time I saw the play are evoked.
Each time I swear I'll never forget again - I'll appreciate each and every moment. Except I don't. And maybe I can't - maybe we can't - maybe that's too much intensity.
But what I can do - what we can do, is: remind each other. I think one or the other of us is always going through something big - something heart-opening, something unexpected - that causes us to remember how gloriously wonderful every minute is - and brings us gratitude for little things, little times, little wonders (so easily ignored in our busy lives).
And we can remind each other - share the Our Town moments. Because remembering - and feeling that gratitude - might even be more important than humor!
p.s. Don't let anyone tell you there are no benefits to STD's - my experience with STD Benefits paperwork has opened the door to increased gratitude and self-care tool use