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Shifting Gears

20/02/2017 23:15

Have you ever driven a standard shift vehicle?  How did that go for you?  In life, as in the learning of driving a standard shift car, it can be a work in progress for many of us.  As a humourous aside, I will share with you that I tried to learn how to drive a standard shift car when I was preparing/practicing to try to get my driver’s license.  That feels like exactly a hundred years ago.  My then boyfriend, now husband told me that driving a standard was no big deal.  If you can specialize in stalling a car, that is what I would receive an award in.  The driving experience with me at that time can be likened to the experience of volunteering to get whiplash.  And I practiced & practiced some more & frankly made no literal forward success.  Bless my Dad’s heart because he was amazing about my practice parking foul up when I tried to park in between apple boxes & his car was the casualty of that bright idea.  He did not get upset with me & now that I am a mom to a teenager I hope that I can have that kind of grace too.  Over time I threw in the towel with the learning to drive a standard because I am not made for that model & hey thank goodness for the automatic drive cars that are a breeze to maneuver.  Sometimes you need your gears shifted for you.  That is what is happening in a parallel world in my life right now…my gears are being shifted for me thank goodness.

How comfortable is your comfie zone?  It may depend on where you are in your life or your personality style perhaps.  There are some people who gravitate towards embracing change & running towards it & then there are other folks who run from it like they are being chased by a bear.  I  am somewhere in between those 2 domains…but truthfully closer to being chased by a bear than running towards change.  Sometimes I do not want to shift my own gears even when “the devil I know” is sucking me into a vortex of negative.  Generally I get stuck in one form or another of “the blues” in the winter months.  Maybe it is the Canadian climate. (Or maybe it is that my sucky immune system allows me to catch every single bug all winter long.)  Maybe it would be nice to hibernate for the winter.  I enjoy about 2 weeks of winter & then I am done with it.  As diligent & positive a person as I am, the winter months almost always get the better of my attitude & I get that blue feeling.  Then I have to find a way to snap out of it.  That is big time difficult.  First of all there has to be an awareness of what is happening & then you have to figure out a way to throw yourself a life preserver to get out of that funk.  The great news is that I have both self awareness, no level of self delusion, no patience for self denial, am gentle yet bold with myself & thankfully figured out ions ago that the best time to prepare an emergency plan for the blues is way before the blues come to town.  For me that means getting that list of pick me ups on paper in the spring, summer & fall months.  To simplify that list though I have learned that it all really boils down to this:  when I have the blues the antidote is finding a way to bring some comfort to someone else.  The thing is that I also realize that being the willful rascal that I am, I tend to do that very much within my comfort zone.  It is almost like I bring others into my comfort bubble versus going out of my comfort zone to their bubble of comfort.  As a very important caution, remember, the blues are not the same as depression.  If you or someone you know has depression make an immediate appointment with your doctor as you can save a life.  Save a life always.

In the last couple of months I have found myself sinking into the usual feeling of the blahs, blues & even to the land of the saying that we often hear "the death by a thousand cuts" metaphor…you know when day after day continuously external frustrations are thrust upon us. Sometimes they are mega frustrations or they can be as small as things that just don’t go smoothly for us.  An example of a tiny poke would be you need to print something off & it should take a minute & you end up almost having to re-figure your computer.  I have had several months of frustrations thrust my way…that poked at with a short stick almost constantly.  And I realize that I have a very long way to go in the advancement of the virtue of patience or bearing wrongs patiently for that matter.  I have taken a ton of deep breaths & told myself to settle down.  It can get to you though.  Every single person struggles though & if we get this, we really can simplify what can be done to make our challenges have meaning.  For me it is as simple as this…I have to give of my time & heart to others who are struggling & take my eyes off of myself so that I never cave in on myself & become a victim of the struggle.  It is okay to feel those feelings of the blues but I refuse to live in that world. (Caution, remember blues are different from depression.  If you or someone you know has depression get professional help starting with your family doctor).

There is a saying that you will be familiar with of “be careful what you wish for.”  That is melodramatic in my mind.  I am a person of profound faith so I look at many things through my faith eyes.  Over the past couple of months I have been failing at shifting my gears largely.  It has been one step forward & 10 back.  Then I realized I needed newer outside my comfort bubble ideas.  Yikes I have thought over & over again.  Behind the scenes, my gears are getting shifted for me like an automatic vehicle & I know exactly who & what is going on & why.  I am one grateful rascal.  This past week I found myself way outside my comfort bubble & my heart was so filled up to the top at the same time.  If we believe that good things come in threes (which I do on so many levels) then I have received recently 3 “assignments” that are uber outside my comfort bubble.  The first one is to co facilitate something wonderful for 4 weeks that is brand new to me.  I love talking to others one on one yet I get the sweaty palms every time when I speak in front of a group so more deep breaths & an abundance of tea will be helpful.  The second (part a) new experience is a conference next month that I will be the newbie at.  Normally if I am going to any kind of conference I have the security blanket of going with at least one friend or even a group in a carry a comfort blankie kind of way.  Not this time.  I am just going on my own & taking a complete chance that I could have to sit alone for the day (but hopefully not). The second part (B) gear shift is that for the first time I am helping out with a program that lasts until the spring with teenagers.  I have always felt that I am one of those moms who relates best to little kids versus teenagers.  It turns out that we each evolve or continue to grow up if we choose & want to.  It turns out that there is more relatability then I imagined with teens as well.  As a neat aside, I have celebrated that we are the first generation of parents that have our teens asking to borrow our music.  Our second born son who will become a teen this summer has a huge selection of music & at least 80% of the bands are ones that I love too. It is not that I am close minded or open minded about new experiences but more a case of not having gears changed enough sometimes.  The third outside the comfort zone unexpected shifting of gears happened this week when I joined the hospital visiting volunteer program.  After the first visit I felt the circle of indescribable comfort.  On my worst day I am still so fortunate because I can choose to go out or not but I am not isolated.  And I don’t want anyone to feel isolated especially those dear hearts that are in the hospital yearning for someone to come visit.  Those I think are the longest days…the ones where people are in the hospital.  If you asked me whether I would be a hospital visitor last year or even 6 months ago I would have said without hesitation that there was no way.  My gears got shifted though & I am better for it…a better work in progress. 

Throughout life & going forward to my very last day on earth I will always have a mentor or really several for different aspects of life.  I need wise counsel because I don’t know what I don’t know.  In chatting with one mentor recently, she strongly suggested that I take a break from social media & shift gears towards taking on new challenges. I had shared with her that I was tired of saying what seems like the same thing over & over again.  This pertains to type 1 diabetes.  I feel like I am speaking a foreign language so many times when I try to make a human connection with so many other people when I tell the truth about what is going on with my health.  So many people do not want to hear about it.  So often people do not want to know that you came close for at least the 6th time this year in not waking up that morning due to a dangerous low blood sugar.  It can feel pretty devastating to reach out for support & fall flat on your face because the other person does not want to connect with any struggle.  I keep my trust circle small so I don't openly share my struggles but the circle is getting even tinier I have experienced.  I need to get stronger I admitted to my mentor.  I also paradoxically admitted to my mentor that I  was in no state or mood to shift gears & look for new challenges outside my comfort zone.  I thought to myself that I would look for opportunities to shift gears this Spring or Summer instead & just hang in there in the meantime.  God has a sense of humour & the absolute power to bestow the grace of profound humility.  Willful me did not shift my own gears…the gears got shifted effortlessly, mysteriously & quietly behind the scenes.  I am one grateful rascal.  For sure my diabetes management is still sucking up enormous amounts of my brain power, time & 2 mornings ago I woke up with a banger of a headache & a frighteningly low blood sugar that I was lucky to have woken up at all .  It scares the hell out of you when you are faced with life & death every single time you go to sleep at night.  I am not alone in that.  There are so many battle buddies that are faced with this fact too & we have lost many friends to death over night from an unaware low.  That is reality & it is sobering so I know every day I had best make the day count & mean something.  And the frustrations are still coming my way in waves yet somehow my brain is shifting quickly to a focus of how the shifts have impacted me as a whole person.  I am just plain thankful even within the vast challenges that each day brings.  It is not something that I say lightly.  Diabetes still sucks in every possible way.  My graphs are ugly but my A1C is a challenge that I will never throw the towel in on. And I am thankful to my guardian angel who never sleeps so that I can & can wake up to see each new morning.  I take nothing for granted.   We each have to shift so many gears when it comes to diabetes management since what works in our management one day or one week can change out completely & we have to figure out  new strategies over & over again.  We do the heavy lifting for our retired pancreas.  Still though beyond that, I feel mysteriously comforted & that gives me strength for every journey.  I am getting stronger somehow yet I am not doing it alone.

My heart hopes that you have comfort always for your journey too.  Diabetes is tough yet you & I are stronger than words can convey.  As always, I am cheering for you. 



Be especially gentle with yourself.  Challenges are marathons so pace yourself & know that you are a rock star for all you have to do day in & day out.  It is a scientific fact that you are an everyday superhero!

In cooperating with the wise counsel of one of my dear heart mentors, I am taking a wee break from social media so my next story will be in the Spring on Monday May 1st.  In the meantime I will be cheering for you every single day…on the tough days & the awesome days with diabetes & challenges & celebrations.  Here’s a “you’ve got this” for every day until May as well as a hug & “I get it; me too.”  And I will say a “cheers” each day with my tea cup to you too you rockstar!