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Brick Walls

When your greatest fear becomes reality, what do you do?

I think, you have two choices. Allow this reality to define or refine you.

The Brick Walls Are There For A Reason

The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don't want it badly enough. They're there to stop the other people. If there's anything I want to do so badly, I should have already done it. - Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture

I hit a freaking wall.  This isn't some post about running into something, although I have had times in my life where I'm more clumsy than others, but this is a figurative wall that feels so real. 
Have you ever had life just stop you right in your tracks? I think it's clear that I have.  Life hit me hard in June-2022.  Before the moment that rocked my world and tilted it of its axis, I felt like I was on the hamster wheel of life and then everything came to a screeching halt.  I never even realized just how much I was doing until, well ... I wasn't. 
I pulled back on everything. 
I didn't go out with friends.
Church felt like a chore. 
I was selective about how much time I went into the office.
My workouts at the gym just didn't happen. 
Eating at home became a necessity. 
You name it, I pulled back and in on everything. 

Grief will require that of you...

I learned that hard and fast early, and I am learning that more and more as I walk this journey.  Grief has a way of asking everything from you so you beg for less.  It asks you to pull back and only give what is necessary.  Necessary may change from day to day, but grief makes anything more than what is necessary an absolute chore.   
It was in these days that I did only the necessary things, and gave myself A LOT of grace for everything else.
But then, as the veil of grief began to lift, I started adding things back in.
Having a night out here and there with friends. 
Volunteering more at church.
Spending more time at the office, and even traveling some for work.
Venturing out to the gym a few more times a month.
Eating out.
Dating.  (mmhmm, you're reading that right too)
This was all well and good - really good - until it wasn't
I hit a wall.
Reflecting on this over the last month reminded me of The Last Lecture written and spoken by Randy Pausch.  He was a college professor who died young from pancreatic cancer.  In this lecture he gave meaningful advice, words of wisdom and a good bit of optimism, hope for humanity, the importance of overcoming obstacles, enabling the dreams of others and seizing every moment.  (...because time is all you have ... and you may find one day that you have less than you think) Whew.  Those words I have thought about often over the years.  I remember when this lecture initially came out and how the words so profoundly spoke to me.  And now, I think back on them again and how life is so very short, which I think is why I started feverishly adding things back in. 
Thought loop: Life is short. Time is all you have, and you may find one day you have less than you think.  So make sure you live life fully.
This is reality that life is short and time is all you have, but is it realistic to try and cram everything in? 
Now, I think no.  It's not only not realistic, but it's insane.
Thinking back to this wall, it all started to hit before the grief wave hit me back in September. 
I started feeling overwhelmed and needing to pull back again, but I couldn't find a way out.  I felt like I was back in the hamster wheel and I was running and running and running, so very fast until I was in a full out sprint, and I couldn't find a way to stop. The harder I tried, the faster the wheel turned.  It just turned and turned and turned, going faster and faster and faster, until I had to jump off, tuck myself into a ball and roll to a stop.
The funny (not funny) thing about life, is that when you can't find a way to stop, it will force you to stop.  You'll have times in your life where you literally have no choice but to stop.  Grief found me again, and then I got sick. (pump the brakes) It started with one of the worst migraines I've had to date (pump the brakes), a runny nose (pump the brakes), and then a full on sinus infection and losing my voice (PUMP THE BRAKES!). 
Did I stop then?
Not really, but I did pull back. 
I took time to rest, and let myself be ok with a little less on my plate. 
Surprisingly, the world didn't stop turning.  I knew it wouldn't, deep down, I knew.  But that has never stopped me from going and going and going until I couldn't go anymore. 
The funny thing is, I have way less on my plate than I used to.  When we lose our spouse, we literally go from doing life as two people to one.  The life you have built around with two people managing it, suddenly has to be done with one person.  It's like doubling the work load, plus a whole lot more. 
In my case, I never saw it coming.  I never saw the moment coming where I would go from two to one.  Yes, I had feared it, but it still blind-sided me, and knocked my feet out from underneath me.  In the moment of a breath, you lose not only the person you do that two person life with, but you also lose your emotional support, the co-parent, the second income - all the things.  Then on top of that, there is the added layer of owning and running a business and the process of starting a new one.  Let's face it, there is also an intense emotional and physical support that each kid needs - and this is probably the hardest thing I have ever done.  Added thing times four!  Supporting kids healing while I'm healing.  Helping my kids deal with life after loss, when I'm not even sure how to do it for myself.  There is no instruction manual for raising kids, and there sure isn't one for raising kids when they've lost a parent.  Yes, I know there's plenty of books out there on the subject, but each situation is unique and different, just like we all are.  So while these books offer guidelines for grappling through the mud of all these things, at the end of the day, they're just guidelines and we have to decide which part fits us, and which doesn't - and on this subject, I fail. Daily.  I get things right too, but there’s a lot of learning happening in the four walls of my home (and head) … which by the way, is also exhausting.
Don't get me wrong, I'm honored to be here for all of this.  I'm honored that God found me strong enough to withstand this challenge, that he chose me to be the one to walk forward, and I know God has provision for us, but dang if it's not so freaking hard in the middle of it. 
So in addition to grieving, you just have to figure out how to do these things as one person - because your two is gone. 
...and y'all, I'm exhausted.

These are the things we don't talk about enough.

I think it's safe to say that life is different now.  Life is so very different, and while it's not what I would have chosen for me life, I am learning to make the best of it.  I am learning that I am a strong woman, and God has uniquely equipped me to handle this journey.  But I am also learning that I need to extend myself some grace.  I simply cannot do it all, and trying to is doing nothing but burning me out. 
Hitting this wall made me realize that I am truly just one person, and I am carrying a lot. 
So Mr. Pausch, I realize that in some instances brick walls are there to give us a chance to see how badly we want things. I'll nod in agreement and say, but also, sometimes they are there to remind us that we need to slow down, to breathe, to heal, and to give ourselves grace.  This race doesn't have to be finished today, and if on the chance that today is the day our race is finished, then it will have been a race run well and finished within God's perfection.
So friends - I'll probably decline a invite for coffee,
or to dinner,
or to go walk in the park,
or to come over for a glass of wine,
or go shopping,
and I'll probably decline these way more than I want to ... but please, don't stop asking. 
I'm just saying yes when I absolutely can, and giving myself all the grace when I can't.