Be gentle with yourself

Life happens.  It will throw you curve balls when you least expect it.  And sometimes your creativity and all of your goals will dive under the bus when you’re trying to avoid all those curve balls in the Dodge Ball game of life.  When that happens, you simply have to breathe and survive.

I’m experiencing a time just like this.  It’s been frantic since school got out last spring and it’s only more so right now.

I traveled a LOT this summer (both for work–CONFRATUTE! in Connecticut–and to help my hubby with his book tour while also visiting family).  In between travel there were these tiny moments of wallowing in horrible heat and forest fire smoke unlike any summer I can recall in Alaska to date.

I had Texans laugh at my coworker and I when we said our heat was killing us.  It’s DIFFERENT in Alaska.  Our heat may not reach the temperatures of Texas, but it sustains for FAR longer.  We have nearly 24 hours of daylight, you guys.  It doesn’t cool off in the evening or relent.  There is no sleeping in a heat like this that just roasts.  Alaska experienced drought this summer that reduced lakes by 3 feet.  It also allowed horrible forest fires to rage all over our state and drown us in smoke all summer long (to such an extent that the air was damaging to breathe).  I swear all of my clothes hanging in the closet now smell like a camp fire.

Between the travel and the heat? NO creativity work got done.  I had plans, but … no.  And now that school is back in session?  I’m drowning in work with plenty of drama I won’t go into.  Suffice it to say that a K-1 combo class is double the work this year.  Plus planning a local SCBWI conference coming up in a few weeks here.  Plus some family drama I don’t want to elaborate on.  PLUS looking to move by the end of September.  I feel SO overwhelmed and I’ve cried from hurt or stress or just sheer exhaustion so many times.

I feel so guilty about my creative goals.  I feel like I let myself down and I’m not reaching for my dreams.  But the truth is, those dreams don’t go away.  They are always there.  And I will keep working towards them when I can.  I have to survive this month though and then things will get back to where they need to be: balls rolling (not thrown at me), gears meshing smoothly.

Why am I telling you this, dear reader?  Because I’ve met many other dreamers along my journey who have said “my dream is dead because life happens.”  It breaks my heart every time I hear this.  Your elderly parents require all of your care?  Your mentally ill brother is burning out and you are scrambling to help him?  Your house caught fire and now you’re homeless?  God, these things are awful!  I’m sorry you are going through them and I sympathize.  I’ve been there in some of these same situations and life DOES feel hopeless.  But it’s not.

Life happens my friends.  And we keep moving forward one step at a time.  The dreams will wait.  We will survive and then we will return to them.  Don’t give up hope.  And please, don’t give up on your dreams, for that is truly the only way that they will die.  Be gentle with your heart, yourself, and your one precious life.  You have more than enough going on right now.  Don’t add self-punishment to that.  Your dreams will wait, and so will I.  I will wait to celebrate with you. <3

3 thoughts on “Be gentle with yourself

  1. Thank you for such an important, true and loving post, Jena. Best wishes to you as you sort through your life challenges and emerge true to your creative self and victorious in your endeavors!

  2. Oh Jena, I had been intending to ask you about several of the things you mentioned, and just kept getting distracted. I’m so sorry the summer and fall are so difficult thus far. I keep you in my prayers and I am so proud of your good attitude. It is an inspiration and an example to me…and I badly need both!

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