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overwhelmedA friend of mine is caring for two parents who are both in wheelchairs. She just found out that her son broke his knee…it’s two weeks before his bar mitzvah.

Another friend’s sister was just diagnosed with an aggressive cancer.

Another friend just came to terms with the fact that she can no longer afford to live in Massachusetts; She decided to move to Florida. We had a date to go to the museum this week, but she had so many appointments with painters and carpenters she had to cancel.

I have friends that are dealing with parents who are slowly losing it to Dementia, Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, and many others who are dealing with an adult child’s mental illness.

Almost everyone I know is overwhelmed. I wish I were an exception, but I am not. I am trying to come to terms with losing both parents in 3 years, settling an estate, cleaning up and selling the home I grew up in, and trying to keep an extended family together.

Even when there are no catastrophes, there is our work, our kids (we BA50s are living the adage, “little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems.”) There is the shopping, the cooking, the doctor visits. There is the melting snow threatening to fill our basements—and while I hate to be Debby Downer, I hear that water seepage is almost never covered by insurance. There are those 10 pounds to lose, exercise classes to get to, hair to color. And we never seem to be able to get enough sleep!

Sometimes, I am so overwhelmed, I cry in the car in between errands.

I believe that because I don’t have time to worry during daylight hours, I start worrying as soon as my head hits the pillow.

That is why it is so important to Take A Break. Get Out of Dodge. Take a Time Out.

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I just got back from a two-day, multi generational retreat of women from my synagogue. There was time for reflection, time for exercise, time to pursue a hobby, time to lend a helping hand, time to laugh, to have drinks with friends, to play act, to eat a leisurely meal, time to do some social good.  It’s sounds busy, but it wasn’t.

Taking time out- not just an hour for a manicure or a massage, but a day or more– is magical- we all know that, but we also forget it if we haven’t done it in awhile.

Something happens when we get away- when we can concentrate on just having fun and relaxing- when we don’t have to think about cooking, working, planning, scheduling. When we get away, our problems are not crawling down our necks.

Alone in my hotel room, with no parent to call to say that I had arrived safely, I had time to grieve a bit for the two parents I lost, and reflect on how those losses matured and changed me.

I lost some of the tension in my face, back and neck. I allowed my mind to wander.

I felt a camaraderie with all the women who packed twice as many shoes as there were days away.

I committed to be better organized–especially when I realized I forgot to pack my hairbrush, my toothbrush and deodorant.

I realized you can live without a hairbrush, toothbrush and deodorant for a couple of days.

I discovered how women will pile up a plate of food like linebackers when there are no men around.

I thought about how you really don’t know someone until you have time to just hang out with them.

I committed to learn Mahjong…just in case I outlive my husband.

I sought an answer to a question that no one was able to answer: “Does any other ethnic group—other than Jews and Asians—play Mahjong?”

I delighted in how much fun it is to pretend, to act, to make people laugh.

I was grateful to be able to just sit quietly for two hours at a service.

And yes, I returned to the same problems and issues—because I am old enough to know that nothing ever just Goes Away. But it is always good to be reminded that Time Out is not a luxury—it is imperative… it’s where all the good stuff happens.

 

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