Blog  /  Other, Parenting, Special Needs  /  Balancing the Active Life When Life is Out of Control

I should have the answer. After all, I wrote the bible study on it. Balancing the Active Life. (A newly updated version is now available at www.cindiferrini.com) I should have known what was needed when my own life became overwhelmed. But sometimes we don’t recognize what we’re in the middle of until things start falling apart.

We can think we’re handling all the challenges of life just fine…until physical symptoms start to appear (or in my case disappear) and we realize maybe we need to change a few things.

My symptoms started at the tail end of a 10 years period of time that was non-stop looking something like this:

  • My husband Joe’s dad was diagnosed with cancer
  • My dad was diagnosed with dementia and mini-strokes
  • Both dads at one point were roommates in the rehab wing of a nursing home for several weeks
  • My brother took his own life after numerous years of various struggles
  • Joe’s Dad passed away
  • My mom (the well one and main caregiver of dad) died of a massive heart attack (age 69). Dad, who had just gone into hospice after nearly 7 years of care and failing fast, died just 5 days after mom.
  • In the midst of it all my husband Joe continued running his own dental practice and working
  • There was yet the raising of a son with special needs, a daughter soon to marry, and the youngest daughter active in High School
  • A hurtful church situation caught us by surprise as we maneuvered how to deal with it with integrity. (And still with reoccurring issues over 15 years later.)
  • And just as we felt we were catching our breath having lost 4 family members, we were beginning to see the signs that my Mother-in-law was in the early stages of dementia. Time caring for her became more and more until she moved in with us for a short time before full time care beyond our abilities were needed
  • Being in the middle of menopause
  • My mother-in-law entered a nearby nursing home making daily visits to her a top priority for Joe and I if even for a few minutes

Was it any wonder that somewhere in that mix I began to lose my hair? Before long I had a bald spot on the side (thankfully not the top) of my head the size of my fist along with other small bare patches I prayed wouldn’t spread! I tried so many things to stop the loss of hair: hundreds of steroid shots in my head, topical shampoos, and certain vitamins, etc. Buying a wig with a wedding in the near future was also part of this story! But, I personally believe what helped most was changing things in my schedule, saying no to the less important, and concentrating on me. That is hard for a caring wife, caregiver to a child with special needs, nurturing mother of 3 children, and ministry leader; but it was necessary and I did it to try to regain balance in life and a new head of hair!

HOW I LESSENED MY LOAD:

My husband was kind and direct in showing me some things that could be cut from my schedule:

  • Suggesting places I was serving and helping where others could step in
  • Recognizing the “needy” people who were takers of my time and energy

and redirecting them to people who could better serve their needs

  • Mentioning ways we could find down time for me to rest and strengthen
  • Delegating a bit more to the children who could help (our already helpful daughters)
  • Reorganizing our time to get to bed earlier and get a better nights sleep – probably one of the hardest to fulfill
  • Being responsible about commitments and careful to not add more
  • Checking in with each other about the importance (or not) of each activity to consider placing on our personal, family, and/or ministry calendar

I, too, needed to find and make personal and necessary adjustments, which looked something like this:

  • Contact family and friends who would pray me through the necessary adjustments knowing I love people, projects, fellowship, friendship, family, and fun
  • Learn to be realistic as to what would and should fit into my day without over stressing myself (I had begun to recognize the stress “symptoms of hair falling out” like tingling, itching, etc. when things stressed or overwhelmed me.)
  • Take time to enjoy relaxing activities. For me: watercolor, sewing, reading, visiting people just to enjoy (not listen and take care) time with them
  • Sit and do nothing. Our enclosed deck in good weather fit the bill.
  • Adjust the volume of TV, radio, and other media along with the kind of music I would listen to. It was amazing what quiet soothing music would do to calm and quiet one’s soul!
  • A long soaking bath and no one to disturb me
  • Last but not least, reading God’s word and really soaking it in

As I look back I realize it took a great deal of time, effort, and life change to get through this time. My hair grew back in time for our daughter and son-in-laws wedding and my life was changed for the better having learned and grown during this stressful time that weathered the storm many situations that couldn’t be changed or rearranged just because they were “life”.

It is likely you can relate in part, in whole, or in even more challenging ways that what I shared! How might you recognize and adjust your life to accommodate a more calm and quiet atmosphere in the midst of the whirlwind of life? I know you can do it. With help, direction, and the desire….I did.

Joe and Cindi Ferrini

Joe and Cindi have been married since 1979, live in Cleveland, OH, have 3 grown children (one with special needs), grandchildren, and enjoy speaking and writing together on topics related to marriage and family (FAMILYLIFE’S “WEEKEND TO REMEMBER Get-A-Ways” as well as for organizations pertaining to special needs), leadership, and time/life management. Joe has practiced dentistry since 1978; Cindi enjoys writing (books, blogs, articles, etc.), speaking, radio, and social media. Together they have written articles and blogs for Focus on the Family, FamilyLife, http://specialneedsparenting.net and here at FamilyMatters, and authored UNEXPECTED JOURNEY: When Special Needs Change our Course. They’d love to connect with you at: www.joeferrini.com or www.cindiferrini.com

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