Do It Myself Blog – Glenda Watson Hyatt

Motivational Speaker

Finding Balance and Meaning with Limited Energy

Filed under: Living with a disability,Motivation — by at 11:46 pm on Monday, March 2, 2009

Many moons ago, my only roles were daughter, sister, friend and student. With my particular cerebral palsy, every task in daily life takes extra effort and energy, and my pool of energy is finite. When I use energy in one task,  I have less for the next one. In fact, my speech therapist disliked when physio was scheduled first. I always arrived to her therapy room with my energy zapped.

In high school, I didn’t take a full course load so that I could keep up with the work load. Grades 11 and 12 took me three years to complete – something I wasn’t thrilled about, but it was the only way I could keep up without being completely drained and while still maintaining decent grades. That 8.75 hours for the Algebra 12 provincial and scholarship exams was brutal!Summers were for recovering and relaxing.

Next came university while living on campus, alone. For the most part, I received only four hours of homemaking assistance per week. The cooking, daily cleaning and paying bills became my responsibility, as well as being a student. Yet I wasn’t given any extra energy. Semester breaks were spent sleeping and vegging. By taking one or two courses per semester, including summer semesters, I completed my Bachelors of Arts in seven years, barely sane.

Since then, I have added the roles of wife, homeowner, aunt, in-law, author, book promoter, blogger, solopreneur, volunteer treasurer, mentor and countless other roles that escape me at the moment. Yet I still working with that same finite pool of energy. That line about exercising creates energy is pure bunk!

Several times in recent years I have felt that I was drowning, that I couldn’t keep up, that no matter how late Into the night I worked, it wasn’t enough.

Last week I was hitting that point again. Inhaling my two squares of dark chocolate was becoming earlier and earlier in the afternoon, and even that wasn’t doing the trick. I was tired and completely drained. The mere thought of attending the day and a half long Board meeting, for which I’m the Treasurer, brought on a nap!

The next three months are extremely full and busy (for my energy levels) and I cannot get sick now, which tends to happened when I am over tired. After talking with Mom and my friend, and tormenting myself for a few days with indecision, I decided to submit my Treasurer’s report and regrets via email, and I bailed on the Board meeting!

I thought I would spend the weekend feeling guilty for not honoring my volunteer commitment. But, instead, I felt freed!

I went offline from Friday afternoon until mid-afternoon today. No emailing, no blogging, no tweeting, no googling for three days!

Conquering Mount Laundry and finishing reading February’s issue of O Magazine in February were my accomplishments this weekend. And, that was enough for me! Reading in bed during the day felt so luxurious.

I realized that I could spend 24/7 at my computer, writing, networking, strategizing, mentoring and still not get done everything I want to, ought to and need to. But, really, is that a well-balanced and meaningful life? Is that the most efficient use of my finite energy?

I realized that the ebook on web accessibility for bloggers may not be ready to launch at SOBCon 09 – business school for bloggers in May in Chicago. Although that would be disappointing, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. I would survive!

I realized that there are other things I would like to do that aren’t done at the computer. My spider plant is finally having babies. I’d like to pot them and then macreme a hanging pot holder for my mother-in-law for Christmas. I haven’t macremed in years! I’d like to spend time with my local friends. I’d like to go on outings with my aunt now that she has electric scooter and is independently mobile again.

I’d like to have a part of my life that is lived away from my computer. I’d like to have a life where I don’t feel like I am constantly struggling to keep up.

For now, I realize I am tired. I am going to publish this post and go to bed. Everything else can wait until tomorrow. G’night and sweet dreams!

If you enjoyed this post, consider buying me a chai tea latte. Thanks kindly.

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Comment by Joanna Young

March 3, 2009 @ 12:58 am

Oh Glenda, I’m sorry you’re tired, though reading this I can understand why you are! It sounds like you are learning from the tiredness though before it takes over you, and seeing the need and desire for other things in your life. They sound like healthy, happy additions. Maybe there’s just a hint of spring in the air that’s making you want to do things that are more about just… being alive?

Enjoy your time away from the computer. We’ll probably all still be here when you get back 🙂

Comment by Gwen

March 3, 2009 @ 7:35 am

Glenda, what a lovely post! Congratulations on giving yourself permission to “bail” on the board meeting, treat yourself to a day reading in bed, and dream of potting baby spider plants. So much wisdom here…

Comment by Avril

March 3, 2009 @ 8:53 am

Glenda, I’m so glad to read that you’re taking some precious time just for yourself! I’ve never been comfortable with the idea that we’re put here on earth just to work, work, work – which has seemed to be the prevailing paradigm for the past 20 or 25 years. (Back in the 60s and 70s it was different: futurists were predicting the upcoming ‘leisure society’ – wonder whatever happened to THAT one!!)

Over Christmas I got sick, which rarely happens to me. For several days all I could do was lie on my couch, drink tea, and read. And although I felt lousy, I actually enjoyed myself, because I could just give up any pretense at being ‘productive’! I quickly realized it was my body’s way of telling me to slow down. But how much better to get that message before our bodies mutiny against us, so we can both have and fully enjoy our down time.

I hope to hear more about your leisure-time pursuits in future postings! 🙂

Comment by David Hucklesby

March 3, 2009 @ 9:39 am

There’s a lesson here for so many of us, methinks. Thank you for sharing.

Cordially, David.

Comment by Jodith

March 3, 2009 @ 1:50 pm

I can resonate so strongly with this post, Glenda. I have Chronic Fatigue, and I constantly have to step back from all I want to do and really prioritize what I can and just can’t do. I’ll have times when I’m feeling really well and can do so much, but eventually I get overwhelmed and have to let things go.

You’re very wise to see that in yourself and step back and make time for yourself so you don’t burn out. It’s so easy to let demands on our time overwhelm us. It’s a struggle for balance that even the able bodied have to find, but is especially hard for those who have health/ability struggles as well.

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