How I Took Time and Space for Myself During a Crisis


Over the past 4 months, I have learned deep lessons about the importance of balance and alignment in my body as well as in my life.

I want to share with you how I brought myself back to balance from being on the verge of burnout. 

I wrote to you a few days ago about why you haven't heard from me for the past several months since I have taken on the role of a caregiver for both my parents. If you missed that you can click here to read it.

After my dad's stroke in April, he was in critical care and we were in crisis mode. I found myself just reacting to the moment. I felt utterly exhausted, on the edge of being depleted, and did not feel good physically or emotionally. I felt weak, that things were hard, tiring, took a lot of effort and were challenging to talk about.

I could feel that I was on a slippery slope of letting go of myself, and my sense of balance. I knew that was not a path that I wanted to go down - and that I needed to make a change.

I realized that I could not change the circumstances or how anyone else was handling the situation - but the one thing I could change was how I was being, caring for myself, and using my time.

I want share with you how I created space for myself and found a way to take care of myself during this really stressful time.

I learned several valuable lessons that I sense will be important to share with you whether you are a caregiver or not. I know that you have important roles in your life that need your time and presence, and it can be hard to balance family, work, projects, creativity, and taking care of yourself.

Here is how I started to cultivate balance and alignment for myself and my body.

I first got clear on what I did not want to feel any longer. I knew that I was so done with feeling exhausted, drained, cloudy, very sad, deflated, out of touch with myself and feeling completely stuck.

I then clarified what I did want to feel ::
Whole, Centered, Supported, Nourished, Expressive, LOVE

In order to feel this way I knew that I needed to take time for myself & needed to get specific on how I would use that time to take care of myself.

I listened to my heart and realized that I simply want to live my life as I would wish to!

I defined for myself that to live my life as I wish to is to experience the activities that I feel most energized, full & alive doing and be with the people who bring me joy and give me energy.

This would mean saying yes to ::

  1. More quality time with my beloved

  2. Being outside and active in nature, experiencing the beauty of spring and summer

  3. Going away on special trips to see friends and family that I love

  4. Return to working more with my long distance virtual clients and begin to work in person with clients here in DC

Originally my dad was in such a critical condition that I didn’t feel like I could take space and time for myself.

What I realized over time is that my dad was going to take whatever I gave to him. He was never going to tell me to leave, to take a break, or give me permission to go away for a trip. (Does this sound familiar to those of you with kids, demanding work, or care-giving roles?)

In order to create space for myself I considered what was needed for me to feel confident in not being there, and what/who could support me to create the space I need to live my life.

  1. I asked dear family friends to help check in on my mom as well as visit my dad, and to be a point of contact when I would travel

  2. I ensured my dad was receiving good consistent care from the medical professionals and caregivers.

  3. I made a schedule for myself - being clear with myself of when I would rise, when I would meditate, eat meals, leave the hospital, be available to others, when I would move my body, and by what time I would be in bed

  4. I let my dad know my new visiting schedule and when I would be traveling and I created a chain of origami cranes for him to know that I am thinking of him and am with him even when I am not there.

Celebrating the small stuff & expressing gratitude helps me honor where I am in this journey.

For my dad, his journey is a slow and a very incremental one. It has become clear to me the importance of acknowledging and celebrating the small shifts and accomplishments that he makes as it is sometime hard for him to sense that he has made any progress.

I have learned that it is also important for me to celebrate the small shifts that I am making for myself in my life. Each step accumulates to help make greater shift and change.

The truth is that in the face of uncertainty every day is different and things are not perfect. These days I am going with the flow and am on a daily basis holding the boundaries of my schedule and my needs in order to make sure I feel as whole as I can.

I have found it so helpful to practice exercise and activities that keep me in the present moment - allowing me to appreciate where I am right now.

Over the past few months I have really enjoyed:

  • Stand Up Paddleboard on the Potomac River, 

  • Hiking with friends and picking blueberries,

  • Visiting a CSA farm and creating bouquets of flowers,

  • Going to outdoor movies and concerts, and a few special travels.

Through my carving out time for myself and taking better self-care I have been feeling more aligned with my core and my desired feelings, more myself, more lighthearted, and more energetic.

Feeling more centered and aligned has helped me feel more whole and allowed me to show up for my family as I truly want to :: with love and compassion.

It has been helpful for me to remember that though things are uncertain, I can ride the waves, and that I got this.

I hope that my process is helpful to you in holding boundaries for your self-care and time for yourself.

I deeply desire for you to have peace, happiness and joy - and to be able to cultivate that as you would wish to.

I am really looking forward to connecting further with you in September!

Wishing you a wonderful end of summer & radiant health,

Fran Darnell