Taking Time 4 You
- Quiet Time: Are you an early riser? Do you like to stay up late? I became an exceptionally early riser when my son first went to Iraq in 2003. We're talking 3 a.m. a lot of times. I had a fear of a knock at the door waking my two younger kids up and I didn't want that to happen. I sat on my front porch and wrote. I wrote in my journal, wrote short stories, even a little play called “Jacob's Letters”. I prayed, talking to God like He was next to me having a cup of coffee. I rested in the quiet of the early morning, knowing my younger two children were sleeping safe in their beds and that I had not received a call or visit attesting to harm or injury (at that time) to my oldest.
We have a PTSD/TBI combat veteran in our home. I still see the need for quiet time and I still get it in the mornings when he is finally sleeping after being up half the night. I understand what he is going through from the angle of being a family member. I spent most of my nights watching the news and writing, begging God to keep him safe. I know it is different if the veteran is your spouse, or even if it is you yourself, but still, find a quiet time and take it just for you.
- Hobby Time: What is your passion outside of your family? Do you like to write? Scrapbook? Draw/paint? Sew? Cook? Working on your passion, making it come to life, gives you a sense of fulfillment. It can go as slow or as fast as you want/need it to. I like to write and my passion helped me when my son was overseas. It helps me still today by getting my frustrations out on paper through fictional characters. My passion has led me to a dream come true, being a contributor to a magazine.
Besides writing, I also like playing games, scrapbooking, reading and spending time with my cats. Yes, I'm that cat lady you often hear about. Spending time with your passion relieves your brain of some of the stress that has built up and that can help you tremendously healthwise. I am also making a scrap “book” about my son for my grandson.. It is a way of letting him know who his daddy was as a little boy and a teenager and how our lives were changed by 9/11 and Iraq.
- Social Time: Okay, if your first instinct is “But I can't go out and leave him alone, it's part of the problem!” relax. With the internet, you have Facebook and support groups through there. You can play cards, dominoes, chess/checkers, and all those “Ville” games. You can catch up with family who don't live close by.
That hobby? Join a group! There are scrapbooking groups, bridge/canasta/pinochle groups. There's the 50 Zone. Our own support group had a Christmas get together at Logan's that I still feel the love and caring from three weeks later. Our Chinese Christmas game was fun. More importantly, I left that night feeling like I had connected with all of you on a friendship level as well as a shared experience one. For those with Christian views, there are wonderful life groups through churches. Bowling is fun, as well as just getting together for coffee.
- Volunteer Time: Even while my son was in Iraq, I was already volunteering, though I didn't realize it. I let a girl call and vent to me several times because she was mad at her boyfriend's mother and I didn't want her sharing that with him while he was a combat zone. I can't count the times I heard both through the media and in person about someone ending their life over there or not being fully alert because a fight with a loved one on the phone was still on their minds and hearts. We have it rough, true, but during combat, they have it even harder in my opinion. She and I are still friends to this day. When a friend in a support group said she gets upset at her son sometimes and then remembers “he came home”, I understood perfectly. When another friend shared one evening her own survivors' guilt feelings about how some died over there and for their families there was closure but we still have PTSD and TBI occurrences in our daily lives, I got it. Knowing there are others out there like us and volunteering as a certified peer specialist or as a family member who can help others find resources has helped me to better understand my chosen journey in life.
I love kids. I never grew up in spite of the fact that I am about to turn 50. I still play soccer and video games and tag. My body doesn't always appreciate it, but it makes me feel young in other ways.
I have volunteered in the Adult Literacy program, Habitat for Humanity and the food pantry at church. Volunteering really does help us see the blessings that are sometimes clouded by our own stressful situations and we end up doubly blessed when we help someone else.
These four ways of making time happen and having it set aside ends up helping you to feel energetic, confident, stronger and happier. By following these four guidelines, you can help yourself as well as your family situation. All you have to do is tell yourself:”I'm going to