From the outside, it often looks like other people aren’t experiencing difficulties.
To dispel that myth today–and hopefully to help us all to move past our challenges, I’m going to share a part of my story.
This is what is looks like when I sleep:
(Oh my goodness, it makes my hands sweaty to think about posting this photo publicly, but I believe if I can be brave enough to share some things that are hard for me, you can be brave enough to address some things that are hard for you.)
And it’s totally okay to laugh. We laugh, too.
I always imagined Eric would wake up in the morning and see me looking like Sleeping Beauty:
But the current reality is more like THIS guy:
Funny, right? I keep giggling as I’m typing this….
Eric has been incredibly supportive (and hilarious) as I’ve been learning how to handle my new normal. While I’m putting my CPAP on at night, he often sings a little song that goes, “Strap it up, doom doom doom doom doom. Strap it up!”
Sometimes he make fighter pilot jokes.
If he really wants to make me laugh, he’ll say (in a deep voice), “Luke…I am your father.”
He even made up new words to the song “Closing Time” and sings, “Hosing time…” (because those of us with CPAPs are lovingly part of the society of “hose heads”).
Often I’m laughing as I’m putting my mask on, which is extremely difficult to do, if you’ve ever tried it. Listen to the podcast to hear his song–and let me know if you can keep a straight face.
So while I’m telling you my story today, it’s really your story.
We are ALL struggling with something, and I believe it’s time we face our challenges—whatever is holding us back—so we can move forward, with power.
For most of my life, I felt tired. Immediately upon waking in the morning, I’d plan my first nap of the day, and I would apologize to God for being so weak—thinking that I was just doing a bad job at life. I thought it was because I was a busy student or because I became a mother or because I had a lot on my plate.
For years, Eric said, “I don’t think you sleep,” and because I was SO exhausted, I would reply with something like, “I’m failing at pretty much everything, and now I’m not even good at SLEEPING?”
Not my best response….
Well, a little over a year ago, I finally got a sleep study, where I learned that I wasn’t ever getting steady REM, and the doctor recommended I start using a CPAP (thus, the lovely photo up above).
Even though I now sleep with a whole lot of stuff on my head, can I just tell you how RELIEVED I felt when I left the doctor’s office? I sat in the car for a full 45 minutes, reviewing my sleep study report and sobbing because I finally had evidence that my exhaustion wasn’t my fault.
This is the first point I want to connect to YOUR story:
We often stay in difficult circumstances because we think it’s our fault—and that there is no way out.
Yes, sometimes we make poor choices, and we need to make things right, if that’s the case. But sometimes things are hard because there is simply something we don’t know yet.
Do you keep going through the same frustrations—over and over again—because you think it’s your fault you’re experiencing them in the first place?
We hear this a lot in our Steps to Everyday Productivity program. People who have been living in clutter for most of their lives think that THEY are the problem. They label themselves as “messy” or “disorganized”–not realizing it’s just that no one ever taught them how to organize their minds, their lists, and all the responsibilities on their plates.
This recent comment posted by Jody really touched me:
Last year I found your podcasts and I have found them life-changing. I don’t remember which podcast it was in that you said to conquer the toughest room in your house and that is what I did…. After conquering that room, I found that the rest of my home just fell into place like dominoes falling. It has brought much relief and joy! I can’t really explain what all it has done for me. It isn’t just the physical piles that I conquered but there were emotional piles, spiritual piles, etc. that needed to go. Your program has shown me that it isn’t just physical piles we are conquering but much more…. My stress level has gone down so much that I can sleep so much better at night. With much love, thank you and God bless.
I loved that.
And if you’re drowning in any sort of clutter (physical, mental, digital…), I promise you there is help.
The second point I want to make is that fixing a difficult issue isn’t always easy.
I bought my first CPAP on the way home from the doctor’s office, and I was giddy/desperate as I went to bed that night.
But it was awful. I hardly slept. I was up every single hour.
More than 18 months later, I’m in a pretty good routine, but goodness, it’s been a journey.
And I STILL struggle. I don’t always sleep well, and so I have to be really careful how I spend my time and energy.
Once I started wearing my CPAP, my family had to get used to it, too. My children initially looked at me as though I were an alien, and the first time our dog walked in our room for her usual morning greeting, she turned around and walked right out.
The CPAP has not been my favorite part of life, but here’s the thing: I feel SO much better. My brain is more clear. I can even go a whole day, if I need to, without a nap. I am less emotional. I am more optimistic. And while I still don’t have the whole sleep thing “down,” I know I’ll get there.
As we’re getting ready to launch our membership, ARISE, learning to identify and tackle our problems/opportunities head on is going to be a key theme. It’s definitely uncomfortable to take bold moves forward or to put ourselves out there. And WHAT IF WE FAIL? But to be candid, not taking action is what destroys us.
Ultimately, I believe these challenges are good for us.
The reason I think productivity is one of my strengths is because I’ve had huge goals throughout my life, but very little energy with which to accomplish them. I didn’t just “want” to work effectively. I HAD to work effectively.
Think about all the people you know who have turned a weakness into a strength. They are everywhere.
I know it’s a little odd to post these embarrassing photos. But I think it’s time that we stop pretending life is “picture perfect.”
We all need to make changes. We all need help. And sometimes it is SO not attractive and beautiful as we are plugging away at the solutions.
But I’ve always loved the concept of moving forward boldly in the direction of our dreams.
Let’s commit to figuring out our pain points and what’s slowing us down.
I truly believe that our challenges (and our embarrassing secrets) are in our lives to help us to grow. To become stronger. To arise. And I believe there is power from above that is available to lift us, transform us, and prepare us for what’s coming next.
And while we certainly don’t need to air our dirty laundry or share every little detail with the world, I believe there is power in coming together and saying, “Hey! Let’s figure out how we can make life better—for all of us.”
That embarrassing secret that keeps you up at night or stresses you out during the day or is weighing you down when you’re TRYING to move forward? (Yes, I still have things I’m working through….) There is help and hope available. We don’t need to be embarrassed for fixing what isn’t working. We need to APPLAUD each other for that.
So what’s the next step?
Have a “sit down” with your embarrassing secret and identify ONE THING you can do to at least start moving toward a solution.