About PatNewMex

I'm an animal lover disguised as a desert mystic. I have two dogs, a 16 year-old goose, and three ducks. I am in-between horses at the moment. I live in the high desert of New Mexico, coming from Northern Wisconsin by way of Minneapolis, Duluth, and Manhattan. I am in love with the high desert and have made my home here. I'm handy with power tools, experimenting in the kitchen, or equally at home with a deck of Tarot cards, Welcome!

Don’t tough it out!

As I sat having difficult surgery on my mouth, teeth and gums to remove a cyst and receive a bone graft, I am pretty sure my blood pressure was sky high. I was determined to go into this emergency surgery with some guts and a ton of patience. Not wanting to hear the words ‘bone graft’ or ‘biopsy’ in the same conversation with my endodontist made this exceptionally hard to swallow.

I’m a survivor. I can tough it out. I’ve had nine root canals due to an uneven jaw, so I know pain. But this surgery was out of my realm of understanding or expectation. I was doing my best imitation of Patty Buddha. Calm down, breath, let thoughts go by like clouds, be totally present. Push worries and what if’s to the side.

The surgery was deep in the gums between two teeth near a canine. I was given three shots of novocaine and a topical to help with pain. As they were scraping below the gumline it became a bit intense. The doctor noticed me twitching and said “Let me know if it hurts.” In true fashion I didn’t say a thing, as it was tolerable for the moment. Another ‘zing’ in my mouth and the doctor said, “Patty, don’t tough it out. Does that hurt? Okay, I’m giving you a topical and there should be no more pain.”

It was that easy.

Being tough is how you live through a childhood with a volatile parent. That’s how you survive a terrible, emotionally abusive marriage. Never has anyone told me not to tough it out.The toughness that saw me through much of my past may not serve me in every moment. Shouldn’t our lives be more than just survival? More than just being tough? I may have to think about letting go of that old, worn around the ears watchdog part of myself, ever vigilant to toughen up. Habits die hard, but I have a feeling this one will go easily.

Those words from my doctor were compassionate and a great doorway to a new path for me. What a wonderful way of thinking for me to adopt. Now I can think to myself, “Am I just toughing it out?” That will be a good time to become more flexible, soft, and open. The polar opposite of tough is soft, yielding and open. Some may think that’s way to vulnerable a way to be. But in truth it’s not. That’s how you get at the heart of things, by opening up, not by toughening your outer shell.

Take the word from my favorite prophet Kahlil Gibran from his writing on pain.

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.
Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
And could you keep your heart in wonder at the daily miracles of your life, your pain would not seem less wondrous than your joy;
And you would accept the seasons of your heart, even as you have always accepted the seasons that pass over your fields.
And you would watch with serenity through the winters of your grief.
Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self.
Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquillity:
For his hand, though heavy and hard, is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,
And the cup he brings, though it burn your lips, has been fashioned of the clay which the Potter has moistened with His own sacred tears.

When does caring turn to interfering?

I have a deeply ingrained urge to help others, to be of assistance when I can. It’s part of being an empath. I feel strongly for others. I have a tendency to take someone under my wing and advise them if they seem needy. There are many people I listen to and never give advice to as they seem wiser than yours truly. But for those who seem like they could use a hand, I advise. I suggest. I hope. I inform. I try and give the information—the benefit of my own experience—to save them trouble. But where is that middle ground between helping and interfering? Between caring and expecting too much? Today I question my own motives in getting involved with others. People have their own path to walk, their own lessons to learn. I want to be able to let people have their own experiences. Will I be able to do this?

An incident the other morning with a long-time friend has me questioning my own motives in helping others. He put his head in the sand at the wrong time. His mare was very sick, and he did what I considered a minimum to get her help. In other people’s eyes, maybe he did a lot. That is debatable in the horse community. His attitude was, it’s his prerogative to expect the best and only change that if things go wrong. My outlook is, if you prepare for the worst, this enables you to manage the best. This comes from experience. You will know all your options and can act accordingly. With horses you must act quickly and monitor constantly. Especially with colic or an impaction.

During the course of the day my friend acted as if he were afraid to deal with his mare. As if the problem did not exist. I guess he could not handle it emotionally. Some folks are like that. But help is only a phone call away. Vets are often happy to give advice over the phone, especially if you have a history with them. The one in question is a super friendly, happy vet that takes calls 24/7 and makes house calls. In my friends denial, he did not call the vet until nine hours after I suggested. In the mean time he gave his mare a shot of something to help with pain and promptly…went into the house to watch TV. Once you administer a shot of Banamine, you must walk your horse and keep her on her feet until she is well clear of any danger. When I arrived a few hours later, his horse was laying on the ground. If a horse lays down for too long, a gut can become twisted, killing them. Keep them walking! I have had sick horses in the past and at no time would I ever be in the house unless I had to relieve myself. I can’t imagine being so complacent as to be inside watching the boob tube until my horse was visibly on the mend, able to be on her own.

When I told him his horse was on the ground he was stunned. Since he was ‘hoping for the best’ that did not leave room for reality. To him, administering the shot was the end of his responsibility. He thought it was a guaranteed fix. In his mind the shot meant being off the hook and treatment was done. He couldn’t have been more wrong. Reality is give the horse the shot, and walk her around, not letting her lay down. All day if you have to. All night if you have to. In the past three people and myself took turns walking a sick horse around for hours in a snowstorm until the vet arrived.

If you put ‘hope for the best’ in one hand, and poop in the other hand, guess which one will pile up faster. You must get off your buttocks and do something! You must take action, especially with a thousand pound animal you care about.

I suggested he do a dozen helpful, very simple things to monitor and care for his animal. All were ignored. After almost a full day of inaction, it was finally clear to him that she was not getting better. He knew a vet visit was in order. He yelled at me in panic, “I did not see this coming!” After nine hours of her not getting better, and me hounding him about it, he had no idea he might have to take her to the vet? How is this possible? He didn’t think to empty his horse trailer of hay, just in case he needed to take her to the vet? Giant forehead slap. Apparently watching TV was more important. Comforting himself was all he knew how to do. He’s big into comforting himself at every opportunity and claims he prefers to “not get involved” with just about everything going on around him. The Universe won’t let you do that.

He thinks anything more than the bare minimum is, in his words “…getting all hysterical.” I almost laughed out loud when he said that because, speaking of hysterics, my friend was in such a panic on his way to the vet that he drove into his own 12 foot wide chain link gate and ripped it out of the ground. Only when things were dire did he wake up. Then his panic got the best of him. He was not prepared and he so easily could have been. The vet had no luck removing the blockage (which can kill a horse), but they would try again in the morning.

Years ago I lost a horse to an impaction, a blockage. So the next morning when I went over for coffee, I asked him if he had prepared himself in case he had to make a hard decision about his horse. I was polite. I asked instead of told. He blew his top saying he wanted to be left alone to drink his coffee. Excuse me, it’s too early to consider that in five minutes you might get one of the most difficult calls of your life? If a horse has a blockage that is not fixable, euthanasia must be immediate or the animal suffers greatly. You don’t have the luxury of hemming and hawing to make a decision, or taking time to enjoy drinking your coffee while the world waits for you. You cannot hide in denial. He still was in denial that his horse might die. He was still in denial he had to interact with the world. In frustration over his stubbornness and lack of caring, I blew my top about his lax attitude regarding his animal and left him as he wished. Maybe not my best moment. Where was my compassion? My guess is it was buried in tons of ongoing frustration. But still, that was not the best thing for me to do.

Several years ago I lost my own horse. The circumstances were similar. I did not prepare myself enough, mentally or emotionally. I thought I had, but I still feel that pain today. I foolishly thought that as long as the horse was at the vet, all was well and I didn’t say goodbye to him. My heart still aches over that. In being so forward with my friend, I was trying to save him from that pain. Maybe that is what is at the heart of my feelings over this incident. My great loss could have been lessened had I prepared better. I didn’t want my friend to have to experience this pain.

I know my friend can handle life at his own pace. I thought all this time I was helping. As much as I was trying to prepare him for the worst, I may have swung over that line and gone into the nosy, interfering landscape. Maybe he will be fine without my help. But it bothers me greatly when the life of an animal is at stake. Today I learned the blockage was shifted and the horse is better. Thank goodness for that! Of all the brouhaha, this is the most important thing. She is still on the mend a full week later.

A recent blog entry by Julie Krupp is helping me process all of this. Check out her lovely blog and the post titled resolving difficult people. It gave me much needed insight about what my core values are (and more). ❤ I am an action-oriented person who is very self-sufficient. Being able to pull myself up by my bootstraps and do for myself was deeply ingrained in me by my mother. Hence, inaction, avoidance, and denial drive me nutty. That would explain the dynamics between me and my friend. Me = action oriented and proactive. Friend = relax and ignore the world until something goes wrong, then panic.

When I first met my friend, he was a newly single person who could not cook one meal for himself. I taught him how to cook and now he’s quite proud of his accomplishments. I showed him how to get around in our small community, helped with dozens of technical things beyond his knowledge and experience, made phone calls for him when he was too painfully shy, helped him grocery shop, and drove him to the doctor. I did so happily. He accepted my help gladly. But I can’t make him have the same experience level as me, or the same desires as me, or the same life outlook as me. He has his own wonderful path to live. Perhaps in future I will assist only when asked. Perhaps some day his quiet nature will be a boon to me.

Years ago a counselor gave me wonderful advice that I still use today. It may help me figure out a new attitude in my struggle to hit the middle ground in assisting vs having undue expectations of others:

“If you have a skill you have taken the time to work on and have mastered, it might frustrate you if the other person cannot match your skill level. It may bother you that they aren’t doing as well as you. For example, if you are a great communicator, and your friend is not, don’t expect them to rise to your standards quickly, or at all. Don’t get mad at them for not being good at something that you are good at. After all, think about how long it took you to master that skill yourself.”

In the bonds of friendship, we care deeply about each other to the point of not wanting harm to come to our friends. I believe that is what motivated me to speak so to my friend. But that isn’t always possible or desirable. Sometimes you have to let people have their own experiences, even painful ones, in order to grow. It’s harder still to watch a friend suffer from something you had to live through. There is a feeling of wanting to protect them. I don’t have any hard and fast answers on helping vs. hindering, caring vs. interfering. Life isn’t so black and white. But I am thankful for the opportunity for continual growth and insight. Be well.

I finally know what I want to be when I grow up.

Since I was a child I was crazy about, and always felt at home deep in nature. My happiest memories are out in the woods on a walk, or wading in the reeds at the edge of the lake watching the leopard frogs leap, sometimes spying a doe quietly watching me, or watching minnows swim by my feet as I walked along the shore.I know every inch of the acres of my mother’s property back home in Northern Wisconsin. I know every toadstool, bed of moss, insect, tree and plant.

A green carpet of mosses, ever present in the Northland.

I recall my mother and grandfather teaching me about all of nature around me, one lesson at a time. I learned about the eye of the Walleye and how it glowed like moonstone when light reflected off it. We were delighted if we came across the slow, quiet black and sky blue spotted salamanders dozing underneath a patch of wet leaves. We watched the phoebe build her nest, feed her young, and saw the babies fledge. We were not allowed to touch or bother her nest, even after they hatched. We had respect for the small Mayflies that lived on the wing for only a day, after their time in the water. We were always dazzled at the delicate and unearthly beauty of the larger-than-life Luna Moth.

A Luna Moth averages 3.5 to 4 inches wide.

We watched as dragonfly nymphs crawled out of the lake on a magical day they all seemed to know about. We watched as they broke the white ‘string’ on the back of their nymph skin. Over a few hours they would unfold their long sleek bodies out of that teeny tiny outfit. They would pump fluids into their wings before they flew away, much like a butterfly does. Often we would gather these discarded skins and scare other kids with them, as they resemble big, fat spiders. The clue to an already hatched (empty) dragonfly husk was the telltale white string.

Grampa showed us toads, and how, as a defensive move they would pee on you if you picked one up. In my family, all toads are called toads Grampa Toads. He taught us the difference between toads and frogs. Toads looked like the earth with pebbles on their back, and usually have very dry skin. Frogs were wet and found in the water, unless they were those tiny golden/brown wood frogs. Leopard frogs were the olympic swimmers and jumpers of the bunch leaving green frogs, and pickerel frogs in their wake.

My mother would often show us how to softly approach the rare orchid the Pink Lady Slipper, careful not to destroy the surrounding area. Oddly, in Minnesota there is something in the soil the Lady Slipper loves as it is the state plant! In Wisconsin it is very rare, even protected. We knew these plants were to be admired and then left alone.

The delicate Pink Lady Slipper of Northern Wisconsin is found in dense, wooded swamps.

Even my time in Manhattan I was able to find and bond with nature in the Ramble of Central Park, or strolling down the public gardens of Riverside Park. I was lucky enough to rent a small garden plot up by a horse stables near Central Park. I volunteered my time on Cathedral Row, complete with wandering peacocks, helping maintain the vast rose gardens there. I fed the birds on my 3rd floor apartment in the flower box, much to the utter dismay of my cranky New York landlord.

Unfortunately as a young woman, I did not have the nerve to follow my bliss. I wanted to be a marine biologist. I loved studying the behavior of animals in their natural environment. I loved every living thing. I lived and breathed it. But my interests were also in the arts. Upon deciding to get a degree, my father was deceased, and my mother’s second husband had also passed away. He was the love of her life, and she was floundering in her grief. I had no idea how to help her heal other than be a good daughter.

Thus, I felt I had no direction from the outside. I kept waffling on what I wanted to get a degree in, or do for the rest of my life, at what I felt was the decrepit age of 27. I knew to get a degree in marine biology I might have to get out of my hometown and go to the end of the world—California! I could not imagine doing that in my wildest, wildest dreams. Such a gentle homebody I was. So I stuck it out at home going to college majoring in graphic design in the cold terrain at the head of Lake Superior.

It has been a source of some personal angst over the years that I didn’t take the bull by the horns and get my degree in biology—my true heart’s’ desire. How different my life would have been! Where would it have taken me? Why was I such a wallflower and so delicate that I could not imagine it, much less make it happen? This brings me to the thought: If we could be born knowing exactly what we wanted out of life, and with the wherewithal to make it happen, that would sound ideal but it’s not how this planet works. You have to do your own evolving. You have to stretch and grow beyond what you think you are capable of. Things get in your way to help you evolve and grow. Those things are called challenges, and they help forge your own personal nature. Otherwise how would the learning and growing happen?

It was after the recent bulldozer incident that I knew what my lifetime profession should have been, and is in fact, what I am at my core today. I have finally arrived—in fact I have always been—a naturalist! A person interested in all things natural be it plant, animal, behaviors, ecosystem, or environment. I am now and have forever been a student of—and steward to—Mother Earth. No college degree needed.

Where the rubber meets the road

I am the kind of person who loves every blade of grass. My home and yard are neat, not out of control, and the wildflowers in summer are riotous! Birds come from all over to eat at the buffet I offer them. I’m tickled they visit. Lizards, centipedes and even snakes are welcome (Snakes usually pass through quickly and should be respected). Spiders are welcome in the house, as long as they are not big enough to pay rent. If they are large, then they either have to pony up the rent, or move out! I keep my place as natural as I can. Nature is critically important to my life.

High Desert photo by Patty D.

I’d like to think I am an ideal neighbor. I keep my own yard free of clutter and junk. I’ll watch someone’s yard, plants, and animals. Watch to see the horses are not colicking. Make sure there is no suspicious activity going on while they are out of town. Turn off the iron if it’s left on and I get a frantic call. And babysit dogs and kitties. My friends all know they can come for tea and chocolate, which really means, a safe haven for talking about their troubles, or life in general. What happens at Patty’s stays at Patty’s. I try and be a bright light in my small community. Treat others as you want to be treated.

You may have read recently about my troubles with my neighbor to the south a few days ago. Today a bulldozer was next door at my neighbor to the north. A BULLDOZER? Some big picture thing is going on for me. I’ve never had this level of activity, so close together, so close in proximity to my home and all I hold dear.

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The Hook of Anger, and Some Solutions

As hard as it is to admit I’m one of the worst for having an adult temper tantrum. It happens rarely, but when it does I wonder why I can let someone rattle my cage. I’m a devotee of the gentle and understated guru, Eckhart Tolle. I am also a disciple of all things Pema Chödrön. Pema is a lovely western Buddhist nun with a lot of solid, no-nonsense advice about how to not let yourself get hooked.

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‘Tis the season for self care!

A blogger I admire recently spoke about self care. I’d like to add my encouragement for you to practice self care, especially now, as the hectic season of holidays approach.

Start making your personal care come first. Practice early and often. Even a few errands may feel like a mountain of things to accomplish. Don’t beat yourself up when it comes to what you did not accomplish today or this week. Easy does it.

Eat good, nutritious food! Your food should be high quality fuel. You ARE what you eat!

Get enough sleep. Can’t say enough about that. It is also fuel for your body, mind and mood.

SMILE! A smile will lift your spirits emotionally by doing a simple physical action. It takes less muscles to smile than it does to frown.

Be kind to others, in a crowded grocery store, and especially in traffic! It will lift your mood. You become in control instead of feeling trapped.

Be kind to yourself whenever you can. Take time between activities to chill. Even if that is only for a 10 minute walk, or sweeping the floor for five minutes. Or kicking the ball for the dogs, despite the rain!

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

Avoid energy drains. Be it events, places, or people. Your body knows an energy drain so pay attention.

Be able to state boundaries easily, with confidence. “Gosh thanks for inviting me, but I can’t.” You need not offer excuses. Just tell them no, politely.

If you are stressed learn to say, “I am on overload.” It is easily understood and you need not make any excuses.

Watch movies or read books that relax, entertain, or uplift you. Avoid those that drain you. I don’t like watching shows that make me feel awful after watching, despite their popularity.

Stay away from the evening news. Does it bring joy? I do not watch news and have not for many years. I am able to keep up with local and global issues just fine.

Limit electronics and instead read a real book, cook a meal from scratch, take a walk, or just sit and BE. I watch the birds I feed outside my window. Or put a tea bag in a cup of hot water and watch it brew, in silence. That’s a good 5-minute meditation right there.

BREATHE! Nothing will connect you to yourself and bring your blood pressure down quicker.

Ask for help when you need it. Lean on your friends. They won’t mind.

When life feels chaotic, remember to relax because nothing is in control! That’s when you go with the flow. Remember you can’t push a river.

Practice Gratitude! It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Even the wisest guru’s espouse that when they spend time with family, it can ruffle their feathers. Don’t take anyone seriously if a kerfuffle should start. Don’t bite the hook! Just nod and smile or say the cheeriest “Oh well!” and carry on as you sip your cocoa. ENJOY LIFE!

And have a wonderful holiday season!

Being flexible during painful experiences, and the gift of clear seeing.

The other day I was on the phone with a professional from a trusted company. On the call we were dealing with a problem. These things happen. However, I felt like a steam roller went over me. I was not being listened to…at all. I could not get a syllable in edgewise. Someone at his end screwed up. Each time I tried to speak, he interrupted again with his line of thinking, and…he was scolding me! At this point I felt totally humiliated, shamed and small, with a feeling of not knowing what just happened.

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The unexpected joys of working remotely

After 14 years at my last job I was allowed to work remotely toward the end of my tenure there. First it was two days remote per week. Then after two years, three days remote. This took awhile for me to adjust. I wondered what working totally remotely will look like, thing it would be lonely, boring or stifling.

Four and a half months ago I was laid off that job. Being home for four months, I had a lot of time to make adjustments to being home full time. That’s a lot of alone time for a single gal out in the sticks. There were physical and emotional adjustments being made. And honestly, a whole new landscape eventually showed itself to me. It took time to unfold, but by the end of four months, everything looked and felt different.

During this hiatus from the daily grind I experimented with only getting groceries twice a month. Now I am a lady that needs my fresh veg and so do my barnyard fowl. Sometimes I went to a fancier more upscale grocery in town for things that I couldn’t get elsewhere. I took my time and really enjoyed my trip there even though it was 50 minutes away. I’m a foodie, and a place like that satisfies my craving for something different or exotic now and then. I decided I will go there once a month.

Since I live so far from town, the days I worked on my old job were the days I ran errands. With my new situation I have given much thought to how I’d get those errands done. I started slowing down and looking around. With only a little research much can be done in two small towns 22 minutes south of me, instead of the usual 50 minute trip to Albuquerque.

We make so many assumptions and fall into our daily routines so easily, that we tend to be blind to what is in front of us.

I usually ignored the small towns closer to me. I was so used to whizzing right by on my way to my old job, I paid no mind. When I opened my eyes I found much. There was a place to get my hair cut, my nails done, clothing stores, a UPS office, and lots of restaurants. There’s a great pet store there so I can get items for my dogs. And there is a nice, simple grocery store.

North of me seven minutes there is a medical clinic including dentist, doctors, pharmacy, and x-ray. I had no idea it was there! It is tucked into the heart of a reservation, and serves the general public. There are a lot of other services north of me. Who knew? I had ignored these services for years, making the assumption that I could only go to town for them. Things are shaping up for me to have a smaller carbon footprint. And I’m liking what I’m finding. This is wonderfully eye opening!

The good news is, I started a new job a few days ago through the insight, thoughtfulness, and generosity of a dear friend. We worked together in the past. In this position I would work in a totally remote capacity. Happy dance! As I prepare for this position, I have cleared a lovely space in my home totally devoted to work. A nice chair, a simple desk and a few plants to made that space my own. I am loving it!

I now have a coveted corner office!

It makes so much more sense to me to work from home, having zero commute I’m relaxed and ready for work. Socializing will now be totally when I want to, getting out only when I desire it. Errands are run when needed instead of when my work schedule dictates. On weekends I feel like getting out of the house to explore so meeting a girlfriend to go thrift shopping in Santa Fe is effortless. My dogs are thrilled I’m home more! I have no more guilt about leaving them alone all day. Home life is feeling so much more well rounded, and harmonious. I feel very complete.

Making my living at home suits me perfectly, in a way I never thought possible. That new landscape comes with a new level of unexpected blissful, centered, domestic harmony. The Universe has been supporting me this whole time, in a really big way. Now I can see that and I am deeply grateful.

(Left is Cochise or Goat Cheese, Right is Gypsy Girl.)

The Liebster Award

Thanks to Julie Krupp who nominated me for this award. Thanks for following my nudge to be nominated. 😉 I really wanted it in order to give it to others who’s blogs I really admire. Thanks again and keep up the incredible writing, Julie!

THE RULES:

  1. Say ‘Thank you’ to the Blogger who nominated you.
  2. Share 11 facts about yourself.
  3. Answer the questions the blogger asked you.
  4. Nominate 11 lucky bloggers and make them happy.
  5. Ask 11 questions to your nominees.
  6. Notify your 11 nominees. If you are too bashful to answer personal questions, skip that but do the rest. Keep this going by nominating other folks, so we can help new blogs be discovered.

NOMINEES:
Since this is the reason for the award, I’m putting them up top.

  1. HempRen Helping educate the world on Hemp vs. Marijuana
  2. Let It Go Coach I always enjoy her posts and insights.
  3. My Dear Kitchen in Helsinki My favorite cooking site, and I love the name!
  4. W A E L Who’s blog is always inspirational and uplifting.
  5. I can’t think of more than four.
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Healthy boundaries and carving out time for you

A friend of mine is like me, a people pleaser. Nothing wrong with that as long as you don’t overdo it. She’s almost at the cusp of learning to care for herself first. I have been gently giving advice, to empower her, yet respecting her choices.

Image credit goes to Pexels @ www.pexels.com

I wrote an earlier post on self care which goes over getting enough sleep, good nutrition, and examples of do’s and don’ts for saying no. This post is shorter and to the point for those who are almost but not quite there in terms of having good boundaries. Situations like the one with my friend help bring things into focus for me. I hope it gives you the knowledge and support you need to say ‘yes’ to yourself first. Everyone will be happier this way. The energy is better for everyone, especially you!

Cardinal Rule—The caregiver needs care first!
In order to care for others, you need to—you must—care for yourself first and foremost! No matter how tough, full, or frantic your schedule seems, you come first. It’s like when you are in the airplane and their safety speech includes “Put your oxygen mask on first, then assist your child.” You make a much better caretaker for others, if you are in tip-top shape. This is especially true of people who take care of others that are sick, elderly, or disabled. You need to be in good shape to properly care for them. 

GETTING FEARS AND GUILT OUT OF THE WAY

Fear of Hurting Others
There is a saying: “Disappointing myself is easier than disappointing others.”  That’s what an over-the-top people pleaser (who is a doormat) says to themselves. I lived much of my life that way so I’m not trying to shock or insult anyone. I was always seeking love, but like many, I was mistaking acceptance for love. They are not the same thing. Besides, love should come from you, not to you, in order to feel whole.

Urgency is Overrated
It is not an emergency. You do not need to give to every single person who needs a poster, a cake, fixed plumbing, or babysitting. I can assure you, the world will not end. I’m here to tell you whatever you are dealing with, it’s not an emergency. There are hospitals, police, urgent care places, professional plumbers and electricians out there for a true emergency. I find a lot of people who are running around frantically putting out fires—ignoring themselves and their home life—think everything on their list is an absolute emergency. This is not true. They give all kinds of ‘but, but…’ excuses. Take the but, but out of it. You are not the world’s savior. (Read on.)

You’re Not a Superhero
I’m pretty sure if you look behind you, you will not see a cape flying in the non-existent wind. So don’t feel you have to save the day. You cannot possibly save everyone on the planet, so don’t try. Prioritize. Delegate. Let go of the rest.

You’re Not a Doormat
Say no when you need to. Someone else’s lack of planning is not your emergency. Otherwise All those people that depend on you to help them in an emergency think, “Insert-Your-Name will do it!” Because the expectation is you are a pushover and you always say yes. That short and simply is lack of good boundaries on your part, and the other party as well.

No Guilt
You cannot help everyone in the world. It just isn’t possible. (See “You’re Not a Superhero”) So don’t feel guilty for not being able to help somebody. There are only 24 hours in a day, love, and you have to get at least eight hours of sleep, eat well, take care of your home and family life first.

TOOLS OF THE TRADE

What’s Your Ripcord Phrase?
Find a phrase that works for you when you’ve had enough. My phrase is “I am on overload” for in-the-moment needs. State it clearly and then immediately take a break, or hang up, whatever the situation calls for. Get a cup of tea, get outside for five minutes. Or use it to tell someone you can’t help them. “No I can’t help you, I’m already on overload.” I find this works for times when I have had it, and I don’t mean when I’m mad. I sincerely mean, I am on overload! Too much going on, at the computer too long, too many fires to put out, brain fog, working on a problem too long, and needing a break. It works wonders!

Find wording that you are comfortable with. You can even say “I need a time out!” and put your hands out in that time out sign language “T” we all know from watching football. Yes, you can use this on co-workers and you should be comfortable enough to tell your boss this as well if you need to. Because, if you are on overload, you are not going to be a good worker, in a good mood, etc. Be kind to yourself and get a good ripcord saying and put it in your pocket for emergencies. 

Know What Energizes You 
For me it is not sipping a cup of tea. That’s for relaxing. I work from home so a quick break that is energizing is getting away from the computer and getting outside. I might walk the dogs around my property a few times. It only takes about 10 minutes to do that. Or I might kick the ball for them, or do a really quick chore like put away five of those patio bricks I have been meaning to move. If you are in an office, get outside and go around the block, or for a very short walk. You’ll wonder what took you so long to feel so good.

For me, physical exercise in the outdoors does wonders for a quick and refreshing break. I must be physically active and ideally outside. Find out what energizes you. For goodness sake, shut off that phone for five minutes! You will live! No one is going to perish if you don’t answer that chat, nudge, or call.

Your Day Off
Take one day or evening where everyone needs to steer clear of needing you. Spouse and kids included. Sunday 6pm is my time. When my divorce was over and I was building my life from the ground up, I took the entire day of Sunday as my day. I would say, I’d love to come over and do xyz, but it’s Church of Patty day. That phrase, Church of Patty, means they can’t bug me, or expect me to be out and about. I don’t use it as often these days, but it does come in handy. My friends started using this tool for their own self care routine. 

Practice Saying No
When you can’t do something, or wish not to, you should be able to kindly but firmly say no. Say it with a big smile on your face and a huge dose of sunshine in your voice, knowing your refusal will be better received by the other party. I learned over the years how to say no. One way to think of it is that every time you say yes to someone else, you say no to yourself and your family. You will feel good about gently but firmly enforcing your boundaries.

Never Make Excuses—Ever
When saying no, don’t say, “Well I have to count the fleas on my dog” or “I have to sort out my socks at home, otherwise I’d love to help you.” Just say, “Gosh I would really love to help you but I do not have the time.” Period. End of sentence. Big smile on your face. Otherwise people will take your excuse and turn it around on you. “Well after you’re done sorting out your socks, I’ll come and pick you up.” They will squeeze their need into your schedule and you won’t even know what hit you.

Volunteering Your Time
Don’t let someone volunteer you because you have skills they need for their organization or hobby. As a graphic artist (or cake baker, or babysitter) people constantly are in need of (poster, cake, babysitter). And they have to have it because it’s an emergency! Refer back to “Urgency is Overrated”. If you are volunteering for something you enjoy like working on a newsletter for for a fun organization, be careful as others will volunteer your time. When people would find out I did graphic design, voila! I’d be volunteered to do acres of time-intensive newsletters, posters, flyers. Every single time.

I joined a weaver’s guild to have fun. I ended up writing stories, designing ads, and working on the entire newsletter, getting them printed, finding advertisers, communicating with the post office, and sorting bulk mailing. That was not what was supposed to happen! Each of those items should have been handled by us a group. Because I could not communicate how much time I wanted to serve, I was saddled with almost a full week of my time each month. I had a full time job on top of it. It was no longer fun. And those were the nicest folks you’d ever want to meet. It was not their fault. It was mine for not being proactive in my own needs and desires.

Think in Terms of Hours
After learning that hard lesson with the weaver’s guild, I got some good advice. Have a number of hours in mind per day/week/month to give back to the world. Communicate that clearly to your hobby organization and stick to it. If it’s something time sensitive like babysitting, or helping with a chore or an event, stick to days/times you are available. “I’d be thrilled to help set up and work at your incredibly huge rummage sale! I am available Saturday from noon to 4pm.” I found this tip to be the most helpful tool in my search for independence and regaining personal power.

Be Proactive—Don’t get boobytrapped!
What are you doing today? What are you doing this weekend? Hey what are you doing right now? Usually when people start out a sentence like that, I can see a request coming in hot and heavy on runway one! It’s a boobytrap. 😉 My mother taught me to say, “Why do you want to know?” Put an “I am busy” in front of that answer. “I have plans for this weekend. Why did you want to know?” Then they can tell you what they need. You have already asserted up front that you don’t have time. If it ends up you do want to help, tell them how long and when you are available. You are in charge of your schedule, not the other person. The scope and length of their event does not set the stage for how much time you offer up. Plus the person asking will have received clear communication from you. Otherwise they will assume you can help all day long with…whatever.

Say it With Sweetness
Any sort of ‘no’ said with a big smile on your face and sunshine in your voice usually goes over well with the other party. Say it with pure love in your heart. I don’t mean be sarcastic. Be truly sweet. Come from a place of love. Put honey on every word. 🙂 Otherwise believe me people will figure out that after you were done sorting out your socks at home you can come and help them set up tables for the cotillion ball that will only take you a few hours! You know that will turn into an all day event.

Choose a Role Model
Think of someone you know and admire, whether it’s a family member or a friend or someone in the public eye. Use them as a role model and ask yourself “What would that person say in this situation?” When I need strength, I think of Katherine Hepburn’s strength and confidence, with a bit of Julia Child thrown in for good humor. If it’s something straight forward, I might channel the cold but unarguable logic of Mr. Spock. “We are 2.5 light years away.” “I can help you for 2.5 hours this week.” Get it? Role models can inspire, and you can dial them up in a second.

Head and Heart Balance
Spend time in your heart, and try and get enough heart time in your day. This gets you out of your head and will be like a breath of fresh air in your day. It does wonders for dispelling exhaustion and brain fuzz. I have found sweeping the floor for a few minutes is relaxing and heart centered. The activity is calming, and it helps to have a neutral task that takes you out of your head and puts you in your heart. Washing a few items in the sink is also gently relaxing but good for that neutral heart space that helps you to switch tasks or focus. It’s time for a good brain break too and helps get rid of brain fog from being on overload. I find for me being non-verbal helps.

If you are at work, get up out of your chair, walk around, get a glass of water, cup of coffee, or empty the break room dishwasher. All by yourself without asking for credit. 😉 If you can get outside for even a few minutes to walk, or people watch, do it! You’ll feel so good about yourself, and it is a great way to be more heart centered and less in your head. Getting out of your head will lead to much more balanced days, less exhaustion, more energy, and better quality Spiritual juju.

The Advice Given Here
My advice is gained from years living on planet earth, trying to get it right. It is not to get you to say no to everything someone asks of you. It is to give you insights into behaviors you can change to better protect your time, and give you tools of empowerment. If you have that Ripcord phrase, are prepared to sweetly decline a request, watch for boobytraps, never use excuses, take some time for yourself, realize you can’t help everyone, know what energizes you, have heart centered time, all without guilt, you are on your way to being a healthy caregiver for yourself, and others. And this wisdom only took me 61 years to acquire! (insert belly laugh here.)

Comments are welcome. “Likes” tell me someone is listening. Love and Light, ❤ Patty