Facing a tough time?

What do you do when you are facing a crisis or major disruption in your life?   Do you retreat?  Plow forward?  Freeze in your tracks?

Before I found my stride, I reacted this past month with a bit of each.

As you know, Rob and I have been sorting out how to best care for and support his ailing mother (affectionately called MOTUS because she lives near the President in Washington, DC and we desperately needed a little humor!)

In one month, MOTUS transitioned from independent living in an assisted living apartment to 24/7 nursing home care and two hospital stays.  We want to be with her as much as possible and she needs us to.

Add to the mix, we are entrepreneurs with flexibility and freedom yet great responsibility and dedication to the people we serve, and we live hundreds of miles away from her.

In the end, one of the strategies above – retreat, plow ahead or freeze — is working best of all and I’d love to share with you which one and why.

But first …

I am writing to you from Naples, Florida.  More than a decade ago, Rob and I created a detailed vision for the lifestyle we wanted most.

In turning our vision into reality, we chose to live in our geographic homes — on Martha’s Vineyard for most of the year and Naples, Florida for the winter months.  So now is the time of the year when we make our “Great Migration” south.

Having grown up in snowy Ohio, I am still in awe that holiday decorations and palm trees co-exist!

Even though we have it down pretty well, our annual migration to Florida involves moving not only our car, clothes, and computers but our much-loved, 17-pound cat Wilber!

Wilber, tucked under the seat, has flown so often that he receives frequent flyer points as a card-carrying member of JetPaws!

So, as the situation and needs of MOTUS and the demands of our work and life and move to Florida collided, we set these goals and a strategy for best getting through this period in all our lives.

First, our goals for MOTUS:

1)   To feel and know she is loved

2)   Safe

3)   Comfortable

4)   Dignified

Then, for ourselves:

1)  Continuous forward motion

2) Increased self-care in this time of stress and crisis

That’s right, moving forward with our regular plans, even though they had to be changed frequently, has turned out to be our best strategy to help MOTUS and for us to feel a semblance of normalcy in the midst a difficult and often sad time.

Steady forward progress proved the wisest strategy for us even though flights, meetings and appointments have had to be cancelled and rescheduled.  Rob and I also took alternating turns in Washington caring for her and cleaning out her apartment so we saw less of each other.

Still, we are farther ahead and more at peace by proceeding as best as possible with our regular plans than if we would have retreated, frozen in our tracks or given up everything to tend to her this past month.

And, believe me, there have been moments when I felt frozen or thought I should stop everything and move to DC.

As of this moment, MOTUS is holding steady and is well cared for and loved in her nursing home community.

Rob and I are home together in Naples. Wilber is sunning himself on our screened-in porch, endearingly called “the catatarium.”

On a moment’s notice, we are prepared to return to Washington.

Our strategy has allowed us to have a stable base of operations with everything in place to take care of both her and us while we live through this temporary phase of her and our lives.

I hope if you are facing a similar situation or worse, you can take the time to find the strategy that will help you make it through.  And, that you have all the love and support you need.

Giving each other support is one of the reasons I started Women on Fire.  And, I am so deeply grateful for all the loving concern from so many of you in the past weeks!  Thank you.

Wishing you a wonderful week filled with lots of love,