This has been some year! At the beginning of the year, (The Year of the Monkey within the Chinese New Year) I was told that since I am a Monkey, this was not going to be a great year for me. I tried to convince myself that this was all folklore and I would be fine. Well, fast forward to only 2 months left in the year and I will admit this has been one tough year. Business is doing great, but I have had to face the real issues of life which are far more important – family!
For the first time in my 27 years of running our business, I had to cancel a speech to fly immediately home as my dad was in ICU and in bad shape. After being home for only 2 days, he is right back in the hospital and I am in Paris working. There is nothing I want more than to jump back on a plane and fly home but my mom assures me I should stay and do my job.
So what is my message? Of course the simple answer is family comes first. But the reality is, in order to take care of your family you need resources which come from working! How you reconcile the priority of living in the moment is not easy. Many people look at me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, my own blog and see this crazy woman who travels the globe one week at a time and has been able to manage it all. Raising a daughter while on the road, staying happily married for 36 years to my best friend and partner in business and still making time for family has been a juggling act but I have done it.
Now as I hold back my tears knowing my dad is in the hospital and my darling mom is struggling to do what is best, I need to focus on the now. But now does not necessarily mean I am flying home this time. Now means a group text with my sister, my mom and my daughter focusing on my dad. Life is 24/7 and it doesn’t stop after 5pm or on the weekends - it keeps going.
Everyone goes through this but many people don’t talk about it. We all deal with our parents getting older, problems with illness and just everyday ‘stuff.’ So what can you do to help people around you who are struggling? Don’t say the normal things like ‘if you need anything just call.’ No one is going to call. Just think about what you would need if you were in their position; dinner brought over, someone to drive you to the doctor or rehab center, grocery shopping, taking their car in for work, etc. There are millions of things people need help with so just step in and help. That is what they need.
I have a dear friend whose dad is in a care home after being very sick. He said the same thing to me. Why can’t people just stop by and have a cup of tea with him? Why do they ask if they can help but never show up to help? This is life my friends and we all need to help each other out. It does take your circle of family and friends to surround you when times are tough and that surrounding means stepping up. Thank you to all my parents’ friends and my sister who have truly helped them. Coming to the hospital, sitting with my mom, taking her dinner and going over to her house to take care of her dog while she is at the hospital was such a great help. None of these people asked – they just did it!