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When Life Happens

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By Tara Ballard

To say that life has been challenging for me for the past 6 weeks or so would be a bit of an understatement. I don’t tell you the following things to ask for pity or to be all “oh woe is me” or anything like that, but I think it’s needed to set the framework of this post. So, in as short a nutshell as I can manage, here is a synopsis of the last few weeks:

The first thing that happened about 6 weeks ago was that I learned that my grandmother was sick, most likely from cancer stemming from a mass in her lung. In the weeks that followed, I spent time helping care for her, along with my sister and cousin, traveling to Wilmington when I could and when I was needed. I can honestly say that the week leading up to her passing was probably the hardest of my life thus far.  I was with my mom during her last days, and that broke my heart, but this was worse in ways I can’t really go into right now – the emotions are just too raw, and I would probably lose you after the first paragraph J.  My sweet Maw-maw passed away this past Tuesday, 10/25. I am very thankful that I did get to spend some good, quality time with her during her last month with us. I will miss her dearly.

The second thing that happened – ironically the same week we found out Maw-maw was sick – is that my dad was diagnosed with MDS (Myelodysplastic Syndrome), which is a form of “pre-leukemia”. This was a huge blow, as it basically shelved plans for his kidney transplant. Dad has since started chemo treatments, and receives very frequent blood/platelet transfusions. He was doing “ok”, up until last week…up until the day Maw-maw passed.

So, later in the morning after I received news of Maw-maw’s passing, I learned that Dad had been admitted to the hospital for some kind of infection in his foot. The MDS causes his white blood cell count to drop to sometimes immeasurable numbers, as was the case here. He has to be so, so careful because just about anything can cause infection, and since his immune system can’t fight it, the smallest thing can be fatal. He is still in the hospital, and probably will be for a few more days.

I am omitting a lot of details here, but as you can probably imagine, I felt like life had thrown me a huge one-two punch. There have been several times over the past week where I honestly did not think I could handle it – it just seemed like way too much!  To those around me, I appeared fine; but, I was freaking out on the inside, that is for sure. During all of this, I was trying to stay on top of everyday life: work, diet, workouts, etc. How do you think I managed? Well, to put it simply, I didn’t. And this is the reason I am sharing all of this with you.

There are times in life when you have to cut yourself some slack. I will tell you that over the course of about three weeks, my sleep, diet and workout regimen went right out the window. There were nights where my sis and I were up all night with my grandmother, so sleep came in 10-15 minutes increments, if at all. Diet? Well, let’s just say that there were several days where my first “meal” was at 3pm, and there were other times when pretzels and fig newtons sufficed as a meal. And what about workouts? All I will say, is anyone who has taken care of a sick and/or dying loved one will tell you that priorities shift bigtime. All I really wanted was to be with Maw-maw, and even if there had been time, I wasn’t really worried about whether or not I had hit legs hard enough that week.

And you know what? It was totally ok.  I did the best I could based on the circumstances, and I focused on what mattered in that moment – Maw-maw. Everything else was irrelevant. It has been a little over a week since Maw-maw passed, and I am still struggling to get back to “normal”, whatever that means. My appetite has not come back fully, and my sleep is not what it should be.  My workouts are back on track, but I’m still feeling a little “off”.  If this had happened a couple years ago, I would have beat myself up over these things. But, as I’ve grown to accept being perfectly imperfect, I’ve learned to go easy on myself when “life happens”.  I know that my “funk” is temporary, and I just have to work through this in my own way and time.

This served as a huge lesson for me, as I hope it will for you.  As competitors and Fat Loss Lifestyle followers, we tend to put undue pressure on ourselves when our best-laid plans don’t play out the way we would like.  When that happens, remember the things that matter most – Love, Family and Friends – and cut yourself some slack!

In love, Tara

Related: Learning to Embrace Imperfection

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