When It Isn’t Funny Anymore

grease fireTwo weekends ago, I sort of set fire to the house.

Well, technically, I started a grease fire in the oven when I was broiling steaks. I wondered why black smoke was pouring out of the vent, went to open the door of the oven and nearly singed my eyebrows on the fiery dance happening in there. Black soot was covering everything, the house filled up with smoke, the smoke alarm went off, the kids were crying.

Up until that point, I had been trying to see the humor and the good throughout the snowiest February in Rhode Island history, my husband’s surgery to repair his broken ankle, my single motherhood due to his incapacitated state. But this was the proverbial straw. I started to think maybe we needed some other grown up to move in to the house and steer the ship for a while. I felt like I couldn’t trust myself.

(Luckily, my husband hopped in to the kitchen just as I had a cup of water in my hands that I intended to throw in the oven—a really bad idea for a grease fire, it turns out. He clapped a second sheet pan on top of the one currently on fire and smothered the flames. And…scene.)

We are all going to reach our threshold of what we can roll with at some point.  It may be daily, yearly, or somewhere in between, but it is going to happen.

These are my best tips for tending to yourself in those moments. I’d love to hear yours too (leave a comment below, email me, or visit us on the MsMindbody Facebook page).

Remember it’s happening for a loving reason. I just don’t believe that we’re put on this Earth to be punished. Whatever’s going on is just trying to get you to pay attention to something that needs tending to, or clearing the way for something better to come along. You may have to take this on faith, but the evidence will show up one day if you stay open enough to see it.

Surrender. (This may in fact be that loving reason.) Sometimes so many unfortunate developments show up so close together that your only option is to plead “Uncle,” and stop trying to stay one step ahead of the process. When you surrender, you accept whatever’s happening.  Meaning, you stop resisting it, and you stop feeling sorry for yourself or blaming other people. That’s when you wet your rag with a little dish soap and start wiping the soot off the cabinets. You accept the work your current situation requires and do it with the intention of creating space for the new growth that’s trying to take root. And maybe the work you need to do, if you’re one of those powerhouses who does the work of 10 people because you ‘can handle it’, is asking and allowing someone else to help you.

See a professional. The day after the fire, I booked myself a Reiki appointment, which is one of my favorite ways to turn the beat around when I feel like I’ve gotten off track somehow. Schedule a call with your coach (or take me up on my standing offer of a free sample session by responding to this email!), massage therapist, hair stylist, therapist, chiropractor – whoever you trust to help you ‘get right.’ Now’s the time; you don’t have to tough it out on your own. It’s worth the investment to feel supported during a challenging time, and if finances are tight, well, where there’s a want, there’s a way.

Give yourself whatever you’re craving. Complete this sentence: “Ugh, I can’t believe I have to deal with this! I just want to _____________________.” Whatever that thing is, consider this all the permission you need to do it. Play Candy Crush, stay in bed all morning and read, lock yourself in a quiet room and make art, dig in the dirt, make a cake. Whatever’s calling to your heart, there’s a reason. Indulge that desire and you’ll feel restored and refreshed, ready to get back to doing the work your specific situation requires. If you think you don’t have time, remember, there is no such thing as too late.

P.S. Despite it all, that steak was done to perfection! #truth


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7 thoughts on “When It Isn’t Funny Anymore

  1. You are magic, Kate Hanley.

    How do I get thru when I think I’m going to snap? When I just simply cannot embrace the chaos for one more @$!#& second?
    I cast my eyes about for inspiration. I listen to my intuition. Sometimes it leads to my inbox, I read your blog post…BOOM. Light dawns, clouds part, all that. Aaaaannndd I am back to center.

    1. Christina, you are magic yourself. :) I just love the way you write! It’s like I’m in the room with you. Keep on keepin’ on, sister. :) xox

  2. I hope you get relief from knowing you are not the only one who has done that with the stove. I have done it 2 times so far. But, you are right about why we have a tendency to lose ourselves. I can remember walking around in a cloud in my mind. I felt like I had reached every braking point on every level imaginable. Like I was a ticking time bomb for myself with all I kept messing up on and forgetting. I often get so busy with the 6 children that I do not take time for myself. You often do not see burnout until you are experiencing it. I agree with your better things to come. In school now to do my dream and that is a big jump from what I have done my whole life. I hope you do not have anymore fires. Clear head is so important when we are juggling a lot. Love your blogs they show me that I am not alone :-)

    1. Toni, you are such an inspiration! My hair blows back a little bit when I think about the positive changes you’ve made and are continuing to build. Love being able to hear how you’re doing here and on the Facebook page. High fives and hugs to you. xoxo

  3. Kate!

    Your post was so timely, my friend. I had my own version of “setting the oven on fire” this week… A situation I just felt I couldn’t take for one more second. I kept reminding myself of your mantra… “This is happening for a loving reason.” But what?

    Initially, it felt – yet again – like punishment. A horrible teaching situation that has happened again and again. I wondered “Why is this happening? Haven’t I already passed the test? Haven’t I already learned the lesson?”

    I got up early this morning to meditate for 20 minutes and find my centre. I thought about a quote of Oprah’s that I have on my fridge and on my desk: “Your life is talking to you. Are you listening?” For so long, I have heard, but I haven’t listened. My life is telling me that who I am and my work are not in alignment… and that I have to get out. I must love MYSELF above money and above social convention. If I could, I would leave tomorrow. Why does money have to be a factor? It’s so frustrating.

    If this is happening for a loving reason, that reason must be, I can only surmise, that once and for all, I know without a shadow of a doubt that I have to leave. I just wish I could do it now. I look at the next 3 and a half months and – even though I know I shouldn’t – I feel resigned to the idea that I have to “survive” them. I know that shouldn’t be my mindset, but that’s how it feels.

    Hoping you can lend me some of your trademark wisdom. ;-)

    Thanks, Kate!

    1. Hi Karen. Sending you hugs, my friend. (And apologizing for the delay.) Without knowing anything about said situation, can you take your realizations that you can’t let money and social conventions dictate what you do and let them empower you to react differently? If you’re not afraid of leaving your job, can you perhaps say what you might not otherwise say or do what you might not otherwise do that your centre tells you is right? Whatever the situation is, it’s definitely not here to punish you — that punishing feeling is a sign that your higher self is getting more bogged down by having to go through the same reactions. And it wants to inspire you to do things differently. :) Situations keep coming up until they teach us what they’re designed to teach us. I can’t say WHAT different reaction to take, I only know that the difference will make all the difference. Sending you love and courage. xo, Kate

  4. This post comes just as I am going through similar breaking points in my life, and I have done all these things on your list. Just a great kind of pin it to the fridge reminder to follow these steps – ask for help (I started reaching out in all kinds of ways both financial and emotional), give yourself a break (I used frequent flyer miles to take a rejuvenating trip), but the first step is really the key, and the hardest, for me… to have faith that the way will become clear later down the road. There are experiences of the past few years that I’m still hoping for the way to be made evident, but I’ve had to move on and trust that if I accept those events, I will see them for what they were worth some day. Thanks as usual for a great recap of these tough experiences in our lives!

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