Do you ever go through times when everything is going so well, you’ve forgotten what it’s like to have any stress or problems in your life? That happens to me, and it frequently precedes what I’ve just decided to call an avalanche.
I was in my 20s the first time I experienced an avalanche. I was working, living in Chicago with three roommates, and having the time of my life. I worked hard at keeping my checkbook balanced, and one month I discovered I had a pile of unspent money. I immediately decided I deserved a trip to California to visit my cousin, made the arrangements, paid for the tickets, and had a great time, spending a week at the beach, Disneyland, and enjoying the sun and Barbara’s company. It wasn’t long afterwards that my happy memories dissolved into dismay. I had somehow made a mistake balancing my checkbook, and was now overdrawn. When you live from paycheck to paycheck, it can be pretty hard to climb out of that! As an avalanche, it was probably a pretty small one. Most of my avalances have been related to money, but not all.
I was for a long time, a follower, not a leader, retiring, not outgoing, but something happened at some point in my life, and I discovered I was happy and effective when I spoke up and began suggesting ideas, and implementing them. I was on my way to being a leader! It’s an exciting life for someone like me to find herself and begin to shine at meetings, and be creative and efficient at what I did. A doer, however attracts attention, and begins to be asked to do more. Sure, I’ll be on this committee, ok, I’ll get this done, I’d love to be responsible for that. Before I knew it, the excitement gave way to overwork, and the overwork turned into a black cloud of pressure, and interactions with people became difficult. It would take me a long time to realize that my activities had overwhelmed me, like an avalanche, overwhelming a skier. When I did, I’d cut back entirely, drop everything, and go back to staying in the background and isolating myself with people.
So those are the most frequent types of avalanches I’ve experienced. I thought I had learned to keep them at bay through periodic maintenance, like avalanches are kept at bay by periodically dynamiting them before the snow builds up to avalanche proportions.
But maybe not – I seem to be in an avalanche of epic proportions, one that perhaps contains elements of both types – financial and over-committed.
I had the bad fortune to spend a good amount of money on my trip to Las Vegas, a trip I could afford. Bad timing – I hit the medicare doughnut hole, my air conditioner needed an expensive repair, my car needed expensive work done on it, and suddenly I’m cutting back on spending as much as I can, trying to get back to a normal bank balance where I have enough money for upcoming bills.
So that’s a critical financial avalanche in the making. I don’t think I’m at a critical or even precarious point. I’m not over-committed. I don’t think I’m going to over-commit. But the fact remains, I’m doing a lot. I was just elected to the residents advisory committee here at Waltners’ with responsibilities in three general areas. When I get back to Tucson, I’ll be serving as the president of the Art Guild, the leader of the Computer Club, facilitator for Covenant Circles at church. I’ve just been asked to serve on a committee at church, one that I’d probably enjoy and almost feel I should accept, but I think I have enough sense to know not to. There is also another new activity going on at church that sounds fascinating, and one I’m sure I’d enjoy, but I am sure I’ll turn it down too. Still, I feel quite close to over-committing, like I have to avoid making any loud noises that will bring an avalanche of problems down on me.
I can’t let this happen. I can’t get buried in an avalanche of my own making. If you relate to what I’m going through, maybe you have some suggestions for me. I’d like to hear from you.