Summertime… and the livin' is easy? Not if you are having a family crisis.


I’m guessing this belief stems from childhood, but don’t we still feel that summer offers us something special?  A big change from the regular human experience of the other seasons; a lightness?  I saw a Facebook post where parents (clearly born in the 1960s/70s) dressed up as Alice Cooper’s Band and serenaded their junior high student off the bus on the last day of school.  I got a big kick out of it, as did the performers.  Maybe not so much for the poor kid… no amount of therapy will erase that memory!

“Crisis” implies a new situation.

My professional world is that of serious illness.  We meet families at the tipping point, right where the lava starts coursing down the volcano toward the village beneath.  Many are trying to cope with chronic illness, children, and grandchildren, declining elder loved ones, or someone’s mental health episode needing help and intervention.

Maybe you are a master at knowing how to manage, or perhaps you are exhausted and have no idea what to do.  Maybe there isn’t anything to be done.  You're not alone if you are fresh out of your crisis, feel one coming on, or are plum right in the middle of the bubbling lava.  We’ve all been there.  Whatever your burden is, it takes a toll.  Waiting for the head-on collision you fear is coming is possibly the most brutal place of all to be.

My world has brought some challenges to me recently.  I am typically the “fix it” person.  I have a large toolbox to draw, but sometimes no tool fits the problem.  During those times, we call in the troops: the professionals in whatever arena we are in, mental health helpers, clergy, and others who can help facilitate “self-care.”  We sit with it, talk about it, and hopefully get some good solid advice from those with credibility in our given situation.

The term self-care is rampant across professional communications these days…and with good reason.

COVID taught us that there is often a longer recovery period from a crisis than we thought. Prolonged stress takes its toll.  We can feel underwater without acknowledging, identifying, or naming it.  Where does one begin?

Self-care is primarily an “inside job.”  It’s taming the voices (the committee) that live in our heads and encourages us to worry, fret, stress, and feel distracted, often with the ceaseless chattering about what a mess it all is.  We forget we are one being – spirit, mind, and body, and to get the most bang for our buck, we should hit all three in our effort to cope better.

What feeds all parts of you?  Community, 1:1 time, nature, music, art, animals, time alone, the beach?  What are your sources of nourishment? Spirit, mind, and body.  When self-care seems most irrelevant and unobtainable, it’s a sign that we need it: STAT.

Most wellness habits are developed over long periods so that they become part of our fabric.  I am fortunate to know many people who prioritize self-care regularly.  Are their issues less than because they have a more developed notion of self-care?  Of course not.  However, their reaction, response, and experience of personal disruption may be different.

One of my teachers describes it as “extreme self-care” in case we are under the misguided impression that we are living lives of self-care.  Working with families in crisis has helped me hone this skill, or at least my awareness of it for other people… not me.  Still, I have talked the talk, which has given me some real-life practice in getting it right for myself.

Beware. It’s a life changer.

Let's explore and commit to this notion of self-care.  It is bound to have some of the following effects: it may decrease your frustration with the many horrid drivers on the road, may have you turning off the news when you feel your blood pressure going up, and may cause you to willingly stop at the crosswalk for old folks, young folks, bikes, and wild turkeys.  If taking a deep dive and getting some support helps you cope with whatever “crisis” has arrived and allows you a better sense of well-being as you face it, that sounds like a winner winner…you know what.

There are helpers out there: many wonderful books where authors share their experiences, Ted Talks, YouTube, local face-to-face support groups, and the list goes on and on and on.  What works for me may not work for you. The important thing is, to be honest.  “I’m struggling and need help.”  Would you be honored to “be there” for someone you knew in a tight spot?  Many are.  Know them and find them.  Take help.

You are not alone in the “summertime and the livin’ ain’t easy” club.  Know what you are dealing with, what’s bothering you, and what you can and can’t fix. Jump into the pool of clear, cool water (that may look like a book, coffee frappe, or walk on the beach) and breathe in your life.  Don’t forget to ask for help.

creative works, lullabies, summertime, doin' time, easy living, ted talks, alice cooper, covid