September 29, 2014

Tough Times

photo: wikimedia

So, no sooner did I proclaim "Crabby's Back!" than it seems I am not back after all. Or at least I'm not back blogging in the usual way.

I guess you call it a '"family emergency." One of those terrible situations that you hope never happens to anyone you love. It's complicated and wrenching and not likely to resolve itself soon. I hopped on a plane to the west coast when I heard, and am staying at my childhood home. I didn't buy a return ticket because I have no idea how long I will be here.

As some of you may have already discovered, there are few things in life as heartbreaking as seeing a loved one suffering through a crisis.  I haven't been through anything like this before, and I just hope I can rise to the many challenges my family is facing. I kinda suck at the whole grace-under-pressure thing, as well as the gettting-difficult-stuff-handled thing, but then I've never in my life been so motivated to be a grown up and do whatever needs to be done.

So... does this mean there will be no more Cranky Fitness for the foreseeable future?

Nah. You won't get rid of me that easily.

At a time when nothing seems normal and life has something of  a surreal quality, I think touching base with the blog will be a good thing for me. (Even if it ends up being tedious as hell for you guys at times.)

I just may not be back up to speed the way I'd hoped I'd be after my vacation.  And I'll be predictably lame at visiting other blogs and replying to individual comments, though I'll be reading all of them and popping in with more general replies.

Plus there are some guest posts on the way! (There'd be one already if I hadn't left my laptop at home. I am the worlds shittiest packer even when I'm not stressed, and my flustered attempts to gather my things on short notice were comically inept and I forgot all kinds of stuff I need. Checkbook? Nope! Wouldn't want to bring one of those in an emergency!)

So anyway, I can't really write about my family member's situation in specific terms. It's her story to tell when she's able, not mine. Let's just say it's pretty serious.

But this is a health blog, and coping with stress is a health topic, right? I'm thinking exercise and nutrition and meditation/relaxation and finding positives in shitty situations are all extra important endeavors when times get tough.

And, well, there are often rays of sunshine even when skies are cloudy.

For example, there is a fire trail with lovely views close by.

It's been part of my life for over 50 years--I spent tons of time rambling these hills as a kid, and every holiday when I visit I always walk there.  I'm finding it a tremendous comfort. I've been walking it every day, sometimes several times a day, and I always feel a little better and more grounded when I'm out there.

And there are so many other things to be grateful for, like the many kind people who have gone the extra mile to be there and offer support.

It seems I've spent a lot of time lately blogging about why I'm not blogging very often, but whatever. I am blessed with some of the most patient and good-natured blog readers in the history of blogging, and I do swear that someday this will be an actual health and fitness blog again.

So, anyone have any advice for coping when a loved one is struggling?


  1. Crabby, I am so sorry to hear this and I hope things turn out well quickly.
    I have no advice except take the time to look after yourself. And don't forget the others in the family who are coping with this as well. Nurturing those around the crisis person helps in ways that are not apparent on the surface.

  2. Sending love and hugs. These situations are always a bear. Do your best and make sure you take care of yourself while tending to those around you. Bet you're glad you've been working on your mediation skills!

  3. Hang in there, Crabby. It sounds like you've got a very good handle on things (using the blog to touch base rather than letting it be a source of stress, for example). Just take care of yourself and do whatever you need to do. We'll be here thinking of you and ready to read when you feel like writing. If I can do anything to help, just let me know.

  4. Oh, Crabby, I am so sorry to hear this. I agree with Leah and bdaiss - taking care of yourself is essential if you want to be able to take good care of someone else. You know where I am on the west coast - if there is anything I can do to help, please say so.

  5. Thank you guys so much! And yeah, I'm trying to take care of myself, but what I really want to do is FIX THINGS so my sister isn't suffering so much. Unfortunately I don't seem to have that power. But your good wishes may help! After all, you guys were able to do magic with my back a couple weeks ago, that's gotten so much better, so I know you all have superpowers. :)

  6. Watch out for skipping the basics, proper amounts of sleep, exercise and food. It's easy to let that stuff slip. Take care.

  7. I do think it is very hard on us when we just can't fix something or will it away. I find it personally overwhelming and it reminds me how fragile a human can be. I do know that after a really extended period of care-giving or support there is always that stage in which you are lost because for awhile you simply defined yourself that way. Regardless, you won't regret being there for the long haul. Sam

  8. I'm sorry to hear of this but it sounds like you're doing everything right so far--as if there is anything "right" in the first place. Take care of you and those you love, everything else will fall into place. I respect your decision to let them tell their own story when they are able and I respect the hell out of you for being who you are. Stay strong, seek help when you need it, don't be afraid to cry/laugh/feel, it's all good.

  9. It's corny I know, but one thought that always seems to help me through the bad times is the old "This, too, shall pass." Sending good vibes your way, hope you get them.


  10. I agree with what everyone else has suggested. Don't forget to take care of yourself as well. I'm sorry to hear about your loved one. Hang in there.

  11. Oh, no - so sorry to hear about this!!! Yep - hard to see anyone that you love and care about struggling in any way. Make sure that you take care of yourself so that you are able to really help. (wine seems necessary!!!)

  12. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Remember that through struggle we become stronger.

  13. You are lovely to simply BE THERE for your sister. Good thoughts to you both at this tough time.

  14. Crabby, I'm so sorry. You're doing it right (okay, well, except the packing!) just by taking yourself where you need to be and offering your help.

    As someone who has never been there myself, only an outsider to others who were there, the only advice I have is rely on others...and be specific! I never really know how to offer the "right" assistance (hello, introvert) and so I often do the irritating thing and ask how I can help--and when I'm teamed up with someone who knows what they need, darn it they get help! Catering? I can arrange that. Cooking? You betcha. Driving somebody to medical appointments? I'll make it work. Meeting tradespeople at a friend's house? Sure thing.

    You're probably surrounded by sheepish want-to-helpers. Figure out what's taking time and/or effort and shop that stuff out. It's a huge relief to those who aren't sure what to offer...and hopefully to you, too.

    Hang in there.

  15. While it may not fit with your style, prayer helps, and i promise you and your sister and family will be in my prayers that all is well very soon.

  16. Don't know if I can express how much I appreciate you guys! Great ideas, and I'm so grateful for those prayers and kind thoughts! It really, really helps.

  17. if i was your sister id looove for you to be around me just the very special way you happen to be ( as far as a reader can tell). i have been in emergencies and there were always a couple of people who i loved having around. this has nothing to do with fixing the problem... its more like you want to share with this kind of person. it helps if this person has a proper sense of humor black and cranky enough to make you laugh even if things are going very badly.
    so my advice would be: trust that you are exactly the right person to be there and just be your usual cranky self.
    hope things work out! and even if they dont, you have been there to share. thats what counts.
    i hope i dont sound preachy or weird... its just that i feel very strongly that you have exactly what it needs in this situation.
    will send over some good vibes and hope you touch base again soon.
    puja from berlin

  18. What they all said. You know of the time I spent caring for my father. I could not have stayed healthy myself, both physically and mentally, without doing things like yoga and taking walks. Practice that meditation stuff. And take care of your back, as stress will sneak up on healing body parts.
    Strengthening, supportive vibes heading your way from Kentucky

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  19. I am terribly sorry that you are dealing with some very difficult times. You know we are all here if you need to talk or vent or cry or to tell us how beautiful and comforting those walks are. You reminded me of the long walks I took when dealing with a super stressful life event many years ago. Keep up those walks. They are good for the mind, body, and soul.
    Health and fitness in times of crisis works for me!
    We loves ya Crabster! Hugs!

  20. Sending positive thoughts your way Crabby. So sorry to hear that your loved one is going through something serious. I don't have advice really -- but I do know when someone cares and shows up to help (that's you) it's priceless to the person in crisis.

  21. Yep. What everyone else said: Take care of yourself. It isn't selfish. You have to be the best you can be in a crisis situation to help someone else.

    I am so sorry you're dealing with something so difficult. But you'll be so glad you were there to help when it really mattered to someone you love.

  22. I'm so sorry to hear that your family member is in crisis. Like everyone else has said do take care of yourself keep the basics of self care going during this time and always. Take care.

  23. Really sorry to hear this, and sending good wishes to both you and your family member. As others have said - do take care of yourself too, walking those trails looks like a great way to do that. Sometimes life does really mess up but I am sure you will have the resilience to deal with whatever is thrown your way.

  24. AS you know Jan, I have gone thru this too many times! I also have a family member I wrote about fighting stage 4 cancer that has spread right now... battling it like a trooper! I am also in OC if you need to chat. I am working a ton now with my demos but not sure where you are right now. If I can help in any way, let me know!!!!

    HUGE HUGE HUGS!!!!!!!!

  25. Sorry for whatever is happening with your family. My advice would be to do what you are doing, be there to support the person who needs it. Sending lots of love and hugs your way. Take care.

  26. Ah Crabby, I can relate. I am not good in a crisis either. However, I think the best thing you can do is to be there, and offer support and a listening ear. Sending positive thoughts your way!

  27. In a similar situation walking the hills also gave me comfort. There was also comfort in daily skypping with the spouse and 4 day visits every 2 weeks. This is hard stuff. Thinking of you and your family.


  28. Oh Crabby. I'm so sorry that your family is struggling with something big. I wish only the best for you and yours and hope that things get much better very soon. Stay strong.. I know you will. Good thoughts, positive vibes and hugs all coming your way.

  29. Poking my head out of my shell to add my hugs to those of your other readers, dear Jan. I am so sorry that you and your family are facing any difficulty and pain.

    1. My screen froze, not unlike me....before I was able to add that I hope the situation will be resolved in a way that brings peace to you and your sister.

  30. Just wanted to stop by again to thank you all for being so awesome and supportive!!!

    While the situation is still serious, it's improved over the last couple of days. There will be ups and downs, but knowing there are such caring people out there wishing us well helps enormously. Y'all rock!

  31. Thinking of you all. Lurker who has never commented. Not being able to fix things is the hardest thing to tolerate but I'm sure your sister appreciates you being there. Lots of good advice here and exactly what I would have said based on helping to care for my grandparents. Keeping my fingers & toes crossed that things continue to improve.

  32. BIG HUGS. That's really tough to go through. Early this summer, my sister was in a freak gas explosion on the other side of the world - it was the scariest 5 hours of my life, between the time we first heard about it until we got word that she was going to be okay. Thankfully she's doing well now.

    What worked for me at the time was NOT talking to my parents about how scared I was (since they were scared enough already and definitely needed more comfortING than they needed to comfort someone else), and instead talking to Mr Science about how I felt, and also remembering that I couldn't do anything anyways. I think sometimes we have to surrender to the realization that we don't have any control over the situation, and all we can do is be there for the person - and that's enough.

    Thinking of you.

  33. Thinking of you and sending up healing thoughts for your sister. While your stress is palpable, thank you for posting. Your words and the words and many of the comments have helped me more than I can say. May your days be better soon.


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