Why I was able to say goodbye to my Grandfather right before he passed away…
As a working mom, I can’t tell you how many times I have found myself faced with competing intentions, when I needed to make a decision. As a result I’ve found myself feeling paralyzed, frustrated, resentful, and out-of-alignment. This dilemma would show up often when I had to make a decision. I found that the competing part of each intention dominantly had to do with my eagerness to dedicate a large portion of my time to others: help them, please them, take care of them. That eagerness was competing with my own needs.
For 2015, I set the goal to prioritize my own needs. To really lean into my intuition, so that I could experience more grace and ease in the decision-making process as well as the joy that comes from prioritizing myself.
After committing to this new approach, I was served up a situation that really tested my ability to expand and break in what I’d committed to making a new pattern.
It was Christmas week, and we were spending the holidays with my in-laws in Seattle. We’d planned this the previous year because it involved flying all three boys up to Seattle (5 tickets), all that’s involved in the preparation, including packing, travel day, and coyly packing all of their Christmas gifts without them finding them. Since we only see my in-laws a couple of times a year, I wanted to maximize the time together. Because it was the holidays, I felt the pull to be 100% engaged and available to everyone.
The day after Christmas was two days into our four day stay with my in-laws. I received a call that day that my 92 year old grandfather had had a minor stroke and was in the hospital. He lived on the other side of the Cascade Mountains from Seattle. When he arrived to the hospital, they also discovered that he had pneumonia. While the doctors were confident he’d be overcome everything, I’d had enough experience to know that once someone my grandfather’s age gets pneumonia, things can change quickly. My knee-jerk reaction was to go see him immediately.
However, logistically, this was not an easy decision to make. I thought of others first. I was staying on the other side of the mountains, which was a 3 hour drive. I would then have to catch a 6am flight back the next morning. This meant, that I would miss a good portion of my time blocked out with my in-laws as well as with my children, during Christmas, my most favorite holiday. It also meant my husband would have all three boys on his own, during our holiday, which doesn’t provide much R&R for him.
To help me make the decision, which needed to be made quite quickly, I asked myself this very simple question, “What am I most committed to in this moment?”
At first, I thought, “There’s no way I can go. It’s the holidays. I had committed to spending them with my in-laws and boys.” I didn’t want to disappoint them or miss out. However, when I asked myself that one question, the answer was clear. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be with my in-laws or my children, but that I had a clear need: to see my Grandfather, in person, possibly for the the last time. My intuition suspected it, and I did not want to miss the opportunity to have one more meaningful conversation with him. I wanted to be there for him the same way he’d always been there for me. Because I was able to answer this question truthfully and honor what I was most committed to in the moment, I experienced so much more grace and ease throughout the decision process as well as an incredible amount of joy because I followed my own heart.
We had such a special conversation, which was upbeat, and chockablock full of current event updates: the challenge of raising boys and trying to keep all the trains running on time. Four days later, he passed peacefully. I am so thankful that I took the time to ask myself the almighty question, “What am I most committed to in this moment?” It allowed me to get very real quickly with what I wanted to do.
I’d love to hear how your approach the dilemma of competing intentions and what you’ve found that works. Try the magic question on for size. I think you’ll find it’s so simple and will come in handy in helping you quickly access your intuition, allowing you to honor what you’re most committed to during that moment so that you can make decisions gracefully and easily. No more feelings of sacrifice or agonizing over what to do!