If You can’t Beat’em, Juggle

Yeah, yeah, I know.  I’m off-topic today, but I need to keep you up to date with my more current, balls-in-the-air craziness, as well.

image via photos8.com

What’s a story without a little contextual circus-ing?  Right?

In case you’re new to my blog, here’s a bit of background—here’s where we find ourselves.  I’ll orient you, but mostly I’ll orient myself—cause amidst all this high-wired, memoir-writing madness, I had almost forgotten.

My partner Sara is an international aid worker who specializes in disaster response.  Thus, we’ve spent the last 2 years living abroad, first a year in Vietnam, then another in Haiti.

Two months ago Sara’s work in Port-au-Prince ended, and we came home to the US for her 3 month sabbatical —a break that began nearly two months ago now.  In other words, if all goes as planned, in another month she’ll be assigned to yet another international location, and we’ll start circus-ing all over again.

The problem for me is this:  because of my bipolar disorder, I don’t do well with stress, and one of the things that triggers the most stress for me is the unknown.  I can’t stand “up-in-the-air.”  I need to prepare my emotionally-all-over-the-map self for her pending placement, her/our return to the big top.

So why am I suddenly taking about this now—when it’s a whole month away?

Well, as I mentioned in a note yesterday, our 20 foot container from Haiti is set to arrive here in Lexington later this week—the 66 boxes inside a reminder of this other three-ringed life we lead—one I’d put somewhere in the back of my mind over the past couple of months.

So, this is just a reminder, mostly to myself (and to those of you who miss my more travel-driven posts of the past) that our return to the wild world of traveling circus is not that far off.  It’s also a reminder that all recent attempts to memoir my way to a more sane way of life may be in vain.  Sanity remains purely aspirational, mere clowning, as the case may be, since a return to the crazy-making, disaster-responding way of life is fast-approaching.

Now, I’ll just have to figure out how to both memoir and move at the same time.  Any tips on juggling?

39 thoughts on “If You can’t Beat’em, Juggle

  1. Oh yes I can so relate to this feeling. I once told my daughter that I felt like my life had been thrown up in the air like a load of balls but that this time I was going to catch them and put them down where I wanted them to be….
    Staying with your circus metaphor – remember circus people are VERY skilled. They catch the balls, they balance themselves. I reckon you are a catcher Kathy. None of your high-wired memoir writing is in vain and if it is madness then it is a madness after your own fashion, to be cherished for all that it is. The important thing is that in the middle of it all, at the core, is you, centred, balanced. And even if you fall a little-well clowns are very funny too!


      • Does that mean it’s a complete failure of a post or a big success? Sara doesn’t like it–thinks it wasn’t fair to deviate from the story I was promising. I told her I thought I needed to lighten things up a bit. She said, “Oh, you thought it was funny?” I wanted to kick her!


    • I love the notion that it’s okay to stumble in my circus-ing–that it’s the clowing around part of the show! Too fun!

      Sorry to hear you feel like you need to juggle too–bless your balls-in-the-air self!

      My worry at this point is what, in God’s name we’re going to do with all of the stuff that’s coming. Our house is already full!


  2. Most of us fear the unknown so you are not alone there, not just a symptom of your bipolar, so good luck. Do you think the fear makes you feel alive? I lead a very tame life and yearn for adventure but not brave enough to do what you do and launch myself into the unknown, I hate my weakness and admire your courage, live your circus life with pride!! love the photo, did you take it?


    • Oh, but I think it takes just as much courage, if not more, to lead a more ordinary life, since every day living doesn’t offer the distractions of travel and adventure. I think it’s a gift to be able to embrace the ordinary and every day.

      Advenure or not–I’m glad you stopped by. I appreciate your comment and hope you’ll come again soon—————-


  3. I love Lifereconnected comments. I feel like I’ve been living with the unknown for a long time now, and just trying to keep the balls in the air. But, I had a thought. Yes, you have a big unknown coming up, but what if you made a list of the known within that unknown, would that help you remain grounded? By this I mean 1) you don’t know where you are going, but you do know that you will be going somewhere 2) in general, you know what you need to bring with you wherever you go, so maybe rather than completely unpacking you shift, unpacking those things you absolutely need now and preparing for the known move to an unknown place (I did this when we moved here by only unpacking essentials and leaving the rest in boxes). I’m sure that there are more knowns on this list that you could focus on, rather then on the unknown of where and when. Does that make sense?


    • This is a great idea. Making a list would definitely help. Yes, it seems we will definitely go somewhere, and it will likely be a developing country that has recently experienced some kind of disaster. (Though it could be Japan–obviously first world) I really love this idea–thank you my dear Lisa!


  4. My husband just told me last night he wants to sell our house and I am panicking even though we will remain in this neighbourhood, so I have a renewed appreciation for your dilemma. Otherwise I would have thought, “oh, lucky Kathy, she gets to move somewhere exciting!”
    My best advice is to take things one day at a time. Worrying over where you’re going won’t help anything, so let it go. Live in this moment, today, knowing you are in Lexington.
    Baby steps and deep breaths. Maybe some yoga. One day at a time. You can do this, with Sara at your side.


    • Ah, Dana, you are so sweet! Yes, we can do it! And Sara will go ahead of me to prepare the way. I will stay in Lexington until she’s settled enough for me to follow with the dogs. I do need to enjoy the here and now!

      Sorry to hear you may be facing a move. It’s a lot of work! Hang in there, my friend!


  5. Here’s a practical thought, Kathy…you’ve done without the stuff in the 66 boxes for two months. Would it be feasible to just leave them packed until you move again? That would allow you more time to work on what you want to work on…



    • I know–that would be the reasonable thing to do. However, it unfortunately needs t be sorted, as some things stay in Lexington, and some things will, perhaps, go to our next location–some things will be sold–some given away. I wish it could be done that way. But, alas—————-


  6. The unknown sucks. It just does. I hate it. Right now I’m still waiting to hear back about that job I applied for a month ago. They still haven’t contacted anyone about interviews. I don’t even know if they’ve called references yet. It’s mentally and emotionally taxing to wait and wonder and not be sure. In the meantime, distract yourself.

    I do best when I plan. When I can sit down and look at real, hard numbers and facts and come up with as developed a plan as possible. Maybe your plan will be what you plan to do with those 66 boxes. Do you want to keep everything in them? Can anything be donated or given to friends? Do you want to put them in your house somewhere, or do you think you’ll need some of those things to travel with you? That sort of thing might be about the only concrete thing you can do right now while you wait for the next assignment.

    I’m curious, though–did you feel this way when you and Sara were assigned to Haiti? Or did it happen so quickly that you didn’t have time to sit around juggling?


    • I’m sorry you’re having to wait about the job. That drives me crazy too! Academia is sooooooooo slow!

      About Haiti, though, we knew almost immediately. There was no waiting. The NGO hustled us out of Haiti prematurely, so they could send Sara there. Sara had 18 hours at home between assignments. It was crazy fast. We thought we might go to Japan. They even asked Sara if she would be willing to go, but she had this 3 month break coming to her. Now, the organization is backing up on the Japan idea, as frankly the Japanese want to help themelves–save face. So, Japan is an outside possibility, as is South Africa, which is where we were supposed to go after Vietnam–before the earthquake happened in Haiti. But given how it usually works–it will probably be neither–will be some place we never anticipated.


  7. When I first started reading your blog, I couldn’t reconcile you being bipolar and traveling to these grief-stricken places (just knowing how that would utterly undo me—for all the reasons you listed).

    But, I can see how you might manage the unknown, the gear-shifts, the priority changes much like you manage the illness itself. We stay in the Now. Each event, activity, and idea has its season. During this past month, you worked on the memoir. When the container comes, you and Sara will take care of that one box at a time. When the new assignment comes, you two will sort through those details one at a time.

    It seems right and proper to post about this process. How we deal with change and stress is a huge part of being bipolar. This is part of your memoir, too.


    • This is such a helpful comment, Sandy. How I deal with stress is indeed a huge part of the story! And yes, we will sort one detail at a time. That’s the only way. And, if I only focus on one thing at a time, I should be able to avoid feeling overwhelmed. Hopefully!


  8. It has been two months already?? Wow. Time really does fly.

    I’m afraid my juggling skills are terrible. How about dribbling the balls instead? 😀


  9. This post, to me, is actually a testament to hope of unified world, for several reasons. Circuses are traveling shows. They are a mini world where the typical dividers of humanity disappear, to be replaced by a unique and very strong “family of strangers”, who then move from place to place giving the population a view of magic. And again the visitors of the circus loose their differences, simply becoming people enjoying the show. They provide a form of healing to people that ignores everything except their humanity.

    As do international aid workers. And bloggers.

    Fear of the unknown is understandable. And human. Take strength from that fact alone. You are a human helping other humans, and in the process bringing the world one step closer to healing itself.

    Beyond all that, my new friend, whom I have only met online is in Europe. I helped her start blogging, and in one of the first posts she wrote she used the vary same picture you did. That silly little fact prompted this comment 🙂

    Blogging itself is a kind of circus!


    • Okay, dear Steve, this may be one of the most amazingly brilliant comments I have EVER gotten! You have said it all. There’s nothing more to be said. I am blown away! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am humbled and blessed by your insight!


      • It has been my experience (even before entering the blogging circus), that inspiration is very contagious. To frivolously switch metaphors, I may have produced a flower, but you planted the original seed. So maybe I should be thanking you!


  10. It has to be said that how you deal with stress is a HUGE part of who you are and therefore a huge part of your memoir! Don’t listen to Sara if she’s teasing you for getting “off track”– there’s no such thing in life. 😉

    Good luck unpacking all of those boxes and dealing with the stress of *getting* all of those boxes back. I’ll be thinking of you and sending you VERY ORGANIZED vibes!


    • Thanks, Dana! We will need those vibes. And you are right, how I deal with stress is part of my memoir. Thank God I can now set her teasing butt straight! I will pass along the message to my dear, you-got-off-message partner–how funny!


  11. Kathy–
    so much on your plate! You know the saying, “God never gives you more than you can handle”? Well, I think it’s bull. I think He gives us, sometimes, MORE than we can handle so that we’ll choke…and ask for God’s heimlich. Just remember–He’s got your back…and offers such peace.

    In the meantime, and in the middle, and all throughout, remember to rest…and laugh…and do what you can do and let the rest go hang.

    sorry to be so behind with your posts…


  12. I don’t blame you for feeling stressed out. The unknown is scary…I’m kind of in the same boat myself these days, what with my employment situation being so up in the air. Not knowing if and when I’ll get a job, where it’ll be, what I’ll be doing, how much it’ll pay, etc. etc. – I applaud you and Sara so much for the good things you are doing and the sacrifices and upheaval you are willing to make and take to change lives.


  13. that’s a good title for a great blog. I fear the unknown as well. It’s the cause of a lot of anxiety, fear and paranoia for most people. the next step is to determine what is that unknown, it may take some time but once you fugure it out, you can find a way to overcome it.


    • So true! Glad I’m not alone in my fear of the unknown. As one of my friends suggested–I need to map out as many of the knowns in the context of the greater unknown–if that makes sense.

      Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to comment. I hope you’ll come back again soon———-


  14. Pingback: Family of Strangers | The odd ramblings of a mind that does not quite fit

  15. I’m in the same boat as Mark, only my savings are used up, as well. Life feels like a constant juggling match; just your title made me go: YES! And feel better, I think. I know it’s always a battle, but you sound pretty sane right now — stressed, maybe, but sane. I have a button with a mama swan on lake, a stream of baby swans behind her, and she’s saying, “Make it look easy and underneath, paddle like hell!”


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