Timing is everything.
I had very good timing last August, as I arrived home ten minutes before my husband had a heart attack and nearly died.
He survived, and everyone said it was a miracle. It was an amazing event I will never forget. Since then, life has had a different meaning: the music is sweeter, the dance is slower, the passion greater and the momentum bigger. He doesn't remember much before or after that event. I do, and sometimes, I cry at the silliest thing.
I love more, I yearn more and I draw the line more steadily between what is important and what is not.
I do not "do it all." I will not be a martyr. Unlike my mother's generation, I will ask for help. I will leave the dishes in the sink and watch my family -- they are the amazement. I will savor the moment and tuck it away as inspiration for years to come.
At times, I think, How did my husband and I know how to nurture these four individual successful, independent women? I look back and remember all the weekends we spent at my daughters' horse shows encouraging, praising and critiquing their performance. What did we really know back then? What do I really know now? I do know that now, I have to nurture myself as the sole breadwinner facing our financial and personal dilemmas. Can I find the synchronization to propel my sales career? What do I say to help my husband recover physically and emotionally from his setback? Will I continue to be a support and inspiration for my daughters?
As my hip-hop dance instructor tells us, when you lose your timing, you have to get it back.
You have to keep the line, feel the energy and grow the spirit.
As I encouraged my children in the past, as a rider feels the horse, I feel the pulse, I hop on for the ride and don't look back.
As I look ahead, the future doesn't seem too bleak. Yes, we are not as well off as we once were. Without the business, without a job, my husband seems a bit doubtful of his existence. I find many men his age are lacking in confidence to conquer their challenges. I see more men than women at the public library lately; out of work, biding their time, looking for answers, jobs, soul mates. I wonder how they are managing their downturns, their missteps; are they swimming ahead at all or treading water? Do they have a partner or a family or loved one? For me, I tell my husband, it's fine; I can be the wage-earner. Try to get healthy, help others, rest again. He tells me I am caring and well-grounded. He reminds me of the nurse telling me in the Intensive Care Unit, "Mrs. Day, you are very calm, really very calm."
Yes, I know, I am my mother; the calmest, the coolest in the midst of the storm, bringing calm to troubled waters.
So, I go forward, not back, and I set myself ahead, pacing myself, steadying my hands, applying pressure when necessary and again, those equestrian tips I used to share with my kids come to mind as I apply them to my own life. The pulse, the energy -- how can one gain the energy, is it like a faucet? Or does it tap like a geyser? It is a process, I think. A continual process and everyday effort. It is in the rituals, the routine, the good choices and the opportunity.
I am committed to myself. I can not let my energy drain. I have to become the resource for my family.
The challenges are new to us, but are they any different from those faced by our ancestors? Am I now becoming my grandmother, pinching every penny, voicing my opinion on unfair opportunities, supporting family and friends to strengthen their outcome? The past has shown us that they have overcome. Their stories, my stories are both dear. The stark loss of income as a business is closed; the isolation one feels when faced with desperate economic challenges; the realization that one's health is unsteady; my husband knows all of these things too well. I try to guide him with my strength. My children are keenly aware of societal pressures, as they are working with family, working with debt, working to make their mark in the world. I encourage and dream they can do what they truly love and want to do. I gain more strength from their youthful hope.
I am ready to forge ahead; I will step forward a bit, not side-step, but move ahead with a bit of fun and perseverance. It's my dance.
And so, it has occurred to me that I have begun to get my timing back. The rhythm is more succinct, the energy is flowing steadier. I can spill it outward, upward and it returns to me deeper, more intense than it began. How funny! I was not aware, just having some fun, sharing, some love, having a good time.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with our women's conference, "The Third Metric: Redefining Success Beyond Money & Power" which will take place in New York on June 6, 2013. To read all of the posts in the series and learn more about the conference, click here. Join the conversation on Twitter #ThirdMetric.