Boundaries. Some of us are good at setting them and others are not. I ebb and flow in my stance on boundaries. It depends on the situation and it depends on who else is involved. What I do know is that each and every situation I am in creates the moment to decide how I am going to handle my own boundaries. There are different levels of boundaries we must monitor on a day-to-day basis.
Maybe we have a family member that asks too much of us and we always say yes, or maybe it is how they treat us, thinking that there is only one way or one answer to a problem. It could be that they completely disregard our thoughts and opinions and think about what they want, or what they think we should do with our life, never understanding that we have to make our own decisions. A friend might take too much from us in an unbalanced way. A child that has us wrapped around their finger. A boss that does not allow no for an answer.
All of these can be challenging situations depending on who is on the other end of the conversation. Often I think that others do not know how their demands on us affect us. They expect others to have their own filters, to be able to say no when they hit their limit. That is unrealistic though. Love, guilt, compassion, and never learning to say no have a strong hold on us. Often we do not want to disappoint those we love, so we say yes, we move forward with no boundaries and suffer the consequences. Whether that means we allow too much on our plate, we get burned out, or we find that we become resentful.
Speaking up for what you want and what you are willing to do means you create the life that feels right to you. Even if that means upsetting an in-law, sibling, friend, or co-worker. You are only you if you speak up for what you need. That might mean saying no. It might mean saying yes — but with specific limits. At the very least take time to listen to your inner voice and decide what you truly want. Then you can battle the naysayers in your mind, speak up for yourself, and ultimately create the boundaries you need. Definitely not easy, but doable?
Yesterday a friend/co-worker shared with me a sweet story about a 24-year old college student, Marissa Plank, who lives in a retirement community. In exchange for free rent she gives monthly performances to the residents. She is a student at the Cleveland Institute of Music, and if you read this article about her you will find that she states she benefits more from it than she feels she gives. What poise and self-knowledge she already has in her life.
It reminds me so much of my grandma and how often I would hear her mutter: “Maybe I will be next.” I know it is a morbid comment, but at 93 most of her family and friends were gone, only a son and grandkids left. She got bored. A bit of a loaner, she was not one to join in with other individuals her own age. She lived alone for almost 50 years and did not want to change the way she lived. I can only imagine how she spent her days. Of course she saw others, different individuals would come and check in on her, but the interaction, play, and conversation (let alone music!) that someone her age would have experienced in a retirement community could have been perfect. Except that she was a bit of a loaner.
Which leads me to think back to almost 14 years ago when a good family friend started an adult day care center in Indianapolis, IN. The concept of an adult day care center was new to me, but over time I have continued to learn more and more about it. I am in awe of what Joy’s House does, and hope that communities all over the country follow suit and take care of their adults (as they are not always elderly). Joy’s House is a place that families can bring their adult family members for care during the day whether it be due to age, a certain diagnosis, or because they need a break in caring for them. Especially when they live with them at home. What a way to share a varied environment of activities in similar ways to a child day care center. I only wish I would have ever been able to encourage my Granny Smith to join. I would have lost that battle.
My hope: more Marissa Plank’s have opportunities to bless and bring life to older adults, whether that be with programs that offer the right individuals room and board in exchange for interaction with or through more adult day care centers like Joy’s House.