Get Up Gone Wrong

OK, that’s not entirely true. Getting up early hasn’t gone totally wrong for me since I last wrote, but it’s been over a week and a honesty/reality check is due.

Getting up at 5:00A is hard. Apparently for me it is also not possible. Not once since my last post did I actually get up for my alarm set at that time.

I told you  – this is honesty.

I did try, however, but I had some extra rough nights there at the start and it was the weekend which meant it was waaaaay too easy to say I didn’t HAVE to get up at the pre-crack of dawn, so why? Why bother if I could snooze and make up for some of the tosses and turns?

So after a couple few days of that, the reality check came and I said goodbye to the 5A goal. I’m not saying I’ll never get there, but in the dead of February, it’s just not happening. 5:45 seemed like a better compromise because it gave me at least an hour before the rest of the house is allowed to get up (several of my children are natural early risers which is why we have such strict bedtime rules around here for them), which seemed sufficient.

Thankfully that one I could do, at least for the majority of last week.

I got up, I worked out, I showered, and started breakfast/coffee. All in all, a good routine that was feeling good, too. It still didn’t result in instant wholesome sleep all night, but it felt like the start to a good habit.

Then Friday came. My kids had the day off from school and we had the strangest schedule ever, followed by a Valentine’s date night in which both B and I forgot to eat before going to a music performance (we fed the children, I promise), which was fantastic, so that plus the two glasses of wine on said empty stomach (I rarely drink any more) plus eating supper when we got home at 10 made for an absolute FAIL of sleep that night.

It was ugly.

And you can bet I turned off that dang 5:45A alarm all together because, just, NO.

*sigh* One step forward. Two staggers back.

And actually, it’s mid-week of Week 2 and I am still staggering a bit. I got up early Monday morning but then the last two days it felt better to snooze than get up and work out and even though the alarm goes off, I’m pretty sure it’s cheating if I’m staying in bed more mornings than I’m getting my butt out of it.

I suppose this means my new 30 days starts now. I realize new habits sometimes take time, which is why I’m sharing any of this in the first place. I want to establish a new, better, healthier routine for my body, but clearly doing so isn’t going to happen overnight. Perhaps not even a fortnight or two. But trying again is worth it and so I shall.

More updates to come soon – hopefully with a few more steps forward than this attempt produced. img_6836

Early Riser

Since the sleep reset, I’ve been giving myself some time to process and test the effectiveness of the effort. Obviously the hope had been that it would kick that mid-to-early morning waking habit that I seem to have fallen into in my post-nursing-baby-life + home-renovation-stress-bomb of the last year and change, but unfortunately change is not what I found.

Not even with a little mild, dual release sleep aid am I able to consistently sleep through the whole of any night. And beyond the reset and the meds, this is not without really trying. For one, I have given up any middle-of-the-night reading which is something I used to do when frustrated with not sleeping: turn the light back on and read until my eyes would burn and hope that would be enough to turn off my spinning brain, too. NO MORE. For another (TMI warning), I’ve somehow managed to Jedi Mind Trick my bladder into realizing that even after having had five vaginal deliveries, I really don’t need to pee in the middle of every night. Kudos to my friend A for suggesting this and thank goodness she was right.

So again, here I am, trying to break some bad habits in hopes of helping my sleep pattern, and even though some components are on track, the end goal just isn’t there yet.

When you take all of the ups, downs, experiments, trials, and errors of this months-long process of trying to help sleep in hopes of helping the still-never explained abdominal pain and add it to the chaos of this last week, both internally with our schedule and externally with the world (I know some of you have to be feeling that also), Friday afternoon hit me like ton of emotional bricks. I was just DONE. I sent this pic to a group of girlfriends not because I’m crazy but because I knew it was a safe place in which to say, “Holy Hannah, I am struggling.”

And clearly sleep is still one of the struggles. img_6731

But, as we know, from struggle comes one idea and then the next of what to do or what to try and since everything thus far hasn’t landed me at the desired place, I am indeed on to the next. And I am sharing it with you here because: A) processing and B) accountability.

Since my brain seems so damned determined to be awake at 5A, I’m going to give myself 30 days of just getting the hell up then (clearly the number of grumbly swears here indicate that I’m not totally thrilled with the plan but you know what? It’s only crazy if it doesn’t work and I am willing to try (another) potentially crazy fix in case it does). I plan to work out, eat breakfast, have my coffee, and just generally enjoy the quiet each morning before my (not quiet) crew gets going, and maybe, just maybe, my brain and my sleep will finally feel in alignment with one another.

If you see me looking a little dazed and confused in the coming days, you’ll know why. If you’re an early riser, let me know how you spend/enjoy your time at the start of each day. And if you’re wondering how it’s going, feel free to ask. I’m sure I’ll be updating along the way and for sure at the end of the 30 days because, why not, right? This is the journey back to self after 10+ years of pregnancy and nursing and if reclaiming sleep requires setting a new alarm for a month, then so be it. On the off chance of it working and/or being enjoyable, I’m down to get up. Really, really freaking early.

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Reset

I’m not sure how wise it is to pull a first ever all-nighter at age 37 5/6 (or at least the first one in 20 years), but in the hopes of helping correct my sleep cycle, I am currently going on Hour 32 of NO SLEEP.

Yes, that’s right. I have been up since roughly 6A on Thursday and it is now after 1:30P on Friday. And yes, I have been up that whole time. To help my sleep.

Think I sound crazy? Well, I’m sure I am a little crazy sounding today because my brain is fried from lack of sleep, excess of coffee, and hope upon hope that this radical move makes a difference in my sleep pattern.

And no, I didn’t dream this up on my own.

This was actually a legit suggestion made to me by one of my health providers to try to break my mid-early-morning wake-up habit and I’m so sick of the constant waking that I decided to give it a try.

But here’s where I do confess to being crazy: I actually tried this last week on Friday night and failed miserably (I made it to somewhere between 2-3A and then woke up to the sound of the coffee maker beeping at 6A). I was so disappointed that my try didn’t work and really just left me more tired then ever, which was so not the point. Honestly, I can’t believe I even considered a second attempt, but yesterday afternoon I got a wild hair for Round Two and decided to give it my best (and last) effort but with actual planning this time.

Last week I thought I would just read all night because I tend to do that when I’m not supposed to, but it was super cold and my bed was super cozy and yep – dozing before coffee could come to my rescue was the end result of that.

Last night I made an entire list of activities to occupy the hours of 11-6 and believe it or not, I stayed up and I didn’t even get to everything on my list. To give you a sample of what I did with my “bonus” nocturnal time, here you go:

  1. Did yoga before midnight for my 30 Days challenge.
  2. Did yoga after midnight for the next day of my 30 Days challenge.
  3. Watched the live-action version of Aladdin while folding laundry. Why? Because I could.
  4. Worked on a Shutterfly family album.
  5. Watched Grey’s. I will love that show until it dies.
  6. Ate sushi at approximately 2A. Not joking.
  7. Drank a bunch of water.
  8. Mended holes in three pairs of pants for HD, including his snow pants.
  9. Painted my toes.

Clearly you can see it was a wild and crazy night. BUT, all of that busy work (& snacks/beverages) kept me awake until the coffee maker went off, so it was indeed a success.

img_6620Well, I guess I don’t know that yet. It will depend on how my sleep goes tonight and the rest of the weekend. The hope is that this reset will be just enough to jolt my system out of old, bad habits. Maybe one time trying this isn’t enough to do that. And if that’s the case, peace out; I cannot do this a third or fourth time. I am tired as all get out today and I’m counting down the minutes until bedtime worse than normal, so no – either this is it or it’s not. Whatever. At least now I can say I tried to do to the actual suggestion to the best of my ability, and besides brain fog, I’m not any worse off in the long run than I was 24 hours ago when I decided to do this. Again.

 

One Blessed Day

I know I’ve said this before out loud, which means it has probably crept into a post before, too, but oh my word. How do parents do school breaks and keep a shred of sanity without having their co-parent home?!

In other words, I am very spoiled that for 95% of my kids’ time off from school, my spouse is also off from school. And thank goodness, because being outnumbered 5-2 is hard enough, much less 5-1 like I am today, on the last day of Christmas Break.

Confession: this morning I even had my mom here for a few hours to be my +1, so seriously, I have little room to bemoan this situation, except for the fact that this break wasn’t exactly the one of our dreams.

It started with a lot of social nights for me which was both awesome and draining because, much as I love my people, homebody introvert needs kicked in. And I guess you could say my need was answered because then we got majorly stuck at home, but not in the way I would have wanted.

We ended up with a kid-after-kid progression (in age order, no less) through GermVille, starting two days before Christmas that went from HD to TJ and it was awful. Fevers. Coughs. Interrupted sleep. Worry and stress. And totally botched family Christmas plans. We still got to sort of see my family that was in town but not in the fun, spend a lot of time together hanging out way.

Thankfully the baby avoided that round of yuck (but her runny nose the last couple days indicate that she’ll most likely be our first fallen ill in the new year) and we got to have a semi-normal second week of break but it was literally all spent here or at my in-laws. Meaning, we went into LockDown Mode big time and did NOTHING all the rest of break that put us around other people/exposed us to any of the crud flying around town (minus HD’s first-ever go at acolyting in church but just he and I went and left other, still-recovering kids home).

To say that cabin fever has set in big time is an understatement, even with all the fun new board games and Legos the kids were gifted for Christmas.

So to lose B to meetings today, on the same day that I have to re-enter my own online teaching presence, but still have all five kids home which happens to include a snot-faced toddler and a bunch of end-of-break crankiness?

WHOA.

I repeat: I don’t know how people do this on a regular, all-break, every break solo. One blessed day of it and I’m over here twitching a bit.

To all you parents getting through the last day of break/preparing yourselves for tomorrow’s blessed and challenging return to routines and being semi-dressed and functioning before 8:00A, Godspeed, good luck, and may your caffeine source be STRONG.

And may all of us avoid the sickies which you know is already making me nervous about re-entering the outside world.

25 Things in 2019

Y’all, I’ll be honest – this post makes me nervous this year because I waited so much later than normal to start it. The first year I did my list of 25 things, both big and not so big, accomplished, it was late in the year and I learned right away that sometimes these “things” take time. But apparently this year I spaced that lesson and so here I am with just a week left in 2019, starting my list.

Let’s see how this goes….

  1. Survived 12 entire months of constant house renovations this year. There was work before that and there will be work after it, but 12. Entire. Months. People in my house, my house torn apart, my family trying to exist amidst the chaos. I’m grateful we’ve been able to take on this remodel but I also wouldn’t recommend anyone else ever doing the same. It’s crazy making as much as it is beautiful making.
  2. Survived 9 WEEKS WITHOUT A KITCHEN AND FIVE SMALL CHILDREN UNDER THE SAME ROOF. I promise every entry won’t start with the word “survived” and this will be the only one in shouty caps, but seriously – I’m clearly not over the challenge of that yet. It may be years or decades before I find it funny.
  3. I taught 9 sections of college classes this year, mostly for Bellevue and one summer session for CCC. BU runs 12 or 10 week terms all year round, during which I am always teaching two sections of the same class. It’s a little nutters trying to work from home when 2/5 of my children are still here most/all of the time, but you know – it’s OK, and it’s making a lot of other things possible (see above), and I am so grateful to be able to do this work from home gig.
  4. I stopped teaching yoga. I’m not saying “quit” because I still don’t know how permanent this is, but in August I made the decision to make more time for myself and my family and to do that, I had to set my business totally off to the side. And promise not to touch it for six months. When that time passes, I’ll reassess, but honestly, I don’t know. Yoga is a beautiful gift in my life and I love to share it with others, but I also need to put my own life mask on first, if you know what I mean.
  5. I practiced a lot of at home yoga. I’ve done multiple months of every day practice with the YWA community this year. I’ve done some just making it up on my own. I love breathing and moving with others in a public class but I also love the beauty and the listening that comes from time with just me and my mat in my living room. It feels easier to make it my own when I’m on my own for practice.
  6. I meditated for 172 days straight. And then I got sick and forgot. But 172 is my personal best for consecutive days of sit ever. It wasn’t pretty and there at the end, it wasn’t all that productive, but it was informative and helpful and will allow me to reorient and create a new, healthier version of the practice in the coming year.
  7. Went to four* concerts: Guster with the Omaha Symphony (and my hubs) in Feb., Trevor Hall in Omaha in March (got to meet TH after the show thanks to an amazing surprise VIP pass from a friend), and T. Hall and Nahko co-headline at Red Rocks in June with some of my best girls. The fourth carries an asterisk because The Talbott Brothers were technically in Hastings three times this year – Flatwater, a street dance, and two nights at The Lark – and you can bet your sweet bippy I saw each one of those! And I even got a photo opp with the brothers, too! All magical musical medicine. I cherish every single opportunity I get to witness live music that I love.
  8. (Finally!) Saw Hamilton!!! Ben and I got a night away in Omaha so we could see the show and hoby pokes, it was amazing. Our seats were in the way far back but we were there with friends, the cast was incredible, and I am so pleased with our anniversary/birthdays/Christmas present to each other. 😉
  9. Read 65ish books to myself and another handful+ to the children (this does not include the literal hundreds of pictures/board/story books read this year).
  10. Wrote 35 blog posts. This is my smallest in ages, but life, man. It got in the way this year and not everything is something I can share here, so, the number is what it is.
  11. Took a sledge hammer to a wall in the basement, because, therapy.
  12. Took the whole family to Kansas City for the Littles’ first MLB game – KC Royals vs. Linky’s team, the New York Yankees. I have never wanted the Royals to lose a game before, but they pulled it off in an extra inning.
  13. Experienced my first late spring/early summer as a baseball mom. Some of my best guy friends in HS played baseball so sitting in the stands is nothing new here…it is still just as boring and glorious as it’s ever been!
  14. Coached two soccer teams this fall with Ben, sometimes at the same time on two different fields! We had three kids playing and it was a wild six weeks, but with the help of grandparents, good friends, and our teams’ parents, we pulled it off!
  15. Got our first real coffee maker (just a Keurig or pour over before). Both B and I now partake. Clearly I’m chugging the stuff right now because the !s are flying and so is this list (knock on wood). Bonus “thing”: I stopped adding any dairy to my coffee to end the year. Just a touch of raw sugar and I am good to go. Look Ma, I’m growing up!
  16. Finished nursing my last-ever baby. It was bittersweet because it was all her call (that’s fine) but I would have gladly continued for years. How strange to close such a big (darn near 10 years of breastfeeding) chapter in my life.
  17. Discovered that if permanent preventative measures had not been taken, I’d be yearning for a sixth baby right now. And by yearning I mean lobbying because I’m already yearning. I blame Wilson’s cuteness and the fact that we’ve never had a baby turn two without another one on the way soon after (or a wee bit before), so I really don’t know how to do this moving forward as a complete family thing, but I’m learning. Because, permanent. Prevented. It just is what it is. And what is, is good, even if I sometimes wish it could be different.
  18. Got a standing desk because of unexplained, undetermined abdominal painthat started in June-ish and is maybe still happening (I say maybe because it comes and goes, so who really knows). Also tried meds, tests, an ultrasound, and acupuncture, and still not sure what’s really been going on, but as a side note, the desk is nice.
  19. Bought my first pair of Converse sneakers (mind you, not every item on this list is soul searching or revealing). Love them.
  20. Didn’t* buy clothes all year. *OK, so there were a couple cheats like fundraiser shirts and a sweatshirt in SD when it was freaking chilly in late-July and we had no long sleeves packed, but beyond that (and, I can’t lie, a duster and a jumpsuit) I did a solid job of shopping in my own closet or those of friends.
  21. Got a way late start to watching both Game of Thrones and Shitt’s Creek but we’ve binged our way through all the seasons (OK, almost done with Season 5 of SC but definitely will be before Season 6 airs next month) and totally loved these two (totally, totally different) shows.
  22. Did my first-ever speaking gigfor a local mom’s group. Apparently I still cry when I try to talk about body dysmorphia in public, but hey, I got through it.
  23. Kept house plants alive for over a year! This is a freaking miracle unto itself and is perhaps, like the coffee, a sign of real adulthood!
  24. Changed countless diapers, wiped endless bums, checked far more fevers than I ever would have cared to, did umpteen-million loads of laundry and ran the dishwasher at least 1.5 times a day….all in all, the life of a stay/work at home mama with five Littles. I don’t know if these count as “accomplishments” but good Lord, I need to document these days so when I look back on them in coming years I can marvel at how it all got done. (My guess? Totally the coffee.)
  25. Finally learned how to curl my hair on trend/like a grown up/by myself! I’ve only been trying to do this for what, 20 years? Yay, me!!!!!!

And there ya have it. A lot of grown up growth this year.

I don’t know that I’d say I’m looking back fondly at 2019 just yet, but as always, this kind of reflection makes me pause and realize that yes, there was change and development and challenge and failure and success and life this year. And that’s all very much worthy of noting.

Whether you share yours or not, I hope you’ll give your own list a think; you may surprise yourself!

And also, proof of the houseplants. Because, truth telling.

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Opposites of Answers

For the last six-ish months I’ve been having “unexplained” abdominal pains.

For the last four-ish months, we’ve been trying to explain/fix it.

If I were a betting woman, I’d say stress is the cause. 11.5 months of living in renovations while raising five Littles is too much and I really think the pain is my body talking to me, telling me that all is not well with this set up and my system. But honestly, I can’t really test that theory until the house is done-done and we’re still a handful-ish of weeks away from that, so who knows. Considering that all the medical tests that we’ve run have been just as unclear (that’s not true; some concerns have been ruled out by the tests – they just haven’t indicated what is happening), it’s possible that I’m right.

The latest attempt to eradicate pain has led me back to acupuncture, something I haven’t used in my life since before Trumy was born. It has been both good and challenging on many levels, but three weeks in and I’m still experiencing the same symptoms, this week especially. I know healing methods like this take time, especially when the backlog is as deep as mine, but I was presented with an intriguing question recently that, like the pain, just keeps coming back to me.

In addition to being challenged to “let it go” (heaven help me; if 2019 has been a lesson in anything, it’s been about living with things outside of my control, even when in theory, I should have it and, quite frankly, I’m freaking over it), I was challenged with working to reverse the emotions that have set up camp in my system. The practice given to me to do this was to notice the emotions arising and then, assuming they were unwanted, imagine the opposite.

Call me crazy, but I am struggling.

For one, I’m a big believer in feeling all the feelings. Mr. Rogers and this excellent article a friend happened to share earlier today would seem to agree. As I’ve discussed with my therapist over the years, the important thing is not to get stuck in any one feeling. But stuffing or an inability to navigate through feelings is just as dangerous because those emotions are going to set up shop somewhere in your system and come back when you least expect or understand them.

But isn’t that what I’m already experiencing? Pent up emotions already messing with my physical body that in turn is hurting my emotional body? For example, I have been so mad these past couple days and I’ve also been experiencing more abdominal pain. Which one came first this week? I don’t know and am very much having an egg/chicken debate with myself about it because I can totally see how either one could influence the other.

So even though I didn’t really understand or even accept the opposite feelings challenge, I tried to do it. I’ve just been really, really angry lately and if I could opposite it away, I was ready for that to happen. Of course that’s when I realized, holy crap – that’s really, really freaking hard to name. So much so, that when I put it out to friends as a thought experiment on FB “the opposite of anger is _____” I got over a dozen different answers. I also got a link to an article that actually explores (and does so beautifully), the language and psychology behind this struggle to pinpoint an actual opposite of anger specifically which you should definitely read.

img_5572So how can I opposite my anger away if I can’t name an actual concrete opposite? Honestly, like the rest of this medical mystery, I still have no answers, which means I just have to keep trying to take care of myself and my system in the hopes that this really will get better (and by get better, I mean GO AWAY). That being said, if you have a favorite way for navigating (not stuffing) anger in particular, I’d love to hear it. I’ll be honest, one of my favorite ways is (shocker) with words, so a little writing and one of my favorite comfy sweatshirts go a long way some days. Others, not so much.

And if you have an opposite for anger for the thought experiment, I’d love to hear that, too! The list generated so far has been so eye and heart opening.

Words on Words

Today was a first. Even though I’ve been writing the words upon words here for over eight years now, today was the first time that they resulted in me getting up in front a group and giving voice all by myself to the same experiences that I share with you all here.

Y’all, that is a great honor and a terrifying thing to have done! But I did it, so now I can – in true form – write to you about it.

To explain: it’s been a few years since I’ve been a regular at MOPS because of preK schedules and having new babies and just life. But it’s still a special group to my heart because when I started attending it, also over eight years ago, I met some amazing people, many of whom are still good, good friends. So when that same group (now called Moms of Hastings; check ’em out here if you are interested in joining a local mama group) reached out early this fall to ask if I’d like to come speak to them about body image and postpartum and the basic challenges of motherhood, I said (to myself): “that sounds scary and also right up my alley” and to them: “Yes!”

Today was that yes come to life and while I won’t share the whole transcript of my (sorry ladies, a little rambly) talk, I do want to share the gist as well as the experience with you.

After the initial ask, I made some notes and wrote out some ideas weeks and weeks ago and then promptly set it all aside until just last week when I picked up my notes and flushed it out into a longer piece. Then I realized I needed to make it way longer to be the correct amount of time, so I kept reworking and managed to practice it a couple times. img_5750But then yesterday (spoiler alert: you may not know this about me, but I have always been a stellar student who is also a giant procrastinator) when I should have been practicing all the live-long day, Wilson got sick and wanted nothing more than to be in my arms the entire three hours Trumy was at preK. Somewhere in that experience is an upcoming post about NICU flashbacks, I promise.

So, I didn’t get to run through as many times as I maybe would have liked, but I felt pretty solid on my three main points which were as follows, and yes, I really did stand up and give an entire talk about words:

  1. Talk therapy saved me. I didn’t say those exact words this morning but that’s the gist of it, folks. Having access to a trained professional who listens to, guides, challenges, and helps me? Hands down the best form of self care I know. Plus she got me to the yoga and we all know what a role that’s played in my life.
  2. The words you use and surround yourself with matter. And yes, I did quote Daniel Tiger’s “Use your words” song because Wilson is obsessed with him and this blog is already named for a different PBS show, so how could I not?
  3. Challenge yourself (obscure reference here: Go Doane!) to quit belittling your body in passing conversations and don’t join in or feed the flame when others do the same. I’m not asking people to stuff their feelings or desires for change in their bodies, but I think if we could change the culture of shared body shaming, we’d all be a lot happier and healthier no matter what our metrics are.

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For the most part I think it went pretty well but gosh darn it, I thought for once I’d be able to get up in front of a group and speak about my life and NOT cry, but, nope. That streak continues.

But really, I know that’s OK because the part that got me was by far the hardest part to talk about which is that I have a condition that I will most likely always have to work against in my life/in my brain – body dysmorphia. And I don’t know how many speaking engagements I’d have to do before I’d be able to say “I have a mental condition that I work with and through every day of my life that impacts both me and my family depending on how I am managing it” and not cry. To quote Lizzo completely out of context, “that’s the human in me.” And that’s fine. I learned today, however, that when you are the only speaker instead of a member of a panel, and you get all sniffly, it’s a lot harder to stop and collect yourself/blow your dang nose while everyone in the room is watching you. You know, the important things you don’t think about until they are happening. In front of a group. 😉

Scary as it was to get up and do that this morning (and hard as it was to leave a sad, still img_5756sick Wilson at home to go do it), I’m glad I was asked and I’m glad I did, because the more we give voice to our struggles, the easier it gets to carry our individual loads because then they aren’t just ours to bear. To share one direct quote from this morning with you:

If sharing my stories has taught me anything, it is that real beauty in relationship with self, others, and spirit comes when we can speak truthfully to our imperfections and our successes and love our way through it all the same.