Captain’s Log, Day 7

Holy overwhelm.

Anyone else feeling that, too?

Like so much of this life, that feeling comes with more than one side.

On the one hand, I’ve been overwhelmed with love and goodness this week because even though we can’t be in the same physical space, some of my people and I are doing a much, MUCH better job of staying in touch. Whereas before we could go and do all the things and we were busy going and doing all the things, we are now stuck at home still trying to figure out how to do all the things, but in totally new ways, which includes using new apps like Marco Polo and doing more Face Times. I’ve honestly “seen” some of my friends more in the last seven days than I have in the last six months.

But still. This stay at home routine is HARD.

For one, my introvert is HURTING. I’ve tried my noise-canceling headphones, but even those aren’t doing the trick. img_7060

I love my little people. I wouldn’t trade them for anything. I love my husband. I am grateful he’s home with us.

But Lord in Heaven this never having a moment to myself, and being able to hear them through the floor and the vents even when they are doing screen time and the constant contact of all this is making me a bit crazy. Tell me again why we didn’t buy a ranch style house so I could be at one end of it while they are at another instead of being stacked like pancakes all the time?

Hopefully the weather will change soon and I can spend more time outside, with and without the children. I am really, really looking forward to that because right now, there’s zero indication of when this social distancing/stay at home might end. In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s going to get worse before it gets better (and how I wish more people were taking it seriously because until we all do, I imagine that our attempts at flattening the curve will, well, fall flat).

The other sense of overwhelm, as I’m sure all of you doing this COVID-19 world with small dependents are experiencing, pertains again to all of my little people. Even though we are shut down, there is still a remarkable lot to do.

Don’t get me wrong: I am beyond grateful to all the artists and authors and institutions that are putting out content for kids to do right now. I’m grateful that our local teachers have been working to provide some weekly materials for their students starting tomorrow. I’m grateful to everyone who has sent me links or activities or anything for my little people to do.

But I also can’t seem to do it all. For one, it’s really hard to get 4-5 children all doing the same activity, even if it isn’t on one little laptop screen. And not that this is news to us or you, but even when B and I are both home, we’re still way outnumbered by the children and hoby pokes. Life is a lot, especially when you can’t go places. And we’re still trying to figure out this new world order, which means I have no idea how to fit it all in yet and probably won’t for a while yet.

Honestly, I’m OK with that. I mean, I have to be because there is literally no rule or guidebook for how to parent through a pandemic. So, like everyone else, I’m just going to keep doing the best I can, and hope that others will be gracious if my approach isn’t as responsive or shiny as some others.

img_2732What’s crazy is, for as much family time as we’ve had in the last week, I’ve felt like there hasn’t been much time to actually just BE with my kids. Finally, today, that shifted a bit. My favorite part was cuddling up on the “two couch” with my biggests, watching the live stream of my musical love, Nahko. It was musical medicine indeed, and made even better with the snuggles and sing-along with my crew. Again, so grateful to all who are putting out art and healing energy to help so many during this unknown, crazy time.

 

As we head into Week Two here’s a glimpse at the few coping skills I’m clinging to:

  1. Writing. Writing posts, writing messages, writing lists…all of this is helping me keep sane. Especially the lists – with To Dos and reminders and goals for each day.
  2. Hippie shit. When I feel myself getting spiny, I put on a mala (or 5). They are img_7157beautiful and grounding and noisy, which pulls me a tiny bit out of my head and into the present moment, for which I am grateful and of which I need. Daily burns of incense and daily meditation are also happening right now.
  3. Healthy habits. We don’t have any alcohol in the house. We didn’t stock up before/for this. Actually, for the last six months, I’ve rarely had any drinks and I am more than OK with continuing that trend, even in the midst of a world turned upside down. We are still getting kombucha, though, and that’s my self-treat-drink of choice each day.
  4. Scrolling less. I succeed at this some days and fail flat out massively on others. On one had, it’s how I keep in contact with folks now more than ever, but on the other, social media can be a loud and ugly place and quite frankly I’ve got enough noise in my brain these days as it is.

I’ve love to know how and what you’re doing. How the overwhelm as hit you and what you are doing to work through it. The “Going on a Bear Hunt” song comes to mind here because you know we can’t go over, around, or under this mess: we’ve got to go through it and we’re all in it together, so I feel for you and us and everyone right now and hope you are finding your way. At home. Safe and healthy.

 

 

Fear and Faith

Since my last post, which also happened to be germ-related but only to a stomach bug and not a pandemic, it feels like the world has changed. A lot. Actually, it feels like the world is right this moment in an unsettling amount of shift, as if the changes are literally happening with each passing minute and none of us know exactly where we might land when this ends.

Look. I’m not here to lecture or preach or try to convince you of anything actually. I’m here to record my life and my experience because that is what I’ve always used this blog for, and now feels like a time that needs some processing, recording, and grounding, because, dang…stress levels are running at a fever pitch right now, even if no one you know is actively running a fever (and I pray they aren’t and won’t).

Today I was supposed to be in Denver for the book tour of one of my favorite authors ever. Yesterday she cancelled all but two events, including ours and I spent all of last night trying to figure out just how serious all the professionals are about this social distancing thing. After tossing and turning instead of sleeping all night, I decided by this morning that nope, I couldn’t in good faith go and expose myself to an unnecessary crowd, and then woke up to an email that the event was in fact cancelled anyway, which brought a sense of relief because I knew both I and the event coordinators had made the right choice. And right now so many of us are dealing with similar decisions, some on small-social-event scales and others like what-to-do-about-schools massive scales.

I realize that the best thing to do right now is not freak out but honestly, when are you already a person prone to over-thinking and anxiety, that’s a pretty tall order on top of actually trying to navigate how to prepare and plan for your family to move through whatever the heck is yet to come.

Right now I have no answers. I know we will do our best to limit exposure (but does that mean shutting down everything except for school as long as school stays open?). I know I’ll keep harping on the children to wash their dang hands all the live-long day (just like I always do). I know I’ll start looking at our pantry and seeing what I can do to meal prep and make sure that we are prepared for illness should it come. I know I’m going to revisit my yoga and mediation practice to see if I can tap into some sense of calm because there seems to be a whole mess of chaos, information, opinions, and noise flying through the air and the interwebs these days and pretty much everywhere (real and virtual) feels like potential scary place to be.

And even though I don’t plan on taking my family to church for a while (even though they’ve been working hard to stay on top of what they can do to limit exposure during services), I’m going to see if I can do a better job of clinging to the message posted on our sign board this week that I happened to see today while driving a kid to an appointment instead of heading to Denver, because as much as I want to believe in the good of people helping others (and I do), I think right now I also need a sense of some higher power also looking out for me (and you and everyone).

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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.

 

Time Change Woes

My husband doesn’t know it yet but he bought me “I’m Sorry” Coffee this morning. He also doesn’t know he is the reason I need it.

So we can probably all agree that the time change sucks. Every time, spring or fall, messing with clocks and sleep is a beast. And somehow, in his own sleep dep stupor thanks to having to sleep with a cold and cough recovering TJ, Ben also messed with my room darkening shades last night, the first night after the time change, also known as the worst time to mess with my shades.

So first, a little health update. Since August we have been trying to get a grip on my abdominal pain and three months later we still don’t have any clear answers. I’ve tried antacids and had bloodwork and an ultrasound and still nothing is clear and the pain still comes and goes. The only real known is that my sleep is still off the rails hence why the messing with the shades turned into such a caffeine requiring offense.

Again, a little background….I have never been a good sleeper and since Baby Lincoln arrived six years ago, Ben and I joined the 14% of American partners who don’t share a sleeping space because with all the babies bothering me, the last thing I needed was a snoring husband also keeping me awake at night. I also don’t sleep with a clock and do my best to shut out as much light as possible. Even though we no longer have a baby to keep us up all the live long night, my sleep is clearly still fragile and in need of repair, which I am working on in hopes that better sleep will equal a better belly (not abs; just not abdominal pain).

So, when B failed to put down the roller shades before closing my curtains last night, it is no wonder that strange, unexpected light came in and bothered me. When I saw it, I assumed morning was almost coming and with the time change that would make sense. But then no kids were running around and I was not sleeping and not sleeping and not sleeping for soooooo long that I finally realized something was wrong.

I didn’t know until after B left for school what had happened.

Turned out, though, that I was wrong and that the “I’m Sorry” Coffee actually came from my kids because it was one of them last night who put curtains down post bath without pulling shades, not Ben (we got a minute to chat over his lunch and he was appalled by the accusation, and not in a trying to get out of it way – it really wasn’t him!).

Clearly my brain is on backfire mode today, even with all the coffee and so it goes post time change.

Here’s to pulled roller shades and much better sleep tonight! And no misdirected marriage angst come tomorrow!