Monthly Mantra: Enjoy It All (Again)

I have a little apprehension coming into January 2021. I am fairly certain my school will return to in-person learning later this month. It’s what needs to happen for our students, for sure. But I have loved working remotely and I’ll miss it a lot.

That’s why my mantra for this month is going to be the same as my October mantra: enjoy it all.

I really want to remember how happy I am to be working remotely and getting so much time with my little ones. Whenever I have to return to the school building, I want to do it full of all the energy and joy I’ve stored up thanks to these months at home with my family.

I’m so grateful – for my slowly-building private telehealth practice, for the chance to go for a run in the middle of a busy day, for zero commute, for getting to pick Edgar up from school, for flexibility. And I’m going to enjoy all of it so that I can get back to school feeling refreshed and ready.

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Monthly Mantra: Everything Merry

One of my favorite Christmas movies is Elf. In one of the first scenes, Will Ferrell and the other elves recite the Code of Elves:

  1. Treat every day like Christmas.
  2. There’s room for everyone on the Nice List.
  3. The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

Last year, I thought a lot about Rule # 1. We spent Christmas Day at my sister’s house in Philly, and I noticed this magical thing about Christmas. It doesn’t work like this for everyone; I don’t even know if it worked this way for me when I was a kid! But now that I’m a grown-up with decent self-regulation skills and kids of my own – I have amazing reserves of patience, kindness, and generosity on Christmas Day.

I don’t get into arguments. Things that usually drive me crazy don’t impact me the way they would on a regular Tuesday. I am kinder than necessary. If I have to engage in some sort of conflict, I do it in a way that doesn’t disrupt the merry.

And it is lovely.

I know that a lot of it is a superpower related to my kids. I absolutely love Christmas, and so my priority on Christmas Day is for my kids to have a magical day. It doesn’t mean I excuse unacceptable behaviors or anything like that – but I am my best, most patient motherly self, with the kids and with everyone else, and that allows me to get through the day with a merry disposition all day long.

Every day can’t be Christmas. I do sometimes wish it could be Christmas all year long, but I know that if it was, the magic of the day would dissipate. However – isn’t it possible to take a little bit of that Elf rule – treat every day like Christmas – and spread it out over December 2020 like magical holiday fairy dust?  

I think it might be.

This holiday season is weird and challenging. Everything is different. And yet – this year, for us, was always going to be a little different. Last year, Tamara and I promised ourselves that this would be our first Christmas at home in our own house. And so, it is – but I also imagined this year including lots of precious time with extended family, and I’m afraid that won’t be able to happen. 

This year, I need the holidays and the spirit that comes with it all more than ever. I’m leaning in hard to Christmas joy. There are holiday things that I never do that we’re trying out this year, including outside lights and holiday cards. Will we do them again next year? No idea. But this year, I am craving the novelty of new projects and the joys that come with a merrily decorated home. 

My mantra for December 2020 is: everything merry. Or, in other words, be a freaking crazy holiday elf and treat every day like Christmas. May this mantra bring me endless patience and unbridled joy for every day of the last month of this crazy year.

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Monthly Mantra: Choose Happy

I am a big believer in the power of attention and attitude.

There are always reasons to be sad or stressed. There are also always reasons to be happy and grateful. We feel the way we feel, often, based on what we pay attention to – where we focus our energy.

For example: when I focus on the pervasiveness of social injustice, the uncertainties associated with my job (when schools will open and how), and the monotony of being in our little home bubble with few opportunities for novelty or socializing – I get stressed and sad. It’s a real bummer. 

But when I focus on how grateful I am to have a steady job, the health and well-being of my family, and the gift of having time at home with my boys – I feel happy and appreciative. 

I had a different post scheduled today, but it’s the third day of November and it’s Election Day. I’m going to have a really difficult time if today doesn’t produce the result I am hoping for. For a few days last week, I was experiencing some anxiety just related to the actual day part of Election Day. Like, what was I going to DO for the 12 hours while other people voted and there was little to no news about results to consume? How was I going to survive that mental stress?

Here’s how:

  1. I’m text banking ALL DAY LONG. All the shifts – some double shifts. My brain will be fried tonight, but it’s worth it.
  2. I’ll have a masked and socially distant playground date for me, the boys, and my sister-in-law and nephew and nieces.
  3. I’m going to remember this: whatever the result is, the sun will rise tomorrow and we will continue to fight for what is right and just in our country.
  4. I will choose happy.

Fretting all day long will do nothing to improve my circumstances. And fretting all month long will do nothing to reduce the isolation, loneliness, and stress of the pandemic. 

There are days when Stressed and Sad will win out – that’s just life. But, whenever it’s within my grasp this month, I would like to choose happy and focus on the good rather than the overwhelming. 

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Monthly Mantra: Enjoy It All

I’ve been thinking about a Monthly Mantra for October 2020, and what I came up with is this: Enjoy it all.

I actually thought about it when I was enjoying myself during a ridiculous moment. I was in the dentist’s chair, getting a cavity filled. I was super anxious, so I’d brought headphones and was listening to an episode of Designated Survivor while the dentist did her thing. In the midst of crazy COVID life, when I’m with my kids 24/7 and constantly multi-tasking, it was sort of enjoyable to just lay back and listen to a show. Weird, right? But it was a moment, and I enjoyed it. That’s what I want – to enjoy all the moments.

This is a crazy time. It’s challenging in a lot of different ways. I hate multi-tasking, working from home – but often, I have my boys in reach at times when I wouldn’t usually. I love that my co-workers get to play peek-a-boo with Jonas, and I love that I can take a five minute break and play Mama Whale Baby Whale.

It is what it is, right now, this life we’re living. We have to deal with what we’ve got, and what I’ve got is a lot of blessings. And I’m going to enjoy it all as best I can.

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goals · mantras

August 2020: Keep It Simple

So it’s August. Yikes!

I love August, and it’s still summertime. But there’s something about changing the calendar from July to August. It’s a sad moment – a sign that the school year and regular fall/winter/spring life is going to return.

That said – what is “regular life” anymore? For me, it means the return of my day job. And that will definitely be challenging. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, my job will be virtual until January 2021.  I’ll continue to do teletherapy with my students, and I’m hoping that I can continue to learn and grow in that area. I’ll be working from home, which means more time with my kids. That helps me, when it comes to the sadness of summer ending, because the hardest thing for me about the school year starting is adjusting to less time with my children.

The start of the school year is still a few weeks away. But I’m definitely thinking about it. My planned theme for August 2020 was Habits, Simplifying, and Adulting. Now, let’s be real – my themes have sort of been all over the place this year. Last month, I completely abandoned my theme of Traditions, Celebrations, and Rituals; in fact, my entire blogging schedule went totally off the rails in July and August.

I’ve decided that simplifying might be exactly what I need for August 2020. In fact, that thought also led me to think about what I want to do with themes moving forward, and I started brainstorming and getting carried away. (More on that later.) But for this month, my mantra has been (and continues to be): keep it simple. 

I’m not going to make a list of goals to go with my mantra for this month. I don’t have any big goals this month; I am very much taking everything one day at a time. Doing so is helping me to stay relaxed and present, and I’m grateful for that.