balance · self-care

Staying Grounded

The list of things I need to do to feel grounded on a day-to-day basis is long.

I didn’t notice how long the list was until I became a parent with limited time available for self-care.

The things I need to do to feel grounded every day are: read, write, do yoga, go for a run, spend time outdoors, spend time with my family, meditate, and go to a recovery meeting. It was hard to get to everything on the list every day even when I was an adult without kids. Now, it sometimes feels impossible.

Last Saturday, I hit a bit of a wall. I woke up to Jonas’s crying, which is never my plan. I almost always plan to wake up before the boys so I can squeeze in one of my grounding activities before the day gets going. Lately, however, I can’t seem to get myself up and going until it’s absolutely necessary. I’ll hit snooze over and over and over – and I’ve never been a snooze button person! Throughout my life, I have bounced out of bed the first time my alarm sounds, excited to go for a run or write or just get started with my day.

Not these days. I’m exhausted. And I feel trapped, because the strategies I have previously used to unexhaust myself – a weekend away, a mental health day from work, a long run – are much harder to arrange than they used to be.

This past Sunday – the day after I hit my metaphorical wall – I forced myself to wake up at 4 a.m. ON A SUNDAY – a day when there was a chance I’d be able to sleep until the luxurious time of 6:30 a.m. I need sleep, but I decided that what I needed more was an hour to myself in the morning. I hate rolling out of bed and crashing into the day bleary-eyed and half-asleep.

I woke up a few minutes after 4. I sat on my yoga mat and did some mindful breathing and a short body scan. I did six minutes of yoga and stretching. Then I climbed back into bed with my laptop to write. I did this again on Monday and Tuesday. Then on Wednesday and Thursday I found it too exhausting to get myself up that early. On Friday I went for an early morning run, which was a great start to the day. On Saturday, I got myself up before the boys (Tamara goes to market really early on Saturdays), and I squeezed in a few minutes of grounding activities before the boys started to stir. On Sunday, I went for a run early, and then on Monday I was so exhausted from night feedings that I hit the snooze button five times before I finally put my feet on the floor.

It's called balance
tinybuddha.com

What I’m saying is – it’s hit or miss. Some days, I wake up early and use that first hour of the day to center myself. Some days, I’m wiped and I crash into the day with bleary eyes. And that’s okay. I love when I am able to start my day feeling grounded and centered. On the days when that can’t happen, I’m going to practice self-compassion and do my best to incorporate activities throughout my day that will help me to stay grounded. (More on that soon!)

Today I squeezed in a quick run, a few mindful moments, and a little writing time before the boys woke up. I also listened to my mindfulness audiobook, The Mindful Kind, on my way to work. I feel happy and calm and Kerriannish, and that’s a lovely way to start the day.

 

mindfulness · self-care

Thoughts On Mindfulness & Self-Care

I’ve been reading a lovely book about mindfulness. It’s called The Mindful Kind and it’s written by Rachael Kable.

Currently I am reading the chapter on self-care. Which is wonderful, because I continue to a) be obsessed with learning about and talking about self-care, and b) suck at actually doing self-care myself.

One thing the author talks about is her previous practice of saving all her self-care for weekends and holidays. I thought about it for a long time, and I realized that I do the same thing. I will elaborately plan out my snow days or my vacation weeks with self-care activities, but on regular work days, I pay little or no attention to my daily self-care. No wonder I am burned out by Friday afternoon!

I wrote about my adult coping skills in a February 2019 post. I didn’t love my list. The healthiest and most reliable coping skill for me was to write. Utilizing writing as a coping skill is talked about a lot in The Mindful Kind. It’s actually mentioned as a therapeutic way to transition from work to home – and that’s how I’m using it at this exact moment. Right now, as I type this, it’s the end of a work day, and I’m in my office at my job. I am feeling squirrely – antsy and overwhelmed. I’m excited to go home, but my afternoons are tricky. I often make unhealthy snacking choices and end up feeling lethargic and cranky until I’m able to crash into bed at the end of the day. (SEE? My weekday self-care sucks!)

These are my ideas for everyday self-care:

  • Eat healthy food, all day every day. (THIS ONE IS SO HARD LATELY.)
  • MOVE all day long! (My current job is more sedentary than I’d like. I am encouraging myself to stretch and jump and dance and walk whenever I get the chance. Little dance parties with Edgar and Jonas are helping!)
  • Slow down. (I get so caught up in the pace that is set by others; I have to be intentional about allowing myself to speak slowly, take my time, and not rush from activity to activity mindlessly.)
  • Take mini breaks to write when you start to feel out of sorts.
  • Spend time outdoors. (I’d always rather be outside, but sometimes the need to clean the house means I’m inside cleaning while Edgar plays in the yard. That’s okay, but it’s better self-care for me to be outdoors.)

I’m going to write more about everyday self-care soon; the Mindful Kind book is really helping me to think about this topic, and there will be more to say! Stay tuned.

chair scenery summer abandon
Photo by Zino Bang on Pexels.com
self-care · writing

Write What You Need To Read

When I write blog posts, I write what I need to read.

This is even more true when I’m as tired and time-strapped as I am lately. The more tired I am, the more personal and frank my writing is. I basically sit down on the couch, plop my laptop onto my knees, and write about what I need to read. That’s what it’s all about, I guess. I think that writers write about what they need to think about and read about.

And right now, what I need to read about and think about is how to make time for writing and exercise. (WARNING: this may be one of those rambling posts that really belongs in my journal but ends up here instead. Apologies in advance.)

Things are SLIGHTLY better in our house with regard to Baby J.J.’s sleeping. Last night, he slept for five hours in a row, which was a record. (WOO HOO!)

I’d really like to take time to think about when and how I can start increase the amount of exercise I get every day. I’m noticing that my twice weekly runs – Saturday afternoon and Sunday afternoon – aren’t really getting me where I want to be vis a vis strength, endurance, and cardio. I’ve been encouraging myself to run faster when I do run, and that is helpful. (If you can only run for 20 minutes, you need to SPRINT – is what I’ve been telling myself!)

The key for me is the mornings. If I can get it together to wake up at 4:30 a.m., there’s a decent chance I can squeeze in yoga and writing before the boys wake up. I woke up at 4:50 a.m. today and had time for three minutes of yoga and about 20 minutes of writing. That’s not bad, especially for a writer who’s also a mommy with two kids under three; we have to be pretty economical with our writing time. (The three minutes of yoga was more about me being exhausted than me being short on time! Even three down dogs is exhausting when you haven’t been yoga-ing for a while.)

I am wondering if I should alter my Monthly Writing Goals post so that it includes goals related to exercise or wellness, too – at least for May 2019. I’m not an Upholder a la Gretchen Rubin’s four tendencies framework, so I don’t know if it will be helpful for me. But it’s worth a try!

Anyway – here are the things I need to read today:

1. There is enough time to do everything you want and need to do.

2. Enjoy this moment in life. Don’t spend this moment worrying about when you’ll have time to do other things. Someday, you will miss this moment – when your kids are tiny and life is sweet and simple – more than you can imagine.

3. You can exercise. It may not look the way you want it to right now, but you can incorporate exercise throughout your day. 

4. WAKE UP EARLY. You don’t need that extra hour of sleep; you’re exhausted anyway! 

Maybe this is what someone else needs to read as well. I hope it is!

ballpen blank desk journal
Photo by Jessica Lewis on Pexels.com

 

 

balance · self-care

Intervention

A few days ago, I woke up feeling like I’d spent the whole night running into a brick wall.

There was nothing out of the ordinary about this morning; I was just done. I was sick of eating junk food, watching TV all night long between J.J.’s feedings, going too many days without a shower, and forgetting to brush my teeth or wash my face.

That day – the day I woke up feeling like total crappity crap – I plotted out a little intervention for myself.  I decided that I was DONE with:I’m exhausted. My self-care’s been lacking ever since J.J. came home, and I just have not been able to figure out when to exercise and how to maintain some semblance of healthy self-care.

1. Eating junk food all night long during J.J.’s feedings;

2. Having a TV show constantly playing in the background while at home with the boys;

3. Ignoring self-care and hygiene; and,

4. Zoning out of my life because I’m feeling too overwhelmed to zone in.

It’s only been three days, but I’m already feeling so much better.

It’s so hard to keep from slipping back into old habits. When I’m stressed or overwhelmed, I always, always, fall into my vices of caffeine, junk food, and background TV noise. It’s inevitable; much as I wish it weren’t so, this is just what I do.

I’m not going to waste any time worrying about when I’ll slip back into these vices again. Today, I’m just grateful that I feel a little less out of control. I showered this morning; I’ve gone for a run every day for three days; I haven’t been watching TV on the phone while playing with my boys; and I feel hydrated and (somewhat) well-rested. Life is good.

I may be six years sober, but this still made me laugh out loud.
balance · self-care

Every Little Moment

When I am tired and overwhelmed, I fall victim to old habits. Specifically, I start to become addicted to reruns of my favorite television shows, playing them in the background throughout my days.

Ugh. I hate this habit of mine! It’s something that soothes me when I’m feeling anxious or stressed, and that’s not a bad thing. But it also is a habit that causes me to be less present in my life, and that is not a good thing.

Things are looking up lately. Our two-year-old has been slowly returning to his usual sleep routines after six weeks of tantrums at bedtime, nightmares (I think?), and wanting to fall asleep with the door open, a light on, and a parent lying in his bed. Our five-month-old has started eating solid foods, and I’m praying that a full night’s sleep will happen within a few months from now.  And, thanks to my new job working at a County school, I’ve been lucky enough to have several snow days recently, which have been great opportunities to rest and recenter in the midst of the chaotic life of a working parent.

As I take stock of these tiny bits of progress, and as I start to feel more rested and energetic, I’ve started to think about all the time I spend listening to old television shows. And then I’ve started to think about what I really want to be doing with that time – reading books, listening to the audiobooks on my syllabus, and thinking about my novel, plotting it out in my mind.

All those little moments – while I’m doing dishes with Edgar, while I’m feeding J.J. in the middle of the night – they all add up. And I want to use every little moment of my life to be doing something wonderful – whether it’s being present with my boys, working on my dream project, or educating myself on the variety of topics of interest to me.

Every moment counts. Every little moment. Here’s to hoping I can use them all to be healthy, wise, and well.

balance · self-care

Snow Days

The very best thing about working at a school is not the kids, the hours, or the actual work I do every day.

It’s the SNOW DAYS!

Oh, boy. Nothing makes you feel more like a little kid then finding out that school’s closed because the world has been covered in a beautiful, playful white blanket.

This year, the snow days we’ve had have come at the absolute best times for me. They have magically arrived during weeks when I have felt completely stressed and overwhelmed with the monotonous chaos that is life as a working mother.

When I am overwhelmed, what I crave most is a free day. A day to relax and to reset. This has been for always, not just since I become a parent. I used to call them days of rejuvenation, and I would capture them with a page in my journal full of intentions and plans for how to regain my center.

DAYS OF REJUVENATION – that’s exactly what these snow days are for me, and I appreciate them even more this year. We got the call from the adoption agency about Baby J.J. on the second day of school, and then I used six weeks of leave (most of it unpaid) to be home with him this fall. Because of this, taking a personal day to address my mental wellness is not an option for me this school year. Which means that snow days are IMPORTANT and APPRECIATED to the max.

My most recent snow day was blissful – a lazy wake-up, sipping (rather than guzzling) my coffee, a run down the snowy road, some writing time, some cuddly baby time, a little time to get organized, and (sigh) an hour or so of tidying the house. It helped that this was a day when Edgar attended pre-school; his school was not closed, so the day had even more opportunity for rest than a typical weekend day does in my world.

I do a happy, silly dance every time there’s a snow day. I feel grateful, and blessed. And when the snow day is done, I typically go to sleep that evening knowing that the next day I’ll face the world as a calmer, more rested, and happier Kerriann than I was the day before.

 

self-care · snapshots

All The Things (October 2018)

SO. MANY. THINGS.

Well, not so many, really – just a few. Taking care of a newborn and a toddler – working – and sleeping. Those are the things I’ve been doing, all day every day, for the past two months.

However, I’ve squeezed in some THINGS this month – most involving binge-watching shows on Netflix and Hulu.

Things I’m Reading: The books I’ve read this month are The Beginning of Everything; Vox (super scary #MeToo-esque premise!); Pachinko (such an awesome novel); and Lethal White (Robert Galbraith’s latest). Currently reading The 19th Wife and loving it so far.

Things I’m Watching: So much television!  I’m all caught up on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and The Good Place. I slowed down with my binge of This Is Us – not sure if I’ll get back to it or not. (I hope I do!)  I watched both seasons of Dear White People on Netflix – loved the first season, liked the second season a little less but still enjoyed it. My latest obsession is Black-ish, but that’s an exaggeration since I’m still in the middle of the pilot episode.

Things I’m Working On: My patience. (Taking care of a toddler while caring for a newborn is testing my temper!) AND my self-care. I know this by now, but when things get hectic, my self-care takes a nose dive. I am mid-dive right now, and this week have been aiming to get back on track.

37777241_1856970557675148_429796660051181568_n