When Life Gives You Contrast, LISTEN!

I started quarantine so strong, but this past week I have been slowly dying. If I look closely at my behavior patterns though, I’ve been struggling far more than a week. On week one I pumped myself up for survival. I planned to go for walks twice a day, do my yoga, take my vitamins, and go to bed early. Somewhere within these past six weeks of quarantine now, my good survival habits have slowly started to die. When good habits start to die, your body will slowly follow suit.

I went from eating mostly healthy before quarantine to eating way too many frozen meals of fish sticks and french fries. I went from exercising two to three times per day to zero. I started making excuses that it is too cold outside or that I just don’t have enough time. I stopped organizing my vitamins for the week in my plastic pill container, so I just didn’t take them at all. I went from going to bed at 10 pm to going to bed after midnight every night just to get in a few blissful hours of peace and quiet.

Yesterday my body completely shut down on me. I woke up feeling dizzy, then nauseous with a bad stomach. My first thought was the virus, so I googled my symptoms. “Is dizziness a sign of Covid-19?” It didn’t come up as one of the symptoms. I felt instant relief and knew since I have barely been out of the house it was not likely. I also knew I had not been taking good care of myself and had a feeling my body was trying to get my attention. It worked.

If you’ve ever had vertigo, that’s what it felt like. I stayed in bed the entire day, too weak to move. I think it was just pure exhaustion from doing this mom gig 24/7, without even leaving the house some days for a walk. Throw in some big behaviors from my children and my husband leaving town for five days, it’s enough for anyone’s body to go into shut down. I prayed that with me in bed all day, the rest of my family could survive the day in one piece. As far as I know they did, besides maybe a little too much Tom and Jerry time for my youngest.

By dinner time I rolled out of bed and had a piece of toast. It was a beautiful sixty-five degree day outside, one of the nicest days of spring so far, and I missed it. I made some tea and went outside after dinner to get some fresh air. I vowed to myself to make some big changes. I felt horrible all day and was no good to anyone. I decided moving forward I will do everything I can to never feel that miserable again. I know I brought it on myself and I would have to make it go away by myself too.

Last night I was still really tired, even after sleeping all day. I went to bed at 10 pm instead of midnight. I have only eaten clean foods today. I took my vitamins this morning and went for a walk. I am feeling so much better and thankful it didn’t last more than 24 hours.

Thank you contrast for showing up. I needed you to wake me up and get me back on track. Contrast is never pleasant, but that’s why it works so well. I never want to go back to that feeling and I promise to listen to my body. It’s not the first time contrast has shown up in my life, it shows up often, but not always to such an extreme.

The goal is to listen right away. I let weeks go by, even though I could feel myself becoming more and more exhausted by the day. Contrast was telling me to stop drinking so much coffee and go to bed earlier, but do you think I listened? NO. Then contrast had to get nasty until it got my full attention.

I want to save the rest of you from any pain in your life. If you hear contrast gently tapping at your door, please open the door and hear what it has to say. If contrast keeps knocking and you keep ignoring it, watch out, because sooner or later it will blow your house down!

Stay healthy and take care of you!

Do Better & Shine

Little Pieces Of Joy

I used to think I was the most patient person in the world, until I had children. Maybe you are lucky and you have an easy child who listens to your every word and follows your every direction. Well, most children are not like that, especially mine. I guess you can’t consider yourself patient until you are really put to the test. Quarantine adds a whole new level, especially when we have just completed week five.

It’s been a rough week. I have a teenager who thinks he can stay up all hours of the night now. He isn’t required to be up at any certain time for Distance Learning, so his evenings are when he connects with friends and has his fun. He talks on the phone for hours on end with his headphones stuck to his ears. Friday morning he startled me out of a deep sleep by slamming the refrigerator door a bit too hard. I was not happy when I stumbled into the kitchen to find him making a mug cake in the microwave at 2 am. I gave him a glare, shook my head and went back to bed.

It took me two hours to finally fall back to sleep since I was tossing and turning in utter frustration of why he would want to stay up so late. Then as luck would have it my five year-old wakes at up at 4:30 am ready for the day to begin. I knew it was going to take a lot of work for me to survive the day. I do not do well when I don’t get enough sleep.

With everyone at home all the time there is a lot of clashing energies. Frustrations seem to build quickly. I am trying hard to keep the meltdowns to a minimum, but they still seem to happen daily. If I am not on top of my game things can spiral downward very quickly and when you get past the point of no return, it is never pretty and takes even longer to recover from the madness.

I’ve let go of a lot of expectations. The house is a mess. Kids are stressed. My husband is out of town. I can’t do it all and I am trying to be alright with that. The basement floor is covered in legos and I just have to walk away. I don’t have the strength to worry about that right now. I am taking care of myself first by writing this blog, even when there are a million other things I could be doing. My nights are for myself. I will do yoga, take a bath, read, and try to learn something new.

Today was long since I am still recovering from lack of sleep from the day before. I am beginning to get my youngest ready for bed. I gave him a bath. He still won’t let me wash his hair, but I was flexible and let it go. I brought him a warm towel and jammies from the dryer which I have never done before in my life. He loved it! He brushed his teeth after taking his time and doing it all by himself. I thought I was in the home stretch, ready to head down to bed and then he asked, “Can I have a snack?” Of course I had to say yes, in fear he might starve to death overnight, so I gave him a banana.

I thought a banana would be a quick, simple snack, and then we could be on our way to bed. When I sat down next to him at the table he quickly jumped up and went to the drawer to get a butter knife. At this point I was too tired to tell him to put it back. He peeled his banana and then began to cut it into slices. I watched patiently without saying a word. He didn’t stop there though, he then proceeded to cut each slice into tinier pieces until he had a mound of little banana pieces on his plate. After this intricate cutting work he began to slowly eat the pieces with his fork.

I just sat and watched him in amazement. He was so present in what he was doing. He actually ate the whole banana pile, which was amazing in itself for such a picky eater. After he took his last bite he looked at me proudly with a big smile on his face and said, “I was practicing my cutting!”

I could have stopped him and told him to put the knife back. I could have yelled at him for making a mess on the table and wasting time. I could have just said no. Tonight I decided to let him be in charge, maybe it was just pure exhaustion, I’m not sure, but I let him take the lead and it took a little longer, but added a spark of joy to his night. After this fun and exciting snack he happily went to bed.

Sometimes it’s the little wins that make everything seem ok. Sometimes we need to let go of the control and let our kids just be. It’s ok to let them stay up late in this unprecedented time. It’s ok for them to make mug cakes (maybe not at 2 am). It’s ok if they cut their banana into as many tiny pieces as they like.

We all need to find the little things that bring us joy right now. Not everyone will choose the same thing, but we all have something that brings us joy. Make a list and then carve out as many moments as possible throughout your day to bring the sparks on your list to life. It can be as simple as cutting a banana. It will make all the difference.

Do Better & Shine