Embracing Self Care – Health & Spirituality

Last week, I did a self-analysis for the blog project hosted by The Humbled Homemaker called…

http://thehumbledhomemaker.com/2014/03/embracing-self-care-community-blogging-project.html

Is it weird that I feel a touch of guilt to turn the focus on myself vs. taking care of everyone else? Ack. That’s what this whole thing is about, though; recognizing that it’s imperative to take care of OURSELVES in order to properly care for our families and loved ones.

Anyhoo, back to the task at hand. One of the issues that I mentioned last week is that, thanks to the crazy scheduled, toddler-centric, over-tired aspects of our life, we seem to be out of touch with our spirituality.

*record scratch*

Okay. This would probably be a good time to state publicly: We’re part of that growing percentage of folks who don’t really identify with a religion. Read: We’re non-religious. Not atheist. Not nontheist, even. Just…don’t identify. I like to say that we’re both recovering Catholics, and I think Dave is a mix of atheist with a good dose of Buddhist. And I’m essentially “undecided” on the checklist.

It feels terribly taboo to even make such an announcement, but since this week is all about spirituality, it seemed a good time to mention it. See, I’m not sure the last time I read a blog from someone who wasn’t a known Christian. Not kidding. Most of the homestead-y blogs I follow are run by uber Christians. Even a lot of the shelter blogs I enjoy are run by super religious folks.

And I enjoy them, even when I think to myself, “Huh. I’m a tad uncomfortable that I’m not ‘part of the club.'” Read: I never write about religion because I don’t want to alienate anyone… So hopefully no one’s offended by our current religious decisions. It’s where we are, and I’d rather be honest than mute.

I’m actually quite well versed in the religions (I was very close to majoring in philosophy in college, and as I see it, religion is all about a person’s life philosophy) and have a plethora of priests/ministers on both sides of my family. I’ve been “converted” once [clearly didn’t stick…and my mom flipped, understandably so; I was, like, 10 years old]. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with traditional organized religion and experimented with Eastern religions in high school. (Thanks, Beatles and Peter Tork, for your influence.)

The most “in touch” I ever was with my spiritual side was definitely when I was in about 9th grade and had read A LOT about transcendental meditation. I’ve gotta tell ya…that $%&# is real. Meditation helped me to find myself during a normally confusing, crazy hormonal time. It helped me to recognize the “truth” of life. It helped me learn how to cope with stress and center myself in ANY situation. It helped me to connect with my surroundings and nature in deeper consciousness levels. Heck, I used to be so in-touch with my inner being that I still remember my first out-of-body meditation experience — in a very busy cafeteria during study hall the day of Mr. Hefner’s funeral. How’s that for specific? LOL.

So, let’s just say, I don’t judge folks for their religion if they don’t judge me. Can’t we all just get along? 😀

SPIRITUAL CARE

Needless to say, I’m not centered anymore. The life of a teenager is worlds away from that of a grown up mama. I can still analyze the stress level of a situation and calm myself mentally, but there’s zero meditation. Zero spiritual connection. Zero gravitational pull.

Dave has mentioned an interest in meditation before, but nothing has ever come of it. I’m going to bring it up to him and see if he’d be interested in a) learning how to do it (I’m rusty, but I’ve got a pretty good foundation) and b) actually putting it into our schedule rotation.

Even if he’s not interested, I’d like to be able to add PEACE into each day. Even a minimum of ten minutes spent with zero TV, zero phone, zero internet will hopefully help me start to center. A little at a time. 🙂 And I think that I’ll be able to find some patience to deal with an almost-terrible-twos munchkin and an ability to focus better on Dave and his needs.

HEALTH CARE

On a health note, we also need to analyze our sleep situation. We’ve been going to sleep earlier and earlier, to no avail. We still wake up relatively exhausted. Whuh??

According to this British article (love those!), there are a couple of things I’m doing wrong. Firstly, I hit snooze. Heck, I actually set two alarms on my phone — an initial one, then the “bonus!” one that makes me feel like I hit the ten minute jackpot. Silly girl. No more of that.

Secondly, the thing that makes the most sense AND helps us get in touch with our spirituality (hello, 2 birds + 1 stone) is GETTING OUTSIDE. It’s been one heck of a winter for, um, everyone everywhere, so we’ve definitely gotten in a “sit on our arses” rut. It’s time for us all (as a family) to get a-walkin’.

Remember when we were kids and the first nice day hit? We’d run outside and play with anything that wasn’t covered in cobwebs, or just walk around the block — LOVING that we just had to wear our brother’s hand-me-down light jacket (since we’d only needed it for, like, a week). Didn’t we sleep like babies that night? Of course.

Well, that’s the idea here. I wish we could do it daily, but with P/T two nights and dinner-making, I just don’t think it’s plausible. However, if I make a concerted effort to plan SIMPLE meals and get outside a few times each week, it might help recharge us enough to try it even more. Baby steps. 🙂

How are you doing with your spiritual and health journey? Are you in need of any fine tuning in any areas? Do you ever feel uncomfortable when your religious views don’t align with someone else who wears it on their sleeve? Or is that just me? 😉

Nothin’ But a Five Thang, Baby

Side Note A: I was totally going to finally pump out Hadley’s birthday post for today. You can stop holding your breath for now; I’m hoping to get it done for Monday.

Side Note B: Gotta say I’m into the white girl gangsta blogger thing lately. It’s a 90s kid thing.

Anyhoo, I noticed over on the blog, Nekaro, that there’s a meme going around the blogosphere: five questions with five answers. This could, for all I know, be an old wives’ tale. (Ha. A meme? Old wives’ tale? Right, Meg.) I haven’t seen it. But, who am I to look down my nose at a fun, MySpace-style list answering bonanza?

I’m supposed to tag folks to do this, but I hate that kind of pressure. “Will they actually do it? Will they hate me for shanghai-ing them into doing it? Do they know who I am??” So, if you want to do it, go ahead. If not, don’t tell me. Oh, the self-loathing.
Five Things I Have a Passion For:

  1. My Boys (furry and non)
  2. Old Movies (SERIOUSLY…OBSESSED)
  3. Louisa May Alcott & the Transcendentalists
  4. History & Antiques
  5. Interior Design (not necessarily good at it; just have a passion)

Five Things I’d Like to Do Before I Die:

  1. Complete our family and see the kids happy to adulthood.
  2. Get back on stage.
  3. Find a forever home where we feel accepted and safe, and where there’s enough room for big holiday get-togethers.
  4. Get a dog.
  5. Publish a book. Or ten.

Five Things I Say A Lot:

  1. “Gonna change your dipey ’cause ya pooped your pants…pooped your pants….” (there’s a whole song and since he’s in the wriggly phase, it’s necessary)
  2. “WINSTON!!! G****** it, Wee Wee!”
  3. “How was your day?” (Important to check in with the outside world and find out what good and bad made up the hubby’s day)
  4. Probably any number of weird things that make Dave laugh that I don’t realize are “funny.”
  5. S*it and f*ck. I’m classy.

Five Favorite Movies: (in no particular order…man, seriously, only five?!)

  1. The Philadelphia Story
  2. Since You Went Away
  3. It’s a Wonderful Life
  4. Holiday Inn
  5. A League of Their Own

Five Places I Want to Travel:

  1. Ireland
  2. England (yes, again; Dave needs to get there)
  3. Canada — specifically, PEI
  4. Across the U.S. — ROAD TRIP!!!
  5. Australia

See? Pretty painless! If you’ve got a blog, link to me so folks can see my boring answers. 😉 And let me know below so that I can read your awesome, way-better-than-mine answers…or if you have any questions, such as the rest of the diaper song. We could totally record it for you.

The Crap of Life – State of Emergency

The last few days quickly turned from riding along in a train of naive, selfish regularity to rather suddenly floating in a shaky, slow boat of uncertainty and heartache for those around me. Nevertheless, the boat isn’t leaking. I can’t say the same for friends and family.

Central New York has had plenty of rain lately. It was actually not enough for me to really think much other than the fact that I wasn’t getting out of the house much. But, apparently the daily drizzles here and there were starting to wreak havoc on small tributaries, creeks, and rivers in the area. Strangely, when I woke up throughout the night Thursday, I didn’t notice once that it was raining outside, let alone that anything was amiss.

So, as I was putting the baby back in his crib after his 5:30 feeding, I heard my phone receive a text. A former student was wondering how to get in contact with Dave’s news station to report damage from flooding.

Wait, what?!

I felt badly that I had little information for her, knowing that a) the place would be bare-bones, b) Dave was off for the day (that didn’t last) and c) unfortunately, the news folks couldn’t do much to help; they’re not the support services, they’re the ones who report what’s going on.

Regardless, I realized that something serious was happening. The weather wasn’t at all serious; I almost think there was zero rain by this point. It was calm outside our windows, and birds were going about their noisy business. As I turned on the morning news and the seriousness of the flooding started to hit me, I found myself walking around the house quickly, turning around, texting, turning back upstairs, pacing, going back to the TV…aimless. From the tiny city in which my brother and his family lives to my sister’s Utica suburb, from my hometown to the tiny rural hamlets of a school I used to love working for, from my current town to where my current school is, from my grandmother and uncle’s town and further east, things were insane.

We. Were. So. Lucky. Minimal to no water in my siblings’ basements (we were bone dry, thanks to some new drain gutters and the insane idea that we’re some of the very few neighborhoods completely untouched by the upward-moving water), my mom was on top of her water situation (though without power), and everyone seemed to be accounted for. But then the pictures, video and first-hand accounts started pouring in (no pun intended).

A sweet couple from the theater would have their power and gas turned off and basement pumped twice (and counting?), in a terrible area. My uncle’s basement was filled, along with his 100+ year old church’s basement (the large area for wedding receptions, baptism shindigs (it’s where we had Hadley’s) and other church get-togethers, the library and gym for students, his office, the large kitchen area and appliances, and I believe the boiler, etc). That 5:30 texting student’s house would be deemed unlivable.   


We would later find that two women went missing in separate incidents (one is presumed dead; the other is still being searched for, so fingers crossed!), so everyone seemed to be counting their blessings. It always impresses me how the majority of the people in the area are able to joke or at least shrug and “keep calm and carry on” (maybe “keep calm and pump on” or “keep calm and shovel (mud) on” would be more appropriate) in the depths of adversity. Of course, reports of folks being charged for picking through garbage on the streets and looting open homes is beyond sickening, but for the most part the positives outweigh the morons.

That being said, we’re expecting buckets of rain today/tonight/Wednesday/etc. I’ve been in our basement moving stuff around in case we do get some water, but ultimately have realized that we’ve got lots to do down there. We’ve got a lot of stuff and I pretty much will need someone to watch the Hadman while Dave and I shuffle stuff around (same goes for our garage). That’s my lesson in this situation. Sure, we’ve wanted to simplify and purge for awhile, but seeing so many years of people’s memories and lives on the street curb covered in god-knows-what brings it home (literally). I’ve gotta learn from this situation. Sure, it may be a 100-year-flood…but we had a comparable one in 2006…so, who’s to say when it’ll hit again?

We’re just hoping and praying that the next flooding takes years, not days (or hours) to return. Our tears and hearts go out to all of the victims! The Mohawk Valley has earned its wings this year.

Neverending

In the midst of answering what seemed to be a simple, basic question for an online contest — “What have you finished lately?” — I turned to stone. Um. Sputter. The best I could come up with was “I guess I finished making dinner last night.” Does that count?

I took a few moments to be overwhelmed at the thought and guilty and negative towards myself. Loser. You start a million projects and have to-do lists a mile long. How often do you cross anything off?

But, then, I reminded myself of the concept I love so much that’s meming its way around the internet that essentially says, “Would you keep a friend who treats you the way you treat yourself? Who criticizes you the way you do? Then, stop it.”

I need to treat myself better. While most of the people in my life aren’t downright rude or skeptical or mean to me, I do have plenty of Negative Nellies that orbit my life. Not important people, mind you, but the ones I have been thrust into dealing with on a daily basis. The ones we often see more than our families; y’know, those people we’d REALLY like to spend 24/7 with.

And, y’know what? The ruder those folks are to me, the more silent treatments and raised eyebrows and snarkiness I receive…the kinder I am. It’s a sickness, I guess. I go out of my way to be bubbly and sweet, and, at times, fall over myself doing so. I know I’m trying to win their friendship, respect; trying to tell them “hey, don’t treat me that way, I’m nice!” But, I’m trying to break myself of this. If they deserve my kindness, they’ll receive it. I won’t reciprocate rudeness, but I won’t overindulge it with goofy grins and a spinelessly sweet attitude, either. I’m not one for “an eye for an eye”, but I won’t waste my energy if it won’t get me any place.

That being said, less negativity towards myself is warranted. I let my mind shuffle the aforementioned thought — finishing something — around for awhile. Sometimes over-thinking something only tortures us, but other times the more we think on something, the more we’re able to rationalize, minimize and accept it. I’ve recently realized that, much as with situations out of our control (the horrific ones like the Mohawk/Herkimer shootings, and the outlying but still affecting stuff like the Boston Marathon bombings), while they change our thoughts and definitely have an impact on our emotions, our brains are tossing back and forth sub-conscious (and even minutely conscious) ways of dealing with it. It may not be time that heals all wounds, but rather the human brain that works out a way to live with them. Where our bodies are amazing things that are able to heal a gash and rebuild tissue, our minds are significantly grander in their abilities to regenerate hope, love and the will to live.

What HAVE I finished? Diaper changes. Blog posts. Cat feedings. The (occasional) load of laundry. Grocery lists. Gasoline pumping. Bed making. Hair brushing. Door locking. A plethora of other seemingly insignificant things that, if we were to not achieve them, our lives would pile up on themselves and cease mattering. The cats sure as heck notice when they’re not fed. We definitely notice when we’re out of olive oil or clean underwear. Our lives consist of not just the huge life events and the weighty projects that drag on over months (and years). There are events, microscopic or mundane, that get sewn together to create our dailies.

Oh, yeah, we planned a wedding a few years ago. That was something we finished and felt incredible about achieving (heck, it was a wicked fun time!), but the marriage, the constant daily work of a marriage, is what we’re really achieving…hopefully with no real ending. There’s not always a finish line to the things that matter most. No “finishing” in marriage, kids, relationships….

I still would like to write a full-length novel. Maybe I’m just better suited to short stories.

A Note From My 16-Year-Old Self

I’ve read some incredibly inspiring “letters” from individuals to their teenage selves, in the vein of “if I’d known then what I know now…” When I look back, however, I tend to find more inspiration in the person I once was. So, I thought I’d do a little method acting (think of that) and try to place myself into the brain of my 16-year-old self and see what advice I might have to give…to myself.

So, you reached 30, huh? That blows my mind on so many levels. Here are some things I hope you’ve remembered along the way…or, if you haven’t, START remembering:

Don’t stop being weird. There was a time that we were hurt at the prospect of being considered strange. I still remember telling Mom in the car on the way to the farm that kids at school (we were in about 5th grade, remember) were calling me weird. It wasn’t in a bullying way, but I found that it bothered me and even hurt. I liked different music. I read different things. I watched irreverent TV shows and old black-and-white movies. I was sensitive but outspoken. I wasn’t quite a tomboy, but was far from a girlie girl. Today, as my 1998 self, I’m terribly proud of the fact that I’m still that person. As far as the tiny school bubble in which I live, I exist amicably with most everyone, and have been lucky enough to find acceptance. I’m hoping that you’re able to maintain who we are without apologies.

Stay friends with the people you truly trust. You know, the ones who don’t talk behind your back and make you nothing but paranoid. The ones who accept your weirdness. And try to remember to be a good friend back at ’em, ‘cuz they may stick with you for the long haul. Oh, and anyone who’s put up with your Monkees obsession…yeah, they deserve a place in some Hall of Fame some place.

Say what you feel, when it matters. I know we have a tendency to be loud-mouthed, opinionated and incredibly outspoken when we’re around people we’re comfortable with, but at the same time incredibly insecure and shy when we’re intimidated by larger-than-life personalities (like a certain teacher we all know) or unknown experiences. It’s okay to be shy, but don’t let that stand in your way of doing things. And DON’T let ass&%#@$ pile-drive you. ‘Cuz there’s always gonna be ass&%#@$.

Try new things. I even have a hard time with this one today, myself. Remember when we were sick for “Oliver!” auditions and you didn’t take the chance to try out? We were lucky when Jen moved and you got her part, but it didn’t feel very earned, did it? Nope. Just go forth and have frickin’ fun. We’ll only live once, and as cliche as that sounds, it’s damn true.

Don’t live life for anyone but yourself…er, us. Recently, I told Mom (remember, after church school on our way home?) that I thought I’d like to get better at guitar and maybe try seeing if I could make a go at a folksinger type of life (ie not necessarily go to college). She immediately put us down. Didn’t feel so good, did it? While it’s important to make her happy, at what point will you realize that you have to make YOU happy, too? I hope you’ve been successful with this one. It’s a biggie.

– In other words, do what you love. Whatever that may be.

Marry a nice guy who you can laugh with, and who you don’t mind taking care of when they get old/sick. And if you can’t find someone you can laugh with, or who can accept you and your weirdness, just keep looking. ‘Cuz the dating pool here in Mohawk is not the end of the line, thank God.

Keep busy! Play at least one sport, and try to do something creative, like, always. I personally think you should stick with tennis, especially since Katharine Hepburn is STILL doing it in her frickin’ 90s! Plus, you can be competitive without needing a full-blown team. Oh, I suppose I should also clarify — keep busy DOING FUN THINGS. Things that you enjoy doing. Don’t keep playing oboe if it’s not fun for you…and DON’T feel guilty if you stop. But, if you ever miss something, try it again and see if it’s still in your blood. It’s okay to do that, especially since these days it’s more of a chore to do homework and practice oboe, sax, piano and voice for SoloFest, on top of tennis and marching band. It might be more fun when it’s less pressure.

Long live the Monkees. And Dave Foley & KITH. And Jimmy Stewart. And Bruce Ward. And NEVER, EVER wear tapered-leg jeans again, if you can help it, even if they come back “in.” Always keep a pair of flared legs on hand. No more perms. Oh, and no matter how much we love Peter Tork…don’t do the bowl cut ever again. That is all.

Be a mom. Don’t ever let anyone make you question whether you want kids; you do. Not only have you always wanted them (hell, remember cracking the JC Penney catalog to the nursery section every time we got a new one, instead of the toys? Gave Mom a heart attack, alright! Heh heh.), but you were born to be a mom. Even if you don’t have everything else figured out, HAVE KIDS. For me. And be a cool mom. Strict, but cool.

Lessons learned. And apparently I’ve always had a thing for bullet points.