Affirmations

I’ve had a very busy July. Sometimes I feel like I’m crawling my way out of a ball pit that just keeps filling up — work, home, parenting, chores, sleep-deprivation, long-term plans, short-term survival. That sounds more dire than it is; really, I am just living life, and it’s busy right now. I get short breathers here and there, and I’m looking forward to another.

So, I’ve been doing yoga this month. It’s supposed to be a 30-day challenge but I’m doing it when I can, when I have the energy and the time. I figure that forcing myself to do yoga sort of goes against the efforts I’m making to try to calm and ground myself. On the days when I’m not feeling it, when I have a kid climbing on me, when I’m tired, it doesn’t give me the same I feel more human results, so I’m only on day seven and the full 30 days will probably take me two months. And that’s okay.

Part of me trying to introduce some calm into my life, and part of yoga itself, seems to be having phrases and words of affirmation. I don’t know if they’re considered mantras, or something else, but I treat them as a bit of a lifeline to peace when I need it. They’re simple, and there’s a few of them, and I have them on repeat in my head, there to grasp in case of emergency.

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The first one is simple — Yes. I am trying to say yes, more often, without fight, without guilt, without strings attached. Sometimes I’m saying yes even if I feel uncomfortable, if I think it’s for the greater good (going out to see friends even though I’m tired, getting up and cleaning something even though I just want to sit on the couch) and sometimes I am saying yes even though it’s not what I ‘should’ do (saying yes, it is okay for me to sit on the couch this time even though I need to clean!).

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Okay, so I have never actually seen Frozen — this is not a Frozen thing! I realize it seems counter-intuitive to yes but let it go also has a place. Not feeling up to something? If it’s not yes, then it’s let it go — don’t do it, and don’t worry about it. Grudges; let it go. Arguments; let it go. Guilt; let it go. It’s something I am not good at, frankly, but I’m trying. I carry problems around, stuffed into my pockets like fruit snacks in my purse. Let it go. Let it go.

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And when I want to jump ahead, when I want to bury my whole body under a blanket and pretend I don’t exist, when everything feels like too big, or too much — I try to remember, you are exactly where you need to be. Good things happen without us realizing. What feels big now will, most likely, feel very small soon enough. The world ebbs and flows, and history tells me, I will be okay.

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I cannot make things appear out of nowhere. I cannot speed up time, nor can I slow it down. I can’t snap my fingers and make endless resources appear in front of me, be it emotional strength, someone to tidy my house, a personal jet, or multitudes of patience. I am what I am, I have what I have, I exist where I exist. Those things can be changed, over time, if they must — but in the present, in each moment, all I can strive for is to do what I can, with what I have, where I am.

Do affirmations help? I’m honestly not sure. I like that I have a constant, though. I’m guessing these things can change, too, and maybe I won’t need all, or any of them at some point in the future. I’m not worrying about it.

Slow Down

Early last week I woke up feeling kind of awful. I am prone to UTIs, for some unknown but terrible reason, and this one took me down hard. On Saturday when I got out of bed I told Matt I had to go to the ER — with no walk-in clinic availability on the weekend (and spotty walk-in times during the week, honestly) it was my only choice for meds, and I could feel that tell-tale pain crawling up my back. I’ve had a kidney infection before and it sucked, and I did not want to deal with one again.

There’s something to be said for a small-town emergency room on a Saturday morning, though. I was barely in my seat in the waiting room when the nurse called me in for triage, and she didn’t even send me back in — once I told her what was up she ushered me into the emerg department and I saw the doctor pretty much instantaneously. It actually took more time to get my antibiotic prescription filled at the pharmacy than it did to get in and out of the hospital.

Matt and M had been out yard saling while all of this was happening, so they swung back home and grabbed me for a lunch date. When we got back, Matt mowed the lawn while M played around in the backyard and I took a seat by the fire pit and watched. I had roughly 500 things to do that day — endless laundry, wanting to clean up, dealing with shuffling food from freezer to fridge, writing… the list went on. As it always does.

But I wasn’t feeling good. And my kid wanted to play. And my husband was working nights and needed to nap. So I shoved it all aside and sat there and let all of my to-do list discomfort wash over me while I made the active decision to slow down and not worry about it.

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I am a planner. I like to know what we’re doing, when we’re doing it, and that it’s going to get done. I hate being idle, but find myself idle more often than not because I am so overwhelmed and out of breath from the go-go-go that overtakes me. I get things done in fits and spurts, and then I feel bad that I didn’t do more. But not on Saturday. On Saturday I let M thoroughly soak herself at her water table. I laid back and willed my meds to kick in. Matt was the most productive, mowing the front and back lawns, and once he was done we all headed inside and slept in the big bed, all together, for two hours.

As soon as the nap was over it was a mad dash — I was trying to make dinner while M was freaking out that she couldn’t go outside again and Matt was stressing about getting ready for work. It was rushed and anxiety-filled and not very fun. It was a good reminder of why slowing down can be preferable to racing. The tortoise and the hare and all that.

Tossing the to-do list isn’t always an option, and sometimes we will have to rush, without having any other choices. But there’s something to be said for looking at the Big Saturday List of Priorities, then moving “Sit outside together” and “Take a nap” to the top. I got one load of laundry done. I didn’t clean a thing. And it was okay. And my kid had a blast, and we went out in the sun, and another bit of summer had joy attached to it instead of pressure.

How do you remember to slow down? Any tips for balancing to-do, must-do, and relaxation?

Cheestrings and Meltdowns

I am, by nature, a high-stress person. Some might call me high-strung, even (oh, that’s a pun).

Right now I don’t actually have that much long-term stress. Our wedding is looming, yes, but I’ve managed to break down all the stuff left to do into manageable chunks (ask me again if I’m stressed about the wedding in another seven weeks or so). We are doing well, financially, at the moment. Matt and I have been having lots of talks about the future and what it holds and I feel pretty secure with that.

It’s the little every day things that brutalize me. When the cats are constantly fighting, or the fridge is cluttered, or my laundry pile seems to be reproducing on its own.

Last week I had a mini-meltdown after an email I was supposed to send at 3:30 p.m. was still bouncing back to me at 5 p.m. thanks to insufficient data capabilities. It was a production day, too, and we were short staffed. I had to deal with FTP errors, and lots of running around. When I went downstairs to leave my co-worker pointed out I was covered in hives.

So — stress hives, yay! Matt tried to fix things by taking me out for dinner. Two appletinis helped, but when we got home everything fell apart again shortly thereafter and I ended up in that awful crying-for-the-sake-of-crying state at midnight, in bed. Once I was capable of breathing through my nose again he went downstairs to try and get some things together to help me out.

He brought up Tylenol, for my headache, a Gravol for my stomach (and, honestly, probably to knock me out, too), some tissue for my nose, and a glass of water.

… and a cheestring.

Something about the way he proudly presented it with, “and a cheestring!” made me stop crying (momentarily) and let out a giggle. His reasoning that I should eat something with the meds made sense, of course, but… it was a cheesestring. Such a goofy snack. And I actually had to sit there and string it because I’m philosophically opposed to people who just eat them whole, so it distracted me from my meltdown.

I’m probably going to get stressed out again in the future. I’m probably going to cry myself to sleep on more than one occasion. But there will always be Matt, and there will always be cheestrings.

Side note: I just learned these are called cheestrings and not cheesestrings.

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