If you listen to Jen Hatmaker's For the Love Podcast, you know that she asks this question (originally asked by Barbara Brown Taylor - whose book, Learning to Walk in the Dark is on my to-read-soon list) of all her guests at the end of each episode.
I've co-opted the practice into my own work meetings (if I have any FLTI friends come check this out, they might go "aha!").
This morning, after a virtual community gathering for work, I stopped to reflect on the goodness of the moment in the midst of a very chaotic and anxious world. I landed on thoughts surrounding the two priorities that feel like they are in a cutthroat competition with each other during these historic times of COVID, a contentious election in a polarized nation, RBG's passing (still just so hard to express what and how I feel on that) and as a Christian, the resulting culture wars that are dividing both big C and little c church bodies (oh, and did I mention the environmental stresses of constant sameness due to being safer at home -AND- in the middle of one of the worst wildfire seasons across the west? That too):
1. taking time to retreat from life and engage in any kind of self-care
2. the overwhelming desire to get out there and do SOMETHING, ANYTHING, to facilitate the collective healing our families, communities, and nation need so badly right now
As I said, instead of feeling like a "both/and" combo, lately I've felt like these two needs have been duking it out something fierce, leaving me the badly bruised monkey in the middle.
I took some much needed, long overdue annual leave days last week/this Monday to unplug and recharge. I'm always reluctant to do this, because I fear the pile of "undone" that will inevitably be waiting upon my return, but especially when I have nowhere special to go (COVID) with my loved ones (I may be able to take PTO but they have school and work). Nevertheless, I put my time to good use - got caught up with a mentor from the past, went and got a massage, and fed my soul by reading strictly for pleasure and sleeping in.
Tuesday was re-entry, and for whatever reason, my boys were really not doing well with each other that day - and the lines between what had to be done vs what should be done began to blur - which is a huge trigger for my anxiety. My therapist got an earful that day. "I did ALL the right things - I took some time to myself, I communicated expectations, I was all Zen-ed out and ready to engage as Nice Mama, when all HELL breaks loose. I mean they're physical with each other and screaming hateful things and it was just like the universe was giving me a big ol' 'Eff you, Mama.' Like this is why we can't DO nice things instead of 'this is why we can't HAVE nice things."
And the week just kind of went to shit from there with the fiasco of a debate, the subsequent fallout on social media, church stuff (our youth ministry is in transition after losing our youth minister to irreconcilable differences - a split from which I'm still reeling - and parents are trying to provide opportunities for the kids in the very messy and disorganized way that these things tend to go), our dryer is broken - we're waiting on the part but outside not only smells like campfire, but the soot/ash that falls out of the sky would dirty clean laundry, so we are limited in what can actually get done/air dryed in our already small home (so there was TONS of clothes drama between the bigs and Mount Washmore jutted up into an epic peak), and being a doer, I was stressed because I was feeling like I was already behind the 8 ball with ALL THE THINGS.
Self-care went out the damned window this week.
So I was a giant turd to my family as a result - and you know, we are a family of givers, if nothing else, so they gave that turdishness right on back. Love you Seth, love you kids! No really, we're all pretty good now.
Anyway - this morning. A friend had an excellent post on Facebook about all the feelings and the need for us sensitive, empath, types to remember how to care for our selves in the midst of all of the world's chaos, callousness, and well, everything. So, when I had the opportunity to do work I love this morning - promoting the Family Leadership Training Institute work with my colleagues and other community members - I got up early and showered, put on some 'more I work in an office' clothes than the athleisure wear I've been living in these past 7 months, and did my hair and makeup (which is a rarity in these remote work days - it's a weird mental block that I can't quite explain, but I think it's just soul fatigue?)
I felt good about my appearance for the first time in, oh, lets be honest, months? and left the meeting feeling accomplished and inspired. So I snapped a selfie and reflected on it.
Later, I cracked a window downstairs, as it was a rare day that isn't blowing the smoke of the fire on us, turned on some fun and upbeat tunes, and danced about as I did some household chores. As a particular song was boosting the mood, I thought, "I need to add this song to my self care sheet."
So I bring you Thing One of what is saving my life right now:
Passion Planner and their FREE printable planning sheets, in particular, the self-care reflection check in sheet. Y'all - these prompts are like going to therapy, which I do every other week, but they help me track my feelings and WHAT MAKES ME FEEL BETTER. In this very surreal time that has a Groundhog Day like feel to every day, this is important. What I also like about their monthly calendars is there is a space for "People to see," which is perfect for someone like myself who deeply cares about EVERY ONE - but unless I have a regular place in my routines/places to see you - I tend to operate in an out of sight, out of mind kind of pattern. It is the single most hated characteristic trait of mine, and this HELPS me get out of that self loathing and find a way to think about "Who do I actually want to engage with?" and then..... I DO IT! It's great. Small caveat is that "people to see" is more like "people to write" because of the 'VID, but it still feels better than texting/social media scrolling.
That's not the check-in, but just an example of the journaling bits I'm able to do with this planner.
Thing Two: Passionfruit Green Tea drink
A hydration hack - I am chronically dehydrated because I ABSOLUTELY LURVE coffee but hate drinking water, especially water alone (without a meal) because food aversions are funny things. Wait, how does one get a food aversion to WATER, Heather? Uhm, pregnancy does weird things, and - no that's not an announcement - apparently those weird things stay with you, for oh, 20 YEARS AND COUNTING. Long story short - in prep for an ultrasound while I was prego with Kelsey (as a busy student) I tried to drink a lot of water, per instructions from the OB/GYN, in the morning before my appointment. Tried being the operative word. In the throes of horrible morning sickness, said volumes of water came up violently, not once, not twice, but 3 times. And I've never been the same.
So that means staying hydrated is hard for me. I don't care too much for hot teas unless I am sick because they don't have a lot of the body and mouthfeel that coffee does. I like iced, SWEET tea, but hello, liquid calories in a woman's 40s are not her friend. Well, I was introduced to Panera's lightly sweetened passionfruit green tea, and I loved it. So I came up with a recipe to make a version of it at home. This makes a gallon
Steep 8 decaf green teabags in 2-3 cups of water to make a sort of "concentrate"
Add the following to a gallon sized pitcher:
1/4 c Guava Torani Syrup (I buy these at our local Shamrock Foods because they are inexpensive there and more flavors tend to be available)
1/4 c Passionfruit Torani Syrup
2-4 Tbls Honey (serves as an electrolyte)
Pour hot tea over and stir will til the honey is disolved
Fill pitcher with water until full.
A 16 oz glass runs 56-72 calories depending on the amount of honey used. Less calories that vitamin water, gatorade, and no nonsense ingredients like you find in diet sodas.
Thing Three: Discbound Planner, Special Pens & Journaling Stickers
This goes with Thing 1, but I love a planner that I can change up and customize like a bullet journal (bujo) but not have to commit to page orders falling in weird places (I want to do things MY way, not according to the latest fad planner - yes, even Passion Planner has its shortfalls when you buy their preassembled planners!)
So I have a nice leatherette Arc discbound planner from Staples, the punch, some nice heavyweight paper to print my pages on, and stickers/pens to make them pretty. I am not an artist like my talented daughter, but, oh, how I love good aesthetics and layouts. I'm tracking my favorite podcasts, books I've read, and different insights with the self-care check-in.