The Last 90 Days – Week 3, the Catch-up Edition

Good morning, friends!

How did the weekend already fly by so fast? And it’s already Tuesday? We had a flurry of a busy weekend over here, so it’s no wonder that I feel like I looked up and suddenly it’s Tuesday.

So let’s play catch-up a bit from what I had started writing as last Friday’s post, but then Little Miss decided to wake up early (again!!) so I had to put my laptop aside and put the Mom hat back on for the rest of the morning. Sometimes despite best efforts Life happens, and we just roll with it.

I had mentioned last week that I’ve been feeling a little “over it” with the Last 90 Days challenge. And with all of the blank check boxes from my progress tracker for the week, yeah. I suppose so.

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Wake up 1 Hour Early – I slept in Saturday morning after a late Friday night, but since I had a whole day to myself, it wasn’t like I was deprived of that hour of me-time. So I let myself sleep in a bit. Honestly, getting up early is the one thing that’s coming the easiest (and I love my sleep!) through the whole challenge. My body is getting more used to the 5:00 AM wake-up call and sometimes I even wake up a few minutes before my alarm goes off. I “reward” myself those mornings by reading my latest book for a bit before my alarm goes off and gets me out of bed.

Exercise – this one has not surprisingly been one of the more challenging habits to pick up, but I’ve done pretty well this week. Especially since all those workouts are running. Three more weeks and my half marathon will be over, and I can shake up the routine a bit!

Drink More Water – okay, so I say “drink more water” because the actual task is “Drink half of your body weight of water in ounces” and that is mouthful so I just abberviate to “drink more water.” And I’m not certain how much I weigh since I don’t weigh myself or even own a scale, so I’m guessing I’m around 150 lbs, and 75 oz of water daily seems like plenty! So that’s about four of my water bottles daily. I chug one first thing in the morning, and sip the rest throught the day. So far this strategy is working, and I only have a hard time if I’m on the road for work or running errands on the weekend and don’t plan my water breaks appropriately.

Eliminate 1 Food – after a lot of post-Whole30 delibration, I decided that my one food to eliminate for these 90 days should be alcohol. Out of all of the “not worth it for now” foods I reintroduced this once seems to be such a gateway food to making further poor choices (late-night snacking, sleeping in the next morning feeling terrible, skipping workouts because I feel terrible) so I’m going to back off for now. I do have my birthday party coming up and I may enjoy a cocktail or two at my party, but for the regular every day stuff I’ll pass on my nightly wine for now.

Gratitude List – this one has been the easiest to do, but hardest to remember! I finally started setting an alarm during my commute so I can use that time to jot my list down on my phone. It’s pretty powerful how quickly I can turn my mood around, from cramped and cranky in a crowded train car to looking around at all my beautiful commuters and marveling on all the blessings in life just from taking a pause to reflect on life’s good stuff. So cheesy, but it works!

For Next Week – And since I’m a few days behind posting, I can give you a bit of a spoiler and say my habits have definitley slid over the busy weekend. I’m using my time this morning to reflect and put together my plan on how to get back in the game and finish Week 4 out. The key to my plan: take a break from wine tasting! 🙂

I suppose I should stop buying wine if I’m trying to take a break from alcohol. Anyone want to come help me drink it? 🙂

Go make it a great day, kids!

It’s Getting Hard: A Pep Talk

What is going on, friends? I totally went MIA yesterday, which is bound to happen from time to time. normally I get out of bed an hour early to blog.

But yesterday I got out of bed, on Day 17 of the Last 90 Days, and … oh, this is embarrassing … I was over it. Not over blogging, but I felt tired and bored and not willing to get out of bed and start my day like I had intended last night. So I laid in bed and mindlessly read emails and scrolled social media and all of the sudden I had to get ready for work. So no post, no reading, no me-time. And it’s driving me nuts.

What happened? What’s missing? What was different about Day 1 that makes Day 17 so different? It’s the same day, same routine. Same “5 to Thrive” objectives. How did I bounce out of bed Day 3, tie on the shoes for a run, fill up the water bottle with pep, and today I just want to lay around and scroll Instagram?

So I did some pondering, and I started my homework for “Workshop Wednesday,” and I thought about all the times I started something and gave up on it – work project ideas, exercise programs, All the Whole30’s (oh, so many dropped Whole30’s!), home projects and crafts – and then I found the theme: I quit when I don’t realize progress, and lose my emotional attachment to my “Why.”

Progress is encouraging, but like a lot of things worth doing in life, like encouraging your body to get stronger and healthier, saving for a home, working toward a promotion, they all take a long time with no noticeable results until that one day when you PR a lift or receive recognition from a VP that noticed that great presentation. That’s when you have that “wow, it’s working!” celebratory moment.

However, what fuels your fire during those long stretches that it seems like the goal is so far away (or worse, not even close)? How do you keep turning down your favorite food because you KNOW it messes you up (looking at you, candy!) so you can realize your health goals? How do you put in that extra hour at work when you’re starting to feel that tug of guilt that you should be at home taking care of the things you’re putting off there so you can kill it on this assignment? How do you lace up for a run when race day is ages away, and you really don’t want to put your body through that right now?

For me, I need what I call a “Why”. I need an emotional reason to hang on to when things get annoying or hard. And when I started pondering my Last 90 Days progress, I found that my “Why” was a wishy-washy “oh, I like challenges! This might be fun to do.” I have no end game, no expectations. So it makes it really easy to brush off if I’m not feeling it, because it’s entirely based on a “I feel like doing this” emotion rather than something solid that doesn’t change based on my mood.

Also, I really have no end goal in mind for this challenge, other than “let’s see what changes.” I don’t know how my life is going to change for the better by drinking water and gratitude journaling. Maybe it won’t. And if I make my motivation based on results I see, I may be disappointed in the end.

So I have to cement in a stronger “Why,” one that is not dependent on outcome. That I trust the process and don’t pass judgment on things I may not understand. That I’m doing it purely because I like to do hard things and I want to be the kind of person that finishes what I start. My “Why”is because “I finish things and I finish strong.”

How about you, do you have a “Why?”

Go make it a great day!

A Good Ol’ Sob Fest

Good morning, friends!

It’s another beautiful day, and I’ve had so much going on lately. Last night I saw “A Star is Born,” and can I just say I must have a heart of stone or something? I swear I was the only one in that theater not crying at the end. I mean, I felt a little emotional but there were folks outright SOBBING as the credits rolled.

photo credit: <a href=”http://photo%20credit: Aramisse Grieving with a little friend via photopin (license)“>Aramisse

I must admit,  I was disappointed. The whole reason I went was because I wanted to experience a good, emotional cleansing and I even brought tissues expecting a good cry-fest. But it turns out I only needed them when I spilled my water down my shirt. Anyone else love a good cry at a movie? I think the last movie I actually cried at was the whole opening story line of Disney’s “Up”. If you don’t feel a little sniffly about that beautiful montage of life and tragedy, I’m not too certain if you’re even human. I mean, you could be, but I’m just not certain.

But historically, I have never been much of a cryer. Which I’m working on changing recently. Did you know that crying is actually really good for you? In addition to relieving stress and pent-up emotions, it also provides a detoxification pathway via tears, kills bacteria, improves vision, and (no-brainer here) can elevate your mood.

Despite all the benefits (and the fact that crying is a normal human action) our culture has historically had such a stigma around crying, especially for men. And I get it. When I’m around a crying person (99.9% of the time it’s one of my kids) I feel this uncontrollable reaction to MAKE IT STOP. Make them happy and feel better RIGHT NOW. Why does crying cause such discomfort in the observer?

When I need a good cry, I just want to get it out and done. I understand that sometimes crying is the best therapy for me, and the quickest way to get from Point A (sad) to Point B (relieved and refreshed). And I am relieved and grateful when I have the space to just let my emotions out in peace and move on with my day. So if I’m good with my own crying, why can’t I be good with others’ crying? I can only conclude that it’s because I was conditioned all my life to believe crying means there is something wrong, and it needs to be fixed.

But that’s just not true. Crying can be many things. It can be from overwhelming happiness. It can be from anger or frustration at a situation out of my control. It can be from processing grief, which I know from personal experience that “the only way out is through.” And in the case of my kids, crying is a last resort when emotions don’t make sense or are just too intense and crazy. Because it’s always SUPER disappointing when you don’t get the red cup instead of the blue cup, isn’t it?

I’m on a mission to evangelize crying. At home, in public, at work, wherever. Now, you can be discrete (I’m not at the point where I can just sit at my desk and ugly cry yet), but if I need to excuse myself to squeeze some tears out in the women’s room, I tell myself that I’m a human having a human experience, and I don’t feel so ashamed when I get back to my desk with the lingering red in my eyes. When my kids cry I check in with them, ask if they need me or want to be alone, and let them have their feels. And especially when I find myself needing to cry around my kids, I am not afraid of letting them see it, letting them know that grown-ups can feel sad too and that’s okay. Just like when they’re crying and I offer to talk about their feelings, I tell them mine. “Mommy’s feeling overwhelmed. I need to stop and take care of myself for a bit.” or “I feel sad because I miss Grandpa.” They need to know (just like I need to remember) that emotions aren’t scary, and feelings do not require fixing.

So let the floodgates flow! The waterpark is open for business! Find a corner and let it all out. As I heard the other day, “Put your issues in your tissues.” Detoxification and stress-relief benefits with one simple exercise? I’ll sign up for that!

Go make it a great day!

(photo credit: Aramisse Grieving with a little friend via photopin (license))

A Tale of a Run

Good morning, friends!

I had a crazy long training run yesterday. Like, ridiculously long and I’m amazed that I can still stand this morning. You know those runs when you set out and are like, “oh, this’ll be fine. I’ll just blast through this and totally have time for my life at the end of it.” completely underestimating how long these miles will actually take? Yeah, it was one of those.

It’s been a goal since I moved to the East Bay to hike around Lake Chabot. The route is 9 miles, and I had always intended to make it a 3ish-hour hike. Once I started half marathon training, I realized that eventually I would be able to run it, and I was sort of excited about that. Because I get excited about weird things.

The opportunity presented itself this weekeend, when I was scheduled to do a long training run. I’m using the Aaptiv app (<– affiliate link!) for my training program, and according to the plan I was supposed to run around 10 miles in 100 minutes. Ha, that’s cute. But I figured I could do 7.5-8 miles in that amount of time. And I thought I could run around the lake until the run time was up, then just walk the rest of the way as a cool-down.

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It started out like that. But I had never been to the other side of the lake before. I headed out on the Eastside trail as I usually like to do, with no idea what I was in for.

Hills. I was in for hills.

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And it was a legit trail back there. At some point the paved path turns into dirt, and then it starts switchbacks up and down the ridge behind the lake. I was warned by my friend that there was a beast of a hill around Mile 4, but I was not anticipating all of the rough terrain and climbing. My calves started getting tight and cramping, despite all the water  I was throwing down from my Camelbak. After I passed Mile 4 I did a lot of walking up the hills and jogging back down for quite some time. After Mile 6.5 I was almost walking the entire way. My legs were just done.

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At some point I realized I was in the trail system, and I wasn’t sure which trail I was supposed to be on. That’s okay, I just need to make sure the lake is always to my left, and I should make it back to the Marina. And the views were getting more and more gorgeous as the sun burned through the clouds.

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Eventually I made it to a parking lot. And it wasn’t the parking lot I had parked in. In fact, I had no idea this lot existed, or exactly where I was. Crap, I took a wrong trail somewhere. I had been running Strava to track my mileage, and I looked on my map to see what was going on.

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Well double crap. I was supposed to pick up the end of the red line, and I was about a half mile off the trail that took me back to my car. At this point I realized that there was no way I was making it back home anytime soon. I had plans to head up to Healdsburg for some wine tasting, and I realized I was in no way going to be home in time for my friend to pick me up. So I texted my apologies and strategized a new plan for getting a ride as I hiked back to the main trail.

By the time I was done, I had completed 9.6 miles, averaging a 14 min/mile pace. Good lord, I felt so slow. But most of it was because I was walking up every stupid hill for five miles. At least I got some good hill training in?

I finally made it back to my car, my 100-minute run now transformed to nearly 2 1/2 hours of slogging through trails, and I was ridiculously late in meeting up my friend. I blasted back home, boiled some eggs as I took the fasted shower ever followed by a quick cold bath to cool down my legs, slammed the eggs down as I put myself together in some cute “wine tasting tourist” attire, and skipped off to BART to meet up my friend.

Happy ending time, we got our wine.

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I would love to hike the lake loop again some day when I have the time and not under the marathon training pressure, but I think for my next (and last!) long run I’ll find a different course so I can try to run the distance instead of having to pepper so many walk breaks in. I’m still not exactly sure where my endurance is for 13 whole miles yet, and race day is looming ever closer. But at this point, the only way out is through! I’ll just show up, run as much as my stumpy little legs can, and see what happens.

Go make it a great day!

The Last 90 Days: Week 2 Recap

Good morning, y’all! It’s another Friday! Here’s an awesome comic I found by War and Peas for your Friday amusement:

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Mood, magnificent spider. Mood.

I’m so happy to check out my Last 90 Days progress from this week! It was certainly a more focused week, with a couple days where I had successfully completed all of my “5 to Thrive” goals!

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As much as I would love to see check marks across the board, I know that Life happens, and I’m happy with simply striving each day to make the best choices for myself. Like on Sunday (10/7), we went on an amazing boat ride on the bay to watch the Blue Angels air show for Fleet Week.

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Due to the schedule, the long day, and the fact I had my two mini-me’s with me, I wasn’t able to squeeze in exercise that day. And I’m not certain how much water I drank (I was guzzling La Croix the whole ride, but I found out sparkling water doesn’t count – it has to be plain water!) so I’m guessing I didn’t hit my goal. But, dude, I was on a boat!

What’s up for next week? I have another week of half marathon training to tackle (including my longest run in recent history, I’m going to try and get in 8 miles this weekend!), and I’m thinking about trying to snag one of the Start Today Journals because I really like how they lay out the gratitude and intentions lists day by day. It might help me remember to do my daily gratitude checking!

That’s it for now, go make it a great day!

Survival Mode Thursdays

Good morning, friends! And it actually is morning over here, haha! I heard my alarm this morning (yay!), and not ten seconds after I sat down to write Buttercup zombied into the kitchen demanding to know why I wasn’t in bed – she had gotten up to come in my room and snuggle with me, and I had already retreated to the kitchen to do my hour of “me-time”. So now she’s snuggled in front of “umizoomi” and I’m snuggled with my coffee. Cheers!

The other day I talked about how I’m approaching the first “5 to Thrive” habit of waking up early and having an hour of time to myself every day (well, most days, haha!), so today we move on to the next habit, exercise at least 30 Minutes every day.

I know what you’re probably thinking. I sort of thought it too – “Uggh. Like, every day every day?”

I’m a pretty active person, but even I don’t think I’ve ever actually consistently exercised daily before. Life just happens. But progress over perfection, we’ll give this a go.

Since I have the Big Sur Half coming up, pretty much any spare time for exercising needs to be running or recovering from running. So I’m putting CrossFit on hold until after November 11th so I can maximize my mileage. I know that some strength training will improve my running, but we’re a bit too close to race day for any real gains so I’m just going to focus on mileage with the goal that I don’t die.

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(this is me not dying after a weekday run)

But running every day? That is a bit much for my legs to take right now. I just finally finished my Couch-to-5k in August after taking nearly a five-year hiatus from running and I know I don’t have the strength or stamina to take a road beating every day. Right now I’ve worked myself up to 1 long run and 2-3 short runs per week, and that’s after months of working out maybe 1-2 days a week, maybe.

The first few mornings I didn’t run, I ended up starting the Commit30 monthly challenge (yeah, I know, another challenge!) to do 30 air squats, 30 push-ups, and 30 sit-ups every morning for 30 days. I would do it in my living room, then do some stretching/core work/foam rolling. Just 30 minutes, and done!

But I didn’t keep it up every morning. For example, Thursdays are the worst for any activity that isn’t 100% vital. Those are the days I am crunched with both single-parenting and work, and I can barely get my kids and myself fed, schooled, homeworked, and to bed on time let alone squeeze in 30 minutes for myself. For a while that was the sticking point in my week – how do I get everything done on Thursdays? Then it hit me … I don’t! That’s my one day to not do all the things. So I make sure that I crush it the other 6 days a week, and keep Thursdays as strictly “survival mode.” If I can squeeze in a quick walk over my lunch break, then it is a more fabulous day than I had planned.

Progress over perfection, my friends. If I can go from working out for 1-2 days a week to a consistent 6 days a week over the last 90 days of the year, this is going to be such a huge win for me.

Any tips for squeezing in activity into a richly scheduled day? I’m always on the lookout for fun new organization techniques!

Go make it a great day!

 

 

Connection, Community, and Friends: Mental Health Awareness Day

Hello, friends! Sorry I’m a bit late to the party today. After talking yesterday about how great and easy it was waking up early in the morning … I totally overslept this morning! Of course I did. By, like, two hours. So instead of reading my post with your trusty cup of coffee by your side, we’ll swap it out with a glass of wine (or cup of herbal tea) and have a little evening chat!

So I heard that today is Mental Health Awareness day, and what a perfect day to discuss what was on my mind today:

Connection. Community. Friends.

How does this relate to Mental Health Awareness, you may wonder? For me and my own mental health journey, this was the secret sauce. This was the one thing that was missing from my life for so long, and I had no idea what was missing. Finding people to connect with – and not just through social media, but, like, face-to-face, share-your-fries, right-here-so-we-can-high-five-each-other type interactions – is one of the most important and yet one of the most underrated ways we can improve our health and well being. Because for some of us, other people are, you know, other people.

And I get it. Friends are hard to find when you’re pretending to be a grown-up. Most of your time is filled with work, commuting, maybe caring for kids or other family members and you don’t have much free time to spend with someone else. Or you moved to a new place and just don’t know anyone yet, even years later (guilty!). But wherever and however you can find and make new friends, just know that they are a huge contributor to health and longevity. And from personal experience, can really change your mental health game as well.

Now, I’m an introvert, and I know I need a sufficient amount of alone time to maintain sanity. If I’m interacting with too many people for too long, I get this crawly-out-of-my-skin feeling and I know I just need to go … away, like, now right now. I need to be alone. So I make sure to schedule at least one day a month where I have exactly zero appointments, obligations, or plans. I stay at home all day and just do whatever I want, and don’t have to talk to anyone. I read, I organize closets, or I just binge watch Netflix. I might get outside and go for a hike or something, but only if I’m feeling it. And it’s glorious. I love it so hard. And I go to bed so refreshed and happy. To me, this is a form of self-care.

One evening or one day without human interaction is just fine with me. It’s not for everyone, but it’s what I need. But if one is good, more is better, right? But here’s the thing about managing depression – it’s a disease of isolation. It wants me to be alone for too long so it can get its claws back in me. It wants me to feel alone and disconnected, turning down invitations to be included and make excuses on why I need to stay in and be alone. And so quickly I can cross that line from innocently charging my introvert buckets to tanking back down under the cloudy mental sky, which is opposite of self care.

So how do I keep from crossing that line? How do I make sure that being alone is something I need to do and not something that’s harming me? It’s taken a lot of trial and error to figure out the difference for me. But I know that if I’m hanging around at home, and the idea of calling a friend or going out sounds kind of like an okay thing to do but I’ll just do it later … I’m recharging my buckets and it’s fine. But if I actively reject the idea of reaching out to someone and I just want to crawl into a hole … then I need to call a trusted friend and make some plans to break my isolation ASAP. And I absolutely won’t want to do it. That’s how I know, when the idea of being social feels like the last thing in the world I want to do. Because it’s not me, it’s the disease at that point. So I make the call.

Just like I never regret a workout, I never regret calling or hanging out with a friend. I recognize it now as so vital to my mental health.

Big high-fives and hugs to all my friends out there that answer my calls and take me up on my invites to get out of the house. It may not seem much, but you are quite literally saving my life, friends.

If you’re struggling with mental health, there’s help. Here is a link to a list of mental health resources that can point you in the right direction. Also, if you need therapy but cannot afford it (most insurances cover it, but sometimes it’s only partial coverage or a copay), many schools and psychology student programs offer free counseling services to the community. Finally, if doing the research to find help is too overwhelming (I’ve been there and I feel ya!), find a friend or family member that can help do the legwork for you to get your foot in the door. Sometimes that first call is the hardest call to make.

Go make it a great day!

 

Up With the Sun

Good morning! I don’t know about you, but Fall is favorite, and October is most favorite. In the Bay Area, this is the best month of the year, especially in San Francisco. The temps are warm and perfect, the sky is that characteristic “Fall blue,” and of course we’re on the countdown to my birthday. Yay, birthday!

But today I want to break down what I’m doing for the “5 to Thrive” goals for the Last 90 Days challenge. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can catch up on my post from last week about it. Simply put, the Last 90 Days is a challenge to live the last 90 days of the year to your absolute fullest potential, kinda like a reboot on your New Year’s resolutions. Part of the challenge is to commit to introducing prescribed five habits daily, the “5 to Thrive,” which are:

pc: Rachel Hollis @ thechicsite.com

At first glance I was like, “oh, I kinda already do this. Should be easy.” But “kinda” and “actually doing it” appear to be not the same thing. And for me, it’s mostly because I haven’t set up the right environment for building habits yet. But for whatever reason, out of all five of these habits, the first one “Get up an hour earlier than you normally do and use that time for YOURSELF” has been the easiest one to integrate so far.

Since last Monday, I have been setting my alarm clock between 4:30 and 5:00 AM (since I usually get up between 5:30 and 6:00 AM) which sounds absolutely crazy, I know. I can’t believe I’ve been so consistent with it! I think part of my success is coming off the September Whole30. My sleep has been fantastic lately, and I had already started waking naturally before my alarm clock, so my body and sleep schedule have not had too bad of a time adapting. And I have found that I really enjoy having that quiet spot in the morning!

At first I used that hour to just putter and ponder and drink my coffee while setting up my planner for the day, writing, or doing some aimless internet browsing. Then I realized, hey, I could be using this time for blogging! Duh. So now I’ve dedicated this space of time for my writing. I sit either at my desk or the kitchen table with my coffee and my WordPress page, and see what happens. It’s quickly becoming my most favorite part of the day. Especially when I get to use my new favorite seasonal mug. 

Of course it’s not perfect. On the mornings I have the kids, I can’t guarantee they’ll actually sleep the whole way through my “alone time” hour. Little Miss generally gets up around 5:30 AM anyway (ugh, I know, right?), and she is the lightest sleeper in the morning so the slightest sound will usually rouse her. And I still can get distracted by shiny things. Going down a social media rabbit hole or spending too much time trying to pick out the right meme can burn up my hour that seems almost too short on some days. But Life happens, and I’ve learned to not beat myself up or get too disappointed when it doesn’t work out the way I had intended. Tomorrow is another day!

I know it seems impossible to wake up so early. A couple years ago when the kids were younger, there was no way I could have done this! Having babies and dealing with the sleep deprivation during those young years really took its toll, and I needed every minute of sleep I could get for so long. But now that the kids are older(ish) and I have a lot more awareness over the control I have over my time management, I find that if waking up super stupid early is something I want to do, then I can do it! 

How about you, do you enjoy waking up early, or are you more of a night owl? If waking up early isn’t for you, you can always dedicate time before bed to observe “alone time” as an alternative!

Go make it a great day!

Balance is a Myth

I had the honor to speak on a panel last week for a local women’s group. The even was hosted at Sephora University, which my colleagues and I all agreed had the best bathroom mirrors.

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So stylish.

The topic for the panel was “work/life balance”. And I was like, oh, I am SO qualified to talk to that! I have been juggling work, single mom life, friends and family, health and fitness, and me-time for so long, and while I am by no means perfect I think I’ve earned a few kernels of wisdom that I am happy to share if it helps someone.

First off, I dislike the term “balance” (almost as much as I dislike “moderation”, but that’s for another post!) because it assumes equality. It assumes that there is some point where all aspects will be perfectly centered and reach homeostasis. I don’t know about you, but I have yet to wake up in the morning and realize, “Oh, joy! Everything I need to do just fists perfectly into my day!” No, that’s because it’s not a balance, it’s a juggling act.

And I have to take a moment to recognize a bit of the privilege I have in this area. I have an employer that 1) values employee health and well-being, and 2) trusts me allows me (for the most part) able to work remote or adjust my schedule when Life happens. I also have reliable childcare in the form of a great babysitter and a good relationship with my kids’ dad, so when duty calls I’m able to make it work. Not everyone has a flexible schedule or the general ability to find someone to pick up the kids from school in a pinch. And I find these are some of the biggest challenges in the working mom life to manage.

But back to juggling. Imagine a pile of balloons. And these balloons are just blown up with air and not helium so they’re just laying on the floor. Got that image?

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Okay, now toss all of those balloons up and don’t let them touch the floor. Remember that party game? My kids always play it when we have balloons in the house, but that fact aside that’s literally what it feels like to keep everything going. All of the responsibilities and goals in my life are balloons – work, kids, chores, health commitments, friends, service commitments – and I’m just constantly trying to keep them all floating. Sometimes I ignore a balloon for a while and it *almost* hits the floor. Sometimes I just get tired of bopping balloons back up and quite a few hit the floor. When they hit the floor, I have to choose if I’m going to leave them there, or if I want to spend the energy picking them up and putting them back in flight.

Does that sound exhausting? It can be, especially when you’re out of shape (I speak from experience, literally and metaphorically!) or having a rough time of it. Or if you have too many balloons to keep up there. Or if one balloon is losing air, and it’s falling to the ground a lot faster than the other balloons (this is what I call a “crisis balloon”) so you have to spend more time and energy watching for and catching that balloon at the sacrifice of other balloons.

So what can you do to win at the Balloon Game?

First, you have to get over whatever negative feelings you have about the Balloon Game, about how unfair it might feel or how tired you are or how impossible it seems. Because, yes, it does last forever. Literally. But as anyone that’s run a race or done a hard thing for a long time can tell you, if you think about how long you have to keep doing a task, it feels impossible. But if you focus on just this balloon, just this day, it’s so much more manageable. You can do something hard for one day that would be appalling to keep up for a lifetime. So look at it differently. Just tackle it for right now. Maybe make a game out of it (because it is a game!) and see how many or how few balloons you can juggle, find gratitude in each balloon you have, or see if you can get help with juggling a particular balloon.

Second, you have to make sure your balloon for “taking care of myself” is always, always the first one you hit. To take the best care of others, you have to take care of yourself first. You have to, at a minimum, eat in a way that gives you nourishment and energy, get in enough sleep, and move your body regularly. And I know, you’re like, duh. I’ve heard this before. This is probably eye-roll-worthy old news. But if you’ve heard it all before but still aren’t doing the things to take care of yourself, why? Why do you put the importance of all these other things in life before the importance of you? And these things are still scratching the surface of self-care. There’s also positive social interactions, making time for things that make us look or feel good like scheduling that dentist appointment or getting a haircut, and cultivating a hobbies or activities that we do just for ourselves because it’s fun and creativity is so underrated. So if you struggle with getting in the proper amount of “me-time” to care for yourself, that might be something to ponder.

Oh man you guys, I have so much to unpack here. But I hope this gets your gears going on realizing your own Balloon Game, and how to start approaching it with a bit more positivity and purpose.

That’s all for now, go make it a great day!