In. Out. Deep Breaths.
This is how I get through tough times throughout the day. This may sound silly, but don’t discourage the idea until you’ve tried it. I’m amazed by how often this one simple thing completely calms me down or at least distracts me enough to chill-ax a little bit.
Many stress factors affect us daily. Our jobs. Our kids. Our families going through a tough time. Taking time to care for ourselves. And many other situational stress points that keep us tightly wound if we’re not concentrating on breathing.
The metaphorical sense of taking a deep breath is just as important as the physical one. What I mean is that sometimes we need to a step away from the situation more so than we need to take a breath. Maybe your “deep breath” is walking into the other room and sitting quietly for a minute or two. Maybe it’s taking a walk around the block. Maybe it actually is stepping outside and taking a deep breath of fresh air.
There’s a reason why “I need to get some fresh air” is a thing. Removing yourself from a situation and taking in a deep dose of oxygen can invigorate your brain and help you think more clearly.
Be aware of your own self. Know when you need a break. Know when removing yourself for some fresh air will do everybody good. Take long and slow deep breaths. Fill your body with energizing air that will clear your mind. Remind yourself to be present in the moment. Allow yourself to admit you need a break. Then, come back recharged and ready to go.
Do you ever have a horrendous night of sleep that you know will drag you down the entire day? I’m talking about babies screaming and crying, kids kicking you in their sleep, the dog barking in the middle of the night, and weird dreams that jolt you panting into the darkness of your bedroom?
Yeah, that happened to me last night. And I’m trying my hardest to not let all of those affect my mood for the entire day.
So how can I turn this around? Just like you turn anything else around…get some perspective and focus on gratitude.
I’m grateful that my kids want to sleep with me when dad is travelling. I’m grateful that we have a large enough bed to hold our family all in one spot. I’m grateful for air conditioning and fans so when I have two other little people’s bodies pressed against mine I don’t sweat to death. I’m grateful for waking up this morning with a tiny face right next to mine. It reminds me that they’ll only want to do this for a few more years.
I hope you can learn to always take difficult situations or even just a bad night of sleep and turn it into something for which you are grateful.
Imagine a woman in hair rollers with her bathrobe on, a glass of whiskey in her hand, and her constantly screaming at her kids. Now replace the hair rollers with a pony tail, the bath robe with yoga pants and a tank top, and the whiskey with her third cup of coffee. What do these two women have in common? They still scream at their kids. To my own sadness, I’ve become the latter one.
I’ve learned to manage a lot of things in my life that I hadn’t been able to control before. My ability to show gratitude, my willingness to help others more, and being empathetic to people going through tough times has dramatically changed my life. But patience and perspective, I still struggle with these every single day.
Sometimes I think, “Maybe I need a shock collar. As soon as I start yelling, I need someone to zap me. That’ll break the habit pretty quick.” This alone is a much bigger improvement than previously thinking the kids needed shock collars. Don’t worry. I never tried it. I knew they would have them figured out in a nanosecond anyway. 🙂
So how do I stop yelling at my kids? How do I forgo becoming this hideous beast of a monster? The answer is simple: take a deep breath. Don’t be so reactive. Don’t say the first thing that pops into your head. Don’t let the kids control your emotions. Don’t let the dog control your emotions. (He gets yelled at a lot too. He’s lucky he’s a puppy and adorable.)
Goal for today and the rest of this week: NO MORE YELLING! Oh wait, sorry. no more yelling.
Progress not perfection. One day at a time. Deep breaths. Patience, Love and Tolerance. (My mantra I will be repeating anytime I’m about to lose my shit.)
Maybe you’ve come to this blog believing there might be some good advice every once in awhile. Maybe you’re here because you’re ashamed to reach out and go to a meeting. Maybe you’re here to get the dirt on other people’s stories and compare them to your own. Maybe you’re here because…well, you’re not really sure.
All of these answers are sufficient. All of these answers are part of the reason I’m here. (Except getting the good advice part. I find that from other people and try to share it here.)
Every day, something about my knowledge of alcoholism affects me in some way. It’s not that my past haunts daily. It’s more of the positive things my husband has learned from his part of the program and how I’ve learned to incorporate some of those tools into my life as well.
For example, yesterday was a mood swing kind of day for this mama. (Those happen every now and then.) Knowing myself and when I’m about to reach the point of no return, I took a long, slow deep breath and repeated the words, “Patience, love, and tolerance.”
These words have become a mantra of sorts in our house. I’m sure my kids by now know when mommy is saying these words to stop, turn, and slowly back out of the room.
The meaning of these words calms me down and helps me refocus. As I’ve stated for the one millionth time here, I’m not perfect. I yell at my kids. I lose my cool. I wind up saying things I have to apologize for later. But when I know to stop, take my deep breaths, and repeat our little mantra, I’ve taken control of myself.
Progress, not perfection!
Okay, so I feel really weird…or maybe stupid is a better word. I feel really stupid sometimes when I meet new people. I’m a big jokester at heart and my closest friends and family know this about me. But I figured it’s best to lay off the inappropriateness when I first meet someone knew. (Oh did I forget to mention, I tend to say inappropriate jokes…a lot.)
But I met a new mom the other day and she stopped by with her kiddos on a Saturday afternoon so everyone could play together. The kids got along great since two of them knew each other from being in the same kindergarten class. As the kids played, this new mom and I started chatting about life.
She mentioned they had only lived her a little over year and that she was just starting to get her bearings in our new community as well. We talked about different restaurants to try and which ones to avoid like the plague. We talked about festivals coming up within in the community worth going to, and we eventually landed on going to churches in the area. (A segway from the community festivals since 90% of them are held at churches around town.)
This new acquaintance mentioned visiting one church and one notable thing out of the pastor’s mouth was the abstention of drinking alcohol. In other words, he thought any consumption of alcohol whatsoever was a sin and wasn’t to be tolerated. My fellow mom enlightened me that she thought this was absolutely absurd stating, “Jesus drank wine!” I immediately tensed up a little, trying to prepare myself for any other alcohol related stuff that would inevitably arise.
I laughed off a few more comments here and there. Soon I realized she had mentioned prosecco and wine at least 5 times in a span of 15 minutes. All I had done was uncomfortably laugh.
Was she trying to give me clues she was wanting some wine now? Do I tell her that I don’t drink? Am I going to be shaming her if I tell her I don’t drink after she just told me the story about the pastor who believes drinking is an abomination? (Which I don’t agree with, by the way…I mean, it is for ME…but that’s because I have a drinking problem.)
So there it is. Another awkward encounter for this sober mom trying to make it in a world where moms constantly talk about wine, needing their wine, and can’t wait to get their next glass of wine. And I sit in silence because I don’t want to be the buzzkill that gets band from all of the play-dates from here until the end of time. I’m holding out for a friend who doesn’t mention drinking or someone I could tell my story to.
Pray for me, y’all…
So in this stage of my life, I no longer strive to be spontaneous anymore. Yes, every once in a while I’ll get a wild hair to order pizza for the kids on a Friday night (I know, CALM DOWN!), but that’s about as zany as we get these days.
I feel as though “spontaneous = reckless” in this season of my life. I don’t believe that’s 100% true, but I find myself being less and less spontaneous the older I get. Maybe routine is to blame. Maybe my need to be responsible is to blame. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown so comfortable in our little cocoon at home that venturing off to anything new kinda scares the crap out of me.
Yesterday, I took my kids to audition for a movie…3 hours away! We never do anything on a whim like this. If something requires us to travel on the weekend (especially 3 hours away), I’ve had it planned out for weeks with the well-stocked snack bag and drinks needed for the entire trip ready to go before we ever load up the car.
No such thing happened yesterday. I had a friend who was excited about taking her own kids (granted they were only 30 minutes down the road from the audition) and her excitement about it got the best of me. I thought, “What the hell? Why not? All I was going to do today was laundry!”
We have no idea if anything will come out of going to this audition, but I did learn one important thing yesterday…try new things even if they scare you. My kids did it. They actually had fun too!
You can be spontaneous and responsible at the same time. My kids didn’t miss school. Nobody missed work for us to go. And we made it home just in time for our nightly routines. Don’t lose your ability to be spontaneous!
There were many ideas I had growing up of how an adult was supposed to be. I honestly didn’t want to be any of them. I wanted to be that kid that graduated high school, went to college, traveled the world, met an exotic foreigner, and lived a life of travel and adventure.
I did graduate high school and college. I married my neighbor that I met in college, who is also from the same state as I am (so out goes the foreigner concept). But, oh the adventures we have been on! I have done things and traveled to places that I couldn’t have imagined growing up. I have experienced things that my former self wouldn’t even be able to comprehend.
I know these same adventures may not be the life of travel and luxury I had imagined as a naive college student, but they have been so much better! In a weird way, those old dreams and ambitions seem ridiculous to me. Don’t get me wrong, I still have big dreams and big ambitions for my life. I’ve simply adjusted those to better fit who I am today than who I wanted to become years ago.
“Adulting” can be hard and grueling work some days. I mean I still feel like an impostor when I’m filling out paperwork for my kids’ school. (Shouldn’t like an adult be filling these out and signing them? Oh right, that’s me…) Never in my wildest dreams did I believe I would enjoy parenting and the life that comes along with it, but Baby, bring me the keys to my mini-van and my travel mug…Mama’s on a mission!