SELF-CARE A to Z: ART & AFFIRMATIONS

For many of us it’s been about three weeks with our outside-the-home lives uprooted and shoved into a corner or taking over our houses. Did you ever think you could cram your work office, your kids school, their daycare, your animal farm and an aisle of Costco into your place and make it work? Well you did, so give yourself a pat on the back! 

You’re not seeing double, that’s two laptops.

The sudden derailing from my precisely scheduled life, hurtling straight for the shapeshifting unknown, rattled me. I’ll admit that I was in shock for the last three weeks just pressing on and celebrating little wins like “I didn’t leave the house today” or “I finally got an Amazon Fresh delivery time!” Now we’ve turned the corner into the next month and our lockdown, or its rhythm, has finally started to feel familiar. Still, with no end-date in sight, I am staging an intervention on my own behalf to stop worrying about all of the things I cannot control and focus on what I can – caring for myself.

My dream Me Time is spent reading!

I constantly dream about self-care – crave it, strive for it, plan it into a busy weekend, but am not the best about following through. So this month, I’m challenging myself to focus on it for 30 days and will share what I find through an #AtoZChallenge – plus will include a few bonuses at the end of the month. I don’t expect you to try everything every day. That sounds exhausting!  Try one, or a few, let me know if they helped or not. Did you do them alone or with friends? My goal here is to connect people who deserve to take some time for themselves – especially through a stressful time like this – and just check in with each other, start a conversation! Most posts won’t be this long, I just had a lot of ‘splaining to do.

 

My kids got in touch with their creative sides last weekend.

ART
As always, through the fear of the unsettled and unknown, rays of positivity peek through. With everyone essentially being sent to their rooms, they’re being forced to play with their toys, or dive deep into their imagination. I’m seeing more creativity during this confinement whether it’s finding a new way to exercise or teach the kids, or learning creative ways to connect. Seeing blocks of European families sing or exercise together warmed my heart.

We’re also shaking loose our shells that we used to present and protect with. What’s left underneath feels raw but allows the sunshine to reach those hidden ideas. In her book Big Magic*, Liz Gilbert shares the story of a professor who asked his writing student, “Do you have the courage to bring forth this work? The treasures that are hidden inside you are hoping you will say yes!” Sometimes expressing ourselves through art feels easier than verbalizing the emotions rocking our body. Then, when you do, the dose of courage will carry over to all parts of your being. 

#TheKindnessRocksProject #RedondoRocks

You don’t need an overflowing art supply closet in your home. Grab a pencil and paper and doodle. Use water and a paintbrush on the sidewalk. I’ve seen adorable colored chalk mosaics! Make card castles with playing cards! Walk around your neighborhood and take photographs to document the quiet streets!  Cook! Paint kindness rocks! So many ideas!

#boldmoves

AFFIRMATIONS
Why do people feel guilty scheduling time for themselves? Often, especially during stressful times, people drop anything that feels like a luxury, instead focusing on the necessities. Besides checking in on your family, friends, neighbors and co-workers, don’t forget to check in with yourself. Be your own best cheerleader with affirmations!

Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough

I’ve heard of a lot of different ways that people do affirmations. Some people call it a mantra, or a theme song, or even a soundtrack. Some people cut inspirational quotes out of magazines and put them on a vision board, others write them in a bullet journal or stick them on post it notes on their bathroom mirror.

Cheryl Strayed, Brave Enough

Start small. Think of your favorite movie quotes, your favorite song lyrics, your favorite authors or inspirational speakers. You’re bound to find favorite 1-2 line statements that cause you to pause and ponder the meaning. If you still can’t think of any, check out these statements that have helped me.

 

Take time to smell the roses…

I’m determined to use this period to live life differently. I’m going to do morning pages, more often than not. I’m going to listen to podcasts and read books. To force me to commit to myself, I’m going to schedule it in. 

 

  • Mondays I’ll share a little burst of inspiration over coffee.
  • Wednesdays I’ll read inspirational and motivational book excerpts that helped lift me up to celebrate making it halfway through our week.
  • Fridays We’ll gather, rant and rave about the week, about the new self-care things we tried, and kick off the weekend feeling the strength of our own presence.

Details will be on my social media so follow along if you are hope to find a self-care ritual simple enough to fit into your life.
Instagram: @WanderWithSarah Twitter: @WanderWithSarah
Facebook: Makes Me Wander   Pinterest @MakesMeWander^

*The two books I referred to were Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic (tonight’s book read on Instagram) and Cheryl Strayed’s Brave Enough.

Note: These afflinks provide you a link to buy but it won’t cost you any extra money – though I may earn a few cents towards my next book.

SHIT HAPPENS FOR A REASON

SH1

My kids used to carpool with friends that greeted them, “Hey, how’s your poop?” This wasn’t slang for “What great shit’s going on?” – they wanted to know about their business.  Things that make us go …hmmm, not that we don’t have potty mouths sometimes ourselves, but the question crossed personal boundaries we hadn’t considered, much less with our closest friends. 

Last month, after catching up with said closest friends at various intimate events, we returned home to find out shit rolls downstairs.  Our personal boundaries had been flooded by the eau de toilette of our above neighbors the whole weekend we were gone.

Yah, we wiiged out!

WTF: Wiig the Frack out!

We left that night, returning only to complete our insurance agent’s daily to-do list preparing for extensive restoration.

Why do a job half-assed? 8 days later, after spending all weekend dragging books and other heavy mementos to my garage to help make the restoration crew’s shitty job a little better and to eliminate risk of loss or damage, the laundry room overflowed soaking everything in my garage. Bravo – job well done.

SH2

From the first whiff, I had to focus on Ps: I searched for the Positive and Purpose and stayed focused on the Present (or risk seriously losing my shit):  

  • We’d wanted to thin out the garage anyway
  • It happened when school was out
  • Now we have an extended vacation with an ocean view…


After the third flood – tears pouring from my eyes upon my late arrival to work – thanks to the 30 min. additional morning commute – I was forced to find my paddle and set a direct course up shit creek to get past this. This shit was out of hand, but I could still control certain aspects.

Finding the silver lining, the gold at the end of the rainbow...

Finding the gold at the end of the rainbow…

Ironically it took this pain in the ass, (and small threats to my kids “You don’t Mommy to cry again, do you?”), to reassess and test my realm of control.

  • I haven’t been late to work since, flushing a long record of pushing the boundaries with my arrival time.
  • We told the landlords we wanted to wash our hands of our lease (early) before having a permanent home to move to

Reward: Tonight we rented a new upstairs apartment.

SH3

NOBODY WALKS IN LA – WE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL!

Before iTunes song previews, when one considered buying an album, we bought 45rpm singles featuring a few songs to help us decide. Side A boasted the desired song, flip Side B carried hidden gems!

Would you even know what to do with this?

Would you even know what to do with this?

Before Competitor sports eventertainment, when one considered running a street race, we relied on friends to lure us to the start. Once leaving the starting crowds, we roamed lost in the cement jungle until we miraculously stumbled across a finish line (or is that just me?). Though finishing was an accomplishment, on the flip side, it was boring with no hidden gems.

Where is the snack bar, I mean aid station?!

Where is the snack bar, I mean aid station?!

In 1997, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathons (RNR) took solitary sports and made them funtastic times with friends followed by a rockin’ after party! Runners or walkers enjoy different music every mile, enthusiastic cheer squads, and join an audience of thousands of music lovers!

What a rush to be a rock star in a crowd!

What a rush to be a rock star in a crowd of fans!
Image from Competitor.

I understand, considering a half or full marathon may make you sweat. If one never considered the full distance, could a few miles help persuade you?!

Plus these days, you never know who'll be rocking next to you!   Paul McDonald and Nikki Reed ran Vegas!

Plus, you never know who’ll be rocking next to you!
Paul McDonald and Nikki Reed ran Vegas!

Although many of my friends had front row seats to rock the LA ½ marathon, I hadn’t trained and planned to skip it. Though I dig the vibe of the RNR events, it wasn’t enough to make me want to do the smaller version. I’d seen races treating 5Ks like the warm-up band knowing all the cool kids were at the main show.  Then, not wanting to be left out, I jumped in last minute for the mini-marathon (“only” 3.5 miles).

Getting ready to rock! WTF: Wings to fly!

Getting ready to rock! WTF: Wings to fly!

Turns out, for Rock ‘n’ Roll events, showing up earns you rock star treatment! The start, course and rocking bands – all the same gig (until halfers go farther). The shirts swag and medal bling were equally cool!   For this Halloween run, costumes amused us as bands quickened our pace!

Aahs! store now features a whole section of  "running" costumes! Love it!

Aahs! store now features a whole section of
“running” costumes! Love it!

Skeptics argue “Why pay to see live artists when you hear them well enough at home?” I say, “Run alone anytime! RNR events celebrate your efforts racking up miles. Come bond with like-minded fun-seeking people on their best morning run ever!”

Awesome bands along the way and waiting for you at the finish line!

Awesome bands along the way and
waiting for you at the finish line!

This race snippet made me eager for the next street date – San Diego! One day I’ll tour with the band!

The coolest part is that it benefitted the ASPCA!

The coolest part is that it benefitted the ASPCA!
This starts my new medal group – my encore running career!

Come with me – let’s hit the road!

Maybe you haven't really raced if you haven't raced as Elvis!

Maybe you haven’t really raced if you
haven’t raced as Elvis!

LIFE LESSON: CARPE DIEM!

Today’s life lesson comes from a friend that I worked with at The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  She was an honored patient and fellow campaign manager who’d been through treatment and has been healthy for over a decade since!  Her name came up in conversation today while I was trying to contribute to others’ lives by donating blood. I sat down at the Be the Match table and they of course were eager to get me to sign up.  I told them I was already in the bone marrow registry from my time at LLS.  Turns out the gal I was chatting with also knew Kristine.

We chatted a bit about how Kristine was also one of the great success stories  in that the treatments for her blood cancer have gotten so much milder in comparison to her treatments endured just over a decade ago. She’s proof that, with dedicated individuals, progress can be made!

So from Kristine, I have borrowed this life lesson:  Life is precious. Life is short. Carpe Diem!

No time like the present – Share a hug!
Photo by HarlanH

This also was meaningful today because we lost our sweet neighbor whom we knew as “Grandma Willow.” Plus I was already planning attending a celebration of life on Saturday for someone my son’s age.  So, life is precious. LIfe is short. Life gets busy, but don’t let it get in the way of those that matter so make sure you make the time to sit with people and listen a while.  Carpe Diem! Share a hug!

RIGHT BACK TO THAT MORNING…

Beautiful Pepperdine University memorial in Malibu, CA
Photo by We-Will-Never-Forget

The morning began its usual routine. My baby slept while I showered, my wasband drove to work. When I got out of the shower, my phone was ringing. It was my friend Sharon and I chuckled that 6am was even early for her. I barely said “Hello” when she in her excitement asked “Did you see a plane hit the World Trade Center? Turn on the TV!” I was curious and planned to keep it on while getting ready. On the TV, the cameras were fixed on the towers, the north tower in flames, and were treating it as an unfortunate, yet ordinary, plane crash.

As I turned to get dressed, out of the corner of my eye the fireball erupted from the south tower. I turned back believing my eyes must be mistaken. I didn’t even yet know the full extent of what happened, but knew it was neither normal nor good. My mind raced searching for any explanations and immediately took sides. Logic and fear battled it out in my head while my eyes remained glued to the TV and its stream of horrific images. In a valiant effort to regain control, my head became overloaded, all of the energy left my body and I fell into the chair. On the opposite side of my being, I knew I was not dreaming because I felt the rock in my stomach and felt strange comfort from the ratty rough texture of the chair holding me. Immediately people said it, too, was a plane. I remember some group discussing the odds of 2 plane crashes originating from the same airport in the same day. They, nor I, “got” what was playing out in front of us.

Pentagon Memorial photographed by mla.march.penn
Click photo for info…

When the Pentagon was wounded, in the heart of our country, my world and security unraveled. Nothing was impossible now as I witnessed America under surprise attack. I believed this could spread like a virus and dreaded the possibilities. I grieved for the world that I’d been so eager to experience through my son’s eyes as it seemed to be sucked into something sinister. I contacted my wasband who expressed concern for a co-worker returning from D.C. that morning and they didn’t know if not hearing from him was good or bad. Sharing other’s concerns, for what we hoped was an unrelated issue, allowed me to take a step back and hold onto a string of hope. My body slowly unclenched each muscle and I thankfully channeled my thoughts towards prayers for Yen.

I called my mom desperate for her to “fix things” as only moms can. She tuned in right as the south tower billowed new, grayer smoke that we assumed was another explosion. When the smoke parted revealing that the tower was gone, my eyes and emotions could not agree that it disappeared before our eyes. Shocked, my mother and I clung to each other through the line praying that everyone was evacuated safely but knowing they weren’t. The chirping of the many downed firemen’s jackets still chokes me up to this day. I hung up the phone, desperate to check on my still sleeping son, to catch a glimpse of the beauty still in this world. I feared that by opening his bedroom door, I’d unleash the wrath of this monstrous morning onto him that, thus far, I’d been able to contain to the living room. As reports of the next plane crash began, my mind instantly mapped it as related.

Through the TV screen, my eyes braced the north tower to keep it upright. My heart, saturated by pain, embraced those people who chose their best option of leaping from the floors 100 stories up. As the north tower fell, chaos and emotion blew through me as this tragic, ironic, heartfelt, twisted, yet strangely elegant, moving death closed a chapter of history. There was no turning back now, no helping, no fixing. It was done, they were gone.

Foolishly attempting to follow the logic of a terrorist, I knew they were coming to L.A. next and I did not feel right going to work, separated from my child. I never wanted to entertain the thought, but considered that if we would die today, I’d want us to be together. I was also extremely anxious at the idea of going to work in the high-rise building – the only building in the world to have Mickey Mouse on it, with his hands up inviting LAX or Burbank flights to “Come and Get Me!” Reports speculated that the enemies were targeting defining American icons such as Wall Street, the entertainment industry, Disney, baseball and apple pie. I decided that my home wasn’t even far enough away. No place offered security. I felt guilty thinking my emotions caused me to be a chicken shit but relaxed some when my boss called and said that the company announced we should stay home with family.

Many people say that west coasters didn’t feel it as much, but I know so many people who worked with, were related to, or knew people that were lost – we were not untouched. As the details spilled out, the nation-wide moments of silence and the local memorial for my ex’s co-worker Yen came and went, my mind and body constantly battled over how much I should be to feel or how much more I could possibly ache over. My mind controlled my emotions as tightly as it could, but my heart felt that it owed it to every last person that was lost, especially the heroes, and the victims’ families, to know their stories and feel the loss. Eventually I was able to survey the emotional grounds trusting my body would dictate what I could handle at one time. Each year the heartache comes rushing back.

My “best friend that I’ve met once in person” said it the best. We need to remember the unity we all felt. “We need to pull together & remember we are one. America. Not a country divided, or they have “succeeded”. Never, never, never give up. My heart will be with all that lost their lives that day & to the families still suffering their losses. Bless our country – however you choose to do so.”

Share your stories (or links) about that day or ways you’re honoring the fallen.

Pay tribute to those lost in 9-11 by living for moment and the beauty of each day and give your family an extra hug!
Photo by https://www.facebook.com/freepeoplemb

I try to hold onto the beauty that came as a result of this tragedy – the heroes, the humanity, the dreams that will be continued by family and friends. While this may not have been Yen’s exact plan for how to provide improved medical technology to his home country of Ethiopia, the people who were loved and touched by him will carry out his dream.

LOS ANGELES RIOTS – WHAT I LEARNED

After getting out of Dodger town, Los Angeles, we watched from San Diego, as Angelenos lost it – their buildings, minds, even their humanity.  We tried to make sense of an irrational situation and learned a few new things that aren’t found in textbooks.

FIRES – Glued to our TVs, we learned to identify new fires (black smoke) from extinguished fires (white smoke). It hurt to see places we frequented go up in flames then burn to the ground. The riots covered over 30 square miles and fire crews couldn’t respond without police escorts.

MARTIAL LAW – In response to people becoming animals and slow response times, victims took laws into their own hands.  When I heard “Marshal Law” I thought we’d digressed back to the cowboy gun-slinging days.  I think it really meant that when 4,000 National Guardsmen arrived the morning after the riots ignited, they became the authority and local law enforcement answered to them.  It was surreal seeing humvee tanks patrolling the neighborhoods enforcing curfew (a parents dream, really). Eventually 10,000 National Guardsmen and almost 4,000 soldiers worked together.

NOT EVEN THE CITY BURNING DOWN CANCELS FINALS – The following Monday, business reopened, classes started again and some, but not all, finals were cancelled.  Proudly, the school was completely unscathed! Having the National Guard’s operations at the center of campus helped.

THE SAFEST GRADUATION IN HISTORY – I don’t remember much about graduation day. Supposedly Kirk Douglas received an honorary degree.  I remember sitting on the huge lawn in my cap and gown, looking up at the grand library, then farther up at the helicopter with machine guns hanging from both sides, circling overhead.  I could not hear a word over the engines.

For a long time I was angry. It made the transition from college to “real-life” a fast one. I didn’t see how people could do this to their homes and other humans. I’d felt they’d set their town back decades because any major business that could help build up the area would never return.

Fortunately, heroes have helped rebuild Los Angeles.  I prefer to end this with a story of heroism from the day it started… the man who helped save Reginald Denny’s life.

WTF: WAIT THERE’S FIRE!

We mindlessly wander through our routines, hopefully paying attention to what you’re doing, but hopping from place to place. Every so often, life throws a stick in your spokes and knocks you off course. Yesterday I flew so far I landed disoriented, quickly feeling for a familiar path. Wait, a signpost up ahead – next stop, the Twilight Zone!

1) Son’s wakes up with a temperature – a LOW temperature: Give me a fever of 102 and I know exactly what to do. Of course, right when I hand over my know-it-all parent book to my sister for my baby niece, life throws a new one at me.

2) Applesauce lid – Popped or poison: Shopping at the store for “sick” food, applesauce is the one thing my son asked for. When I get home, it didn’t pop when I opened it. Eat it or return it?

3) Get a call for a new job opportunity: A call from a previous temp employer asking me if I am available. Thankfully the timing from my current role may work out perfectly! Or, it may come down to who do I want to disappoint the least?

4) A friend called from E.R. to have me pick up her kids: One good note, I was in the right town at the right time for a seamless, swift detour.

5) Got daughter to softball game on time w/o begging favors: Second good note, at least now I could get my daughter to her game on time – or we would have been on time if we went to the right field.

6) Pitcher was an Olympian in a 7-year old body – My daughter’s WTF (Whoa, Tail of Fire?!) face was priceless after watching the meteor leave the pitcher’s hand, barrel through her strike zone and knock over the catcher without even flinching to hit it.

We couldn’t have dreamed all this possible in one day without sounding ridiculous, however, it worked out perfectly as it wouldn’t have run so smoothly had I been on my normal path, probably stuck in traffic!

Oh, and, everyone is better today except my daughter who still has a glazed look while mumbling “Fire, from ball, too fast!”

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU LEMONS…

…you go to a coffee shop, grab a lemon bar and latte and write about the *&^%#@!!

With most of my life, I am even-keeled. I dance through life, roll with it – Hakuna Matata! On occasion, a zinger gets through and under my skin. Recently a missile compromised the boundary of my personal dancing space and I could not let it go. I kept trying to work creatively on my blog but really, REALLY wanted to rant!

I never want to pollute my blog with negative sentiments and I made a pact to not trash things or reputations here. Then, I worried more, causing more blogging delays… This blog represents me wandering through life – good and bad. Am I filtering and falsely representing myself if I only present the glittery moments?

I clarified my purpose to capture the conflict and my experience, learn lessons, and share them with everyone. It’s like taking Grimm’s tales and Disneyfying them! Let me explain…

• Fairy tales happened a long, long time ago – so two days ago allows enough distance from the conflict to return with a fresh perspective.

• Fantasy stories weave negative, often scary or sad, situations with many make-believe threads. Sometimes reality hit levels so unbelievable that you couldn’t make this shtuff up!

• Great stories contain good, innocent protagonists battling evil antagonists who needs to be slayed to save humanity…

• Sprinkle with Magic – found in fruit, wands, sidekicks or anytime your influence changes someone else’s course.

• The purpose of documenting your conflict becomes to resolve it – usually after at least 3 different attempts. You only have powers to change yourself, but give them the benefit of the doubt – suggest positive paths. Then, figure out what you need to change internally instead.

• Happy endings may result from protagonists attitude make-over. More likely, the change in perception and behavior will be within you. Knowing that your writing may help even one person still instills happiness.

• Re-state the moral of your story and teach others to live it.

I used to warn people that if they tick me off they’d become a character in my books. At least now, it’ll have a happy ending!

I know I’m not the only one to find sanctuary in coffee shops!

RECOVERING PRINCESS: GOT OVER MYSELF AND JUST DID IT

Ruler of my universe…

Ever notice that sometimes smart people do stupid things? I’m a recovering Princess who’d joined a triathlon team despite my delicate posterior not gracing a bicycle seat in 27 years! Our first journey traveled near the Rose Bowl castle. I sighed hearing that a lap around the kingdom covered 3-ish miles. Having traveled that distance before, I would survive. Turning to leave, I heard “…Six times!” My blood grew icy as I fled beyond the cubicle woods in search of padded pantaloons for posterior protection.

I arrived to the far away kingdom’s border, where subjects warmed up their steeds. I mounted my silvery beast and followed suit. I plotted to ride as far for my first ride, as I could then return to a tub with musical bubbles – celebrating my first ride. The coaches made proclamations then sent us away – sun and wind through our helmets, reveling in the power of our own legs.

What, no shiny streamers?!

As I celebrated one lap and prepared for another, a man waved me down. I realized he wouldn’t whisk me away for a massage, rather he couldn’t let me escape until I knew how to change a bike tire. I cried, flirted and threw around my “First Practice” badge hoping he’d do it for me, but he was unresponsive. Eventually a kind soul came and instructed me while I did the work. After both wheels, I continued my journey! I made it 4-5 laps and returned to the cheering royal tunnel of love.

The coaches asked how I felt. I replied proudly “Tired – It was my first ride!” The coach unflinchingly responded, “You should’ve started earlier.” His sharp tongue cut me deeply but fairly. I instantly knew that doing “what I felt like” wouldn’t be enough. I would reach deep to bring my best to determine whether I sank or swam on triathlon day.

Honestly, I chronically suffer from underlying princess tendencies. Every workout afterwards, I panicked a little at new distances, new jobs, or new facebook accounts. While it seems easier to hire a huntsman to do your dirty deeds, I now prefer to stare down the dragon, arm-wrestle, defeat it, then turn around and help another do the same!

Slaying the beast…

GETTING IT OFF MY CHEST: A HEARTBREAKING SITUATION

Bitter divorces hit front page this week and I keep thinking about the aftermath. To couples that reach a quick amicable divorce, I applaud you. For the rest of us, it’s rough, exhausting, and sucks. Usually, divorce results from years (or 72 days) of an inability to compromise, so why would people become agreeable just because you agreed to divorce? If you insist on hanging on to prove you’re right, take your crazy sweet time. If you bore children, you need to suck it up and move beyond the divorce to prove that upending the children’s lives was “worth it.” I don’t mean by bad-mouthing the other parent. Contain the emotional pain and start growing immediately.

This week a horrible divorce went tragically wrong, leaving children without parents. According to lawyers, friends, and family quoted in the articles, the divorce dragged through court for years. If they think the kids weren’t affected – that’s malarkey. You may not bad-mouth your ex to the kids, but it shows in other ways. Sadly it appears that things were bad enough that restraining orders extended to the exes’ families.

I have the advantage of sharpened hindsight and six years of advice learned, yet the taste of how crazy divorce gets lingers. I remember some days felt so ridiculous when both redefine boundaries yet nobody respects them. I refused to speak about them hoping that they’d lose power, fueling healing instead.

I didn’t know them, two sides exist for any story, and they’re not here to defend themselves nor share what they wanted. What the kids really want should be the focus now. I am angry that the father put having the last word above all else. It bothers me that this ending doesn’t bring closure. This immediately threatened to roll into another war as the families continue battling trying to “win”. Haven’t the kids endured enough? Drawing this out because both families hurt more than humanly imaginable and want to blame each other will not make either side feel better. The kids need help learning how to live with this for the rest of their lives, but they deserve the chance to start the healing now – protect the kids.

Love the children! by Derksen Photography

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