There are times in everyone’s lives when the bad stuff hits.
Sometimes the bad stuff hits all at once. Sometimes the bad stuff hits gradually over time. Sometimes the hits are so bad that you don’t feel like getting out of bed, leaving your house, or answering your phone. Sometimes the bad stuff makes you turn inward. Sometimes it makes you implode on yourself. Sometimes it makes you explode on others. No matter how you react to the bad stuff, one thing is shared — the bad stuff exists for all of us at some point in our lives.
As I have been reflecting on our shared experiences with the bad stuff lately, I have been considering them within the context of this time of year. Spring is almost here and with it comes a collective shift of our focus to the future. This is a time of reflection and goal setting. At times like these, I always turn towards inspirational quotes to keep me grounded in reality while also striving towards my goals.
This, one of my favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt, made it’s way into my social media
feed the other day.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.― Theodore Roosevelt
For me, this quote is about being your best, striving for greatness, and setting up the best future possible for yourself, knowing that it will take fight, courage and, sometimes, even failure. But, really the quote is so much more. It is a quote filled with questions:
The reality is, though, it truly doesn’t really matter whether you succeed or fail. What matters is that you are out there — you are in the arena. You are trying. You are doing. You are living. And, until we know failure, loss and sacrifice, we cannot truly appreciate the sweetness of success and all the beauty life has to offer us.
So, to the person in the arena, with the face marred by “dust and sweat and blood,” look around. If you take a moment to pause your battle and take stock of where you are right now, you will see that you are not alone. There are lots of us in the same arena and while we all are fighting versions of our own battles, our own bad stuff, some of us are here to help fight each other’s battles as well. This arena can be a scary, dangerous place but it isn’t a vast empty space.
The arena isn’t a space in which we all fight our own battles; instead, the arena is a place where we can gain strength from each other and from knowing that we are not alone. Reach out to those around you in your arena right now and let them help you fight your battles and your bad stuff.
The real living in life, after all, takes place in that space between failure and success. It takes place in the arena.
Ladies, I have an important message for you.
You know that voice in your head — the not so nice one?
The one that tells you all the ways other people are better than you.
The one that tells you that you aren’t smart enough, pretty enough, funny enough, skinny enough, nice enough, rich enough, talented enough, popular enough.
The one that tells you that you are a bad mother, bad friend, bad sister, bad employee, bad wife.
Yes, that voice.
She’s become too comfortable in your brain.
She’s become too familiar.
You don’t need to listen to her.
You don’t have to be perfect. No one is perfect.
You don’t have to have it all figured out. No one does.
You don’t have to be able to do it all. No one can.
When that voice starts ringing in your head, picture yourself turning down her volume, like you would on the tv or radio.
Remind yourself that she lies.
Turn up the volume on all the good things about yourself.
You ARE enough.
You DO matter.
You ARE loved.
That’s the only voice that you should listen to — the kind one.
That’s the truth.
You know those days that just don’t go right?
Days where you sleep later than you planned.
Days where you can’t outrun the dark cloud following you around.
Days where you spill your entire protein shake and then your giant glass of water all over your rug 4 minutes before a work meeting.
Days where you stub your toe while rushing down the hallway.
Days where you accidentally forget to pay a bill, return an important call, or miss a text message.
Days where the brand new rug cleaner stops working.
Days where everything annoys you and nothing feels right.
Sometimes you can reframe it all.
Sometimes you can laugh it off.
Sometimes you can take a deep breath and reset.
Sometimes you just can’t.
Sometimes some days are just not meant to be great or even good days.
On those days, pour yourself a hot cup of tea (be careful you don’t spill it on yourself), soak in a hot bath, or leaf through a light and airy magazine.
Give yourself a break and cut yourself some slack.
Then go to bed.
Trust that tomorrow is a new day.
You can try it all again tomorrow.
I know I will.
“You’re one of the strongest moms I know. If you can’t do it, I can’t either.”
My friend’s words jumped out of the text at me, hitting me right in the gut. That negative voice in my head, always lurking just beneath the surface, was quick to question her view of me.
How could it be that someone sees me as strong when lately all I feel is weak, a growing sense that I am a failure, and the notion that I am shrinking away from everyone?
Originally published on Her View From Home. Click HERE for full article.
Sometimes the darkness sets in.
Like many people right now, I am emotionally spent.
My thoughts are cloudy.
My creativity is stunted.
My attention span is non existent.
The arguing and tension and constant back and forth of the past week has completely drained me.
The anger, hatred, mistrust, and insults have deflated my hope.
I could feel the darkness coming this time and I tried hard to make it stop.
I decorated my house for the holidays to usher in some cheer.
I rearranged my living room to give a refresh to my surroundings.
I limited social media.
I firmed up my boundaries with people that drain me.
I spent time being with and talking to people I love.
I clung to anything that felt remotely like hope.
But the darkness still came.
I opened my eye this morning and felt it - the crushing weight of depression and anxiety. The air was thick with it.
So, I stopped fighting it.
This morning I let the tears come. I moved some of my “to do” items to later this week. I gave myself permission to be gentle with myself. I leaned in to the things I can control.
Although I feel the weight of the darkness, I will show up today for the people who need me.
I will be kind to myself.
I will keep looking for signs of hope and cling to them tightly.
I will continue to try to spread lightness, even in times of darkness.
I will celebrate the little things.
For those of you feeling it all too, remember that you are not alone.
This hard time will pass.
Brighter days are ahead.
They have to be.
Life is messy today.
Right now from my home office window, I can see the first snow of the season as it drifts gently down into my backyard — a backyard that still is somehow straddling not just summer and fall but now also winter.
The hammock that I like to lounge in on hot summer days is still sitting under my favorite tree.
That favorite tree is still in the process of shedding its vibrant orange and red leaves, many of which now cover my backyard.
Summer, fall, and winter are alive in my backyard-all at once.
My yard is in the space between. The space where nothing is clear. The space of messy overlap.
My life feels like it is in that messy space too.
My kids are remote learners but also attend school in person a few days each week.
I am working full time but I haven’t seen the inside of my actual office in months.
I am exhausted but also cannot sleep.
I am content but also cry at the drop of a hat.
I am hopeful but also anxious.
I feel loved but also lonely.
I long for the warmth of summer but also enjoy the forced hibernation winter brings.
I crave connection but also need time to be alone.
I am like my backyard — messy, unclear, and clinging to different seasons all at once.
Today I will embrace the beauty that this in-between space brings.
Today I will marvel at the scene of summer, fall, and winter co-existing in one messy space. One beautiful messy space.
Sometimes there is beauty in the mess.
Even my mess.
Even yours too.
Today I painted my nails two different colors.
I’m sure some of you are thinking “Girl, what’s the big deal? I paint my nails ten different colors each week!”
But when you are like me, you get comfortable with being comfortable. You don’t stray too much over the lines. You avoid change.
You order the same meals at the same restaurants.
You watch the same tv shows over and over again.
You wear the same clothes week after week — often buying the same shirts and pants in different colors and sometimes in the same colors because you know you like them.
You look for the predictable, the routine, the ordinary — especially in the midst of a pandemic. Those ordinary things became a lifeline for me this year.
As the world outside me swirled into chaos over the last several months, I leaned into the things I could control and the things I could predict. I responded to the daily uncertainty of our lives by choosing to live my life in comfort, a space that sometimes felt like control.
But today I leaned a bit out of my comfort zone. I embraced something unpredictable and different.
I chose change.
Yes, today I remembered that even though it’s safe and cozy sometimes to live inside the lines, sometimes the things that make us feel secure are actually the things that hold us back from living life to its fullest.
So, to those of you out there coping like me — by choosing order, predictability, and ordinary — today might be a good day to stray just a bit outside the lines.
I can’t promise that you won’t regret it but I can promise that it’s an important exercise.
Hey you out there, the woman holding back who she really is, stop.
It’s ok to step into your light.
It’s ok to show up and be yourself.
It’s ok to finally figure out who your real people are.
It’s ok to want more, ask for more, need more.
It’s ok to be the person you really are.
It’s ok to ask for help.
It’s ok to break a little, feel lost, and struggle with the next steps.
It’s ok to make changes in your life.
It’s ok to be vulnerable.
It’s ok to acknowledge that life is sometimes really freaking hard.
It’s ok to be 100% you.
It’s ok to be proud of yourself.
It’s ok to be happy.
It’s ok to be ok.
I lost it this morning.
The weight of the past 6 months caught up with me.
My favorite time of the year — the reset provided by fall and back to school — finally made it to my house, albeit 3 weeks later than usual.
It’s my annual chance to reorganize my life, my routines, my systems, and my brain. New clothes for the boys for back to school, expanded hours for my clients, new classes for me to teach at the college level, and evenings spent on a sports field watching my boys play their favorite game usually fill my life this time of year.
Of course, none of that happened this year.
But today did mark the start of the in-person portion of the school year for my boys — the first time my oldest would step foot inside the high school as a student, not a visitor, and the same for my youngest at the middle school. It was kind of a big deal.
But, I lost it.
I slept through my first alarm and spent the rest of the morning playing catch up, racing through our morning to do list with one eye on the clock because they couldn’t be late — not on their first day.
Then the negative thoughts started.
I felt the weight and guilt of having to turn yet another handful of interested clients away because I cannot increase my hours this fall due to at-home schooling 3 days/week.
The state of disarray that is my house with backpacks, school supplies, masks, half-finished projects, dog toys, and a weird blend of clean and dirty clothes was all I could see everywhere I turned.
The bickering on social media flashed before my eyes as I absentmindedly scrolled through my feed while waiting for my tea to steep. Negativity and stress was everywhere this morning.
When I went to wake up my now middle schooler for his first day of school, I found the grumpy, moody, developmentally appropriate but patience-testing version of him before me.
I lost it.
Everything boiled over.
The doubts about whether this hybrid model is the right choice for him, whether this school was the right choice for him, whether this town was the right choice for him, it all rushed to the surface and I yelled.
I lost it.
I imposed an early bedtime, said I would take away all electronics, took away his option to walk home from school today, and I cried.
Today was our big day as a family and I lost it.
I failed to see that everything I was feeling, he probably was also feeling.
Six long months without being in school. Six long months of hearing about this virus. Six long months without the routine and structure that had filled most of his 12 years on this planet.
He doesn’t want this. He wants the world back to the way it was. He wants to play football. He wants to go to school full time with ALL of his friends. He wants to ride the bus while sharing a seat with his friend. He wants to sit across from his friends at a lunch table.
I failed to recognize all of that this morning and instead focused on how he wanted to wear ratty sweatpants with a hole in the knee to school and had a negative, grumpy attitude.
We were sure to say I love you and hug goodbye after our meltdowns but there were no cheerful first day of school photos for him.
Because I lost it.
We all have mornings like I had today — mornings where everything feels rushed and wrong and the choices you make are just the wrong ones. The guilt from those wrong choices is heavy and thick and can stick with us long after the bad moments have passed.
The truth is, no amount of “hold onto hope,” “be patient,” “give it time,” or “find the bright spot” memes or stories can actually take the stress of reality away. Sometimes life is just hard and it all catches up to you, washing over you like a gigantic rogue wave. Sometimes you just have to feel your feelings. I guess this morning was one of those times for him and for me.
So, what do you do after you lose it? What do you do when you regret the choices you have made as a parent, a partner, a friend, a worker?
Sure, I could sit in this guilt and negativity all day but that will probably only set off a whole big chain of further negativity. Today I choose to reflect on it, learn from it, take ownership for my actions, and reset.
Tomorrow is another day and I will try my best to do better, to be better.
Also, maybe I will set a back up alarm.
Sometimes the silence is so loud, it is deafening.
Sometimes in life you expect to hear from certain people, the people that are closest to you.
You assume you will hear things like “I miss you” or “I love you” or “Way to go, I’m so proud of you!”You think that surely they will call you, message you, text you, email you, post on your social media.
But, sometimes, the people closest to you are nowhere to be found.
The silence left in the wake of their absence is so loud that it rings in your ears.
The silence is all you can hear.
Their missing presence is all you can see.
But in focusing on the silence, you miss out on all the things that ARE there.
Sometimes you need to step away from the noisy silence and open your ears to what else is around you.
Maybe it’s not the people you thought it would be, but I bet you will find people there for you — reaching out to you, acknowledging you, appreciating you, needing your presence.
Turn down the volume on the people who are silent so that you can turn up the volume on the people who are present.
Most importantly, turn up the volume on your own inner cheerleader. Be the person that applauds your successes, that encourages you to keep going, that makes you feel like you are enough.
Be the voice that drowns out the silence.
Mental Health & Wellness
Now, more than ever, we all need a little support to help get us through the rough spots. With all the pressures of life, it can be a challenge to find time to not only take care of yourself but also to truly understand who you even are anymore.