I’ve had an “ah-ha” moment…again. I feel like I’ve had a lot of those lately & I’m curious if me documenting this journey is helpful for you, or even entertaining. It’s very cathartic for me but I so wish I could pop my head through the screen & see who that is on the other side reading about my life. Blogging can be such a healing, communicative, wonderful medium but it can also be downright bizarre!
I see it’s been 12 days since I’ve posted, my first feeling when I see that is complete disappointment but on the flip side I’m learning a really cool lesson, actually I’d even call it a lifestyle change…I’m learning to take ‘Small Bites’. I’m no longer planning out my days & weeks in advance hoping to find some peace by forging a path of extreme organization & diligence that will lead me to my place in life, because isn’t that what we’re all looking for, instead I’m going to take life one nugget at a time.
To properly explain I should probably fill you in on the past 12 days…
So you know how I did the Easter Egg segment on TV last week with the girls? It was amazing, like, wow, dream come true where I just have to pinch myself because I can’t believe this is real life, & I got to bring my girls on TV with me, how ridiculously cool is that?! BUT, there is a catch. Those segments, even though they’re only 4-6 minutes long, take a ton of preparation. They usually air on Thursdays & I’d say it takes the entire week to prepare. I won’t get into all the details, all the details aren’t important, I just want you to get that it was a week of high stress, albeit good stress, but stress nonetheless. I’m sure you can relate. Then we also had family come visit for the weekend, once again, wonderful happy times & I just love having them but there just is stress when you have company coming to stay. Then it was Easter, oh dear, Easter.
(That was “Mr John” in the bunny suit by the way, best $24.99 I ever spent!)
Four years ago I decided I wanted to host an Easter brunch & egg hunt at our house. When we first moved here I had almost no friends so once we had a little handful of friends who had kids that were friends with our children I felt a need to strengthen our social circle by having people over our home. It makes me happy & I think it’s good for our family, it gives us roots & support. Annual Halloween & Christmas parties were already taken so I decided to claim Easter & make it an annual brunch & egg hunt. As gatherings you’re hosting can be, it was stressful, but always so much fun.
As time went by our family began to settle & grow & by last year we ended up having 40 people over our house on Easter! FORTY. My house is not big people, it’s a pretty average medium size house. It was also raining so we couldn’t even use our deck or outdoor space to help give people some room to breathe. It was amazing to see all these wonderful people that we’ve grown to love & share our lives with but it was also really overwhelming. All that to say this Easter, because of last year & also because I’m trying to consider my health limitations we still had the egg hunt & brunch but it was MUCH smaller. Only the morning show, my family that was here already & two friends with their kids. It was small but SO much fun, truly one of those days where at the end you plop down on the couch, look around & go, wow, that was really nice! BUT it was still work, it was preparation of food, shopping for eggs not to mention it was still a full day of being “on” which I now know being “on” for too long doesn’t go so well with my body. Once again, not complaining, this is all ‘fun stress’ but I’m learning even ‘fun stress’ isn’t good if you have too much of it. (Oh if only I had the innate laissez-fare of Sophie)
I went to bed Easter night feeling extremely tired but also extremely relieved that my marathon week was over. I could finally relax…at least that’s what I thought.
On Monday morning I woke up at 4am with a raging migraine. The kind where any movement causes these horrible throbs of clutching pain across my forehead & down my neck, I took my regular migraine medicine (I’ve had migraines since I was a kid & almost always one dose of Imitrex completely resolves my headache) & tried to quietly get into the shower without waking the peacefully sleeping munchkins that had at some point crawled into my bed during the nights, & sat with the hot water running over my head, hoping it would off a little relief while I waited for the medication to kick in. I also remember eating crackers…in the shower. The thought was a little food would help the medication get digested & also help prevent any nausea. I’m chuckling now at the visual, I can’t be the only person who eats in shower, right?
After the hot water ran out I got out of the shower, wrapped my head in a towel & snuck back into bed. I was able to dose off for two hours until around 6:30a when Sam woke up. I opened my eyes to her tapping me, “Mama? Mamaaa? Wake up!”, & as soon as my eyes opened it truly felt like a truck was sitting on my head. You know when they ask you at the doctor how you’d rate your pain? (I hate that question by the way, it’s so subjective & I never know how to answer) This was for sure a “9”. I stumbled downstairs, grabbed a bad of frozen berries from the freezer & buried myself on the couch with the ice cold bag on my head. Thank goodness my Dad, Stepmom & sister were all still there because I just knew this was one of those migraines that would absolutely debilitate me & since the Imitrex obviously hadn’t worked I knew I needed to go to the ER. I asked my Dad to take me & then went through the drill of IV meds used for migraines & also nausea medication since I couldn’t stop vomiting, so much for the shower crackers, for the next 4 hours. Eventually the hospital meds re-hydrated me & did make enough of a dent in my migraine that I was able to go home & sleep for a few hours, every so slowly over the next 24 hours my migraine dissipated & I followed up with my doctor the next day. He said without a doubt the migraine was my body reacting to all of the stress. Even though they were all fun things, things I wanted to be happening, they were still stressful & the migraine was my body’s way of flicking the bird to my brain, shutting off the engine & saying “Screw you, I’m out.”
This experience left me in a really confusing position. How am I supposed to live my life, chase my dreams & give everything to my family if I also have to pull back so my body doesn’t hate me for it? After my doctor’s appointment I came home & the TV was on E!, I saw a promo for ‘Giuliana & Bill’ & I thought to my myself, “How does SHE do it? She’s throwing herself into her career, (the promo showed how during her reality show she was also getting ready to launch a clothing line…in addition to HER REALITY SHOW) raising a baby & also beating breast cancer. THIS DOES NOT ADD UP! What am I doing wrong that I can’t pursue work, be a great mother, & also understand my bodies’ limitations? Of course in God’s perfect timing, the next day I had my monthly appointment with my therapist/life coach who I’ve been seeing to help guide me through all of the emotions & changes since receiving my diagnosis at Mayo Clinic.
As soon as we sat down I told her, “Listen, I know we only have an hour so let’s get to it, I need to know, how do I pursue life to the fullest when I also have a body that has far more limitations than my mind does? I have so many opportunities & open doors right now, how do pursue them when I’m not allowed to push?”
I was pretty surprised by how quickly & easily she was able to answer that question, while I don’t remember her exact words it was something along the lines of this…
First, in order to function at your body’s full capacity, whatever that is, you need to be in optimal health. Whether it’s Dr’s instructions, exercise, paying attention to what you eat, or knowing your body’s threshold your first priority needs to be making sure you’re operating with a full tank of gas. Second, it’s ok to take ‘small bites’ when it comes to acheiving your dreams. It’s ok to take it one day at a time, to see your end goal & take little nibbles, as you can, to get there.
When she said that a wave of relief came over me.
When I think about everything I want to do right now it’s so easy to be completely buried at the thought of accomplishing it all, much less doing it with the asterisk of “don’t push yourself too much unless you want to end up in the hospital again.” I’ve found that it’s then all to easy for me to swing to the other end of the pendulum & just do nothing. This thought of ‘small bites’ though, whether it’s one task at a time, one day at a time, heck maybe even one hour at a time, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing if you want to change your life. It can be brick by brick, as you can & before you know it you’ve built your dream house.
Before this ER visit followed by my revelation in therapy I had been trying to plan out my life weeks at a time & you know what, I usually just ended up disappointed in myself for not being able to achieve it, or even worse I did push myself & then felt physically ill from trying too hard. Now though I’ve taken the guessing game out of how far I should push myself & in what direction out of it. I’m letting my faith lead me one day at a time.
I hope I didn’t just lose some of you by sharing that but it’s my honest truth & that’s what we do here on LPM, we don’t sugar coat it & we don’t censor ourselves, we share our unedited truths, however they may look.
While I have this vision of what I’d like my future to look like I truly believe that being on the path God has set for me, even if it looks different than what I’ve envisioned, will be what brings me true happiness & peace in the end. So with that in mind, just like having that ‘sweet spot’ of time with my girls every day, (which is still a work in progress by the way) now I also have a moment of quiet thankfulness every morning. I realize how granola, hippy trippy that might sound but I SWEAR to you it makes a true difference in my day.
It goes a little something like this…after I get home from taking the girls to school, before the tasks of the day take over, I sit down (I always look for the where the sun is shining in my house, there’s something about literally sitting in the light that makes me feel closer to God) & I sit, with my eyes closed & my hands open. Literally open your hands as if someone is handing you a gift. (because guess what, they actually are) Next, no matter how unthankful I feel at that moment I start to thank God, outloud, for everything I’m thankful for. An interesting thing usually happens when I do this, there’s something about saying outloud everything you have in your life that is wonderful that changes your perspective. For instance my mornings lately have been so hard with Sophie. Everything is a battle, putting on socks, getting your backpack, choosing the clothes…I don’t know how many times I do the warning count to 3 each morning…but when I’m in the process of thanking God for her I’m forced to list off everything I love about her…her strength, her zest for life, her mind that almost always sees life through an iridescent, sparkling bubble of Sophie-ness…can you see how this can change the way your morning was heading? (PS-It also works wonders for how you might be thinking about your spouse that day.)
My morning ‘quiet time’ isn’t just about reminding myself of what I’m thankful for, it’s also a time I ask God to lead me to what He wants for me that day. With those open hands, and now an open thankful heart, I pray everyday that God will use me as a vessel to help someone, somehow. There have been a few times where by doing this, by leaving behind the preconceived idea of where I wanted that day to lead me I’ve been able to experience an amazing circumstance where God used me to help someone in a way I didn’t see coming. I can tell you right now, that feels so much better than being able to check off any ‘to do’ list I had set for myself.
Of course there are still things that need to be scheduled, lists that need to be made & ‘checked off’, but as for ‘my path’ that I’ve been stressing so much about sprinting down I’m trying a new way of walking blindly. Somehow not knowing where I’m going is a heck of a lot more peaceful than seeing where I want to be & stressing about how to get there.