Is there a cure for mornings?

Hi sisters. It’s me again. With my return to work just around the corner, I’m struggling with a bad case of ALL THE FEELS, and writing seems like a better coping mechanism than, say, curling up in a ball and crying.

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So, rather than lapse into some sort of meandering, sobbing post about how I will miss my girls when I go back to work (even though I could totally do that), let’s focus on something practical.

Mornings.

UGH. I am so bad at mornings. Anyone else? When I go to bed the night before, I tell myself, “Self, you are going to get up at X time and take a shower and get ready and BE AWESOME.” And then my alarm goes off, and I’m like, “THIS BED IS SO COMFY. I’M NEVER LEAVING.” Then I end up running around like a crazy person trying to get ready, going to school with my hair wet, and generally being a hot mess. Also a crying toddler is usually involved. (To be fair, the presence of toddler tears is not necessarily related to my state of readiness.) We end up running late for daycare, which means I’m squeaking in under the wire at work, and since my planning time is at the end of the day, the whole day just feels like a snowball-down-the-hill experience. Or a train that took off without me. Or something. I dunno. I’m having trouble with my figurative language this evening.

So how does one convince oneself to become a morning person, or a reasonable facsimile thereof? I love coffee, so that’s a potential motivator. However, a) daily lattes from a coffee establishment are not in the budget, and b) all of the coffee establishments that are conceivably on my way lack drive-thru service. So that’s out. We’ve discussed the morning playlist, which I’m hoping will help once the kids are up. However, before children are awake, STEALTH MODE is the name of the game. So that’s out, too.

Before the school year began, I told my counselor that getting up early enough to get myself properly ready for the day was my self-care goal. I managed to accomplish that goal more mornings than not, so in the spirit of Jess’s high fives, we will call that a win. So we’ll just hope I can recapture that for the remainder of the year, and that the children will cooperate by not waking up before their appointed times. (YEAH RIGHT.)

Insurance Denial

Hey sisters-

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Looks like a medieval torture device.

Remember that horrendous headgear I had in middle school? Not the sneaky behind-the-neck headgear but the big ol’ bar-across-the-front-of-my-face hardware? I used to wake up tangled in my afghan. I’m sure there were linebacker jokes made. That horrendous headgear didn’t even do its job. Twenty years later, I’m fighting jaw pain and getting ready for jaw surgery to fix my underbite and crossbite.

Or at least I thought I was. Today, I received a letter from my insurance company declaring that the surgery won’t be covered. Ugh. Nothing knocks you down a peg like a big company who’s never met you deciding that you’re not worth fixing.

Guess I’ll start playing the lottery,

Abby

With a capital s that rhymes with… I dunno.

Dear sisters,

I’m sick of being stressed. Anyone else? Do you think there is some way to just turn off the stress switch in one’s brain? Because what good does it do, really? I can worry about whatever it is until the cows come home, but it won’t change the outcome. Can I just make a conscious decision to be chill about things? Does that work? Is that even a thing?

As an aside, is this reminding anyone else of Larry the Cucumber? When do I have to share?” “Why do I have to share?” “What ever happened to Sonny and Cher?”, questions, questions, questions!

OK, back to the task at hand.

Long story short, I’m super stressed about going back to school. I could make a list of the reasons why, but I’m not going to. Mostly because I’m hungry and want to get a snack. (Leftover Easter candy, anyone?) I’m thinking perhaps I’ll call this a mental health experiment and try being chill about going back to work. (And by “chill”, I mean “only mostly stressed” instead of “bat-crap-crazy stressed”.) I will only be at work for two days before spring break, so if it’s a disaster I can go back to being a stressball after break.

6b4d86b29a23c69e3415fa1b12ceb20f5c6ec6d39fa8ee51f82081743f5e2135It’s worth a shot, right?

Sara

 

Girl Scout Cookies

Hey sisters,

Of my 430 students, approximately half of which are female (based on national population averages), only one asked me to order Girl Scout cookies. I have no idea how many of those 215 female students actually belong to a troop, but I do know I only heard one sales pitch.

So I said, “Yes, of course I’ll take six boxes.”

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Should I have gone for a dozen?

Living by the Girl Scout Law,

Abby

PS One box down.

Storing up sunshine

Do you guys remember the story of Frederick? You know, the little mouse who stored up words and colors and sunshine for the long winter ahead? That’s what these last few days of maternity leave feel like. I’m storing up snuggles and giggles and stories and dance parties and leisurely multi-course breakfasts accompanied by Daniel Tiger. The ability to roll out of bed when the girls wake up. Staying in pjs all day. Watching Netflix and snuggling the baby during afternoon nap time.

In just a few short days it will be back to harsh reality: 5:30 am alarm clocks and frantic mornings and crying children loudly protesting the injustices of life.

For the record, it is completely unjust, from the unkind school start time to the sorry state of parental leave in the US to the reality of a world where the jobs that used to singlehandedly provide a comfortable existence no longer do. No, daughters of mine, it is not fair, but we have an incredibly good life, and ultimately the trials of these early wake-up calls are small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.

During the school year, our time with our kids is concentrated to morning and evening- two busy and stressful times of day, prone to meltdowns from parents and children alike. So my goal is to try to change those into positive times of day. To quote our friend Daniel Tiger:

I’m not exactly sure how we will accomplish this goal, but I’m hoping that a lot of caffeine and a good morning playlist will help. Suggestions? (For the music, that is, although I’ll also accept Starbucks gift cards and/or recommendations of your favorite coffee-type beverage.)

Sara

PS True to form, I now feel inadequate because my first two posts have been a) of insufficient length and b) insufficiently funny/excessively serious. #comparedtowhat #idontevenknow #inferioritycomplex #ifthatsalrightwithyou #sorryforbeingsorry #argh

Mental High-Fives

Hey Sisters,

So, I’m currently in the midst of prepping for my third half marathon. The race is on May 1, right before the end of the semester, and so far, training is going pretty okay. I’ve been enjoying running more as the weather gets warmer and I’m more excited to have an excuse to be outside. We should pause here, though, to acknowledge the fact that I’m running a half marathon. I’m running. I’m planning to run a distance that has marathon in the name. I’m participating in a thing called a marathon that has nothing to do with summer break and Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman. (Do you guys remember that summer? That was a great summer.) Okay, but really – and this is not my first time. I’ve successfully completed 26.2 miles of running (with a six month pause in between). I ran ten (slow and cranky) miles on Sunday. Marvel, one and all, and be amazed, as we think back to my honestly traumatizing gym class experiences in elementary and middle school, when I could not run an entire mile, thankyouverymuch, without walking and/or wheezing. I took an aerobics class for my gym credit in high school so that I could avoid running miles and playing sport games involving coordination and could just bounce around doing step aerobics videos. (“My step came in the mail! Let me just run… down the steps… to get my step…”)

We must ask then – wha’ happened? How did this become a thing in my life? (I’m pretty sure we’ve talked about this before, but I promise, there will be a point to this eventually.) I tried running on and off in college, once or twice a semester, with no great success. The summer before my senior year, though, things changed. I came back from studying abroad with a newfound sense of determination, I guess, and had exactly one really great idea: mental high-fives. Mental high-fives early and often. I started enthusiastically congratulating myself on my great fitness accomplishment as soon as my feet hit the pavement. Are you wearing running shoes? Are you outside? You did it! Are you moving away from your house? Yes! You’re still doing it! You are a success! Are you getting tired now, and thinking about walking? That’s okay! You’re still outside! Moving! You ran today! Hooray! High-five!

What’s the value to this plan? Turns out I was not very good at running, but I am even worse at enjoying things that I feel like I’m not very good at.(#reasonsourfamilydoesn’tplayboardgames) Previous fitness attempts involved a lot of self criticism. I’d make a plan, like “run to the park”, and then get tired on the way there, and quit running, and feel like a failure, and then NEVER TRY TO RUN TO THE PARK AGAIN because trying (and failing!) to run to the park just made me feel bad about myself. For a while I figured the answer was just “try harder”. But it’s hard to get better at something without trying at all, so the answer for me was actually “do what you can” which turned into being able to do more the next day. Or the next week. Or the next year. (You’ll notice that several years elapsed between when I started a semi-sustainable running habit and when I thought signing up for a half marathon was a good idea.)

Alright. So why am I bringing this up again? It’s spring break for me right now, where “break” is code for “spending a week in the library trying to get caught up on all the projects and also procrastinating and kind of hating yourself”. (That name is much less catchy, granted.) Unfortunately, the procrastination/dread-of-doing-the-things isn’t limited to break. It’s been a real bother this semester. I tend to start the day with lofty goals, and I’m even on a fellowship this semester, which means I’m not teaching, which means I can be extra ludicrously ambitious. The day begins and I start trying to do a thing. That’s when I discover that the thing is hard! It’s hard and maybe I’m not being immediately or obviously successful. This is when the internal commentary steps in: so you’re not done yet, huh. looks like it’s not going so well. this is really important, so it’s too bad you’re screwing it up. probably never going to get a job. you’re really not cut out for this. look at how much you’re struggling. if you were smarter, this would be easier. but you’re not. (GAH IT’S EXHAUSTING JUST TRYING TO TYPE THAT OUT NO WONDER I’VE BEEN FEELING SO CRAPPY.) So I’ve gotten to thinking about the ways I can break the cycle.

Enter: Mental High-Fives. Early. Often. Is there a way to translate this strategy to my work life? (Side note: either the unthinkable is happening and I’m successfully making a SPORTS METAPHOR or we can say I’m just thinking mathematically and trying to generalize a technique to a slightly different situation. Your call.) I’m going to try it. I’m going to try to set attainable goals, but mostly I’m going to try to give myself a big mental high-five for trying. For starting. For showing up and doing the work, regardless of the outcome or the value or the merit. That was thing about running for me – I had to stop the constant evaluation of my success, mid-stride, to be able to get anywhere. So let’s do it. High-fives for showing up and trying to do a thing. I’ll let you know how it goes. (We may not be off to a great start, since I just spent a good chunk of my library time writing up this manifesto instead of, you know, doing actual work.)

 

High-fives all around,

Jess

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PS. A secondary strategic point for anyone actually thinking about starting a running habit: cute workout clothes you’re excited about wearing. Abby, you and I went to Old Navy together  the week I got back from France, I think, and we got matching running shorts. Very important part of the process.  Third strategic point: encouraging friends. I have had a group of really wonderful people show up in my life and hold me accountable to getting outside and getting moving at various points. Most of their names start with “K”. So… there’s that.

 

Mommed.

Dear Sisters,

I’ve been mommed. My whole life has been mommed. I used to be cool and do cool things, and now I live in the suburbs and drive a VAN.

Sigh.

And yet I really love my life. Geographically speaking I’m living in familiar territory (hello, G-funk-ville) but somehow I’ve stumbled into a life that would be completely foreign to my younger self. As a stalwart independent-single-woman-thankyouverymuch, I never pictured myself becoming your typical married mom with a couple of kids. I go to a CRC church, for Pete’s sake. And did I mention the van??

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I’m typing this with my right thumb while attempting to nurse an overtired baby who desperately needs to go to sleep so that I can have a drink and watch TV. This is my real life, and I love it. Well, most of the time, anyway. Ask me again once I’m done with maternity leave and back to work, and I may have a different answer. But that is a post for another day…

 Here’s to the unexpected life,

Sara