Choose Your Mood

Yesterday I took my lemons and I made some lemonade.

I did a little thought experiment that allowed me to have a better day than I would have otherwise, having gotten up on as wrong a side of the bed as possible.

I’ve written about my troubles getting enough sleep before. The first struggle is getting to sleep on time. The second struggle is staying asleep. Insomnia runs in my family. My mother, my aunt, and I all deal with it.

Now that I’m five months pregnant, I’ve got the old pregnancy insomnia.

Some people do fine on very little sleep. I do not. It makes me feel emotional and depressed.

The other night I got to bed relatively late again. Then my son woke me up crying at 3:30 and I could not for the life of me get back to sleep. Just when I felt I was finally dozing off again, and indeed dreaming, my husband’s alarm went off.

Now I felt like crying.

When I told him I’d been awake for hours he kindly got out of bed without pressing snooze (he’s an incorrigible snoozer) but it was too late. I wasn’t going to get that last half hour of sleep either.

This was my day to get things done while my son was at school! He goes to preschool two days a week and I had already spent most of Tuesday resting because I was just feeling completely wiped out that day – a sort of five-months-pregnant-sick-day.

I couldn’t bear to waste another day that I could be catching up on blogging and housework and dreaming big dreams for my self.

I felt the familiar tug. The depressed feeling. The negative spiral of thoughts. I felt like I might just cry all day long. Like I’d never make it through the day doing anything of value.

And then I stopped myself. I took a deep breath and I decided to be positive.

I thought, What about those times in your life when something really exciting is happening (like you have house guests you haven’t seen in years or you are going on a trip) and you pop out of bed despite being tired?

Couldn’t I just pretend it was one of those days?

What if I just got up today and enjoyed being alive?

What if I was excited to watch my son wake up and say his first adorable words of the day?

What if I was excited about catching my gym class after dropping him off at school?

It didn’t go of completely without a hitch. Right before I got out of bed my husband was tiptoeing out of the room to go on his morning run and I rolled over and complained to him,

“Sebby woke me up at 3:30 and I just couldn’t get back to sleep after that.”

“Aw. Sorry babe. Maybe you can take a nap today.”

(Here is where I lost it for a second – let’s blame the pregnancy hormones shall we?)

“Sure, because that’s how I love to spend my whole day!” I said as the tears welled in my eyes and my face began to crumple up in the cry-face.

I threw the sheet over my head.

“I know. I know it’s hard when you’re tired, but you will feel better if you exercise.” (I had already mentioned when the alarm went off that I didn’t know if I could go to the gym like I always do on Friday.)

I nodded, we said our “I love yous,” and he left for his run.

And I continued with my plan. I got straight out of bed, put on my gym clothes and got Sebby dressed, fed, and to school, and was five minutes early to my gym class.

And the class was awesome! Some days I feel pretty tired when I’m in class, given my condition, but yesterday I dug in and it just felt GOOD. Afterward I ran into a friend and I was able to help her out with her audition video to be a spin instructor at the gym – that never would have happened if I’d stayed home.

The rest of the day was pretty good. I felt much better than I had on Tuesday. I stayed positive. I did some organizing that needed to be done and set some goals.

Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t super-productive. My head was a little foggy and blank all day.

But I just went with the flow of the day I was given by circumstance. I accomplished what I could, I let go of the rest till another day, and I stayed in a pretty good mood all day.

I chose my mood. 

Have any of you ever had an experience like this? Do you think some people just do this naturally, without giving it a second thought?

 

 

How Exercise Pulled Me Out of Another Season of Depression

It happened again.

I had another several weeks of depression. It always seems to come around a time when I had hoped to start blogging again. So I don’t, because it’s just going to be day after day of the same thing.

  • I’m extremely overwhelmed by everyday tasks.
  • I find basic housework dreadful and energy sapping. It is a gigantic weight on my shoulders.
  • It seems like clutter is piling and piling and it is severely oppressing me. (Though in reality it’s being managed – it isn’t growing.)
  • I cry every day.
  • My brain is in a continual fog and I cannot write.
  • I can’t imagine ever accomplishing anything creative and “meaningful” with my life.
  • I’m short tempered with my husband, my mother, and my toddler.
  • I cry more because I feel like a terrible mother. (And daughter; and wife…. And sister; and friend.)

But I’ve continued to exercise a few days a week despite this and I’ve learned that that is the most essential piece to my mental health.

At my lowest these past several weeks, exercise didn’t make me feel any better and just sapped my energy. But I did it anyway.

Most of the time though, it makes my entire day better.

  • I’ve started to feel those endorphins that my husband is always talking about.
  • I think it helps with the insomnia and with quieting my intrusive negative thoughts.
  • It makes me feel more relaxed and less overwhelmed about the chores and the clutter.
  • I am able to adopt that healing attitude that life is not a race.
  • I accept that my life is not currently designed around deadlines and social engagements.
  • It doesn’t matter if I finally get the Christmas decorations that are sitting in a pile in my office put away downstairs this week or next week – or here is a crazy though – ever.

It doesn’t matter.

Exercise makes me more confident. I feel more secure about the state of my home – take me as I am world! I feel more at home in my own body. I feel better about my creative ideas. I feel like there will be time to make my ideas come to life. My thoughts aren’t such a jumble that I feel hopeless that I will ever accomplish anything creative or fulfilling again.

Because of exercise I believe I can weather this storm and arrive again in another season of creating, growing, and improving my life.

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Oh, in case you are wondering, the reason I am even able to fit exercise into my life at all with winter weather and a toddler, is the new Gold’s Gym in town. Like the Stroller Fitness class I was invited to when Sebastian was 10 weeks old, and where I met my best friend in town, it has saved me.

I love the classes! I love the protein shakes! I love the childcare room!

I love meeting my good friend there and working hard together while our children play together. I love running into just about everyone I know there. I was never a big “gym” person until I tried this one. No joke, I thank the universe for bringing a Gold’s Gym to my small town.

My son with his hair sticking out

You Do What You Gotta Do

(I wrote this two days ago and it took this long to get it posted.)

It is plum hard to blog while a toddler, just shy of twenty months old, is awake.

Ditto when packing all one’s possessions into boxes and moving them across town, just to have to get them all out of the boxes and into some kind of order.

And it got sooooo crazy at the end of the packing. All of the boxes are scrambled – and the unpacking is not working out at all like I had hoped.

Sigh.

And do you know just how irritating it is when you thought your toddler was going to take a nap, to let you finally write! – and finally break this cycle of blog silence – but he just won’t?!

So you pack him into the car – in which instantly falls asleep – except now you have to waste this nap because you really need to run the couple of errands that you were going to do later after he woke up.  So now, out of sheer stubbornness, instead of going directly to your errands, you’re sitting in a taco restaurant (Panchero’s, which we used to frequent in Iowa City, how crazy is that? It’s not a very big restaurant chain but there’s one in this small Colorado town) typing on your laptop, while your toddler sleeps in his car seat in the booth across from you, because you don’t want to waste the precious time he’s asleep on errands, because you don’t want to give up the idea that today you are finally going to post something again, darn it! (Seriously, I haven’t taken my laptop out with me in months.) And then you notice you forgot to put your wedding bands back on after you put on lotion this morning. Ick! Don’t you hate that eerie feeling of having your bare ring finger out in public?

Whew! It’s been rough. It’s been rough because I really, really want to be blogging. But this boy is just so demanding of my time. I am not going to plop him in front of the TV just so I can blog. (Though it is tempting.) But man, I hate wasting his nap on errands when I could be using it for me time.

Yeah, so that’s where I’m at these days. If I’m not blogging, you know why.

Here is a picture I took this morning after breakfast.

My son with his hair sticking out

This happened to his hair all on its own. We put him into the stroller and went for a run and that’s what he looked like when we took him out. The picture does not do the hairdo justice. And do you know how difficult it is to get a toddler to pose for a photo now that he knows he can instantly see it on your camera phone? I have countless blurry photos of him running at me with a big grin on his face while I’m shouting “No! No! No! Stay there! Stay there!”

He is at a delightful age though. (Even if he sent me from calm and this-is-going-to-be-a-good-day-finally to irritated-beyond-belief when he popped up in his crib for the umpteenth time and I realized that my plans were going to be foiled again.) He is starting to try out more and more words, parroting back things that we say. Tim and I had a laugh-attack last night when I was asking him to say words, “Can you say mama? Can you say daddy? Can you say car-car? Can you say doggie? Can you say car keys? (He does, ever so cutely – with a velar fricative to make a linguist’s knees buckle.) Can you say coconut?”

And for coconut he suddenly made up a really convoluted sign with his hand. And he repeated it again and again while we asked him to say “coconut” while sharing a good belly laugh. Losing our breath a little – but trying to downplay it so he wouldn’t  get worried we were laughing at him.

I know it’s not funny, really, to anyone but us. (And you really had to be there.) But that bizarre invention of a sign, for no reason, from my child – that is the kind of moment that manages to ease the irritation of my day-to-day and the realization that I’ve given up all notion of free, or me-, time for the next decade or so.

Here are a couple more pics from our photo shoot today.

Another pic with his hair sticking out

Another pic of my son with this hair sticking out

One last pic of posing with his funny hair