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The sun is out today and it feels like a really big deal. Spring is coming. That’s what I’m holding onto in the midst of this bleak winter. I don’t know about you, but I’ve hit a wall. It’s a lot, friends. Sometimes I wonder how on earth we’re supposed to sustain this level of intensity, and then I remind myself that none of this is normal. It’s my mantra on repeat: This is not normal. This is not normal. It validates my exhaustion and overwhelm.
One of my friends—another mom—told me yesterday that she fears she has entered into a level of depletion from which she will never recover. I feel this so hard, and it worries me—the toll this dark season will ultimately take on all of us. Truth? I don’t think the sources of our stress are going anywhere. I fear they will only intensify and shape shift, and that we will need to continue to react and adapt. My question is this: How do we manage the impact of this reality on our mental, emotional, and physical health?
I see two conflicting choices. The first is to buck up. Keep doing whatever it takes to put one foot in front of the other. What other option is there, really? After all, we can only drop so many balls without the whole thing falling apart. Option two is to feel my feelings. How much time do you have? I know—me neither. As much as I resent the paradox of our human experience, I think the right answer is probably to do both. But how? No seriously, I’m asking.
Here’s where I am: Keep going and stop. I accept that the only choice is to keep going, but I also recognize that the cost of not tending to my spirit is too high. I want to acknowledge my privilege in debating this choice when so many people enduring unimaginable circumstances don’t have one. I have everything I need and I am okay. That said, the invaluable and necessary practice of perspective is unhelpful if it becomes a means of denying our personal experience. We have to face our own suffering if we hope to sit with the suffering of others.
If you know me, then you know I’m not into prescriptive self-care. The absolute last thing any of us needs right now is to be told to do more things to feel better. I think the answer lies in doing less with more intention. This gives us the space to observe how we’re spending the little resources we have, and to ask the question: Is this investment of my time and energy helpful or unhelpful? This is not about criticizing our choices. It’s about befriending ourselves and looking out for our best interests. When it comes to the practice of self-study, I’m mindful of my tendency to be ruthlessly critical of myself. Lately, I’ve just had to put my foot down and say, “You know what? I literally don’t have time for this.” The energy it takes to feel bad for not doing more to feel better is NOT HELPFUL. Please read that sentence again.
So what am I focusing on? Four things: Movement, sleep, joy, and expression. Let me break it down.
Movement – Movement is the non-negotiable I constantly forget. Our minds are intrinsically connected to our bodies. Duh. Even just a few minutes of movement can help shift our energy. Every single time I connect with our community here at H(OM)E®, I feel myself come back to life. Practicing with you on the mat means more to me than you could possibly know. I’ve also found a lot of support in a surprisingly genuine commitment to cardio (I hate cardio). I’m obsessed with bouncing on a trampoline. It has been a game changer for my mood. I practice on demand with The Ness. Side note: I love their new gold trampoline. She’s a beaut.
Sleep – This one is tough. As a working mom of a toddler, the only time I have to get anything done is either before she wakes up or after she goes to bed. I can’t drop all the balls in the name of sleep, but if I don’t prioritize sleep, I end up having to drop all the balls. For me, it’s about RUTHLESSLY defending a sleep routine from the whims of my anxiety. I admit I’m not very good at this—I easily get pulled off course—but I’m learning that my energy, outlook, and mindset hinges on me getting enough sleep.
Joy – So many of the things that bring me joy are non-essential when navigating a pandemic. Setting the table, arranging flowers, putting on a nice outfit, curating a kick ass cheese plate—why? I haven’t had the energy to do anything that’s not directly connected to making it through the day. Turns out, this is a bummer of a way to live. It seems I’ve also been avoiding joy in a warped attempt at solidarity with a world deeply suffering. I’m not sure why I thought this mindset would be helpful—to anyone. Lately, I’ve been gently pushing myself to not only look for joy, but to create it for myself, my family, and my community. It has been nourishing to till the soil of my spirit.
Expression – When it comes to my thoughts, my mantra is better out than in. Whether it’s journaling, calling a friend, or creating something—anything—self-expression is a processing tool. I have a tendency to chew and stew, so it’s an important practice for me to create space for mental and emotional digestion.
In addition to this short list, beauty has always had a positive influence on my mindset. I’m continuously inspired by art, design, nature, and music. It moves me. Curating this little end-of-winter-please-be-spring wishlist brought me so much joy. I hope it inspires you! As always, I love timeless style. Many of these goodies will carry you right into spring and beyond.
I’ll leave us with this: Spring is around the corner but we are still in it. Weathering winter in every sense of the word requires aggressive levels of compassion. These are unprecedented times. As my friend Anna Banana says, “I could really use some precedented times.” Amen to that. Until then, let’s be gentle with ourselves and support each other in doing what we have to do to make it to spring.