It's officially summer in the 51250! Well actually, it's officially been summer for 8 days, but that's besides the point. As per usual, we've dove into summer feet first into ball games, ball games, and more ball games. 14 and counting this week to be exact. Jae and Carter are realizing quickly how little of a summer "break" they are actually getting between camps and lifting and practices and games, but I think that nevertheless, they are enjoying a break from school. My boys are at VBS this week which has given me a little more peace and quiet than I'm used to, and while it's very nice to spend some time on me, it feels a little awkward and hard to navigate. I have no idea how I'm going to handle having an empty nest. It's super weird.
Anyways, I'm sitting out on my deck this morning with a mimosa (gasp), some chill music, and my laptop with an itch to write. It's something I never make time to do like I want to. I'm hoping to change that this summer. It really makes me happy. You know, when I was diagnosed with depression a few years ago, I remember my doctor telling me that I needed to now more than ever find ways to take care of myself- that medication was only part of the solution. I needed to find things that solely make ME happy. Like every other busy mom and dad in the world with two full time parents in the home and kids in all of the activities, it is easy to get caught up into everyone else's schedule and forget that we need to do things to take care of ourselves DAILY- not "once in awhile", not "sometimes", not every month. EVERY DAY. I know that seems extreme. Believe me. I remember thinking, "Okay....seems like you are a little out of touch with how this adulting/parenting gig works, Doc."
Turns out, she was dead serious. But I promise it's not as "out of touch" as I originally believed. It doesn't have to be a weekend away, a ladies' night out, or an evening of binge watching Netflix (although ALL of those things can be a part of your self care routine at some point). No, it simply meant, setting aside a reasonable amount of time for myself every day. That could be an early morning walk with my mom. A bath. A half hour to read my book. Listening to my favorite station on Pandora. Running to my favorite coffee place for my favorite drink. A bottle of the good wine to share with my husband at supper. Lighting a candle. Writing a blog post. ANYTHING that makes you remember that you are not defined by any single title you are called (mom, wife, teacher, insert title here...). First and foremost, my name is Mandi, and before I was all of these things, I was my own person. Sometimes I forget that.
As our school year was winding down, I realized that I was in some major need of TLC for my soul. I was breaking doctor's orders by not doing something for myself every day. Some days I was, but even on those days, it felt like a chore. I needed to regroup and get my brain back in line with my heart. So of course, summer came along and problem solved right? Wrong. Believe it or not, even a flexible schedule won't guarantee you peace and happiness unless you go searching for it. Darn. So I've been working on that in the nooks and crannies of our already busy June. I'll tell you a little secret. Come closer. (They tell you that teachers have the summers "off", but that's a little misleading. Do we have a more flexible schedule? Sure thing. And I promise you that if you ask any teacher, para, administrator, daycare provider, etc....time off to regroup and remember why you went into that field in the first place is necessary if you don't want to burn them out.) Anyways, that's another conversation entirely. So even though we've still been super busy, I've been creating my own little self care plan, and I thought I'd share it here because you don't have to be a teacher or have your summer off or be diagnosed with depression and anxiety to enjoy the perks of a little self care. Even if you can't or don't want to use my ideas, they may give you a little nudge to remind yourself to take some time for you in whatever way that looks to you. :)
One of the things I love to do in the summer is read. I never get the chance to do a lot of it for fun, so summer is a time to get out the book ideas I've been jotting down for 9 months and start reading! One of the books I started reading at the encouragement of a friend was Girl Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis. She's an entrepreneur mama (don't be scared. You don't have to be selling anything to enjoy her book. I'm not....although if you do, she's a great inspiration for you boss mamas too!). Her book is all about throwing away the lies women believe about themselves, giving us the power to leave our "I can'ts" at the door and take control over our lives. It was a refreshing drink of water that didn't let me wallow in my self pity, but rather reminded me that no one else is going to care about my dream life more than myself. No motivational quote or story can make me happy until I do the hard work to make it happen. It was a great start of the summer book for me, and actually aligned well to some of the other things I'm doing this summer too. Go get it. Read it. Highlight it. Live it.
Also, Rachel has a podcast called the Dais podcast. A lot of it is geared toward the business minded, but there are a lot really awesome nuggets for the rest of us that are worth searching for. The best part? A lot of them are 15 minutes or less, so you can listen to them in the car when you are running errands or picking up/dropping off your kids at ball practice. She has this one that is called "Do These 5 Things Every Single Day to Change Your Life", and it is literally less than 15 minutes. One of those "things" she is referring to is to keeping a gratitude journal and writing down 10 things Every.Single.Day that you are grateful for. These should be very specific to the day you are in- not vague like- my husband, my kids, my home. While those are great things to be thankful for, they are kind of a cop out, and they kind of defeat the purpose of writing them in the first place. The purpose is to search for happy in your day. It is almost impossible to be anxious or down if you are making it a priority to find your 10 happy things. It's been a really positive addition to my daily routine.
The other thing that I'm doing this month is participating in this group called "Ordinary Magic" started by one of my favorite bloggers, Kelle Hampton, of Enjoying the Small Things or Etst on Instagram. It's supposed to be a class that is soley focused on us as women and our dreams. What we want out of life. And how to keep that at the forefront of our minds in the middle of our crazy, busy lives. It's a community that has been such a blessing even within this first week- a great reminder that I am not alone in my thoughts or the stumbling blocks that are preventing me from getting there. We've been doing some explorations this week that are preparing us for the fun ones to come. In order to do that though, we need to sift through some of the hard parts of ourselves to make room for the things we want in our lives. I've reflected a lot on what holds me back in life, and too be honest it's been a truly eye opening experience. I've even had the opportunity to name my inner critic (her name is Susan by the way. Not after a particular critic in my life, but because telling her off is so satisfying. ;) ). It's been a great way to keep my mind and soul in check. I'm looking forward to the next few weeks.
For those of you who have any varying level of anxiety and/or depression, I'd dare bet that you have certain times of the year when one or the other is activated ever so slightly higher than other parts of the year. For me- anxiety tends to take over the nine months of the year I'm in school, and if I don't have a handle on self-care, depression can take over pretty heavily in the summer when I have more time to think. The problem has been that I've been allowing my inner critic to run the show for far too many moments, and I'm realizing that it has been clouding my happy for many years. In order to prevent that, I need to continue to make time for me. I need to acknowledge that my critic is there, and then move on in spite of her. She's never going to go away, but knowing how to keep her at bay will be a vital piece of the puzzle to keeping the depression/anxiety away as well.
I'm not going to spend so much of my time setting lofty goals and aspirations. Instead I'm going to settle for being aware of my inner critic. Grab hold of the things that I want in this life. The things that make me happy. The things that I need to do because I'm a mom and a wife and a teacher, and I'm going to just do the next right thing. Whatever that means for me. And when I forget to do that, I'm going to give myself grace, brush off my knees, and move onward. I have to stop waiting for the next break, the next bit of relief, or I'm going to spend my life wishing all of it away. It's okay to be excited for things to come, but I can't forget that there is good in this day. Today is a day to be thankful for. The cliche that "not every day is a good day, but there is good in every day" is absolutely true. My aim is to find that every day. To make time for myself every day. To find balance in all parts of my life, even when summer ends and a new school year begins.
Strive to find some "ordinary magic" in your life. What does self-care look like to you? Find it. Embrace it. Be okay with it looking differently than another woman's self care. The best thing we can do is be a beacon of grace and love and kindness to each other.
I'm going to sign off with a couple of affirmations I've made for myself.
"I believe in the me I'm becoming."
"I choose to be happy."
"I love my life."
I'll keep saying them, even when I don't believe them. Even when I truly feel they are the biggest liars. This is how I choose to make peace in my life. I hope you are finding yours, and if you are having trouble, talk to me. Or your mom. Or your best friend. Or your husband. Or your therapist. Or anyone you trust. One of the best antidotes to breaking through your stumbling blocks is to plow through them with someone who has been there or is going through junk too. Happy Friday friends! Enjoy your weekend!! Hope to see you back in this space soon!