Recipe to Ease Overwhelm

Recipe to Ease Overwhelm 20150805

 

Sometimes, in spite of all of the self care practice you can muster, your day just goes off the rails.

Maybe it’s because a bunny chewed through the fuel line on your car.

Maybe it’s because you didn’t get enough sleep.

Maybe it’s because you took a few days off for vacation or because you’ve been ill.

Maybe it’s because you mixed up the dates on a deadline.

Maybe it’s because someone else mixed up their dates and suddenly hands you a deadline.

Maybe it’s because life can just get life-y and throw a whole lot at you all at once.

You look up and you’re in overwhelm. It’s a horrible feeling — having a whirling dervish of panic flying around in your head — and just makes a difficult day even harder.

My hubby was in overwhelm recently and told me so. I couldn’t remove anything from his proverbial plate, but I could help him walk through the process of collecting his thoughts and sorting through them so that some of the anxiety could be set aside. Having a clear head and remembering to breathe makes those pressing tasks much easier to accomplish.

When we’re worked up, we just don’t think clearly. We feel like we don’t have time to stop and make a plan. The reality is that we must pause and assess before we can get anything of value done.

So, when I encounter someone in overwhelm — or am feeling it creeping into my day — here’s what I do.

(1) I tell them to breathe.

It’s essential. You’re going to do it anyway. Give it your attention for a moment.

(2) Then I walk them through a dervish dump and sort.

Basically, you get it all down — everything that’s flying through your head — and then sort those items into what really must be done today and what can wait.

(3) Then come more reminders to breathe.

It’s amazing how our bodies respond to intentional, slow breathing.

At that point they are usually calm enough to take it from there. If not, we rinse and repeat.

Overwhelm happens to the best of us. It’s not a sign of weakness or failure. It’s a sign that you need a moment to pause and plan. So, next time you hit overwhelm, remember to stop, breath, list, breathe, sort, and breathe.

The image is a colorful, painted background with the Recipe to Ease Overwhelm written on it.

Inspired by Judith Snow…

Hasbury on Snow

 

This month’s SCDot6 post is given over to two dear friends on the occasion of the Celebration of Life for one and the incredibly poetry she inspired in the other.

There are hundreds of articles and videos and tributes written by and about Judith Snow. She was just as influential and funny and pointed and impatient and thoughtful as those pieces make her out to be.

Judith challenges us to question our assumptions about what folks can and cannot do and where they can and cannot live. She thumbed her nose at our low expectations and exhortations about safety. Yes, it took a whole team of folks — her circle of support — to get her out of that institution and into “the community”, but, ironically, Judith created community wherever she was and that institution was hardly a barrier to her — except that it was.

So, dear one, on this 6th day of June, question your assumptions. Then do it again on June 7. And again on June 8.

David Hasbury — a deep thinker in his own right — captures it so well in his grief-and-gratitude-laced poem.

We’re sad, but we celebrate.

And we keep on truckin’.

 

—-

The image is a colorful, painted background with David Hasbury’s poem written on top of it.

Inspired by Judith Snow…

What more can life ask of us?
…be present in the form that carries our spirit
…follow the questions that call our name
…embody the visions that enter our mind, finding rest at home in our heart
…uncover the gifts that we carry, placing them within reach of those who need the magic they hold

Self Care Day on the 6th: July 2014

July 6

I don’t know about you, but I sometimes get so caught up in trying new stuff — spreading my wings, looking for opportunities, taking more classes, seeking bigger challenges — that I need something to snap me back to the old tried and trues that have always nurtured me. It’s like making a big ole batch of mac ‘n’ cheese after eating exciting, foreign flavors for weeks. Yes, I love pad kee mao and sweet potato enchiladas and eggplant dashi, but some days I need some supper a la Tennessee circa 1940.

I’ve shared a bunch of “try this” ideas in previous SCDOT6 posts because I like to support people in learning new ways to take care of themselves. Maybe you’ve never given yourself permission to put your own needs on the calendar, or to write off some needling goal that you don’t really want to achieve, or to change up how you do gift giving. It does my heart good when I get a comment or an email or a phone call saying, “Hey, Gina, I tried that thing and it was awesome!”

However, it occurred to me that it might be helpful to “snap y’all back” to the old tried and true ways that help you feel nurtured.

When I do some archeological digging into my own timeline certain themes make themselves very clear. I have always crafted in some form. I have always read tons of material. I have always loved music. I have always loved sitting outdoors. The content may change a bit over time, but the fundamentals are the same.

Given a day to do what I want and no pressure to perform, I’ll happily listen to music while reading or working on a craft. Ideally, I’ll be working on a craft — like a simple knitting project — that allows me to read and listen to instrumental music. Or better yet, I’ll take my craft and book outside and listen to my windchimes.

So, what nourishes you? What can you count on to refill your empty cup?

Take a little time to think back to those comforts and activities that truly restore your energy.

Hint: It may be those things you told your-child-self you could do as much as you wanted when you got to be an adult.

Bigger Hint: It may be those things you feel a little guilty doing instead of the list of “should be doings” you carry around in your head.

Got your list? No, not the “should” list… the “nourishing and restorative” list. Got that one? Good.

Now when was the last time you made an appointment with yourself to do exactly that?

Go on. You can do it.

Gee whiz! A bowl of mac ‘n’ cheese, followed by reading a book with some lovely background music sounds pretty good to me right about now.

Novel idea, no?

Self Care Day on the 6th: March 2014

March 6

As many of you know, I’m all about self-care. If I can manage to add a post to this blog at all, it will usually be the monthly SCDot6 post. What you may not know, unless you’ve been around for a couple of years, is that the real impetus for the day was about breast cancer and those silly games on Facebook that supposedly increase “awareness” by confusing people.

Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they do, somehow, increase “awareness” of breast cancer. As my dear friend, Ona would say. “I’m aware. Now what?”

Well, the current conventional wisdom about breast cancer is that, if you’re going to have it, it’s better to find it earlier rather than later. This seems to be the case with the folks I love who have been treated for various stages and forms of breast cancer.

The reality, though, is that it’s kind of a weird cognitive dissonance that allows us to walk in and have a test done that will pitch us into the land of pink ribbons and decisions about surgeries and chemo and radiation. There’s this part of us that would just rather stay in the dark about this whole possibility.

It’s nice that we have that choice, though. Well, at least we have that choice about this particular cancer.

Unfortunately, there are other cancers — many of them way more aggressive — that don’t have the benefit of an effective screening tool. There really isn’t an “early detection” campaign for, say, ovarian cancer because early detection sounds more like, “well, I’m bloated and a little crampy and tired.”

So, while I’m a procrastinator of the highest order about things like mammograms — in spite of my telling you guys to get them! — I’m being brave. I’ll get my pap smear to check for cervical cancer this week and I’m going on Tuesday for my mammogram. If I get the “fibrous tissue” report (again), I’ll insist on an ultrasound.

Even though I don’t really want to know. You know?

Celebrating the Second Self Care Day on the 6th

Self Care Day October 6

Okay, friends and neighbors, it’s that time again!

What time, Gina??

It’s time for Self Care Day!!

<insert applause>

What’s Self Care Day?

I’m glad you asked… it’s an officially official day each month when we’ll remind one another to take good care of ourselves. You know, perform your self-check (skin & molesbreasts, etc), make your dentist appointment you’ve been putting off, get a massage, take a nap, start a class, clean the slate, laugh, polish your nails, or whatever it is you do that nurtures you.

As a coach and friend, I’m often “giving permission” to people to take care of themselves. And yes, there is a roving band of narcissists out there who are all about taking care of themselves, but most folks are pretty giving.

Quite frankly, many folks are way over-giving.

(You know who you are. Stop apologizing for going to the bathroom, and keep reading.)

This super-giving segment of folks were taught that anything they do for themselves is immoral and selfish. They’ll drop everything to race across town at the slightest indication that someone neeeeeeds them, but they won’t walk across the room to meet their own needs.

(It’s okay… go to the bathroom. I’ll wait.)

<insert hold music>

(You’re back? Excellent… Did you grab yourself a cup of coffee/glass of milk/carafe of wine/jug of water on your way back? No? Well, I’ll hold your place.)

Well enough of that! Seriously, you aren’t helping anyone if you aren’t taking care of yourself. Who is going to save the world if you land yourself in the hospital from a nasty case of dehydration exacerbated by a bladder explosion?

(Okay, she will, but you’ll feel guilty you left it all on her. Will you poke her and give her “the look”. I don’t think she’s stopped helping in a week. Does she even sleep?)

As Joyce Rupp would say, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” So, it’s high time you started refilling yours. And now there’s an official day to do it — the 6th of each month. Why the 6th? Because the idea came to be when we were talking about the facebook games about breast cancer, and I do my monthly self exams on the 6th (it’s Berns’ birthdate).

Last month — September for those of you who can’t pause to look up and see what day it is — when we officially launched the officially official Self Care Day on the 6th campaign, folks started sharing how they intended to use this day. One of the chicas who goaded me into this whole idea even took the whole day off. I know! Amazing.

(Will someone check on her? I think she’s fainted.)

So, what are you doing to take care of yourself today?

Me? I’m going to start dreaming about November 6 and mark it in my calendar as a Day Off, do my self exam, take a long bath with a magazine, and ask around for recommendations for healthcare providers. I’ve lived in Nashville for 4 years and still haven’t hired a local dentist, gynecologist, or rheumatologist. I know! There’s no excuse for it.

Pretty please take really good care of yourself. It is not selfish to keep yourself alive, healthy, and happy.

It’s your job.

(Yes… yours!)

Gillian’s Orchid

Gilly's Orchid

My ten-year-old daughter earned the nickname “Diva Princess” when she was less than a year old. We often say that either one of them alone was not enough of a title to capture this kiddo’s amazing personality.

Well, the Diva Princess has had her eye on an orchid for months and months. We kind of waited to see if this interest would last. I mean, seriously, what 10 year old wants a plant?

Gillian, The Diva Princess wants a plant.

So, in honor of Self Care Day, I splurged and let her pick one out.

She took about 30 minutes to make her choice and eventually landed on this glorious white phalaenopsis. She’s got great taste, no?

(No one tell her that I’m going to enjoy it just as much as she does.)

Celebrating the Launch of Self Care Day on the 6th

Sept 6

The first time I recall ever hearing “Self Care” mentioned was a little over 10 years ago. I was sitting in my therapist’s office, exhausted, depressed, and hurting all over. I had just given birth to the Diva Princess, been handed two diagnoses within a month of one another — autism for Berns and lupus for me —  and was worn down to the nub from giving every ounce of energy, love, and attention to the needs of a newborn, her still-a-mystery-to-me brother, and their spiraling-from-the-weight-of-it-all dad.

As I sat in pj’s office venting all that was pissing me off, weighing me down, and breaking my heart, she said something to me that might as well have been whale song.

“Gina, you are going to have to take better care of yourself. You have to sleep. You have to eat. You have to go to the doctor. Your kids need a mother who is strong and you can’t be strong if you don’t do some self care.”

Self care?

I suppose I gave her my best golden retriever head cock, because she went on to say, “Yes. Self care. It is not selfish to keep yourself alive, healthy, and happy.”

Wait. What?

Luckily pj was a font of patience and walked me through the fog of self-denial into some pretty painful self awareness and on out the other side. I did a whole lot of work in those five (five!!) years of therapy with her. But it all really started with my nails.

Two Years Later…

I didn’t say this happened quickly.

While we were in Florida at the end of my father-in-law’s life, I went with one of my favorite people on the planet — my sister-in-law, E — to wait with her while she had her nails done. While I was sitting there, I decided that, heck, I could get my nails done, too. It had been a couple of years since I had and it was always for special occasions like a wedding or prom. I suppose I rationalized that a funeral was a pretty special occasion. Regardless, I got my nails done. I felt 72% more beautiful. Sure, it’s silly, but it was true.

So, I kept getting them done. Every 2 weeks for the next 6 years I went in for my manicure — an act of pure selfishness. No one benefited from this activity but me. Just me. All me. It was revelatory. It was an act of self care and it was the beginning of my taking myself seriously.

So Now…

As a coach and friend, I’m often “giving permission” to people to take care of themselves. Sure, there are a cadre of narcissists out there who do nothing but care about themselves, but most folks are pretty giving. And a certain segment of folks were taught that anything they do for themselves is immoral and selfish. They’ll drop everything to race across town at the slightest indication that someone neeeeeeds them, but they won’t walk across the room to meet their own needs.

Well enough of that!

As Joyce Rupp would say, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” So, it’s high time you started refilling yours. And now there’s an official day to do it — the 6th of each month. Why the 6th? Because the idea came to be when we were talking about the facebook games about breast cancer, and I do my monthly self exams on the 6th (it’s Berns’ birthdate).

As I said when this thing popped into existence as a fully-formed idea, urged on by Page and CG:

I am — as the winner of the Internet (see: Bacon Klout) — declaring the 6th of every month Self Care Day.

What does that mean? It means that we’ll remind one another to take good care of ourselves on this day. You know, perform your self-check (skin & moles, breasts, etc), make your dentist appointment you’ve been putting off, get a massage, take a nap, start a class, clean the slate, laugh, polish your nails, or whatever it is you do that nurtures you.

It’s officially official, so there are no excuses big enough to put you and your health on the back burner any more. I’d love for you to share your Self Care Day activities in the comments.

I anticipate future posts about specific kinds of self care, how folks are observing the day, the Self Care Day T-shirt launch, the app, and the commemorative bracelet charm. Or maybe I’ll just be satisfied knowing that the folks I love are taking better care of themselves.

Either way, pretty please take really good care of yourself. It is not selfish to keep yourself alive, healthy, and happy.

It’s your job.

Mom, Is It Time To Move The Car???

Well, yes it is, son!

“Moving the car” has taken on a whole new meaning around here. Luckily I dropped another pound so that I can keep up with the demand for advancing the car.

I wonder if anyone ever developed an eating disorder because their kid wanted their ticker to move faster.

You know, pleasing other people is probably what got me into this mess. (Sure, Gramma, I’ll take thirds. No, really, it is delicious.) I’d like to think that I am working toward a better/healthier way of interacting with the other life forms on this planet. I still feel guilty when my daughter brings me food and I turn her down. (Mommy’s full! Her tummy doesn’t need crackers right now.)

One thing I have learned is that that pleasing thing is genetic. I mean, my tiny daughter already does it. When I am sad or frustrated she does back flips to cheer me up. Part of my inspiration to be healthier (physically and emotionally) comes from her. When I gave birth to my daughter, it became crystal clear to me just how blighted my inheritance was, and I didn’t want to pass that stuff along to her. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, but we manage to do things to one another that are less than graceful. I doubt that I am wise enough to end all the weirdness, but I am trying to be mindful of what I am teaching my children.

First lesson: Self Care is important! It is not “selfish” (in the sense of being a person who wrongfully denies someone else their due) to take really good care of your own needs. Eating well, sleeping plenty, getting exercise, taking time to relax/read/reconnect, and pursuing passions are all things that a healthy life is built on. I learned that those are all things that come secondary to making sure everyone else’s needs are met, and – you know – being responsible. My inheritance was that martyrdom is respected: the more work/pain you experience, the more you are worth. Blech. Hedonism isn’t the way, either. It is about – all together, now – balance. But isn’t everything?

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