Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Self-care in the time of pandemic

I really bristle when "self-care" is couched in spa days and manicures and chocolate. Those are indulgences that, while they feel good, don't always equate to the equilibrium I'm seeking with my self-care. To me, self-care means those maintenance activities I do that keep me centered and balanced. The first few weeks of the COVID-19 shelter in place were total survival mode, but as we've moved towards sustainability I've been trying to find ways to manage my anxiety level and make sure that I'm at my most efficient energy-wise. I know a lot of people have struggled with this concept while they shelter in place. How can you remain centered and balanced while the world is so chaotic and uncertain? I start with my four basics. Eating, sleeping, breathing, and moving.

Eating: Yep. Doing a lot of that. I've gained five pounds since the quarantine started, despite my whole life believing that if I just ate at home more, I'd be at a healthy weight. BUT, I'm consciously working to drink more water and make sure that I'm having at least a couple servings of fruits or vegetables a day. This is hard because we're only grocery shopping every couple of weeks so perishables...perish. So I supplement by adding a lot of frozen vegetables into recipes and stopping when I see a fruit stand on the way home. Thank God berry season coincides with quarantine!

Sleeping: This one is a work in progress. I don't naturally prioritize rest. I'm not a napper, I don't enjoy sleeping in, I'm basically the yang to C's yin in this case. So for this one, I'm looking at quality over quantity. I'm working to limit screen time before bed. We used part of our stimulus check to buy a new mattress to replace our ten-year-old one that literally has peaks and valleys. I also am not drinking much in the evenings. Pre-Corona, I wasn't a regular drinker but I found myself more and more reaching for a beer or a mule every night. Alcohol is a killer for me sleep-wise so I drink early and in limited quantities :)

Breathing: Whew. This is a tough one for me, which means I've had to be really intentional about it. Here are my two best tips. Headspace and have one minute meditations that I try to do at my desk or anytime that I start to feel my anxiety creep up. One minute is really about all I can do right now. Dedicating twenty minutes to a mindfulness exercise just makes me feel more anxious. One minute though, several times a day, I can do. I also started a 30 day yoga challenge through Amazon Prime. I've always loved yoga but I've gotten away from it lately. It's nice to remind myself how to do yogic breathing especially.

Moving: The yoga helps here too. My goal is to complete all thirty days of this video series. Some days are really intense while others are much more gentle, but they're less than 30 minutes which I love and always seems like I can fit it in. I'm also trying to walk the dogs, especially Scout, on a more regular basis. A decent walk with her can be 2 miles of exercise, and the added bonus is that she's less of an asshole. Me too, turns out.

The next steps in Maslow's hierarchy are connection and belonging. I'm not too worried about that because it feels, to me at least, that that's where we focused a lot of our attention early on. C plays poker via Zoom every weekend. I have drinks with friends over Facetime regularly. The kids are obsessed with Messenger Kids and the girls have started sending old fashioned letters to their friends.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Need recipes for Not Meth

It kind of feels like nothing noteworthy happens much anymore. I'm finding that I can only take so many pictures of the kids on their Chromebooks or in the pool. I woke up this morning grateful to have settled into a lifestyle where our weekends are lazy and lack pressure. I'm sure that I'm slightly more grateful since I'm still working outside of the house all week. 
We crafted! The girls and I made these cute animal necklaces after I figured out that Michael's does an awesome curbside pick-up

And Shrinky Dinks! They never get old
Eli has created a basketball court in my entry way and it gets more use than I'd thought it would.
Also I primed the dining room entirely with a paintbrush this week. 

Dunk contests
My sister is really leaning in to the homesteading aspect and managed to buy 5 POUNDS of yeast. She sent me some. Or maybe she didn't? I should smoke it and find out... Also, I NEEDED yeast and have no idea why. I'm a sheep, obvs. Tell me what to do with a giant bag of Not Meth! 

In the pool. ALL. THE. TIME. 
We're still trying to iron out the distance learning thing. C is in charge of it since I'm at work during the day, but three kids with three platforms, plus his own job to do, is A LOT. I thought it might work better to just do it at night, but that doesn't seem to be a great option for their work styles (read: we can't motivate them if they've messed around and watched tv all day.) They seem to be on task but then we keep getting Friday e-mails from the teachers. We're trying something new to organize their time this week, but I'm not sure we'll actually get the hang of it before the end of the year. I'd love to hear any tips or tricks that have worked for others. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Easter 2020

Syd kept asking if the Easter Bunny was quarantined. I've been telling her "yes" for two weeks, which made our half-assed holiday celebrations feel extra special. I opine though that Easter was the perfect Shelter-in-place holiday. 
I'd bought the girls their outfits before the shut down. Eli improvised.
 Baskets were procured thanks to Target online and our local game shop that offers curbside pick-up. They ended up being some of our best baskets yet. Each kid got the traditional new swimsuit, a bunny, a rubics cube, and jar of putty. Plus candy and experimental flavors of Peeps, all wrapped up in a new string backpack.

 We weren't able to find egg dye kits, so I blew the girls' minds by setting up an egg dying station using only food coloring and vinegar. They may never go back. Averson drew a face on her egg and then twinned with her own mask. #COVIDEaster
Even the boy deigned to join us. Then, because he's basically an overgrown hormonal puppy, he accidentally broke three eggs by smashing them in his fist. 

I made us ham and a metric ton of scalloped potatoes, and we finished off the night with carrot cake and a viewing of Dr. Doolittle. We never got around to an egg hunt (likely for the best). We missed our friends, but it was a lovely, cozy day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

I'll show you mine

Guys? It's super weird to walk around a prison where everyone, including inmates, is wearing a mask and to be okay with it. Also, wearing masks has solidly proven that I made the right choice when choosing whether to be a body doctor or a feelings doctor. I'll be happy when I don't have to wear them anymore. In the meantime, I'm going to make sure I have cute ones to wear. 
My Rosie the Riveter mask
 It really changes the way we communicate when half of our face is covered. I keep finding myself smiling at people and realizing that they have no idea whether I'm smiling or just staring awkwardly (sometimes they're right). The first day I also noticed that I was pantomiming and gesticulating a lot, as though the mask somehow affected our ears? I don't know. Life's weird now. I do know the masks are working because when I wear mine for a while, it's gross and moist (I promise I tried to use a different word but nothing else captured the feeling correctly) and obvious that respiratory droplets are a real threat. TMI? I think not. This is where we live now.
All humility aside, I really like how green this one makes my eyes look

The girls wore theirs in the car to drop off a mask for a friend, even though I didn't let them get out

I think masks are our version of Victory Gardens. Though I'm also predicting now that soon we'll all be making toilet paper. You heard it here first.

There's some really promising research showing that the masks help. I hid in my office the first day because I was self-conscious about wearing it out and about. The second day, I committed to wearing it and several of my staff said, "Oh! I have one in my office but didn't want to be the only one." So here I am in mine, asking you to show me yours. Do we have a mask hashtag yet? Tell me in the comments where to find a picture of you in your mask

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Get outside!

You know where the people aren't? On hiking trails! On Tuesday we were all getting a little twitchy, and our neighbors were NOT honoring social distancing guidelines on the sidewalks. I pulled out our old hiking trails book from when we first moved her and showed Syd how to find a hike that was 1) good for kids and 2) had a waterfall. She found one about 40 minutes away so after making the girls each fill a water bottle and dictating that Eli WOULD be joining us, we were off! I sort of skimmed over the part that said that the end of the drive there was three miles of deeply rutted, steep dirt road but lucky for us C and I spent a lot of our teenage years finding bonfires at the end of very similar roads and muscle memory is a thing. That road meant though that there was NO ONE on this trail. It was so liberating after spending the last few weeks in fear of being too close to anyone outside of our family. (BTW, it would appear that I have a favorite child, but really she was just the only one who stuck close enough and stood still enough. Also she's really cute.)
Isn't this gorgeous?!
No one else would sit still, so Averson is hugely over-represented in the pictorial evidence of the day

It made SUCH a difference in our attitudes. If you're feeling a bit stir crazy, even here in California with a statewide Shelter in Place order we're allowed to be outside to exercise. It felt like a delicious treat to be walking somewhere that wasn't our neighborhood. 100% recommend.