Month: June 2017

How’d I wind up here?! (pt. 2)

Otherwise known as “The Bathtub Epiphany”.

Yup. It deserves capitals.

Let’s set the scene. I’m now a sleep deprived mom of young kids who hasn’t used the toilet or taken a shower alone in years. My decorating style is early fisher price, and my clothing is chosen based on what will best withstand the various bodily fluids deposited on it by runny noses and leaky diapers. In other words, I’m a tired, sloppy, often cranky, hot mess.

One night, after Justin and I have gotten the kids down for bed, rather than collapse on the couch and stare at a screen until I muster up the energy to make my way to bed, I decide I’m going to do something radical. Something I haven’t done in … well … a really, really long time. I’m going to soak in the tub.

I shut myself in the bathroom, almost giddy with the thought of a gloriously long, blissfully solo soak in some steaming hot water, and turn to the tub.

Oh, right…we have 25,496,385 bath toys…

Five minutes later, I have found the tub, covered the sink and counter with various animals, letters, and containers, and have the water running. I throw some baby bedtime bath bubbles in there – hey, you use what you’ve got – and settle into nirvana.

In the busyness of raising young kids, I had forgotten how much I loved soaking in the tub. The enveloping warmth, the weightlessness, the softness of the water, and the scented steam all combine to create utter physical relaxation and allow my mind to wander free. It feels something like this:

Woman taking bath

I lay there for probably an hour, slowly relaxing and thoughts drifting from chores that needed to be done to mentally writing sarcastic articles about motherhood to pure appreciation for the time alone to just be. When I got out of that tub, I was relaxed, peaceful, and happy. I had both the physical and mental energy to have a fun, relaxing evening with my husband for the first time in months, and I was calmer and more patient with the kids the next day.

And that’s when it hit me. The Bathtub Epiphany (are you ready for it?).

Here it is:

I’m a better mom, better wife, better person if I take some time for me.

It seems pretty obvious with today’s awareness of self care, but back then it was a revelation. I loved spending time with my kids. I loved teaching them, playing with them, snuggling them, giving them new experiences…but I had lost me in the process. I made the decision then and there to try to carve out one hour a week to soak…to indulge in a sensory experience that relaxed and refreshed me, and restored my reserves of energy and patience for the week.

And she did, and her husband and children sing odes to her, and the woodland creatures flock to her calm, joyful presence, and she has changed the world for the better.

…wait, this isn’t a made for tv movie….

Oops.

Ok, real life happens. I didn’t get my soak every every week. But I did make time for it more often. It didn’t make me a perfect wife and mother, or suddenly grant me the ability to be superwoman and save the world while maintaining a perfect home. But it did restore my energy and equilibrium, and better equip me to manage the day to day life in the trenches with young children and still be able to enjoy time with my husband.

My kids are older now, and daily life is significantly different than it was back then. But I still need that weekly time. And I still have to be intentional about carving it out. So do you. There is always something to do – young kids, teen kids, elderly parents, sick spouses, work projects, volunteer opportunities – the list of really important things that can fill our calendar is endless. But do yourself a favor, and put an hour a week on that calendar for yourself.

Do you take the time to recharge? What restores you? Let me know in the comments below! (oh – and you can find the first post in the series here.)

 

 

 

How’d I wind up here?! (pt. 1)

Ever ask yourself that? I have. Oh, not because I’m unhappy with where I am. Quite to the contrary, I’m loving every minute of it. (ok…not every minute. Bathing the dogs after they roll in something disgusting isn’t high on my list of great moments. Neither is dusting.) But I have had to wonder just how I wound up here, because it’s the first question the people who don’t slowly back away in fear of the crazy lady ask after they find out what I do.

So. How did I wind up here? My usual smart ass answer is boredom. And it’s true. But it’s also more than that. It’s a combination of different moments throughout my life. The earliest being when I was just a kid and trying to combine shampoo and conditioner into one product (yeah…mom…sorry. That’s probably why we were always running out of hair products and bathroom cups) in order to make hair washing quicker and more efficient. I had soaking to do and stories to read, and hair washing got in the way. I continued to mess about with combining products through my teens. Mixing moisturizer and foundation, trying to combine lotion and soap, or mix different facial cleansers to make the perfect one step morning face wash. After all, at this point in my life I had some serious sleeping in and loafing around to do – but I needed to look good doing it. They say necessity is the mother of invention. In my case, laziness was.

Of course, most of these things were unmitigated disasters – although the moisturizer and foundation combo was pretty nice. And obviously, all these products exist now. So why do I make my own? Where does ‘for the busy, stressed out woman’ come in? What does boredom have to do with it? And what up with tea?

It’s a longish story, and chances are high your coffee would be cold (or wine glass empty, depending on time of day) before I was done telling it. Not to mention those pesky people that you’re hiding from so you can just have five minutes of peace and quiet and a good piece of chocolate would find you. So in the interests of hot coffee, full wine glasses, peace, quiet, and chocolate we’ll break this up into parts. In the next post, I’ll tell you about my bathtub epiphany. (it’s not as dirty as it sounds)

 

Sunscreen? I’ll pass (sometimes)

I often joke with my husband that I’m solar powered. The first warm spring day, you’ll find me on my deck swing, face tipped up and arms outstretched, soaking up the sun. All summer, I wear sleeveless tops and shorts or above the knee skirts so I can revel in the feel of the sunlight on as much of my skin as possible. And mid winter calls for a trip to Florida to see relatives…and get a dose of sunshine and warmth to hold me through the rest of the dark, cold weather.

Turns out, I really am solar powered. At least partially. There is a fascinating article (link here) published in 2016 that looks at the risks and benefits of sun exposure. The conclusion? The current sun avoidance/sunscreen advice is creating a major public health problem. Yup. That’s right. We need unprotected exposure to the sun for optimal health.

“Avoidance of sun exposure is a risk factor for death of a similar magnitude as smoking” Lindqvist et al. 2016

It turns out that non burning sun exposure is linked to a reduced risk of just about every major health problem you can think of. Melanoma, breast cancer, and bladder cancer? Reduced. Hypertension, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimers, and dementia? Reduced. Liver disease, macular degeneration, myopia, and obesity? Also reduced. In addition, sunlight affects your brain’s serotonin and endorphin levels. It makes you feel good.

How does sunlight do this? Well, we don’t know exactly. Your skin takes UV radiation and converts it into Vitamin D, a hormone that almost all the cells and organs in your body have receptors for. But tests have shown that Vitamin D alone isn’t the answer – dietary supplementation does not produce the same results. So they say there are (and I quote) “…health outcomes related to sun exposure independent of vitamin D, health outcomes dependent on serum 25(OH)D levels but not vitamin D supplementation, and health outcomes dependent on mediators other than vitamin D…” Basically, the sun does stuff we don’t understand yet, but it’s really, really good for you.

Now, does that mean we should just go willy-nilly unto the beach and turn ourselves lobster red? Of course not. Remember – non burning sun exposure is good. Sunburn is bad. Very bad. Besides being painful, it is linked to an increased risk of melanoma, squamous cell and basal cell carcinomas. So, if your plans involve activities that you know will likely make you burn, slather on the suncreen. But for everyday life? Give it a pass. Your health will thank you.