Body Clutter

I was lying on the floor, and I realized- I felt relaxed. It was a strange feeling. I hadn’t felt that way in close to a year. But there it was. Soft muscles. Clear mind. 
It reminded me of another moment of self-awareness I had recently. One that had to do with strength. I felt strong. That felt different. I knew I had felt strong before. But it had been so long it seemed new. 
Both of these moments came during hot yoga classes. They were my first real work-outs in months. And they were bringing me back to who I was before the chaos began. 
And yet. Another feeling followed. Guilt. 
I shouldn’t be spending all this time and money on feeling relaxed and strong when there are so many things to do at home. 
I did my best to say hello to that feeling, and then ask it to go away. I know it is important to take care of myself. I know I need to be healthy- physically and emotionally- to take care of my family. But it takes mental work. Especially when our house is (still) such a mess and our bank account is (still) so low. 
I will keep fighting my brain on this. Because I know that self-care is as important as any other element in taking care of my family. And because I know that a healthy Mama is a more effective Mama. 
There are other benefits, of course. I look back over pictures from the past 8 years, and the difference is clear. I don’t need to see the date on the pic to know whether I was healthy or unhealthy when it was taken. Sure, there’s a weight difference. (Something that was not part of my life until I hit about 37 and then BAM.) But I can also see the difference in my posture and the look in my eyes. 
The past year has been the most difficult of my life. I have gone from eating well and working out several times a week and running long distances, to eating whatever is fast and convenient and hurting when I get out of bed because of the tension and stress. As we heal and recover and declutter our lives, it is time for me to declutter my body. 

Topsy Turvy Day!

I really hate April Fool’s Day. I think practical jokes are mean. And I’m only moderately amused by food that looks like other food. (Thanks, Pinterest!) So I usually spend the day with my guard up, waiting for i to be over.

But I do enjoy holidays. And I like traditions of being silly. So I thought it would be a good day to share this.

Topsy Turvy

Look at me! I’m stuck to the ceiling!

OK. Now I’m just being silly. But I am pretty proud of myself. Because the picture in it’s original position shows me in a headstand. And. I learned all by myself.

I started where I always start. Pinterest. And I found a post that suggested some steps. So I tried them. Here was the first.

Headstand 1

Speaking of silly. This felt silly. I guess the idea was to get used to being upside down? Which is fair, considering I have had some rough upside-down yoga experiences. But this one didn’t do much for me. So I moved on to this.

Headstand 2

This one was tougher. And a little scarier. I did this one a few days in a row before finding the courage to kick all the way up.

The pinterest post suggested kicking up from the wall. But holy cow. From that angle? I don’t think so.

So I turned it around and kicked hard enough to touch the wall. Years of cheerleading muscle memory kicked in, and I did it on the second try. Wohoo!

Then I wondered if I could do it without using the wall.

Check it out.

You can’t entirely tell because you can’t see the wall. But my feet don’t touch it, I promise 😉

And yes. That’s “Friends” in the background. We’re making our way through on Netflix.

This challenge was fun. It took courage and strength, and it gave me confidence. And I know my technique leaves something to be desired. I’ll work on that. But hooray for headstands!

Return of the Fog

Ever since I was diagnosed with depression in 2003, I have made it my mission to talk about it.

Well, I kept it quiet for a few weeks.

Then I talked about it.

I knew that fighting the stigma was going to be a huge part of my healing. I realized quickly that other people found strength in my fight. And I like to talk.

I’ve been especially diligent about Daylight Savings Time, and how it can effect those of us with depression. I’ve talked about it here. And here. And I remind my friends. And I remind myself.

It’s funny, then, that the following conversation took place with my husband a few days ago.

Me: I am so tired lately. And I sort of have a headache. I’m not depressed. I just can’t concentrate.

Ryan: Yeah. Time change.

You would think that after posting reminders to all of my friends. Reposting my blogs. Reminding myself. You would THINK. That I could remember. Ever, One time.

But that’s the thing about the fog. You can’t recognize it from the inside. And it always takes a little longer to set in than I remember. So i think I’ve made it to the other side, and I’m really just starting.

If you looked at my calendar every single year for my entire life all the way back to high school, you would see blank pages the few weeks after daylight savings time. And while I have managed to participate in the world this March a little more actively than March’s of Daylight Savings past… I just could not wrap my brain around a blog.

Now, as we head into April this week (birthday month! Wohoo!) the fog is beginning to lift. I have continued working on challenges, and will have plenty to share starting tomorrow.

30 More Days: Stair Workout

If I had my way, I would be able to run outside AND take a group fitness class every single day.

I would also have a full-time cook and housekeeper. You know. While we’re wishing.

But I often go weeks without working out. Even this year, when I’ve been trying to focus on fitness. So when I find a workout I can do at home, I get excited.

A few weeks ago, we had planned to go to the gym. But, things happened. I don’t remember what. We’re a busy family. I felt disappointed and defeated. Then I remembered this stair workout I had seen on pinterest. The problem with pinterest workouts is that anyone can post one. You never know whether the poster has any idea what they’re talking about. You never know if the workouts are any good.

Unless of course you read about it on a blog like mine. 😉

Pinterest workouts (crafts, recipes…) are always a gamble. But I figured I’d give it a try.

And this one was a pinterest win!

It was a reasonable length. It was tough but not impossible. It was fun. I was tired at the end, and sore the next day. When I have time to repeat workouts (so, after I reach my 40 challenges…) this one will make it into my regular rotation.

In other news, my 40th birthday party is one month from today. Eeeeeek!

32 More Days: Hot Yoga

I thought I hated yoga. I had perfectly good reasons. More on that later. But for years I thought I hated yoga.

Then I went to a class. And another. And another. And while I’ve never gone consistently, I figured out really quickly that not only do I not hate yoga, I kind of love it. And I’m also pretty good at it. I was a college cheerleader, so my sense of balance and understanding of my core serves me well. Plus I’m trained as a singer, so the breathing comes really easily.

I was willing to admit that I didn’t hate yoga. But I wasn’t willing to accept being wrong for all those years. (like, probably 13 or 14 years.) There must be something about yoga that I hate. I bet it’s hot yoga. I would probably totally hate hot yoga.

But I figured if it felt scary, it was probably a good challenge for Project 40. So as nervous as I was, I went to a class at our new gym. And I totally loved it.

OK, hear me out on the source of my hate.

It was my second year of teaching. I was getting married in a few months, and one of my friends from college had just been hired as the band director at the middle school and high school where I taught choir. Everything was coming up roses. So my band director friend (we’ll call her Chris. Because that’s her name) and I decided to attend a yoga class the evening after the first day of school. We figured it would be a great way to relax and celebrate after a stressful day. (Like Vino and Vinyasa without the vino.) Neither of us had done yoga before. But how hard could it be?

I was intimidated since it was so new for me. And this was pre-depression diagnosis, so I was nowhere near comfortable with myself. (Thanks, therapy and Lexapro!) We went into the class and the lights were low. That helped me be more comfortable. There were candles lit. Relaxing. I followed the directions the best I could. And at one point we were in an inverted position (Looking back, it was probably downward dog. But I didn’t know that at the time.) for what felt like a ridiculous amount of time. I started to feel all kinds of pressure under my eyes. It sort of felt like my eyeballs were trying to escape. And then we stood upright, and I expected the pressure to go away.

Except, it didn’t.

For the whole rest of the class, I felt like one of those stress dolls that you squeeze and the eyes pop out. When class finally ended and the lights came on, I asked Chris if her eyes felt weird. She looked over at me horrified. “No…” she said, “but you should look in a mirror.” I ran into the locker room to discover that not only did my eyes feel like they were trying to escape, they looked like they were trying to escape. The funny thing is, I was more mortified than concerned. I put on my sunglasses and left the building as quickly as I could.

People have since asked me, “Why didn’t you go back to find the teacher and ask if she knew what had happened?” Yeah. That would have been a great idea. But it would have been admitting (or so I perceived…) that I had failed. That there was something wrong with me. Remember, this is pre-therapy.

So I didn’t ask for advice. I just left. Chris drove me home. But before she left she suggested- very strongly- that I go to the hospital. My eyes didn’t look any better. And in fact if I didn’t go, she was going to take me herself. So. Off to the hospital it was, then. I’d never been to the emergency room before. I didn’t know if this was really an emergency, or if I was doing the right thing. Plus I kept crying because, you know. Pre-diagnosis. And the crying was not helping the swollen eyes.

The nurse asked me what was wrong. “Ummmm…?” And i pointed. I understand now that the nurse couldn’t possibly have asked me “So, are you here because you look like a stress doll that’s been squeezed really hard?” because really, what if my eyes looked like that all the time? Awkward. I explained what had happened. And the doctor looked at it. And I was diagnosed with fancy words that meant “it’s swollen under your eyes.”


I had to call my principal and let her know that I would be missing the second day of school. I stayed on the couch with ice on my face for about 36 hours. And the swelling went down. And I never found out what happened. (Although I can guess now that something just “released” in my body.) So for years, when someone asked me about yoga, I would tell them sorry, it makes my eyes pop out.

It was scary to try it again. Even if regular yoga didn’t make any body parts try to escape, I was sure that hot yoga would. But nope. Just tension and sweat. And the discovery that something I feared was actually something I love.

Maybe I should try things I hate more often.

34 More Days: Vino and Vinyasa

I’m exhausted.

It’s Friday evening. I have an incredibly difficult job. (I teach at a school for students with special needs.) And it’s the first week of Daylight Savings Time. And I have hauled myself out of bed two mornings in a row at 6 AM. And we spent the evening as a family at BINGO night for my daughter’s school. (Where there are prizes. But not everyone gets a prize. Which is a perfectly reasonable situation, unless you’re 5.)

And so. I’m exhausted.

I had originally planned to present my challenges in order. But that would mean the challenge for tonight was just… too hard. I’m laughing at myself right now and shaking my head, because I don’t even have the words to explain how tired I am or why it would be too hard.

Did I mention I’m exhausted?

So I had a few options.

1. Avoid posting at all today, because it’s too hard. Post two tomorrow.

2. Push through. Write the tough entry anyway. Even though I’m exhausted.

3. Drink wine and write about an easier challenge.

You can guess which option I picked. Cheers.

A few weeks ago I was talking to my friend Stacy. She’s my Work BFF. (Now that I have one of these full-time job thingies, I totally get how Work BFF is a thing. We are on opposite sides of a cubicle wall and we get each other through a lot of days.) We had just finished a massive project at school and needed to celebrate and relax. And then, that evening, at the athletic facility my family had just joined (more on that another day)… i saw it. A sign for…..


Vino and Vinyasa.

Seriously. That’s wine and yoga for you plain-talkin’ folks. I sent Stacy a text and asked if we should go.

“Um, YES,” was her reply.

Vino and Vinyasa was as advertised. (although thankfully, not in that order.) We did some yoga. And when we left the yoga room, there was a spread of wine and cheese and fruit. We socialized. We enjoyed the refreshments. Then some of the massage therapists came in to see if anyone wanted a demo table massage.

“Um, YES,” was our reply.

I went home feeling refreshed, recharged, and relaxed. I remembered how much I loved yoga. (I hadn’t attended a class at this new gym yet, and it’s been maybe 2 years since I’ve been to any yoga class anywhere.) I got to spend time with a great friend. I had someone work on the knot in my back that literally keeps me awake at night. And I just felt good.

Maybe it’s a misnomer to call this a challenge. It isn’t exactly “challenging” to go to yoga and drink wine and get a massage. But the lessons- or at least reminders- of the evening were no less important.

Self-care matters.

It really really matters.

Mom guilt is intense. (And Dad guilt, teacher guilt, police officer guilt, there’s a lot of guilt. I don’t mean to leave anyone out. But I’m talking about Moms here because, well, that’s who I am, and it’s right in the name of my blog, so…) It can take over our lives. And it makes us feel like doing something strictly for ourselves is selfish and should only happen if everything on our to-do list is to-done. Excuse me while I laugh hysterically. Because has that ever happened? I mean really.

Taking care of ourselves matters. Whether it’s getting a haircut or grabbing lunch with a friend or doing yoga and drinking wine, it makes us stronger people who are more able to take on all that is required of us.

So maybe this wasn’t a “challenge.” But you know what is? Taking time for ourselves. But it’s a challenge I’m willing to accept. For myself, and for my family.

*drops mic*

*sips wine*

35 More Days: Turbo Sweat

My friend Melinda had been inviting me to Turbo Sweat at the YMCA for months. First of all, it’s at 8:15 AM. I kinda don’t do group classes. I really don’t do 8:15. But second, I didn’t know what was involved in Turbo Sweat. I knew it was difficult. I knew the very most hard-core members at the YMCA go. And the trainers.

And did I mention it was at 8:15 AM? Here’s how I feel about that.

But I figured if I was a little scared, it made it the perfect challenge for Project 40.

So I set my alarm. And I walked into the gym at the YMCA trying not to think about the fact that I had no idea what was going to happen.

Right away I found Melinda. She hugged me and introduced me to the instructor and a few of her friends. Then I saw my friend Rob who offered advice about where I should stand and who I should watch. (And also, who I should maybe not watch.) Before class started I was given one final piece of advice.

Don’t leave.

You will be chased down.

Seriously. Don’t leave. If you have to pee, tell the instructor. Otherwise he’ll think you’ve given up. And he will chase you down.

I had two thoughts in response.

  1. Man, I hope I don’t have to pee.
  2. Why will I want to leave?

We got started. And for a while I’ve totally got it. It was like Tae Bo. I’m pretty OK at Tae Bo.

Ok, so it was like really relentless, nonstop Tae Bo.

Soon my arms felt like rubber bands. That was right about the time we started doing push-ups. I figured I’m new. So it will be fine if I just do my best and put my knees down and


So maybe not with the modified push-ups then.

I pushed on. Tried to kick at the height of the instructor’s hands as he came around. Tried to keep going. Then I realized. We’ve been doing everything on the left side.

Oh dear God.

This is half.

I got some water. The I saw that lots of people dropped out to get water. Even the trainers. And people were dropping sets to shake it out or stretch. Everyone needed breaks.

Aha. That took all the pressure off.

Sure, I wanted to do as much as possible. But I allowed myself some room to admit that “as much as possible” couldn’t possibly be every set of every exercise.

The right side was emotionally easier because I knew what was coming, and physically more difficult because holy cow I was tired. But I stuck with it. And I did it. And I got some water. And I was smiling.

And people weren’t leaving.

They were putting down mats. Because it was time for abs.

What the wha?

I have strong abs. I’ve never been afraid of a little ab challenge. So I jumped in.

And I have never had the feeling during a workout before that I might genuinely puke. Like, really. I thought for a moment it would happen.

Mercifully, the class eventually ended. I was exhausted. And sore. And a little nauseous. But I had done it.

I had a victory picture taken with a few of my friends and classmates. (Several were taken. None of them are acceptable. Below I’ve posted the one that’s the least upsetting.)

The people I know from this class are all parents. One had just returned from a long trip. One had a three-day-old daughter. (A dad, clearly.) One has three boys who run her nearly ragged. But they all gather for this class. They encourage each other. And they push each other. And I get it.

I probably won’t return, but I get it. (Just not an 8:15 girl.) It’s about the community.


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