My 8 year old is obsessed with at-home spa face masks right now. She even saves up her hard-earned money to spend on them. By hard-earned, I mean it. We have a deal in our household where there are daily self-care tasks and daily “team” tasks for which you do not get paid (because, ahem, real life). But, once you complete those tasks, you can do extra paid tasks around the house that usually take up my time and, thus, cost me money. I wasn’t sure how this was going to work, to be honest. But apparently COVID has yielded a new turn in boredom-related activities. Maybe this has happened because in an effort to survive, I put exactly zero limits on screen time last March. I’m not suggesting this experiment will work for you, and I’m not advocating for it. But, maybe it’s like having your cigarette-curious kid go smoke an entire pack in a closet (disclaimer: don’t do that). This is to say that we’ve seemingly moved on from screen time and entered in to this glittery, fantastical land where I always wanted to be and certainly talked about too much. It’s a land where skinned knees and skateboards exist … and catching frogs and bike rides at dusk and craft nights and bake offs and laughs and farts and dinners at the table and waffles and foster puppies and good old fashioned sibling fights and, well, chores.
And, no, it’s not all pretty over here all the time. I’m just saying that self-directed LEGIT CHORES DO EXIST in this house right now.
In any case, back to the face masks. I started to get a little worried that some of the screen time had resulted in the absorption of less than awesome cultural messages around beauty. So, one night I joined her in the experience to see what she was getting from it. And within 2 seconds of starting, I was like, oh. I get it. I 100% get it. The words and promises associated with these masks feel like everything I have been missing in my life right now. Calming, cooling, rejuvenating, brightening, sloughing, hydrating … alongside the suggestion that these are to be done while doing nothing else remotely productive. Oh, and the fact that you can basically have a new face in twenty minutes. I mean, just last week we did one that was gold foil, which left us all feeling like characters in The Avengers.
Ahhh, what I would do for superpowers right now. What I would do for instantly clarifying and quickly illuminating in basically every aspect of life right this very second. Also, what I would do to go back and undo so much of the wear and tear that has occurred in the last year. Ugh. Right? Just yesterday, I saw a picture of myself taken in Cape Cod before I got pregnant with Wyatt, which was also before COVID, which was also before recent personal disasters, and also before necessary/important world strife. It was shocking to see right there how far away I have gone from vital in just a small bit of time. And I don’t mean this is in a self-deprecating way. I mean this in a holy eff, it feels (and looks) like this past year has just stolen my vitality. It has just sucked it out.
That wasn’t my plan for age 40. It wasn’t plan for postpartum phase with my third child. It wasn’t my plan for this incredibly beautiful phase of MommaStrong growth and development. It wasn’t my plan for enjoying long term sobriety. It wasn’t my plan for being an adult. It wasn’t my plan. I had decided, a bit ago, that it was “my turn” - my turn to savor life and be healthy and stop living in survival mode. It was my turn to enjoy love and ease. It was my turn to feel like the imperfect world made sense. It was my turn to trust my body and nurture its health. It was my turn to get back to my adventurous physical self.
And then, well, 2020. Instead of those plans, I have been - like you - stuck in a paralyzed, yet hyperactive state. Every day, I feel like I take 3 Benadryl and then force myself to stay awake. I am awake, but confused and agitated and foggy. You know? Every day ends with the train destined for rest, accomplishment, parenting, health, and stability just zipping out in front of me. And every day starts with it blaring past me - with its loud horn - before I have had time to pack my luggage.
This way of being is not sustainable. It is just not. We will not make this work or find the right way through it. We just will not. Not right now. And so I have to bring myself back to the idea of the “next right thing” and instead of hoping that somehow I will out run that train, instead get on a new one. This is not my time for those things, in those ways. Which, to be honest, is a major bummer. This is not how this was supposed to go and, frankly, I have had enough surprised and hardship in my life already. Wah.
Ok. Here’s the deal. We all need to find our way forward and our new version of vitality, but first, we all need to go WAH WAH WAH together for a hot minute. We need to grieve, become aware of the loss, and we need to let that process be the messenger and the teacher it is designed to be. This is the teacher who will show us that maybe there are parts of this new way of being that are actually gifts … you know, the skinned knees and the chores and such and also the lack of driving in traffic and the availability of telehealth and the break for our environment from our human busyness. This is the teacher who asks us to pause and breathe and who hugs our wounds and tells us it okay to feel, it is okay to be here. You will not be destroyed by this new reality and the plans we make in it.
I just got instantly drawn back to remembering when I got my tattoo, “Let the Tiger Eat You,” and what it meant to me at the time. It was all about stopping the resistance to the things that I thought would kill me, so that I could get to the other side (of health, sobriety, security, truth). This is where we are. Grieving the loss of what we planned for our already messy lives and then allowing that process to show us a new way.
You will need time and practice and oodles of self-care. You will need to check-in every single day, which is often best done by moving your body with a teensy bit of exercise. I am going to do that with you this month in our August SOS Challenge, where I will grieve my best laid plans and where I will not seek answers, but where I will show up daily(ish) for 15-minutes of exercise. I will gear up, I will lace up, I will suit up, and I will show up for the letting go process so that I can know more. Together we will learn that we will either let go or we will get dragged.
Join me. Starts Monday, August 3rd. You can sign up here as a current member or as a new member. If you are new, don’t be scared! It’s only $5 and we guide you through the starting of things with expert hands. Also, please share this post with a buddy and get some company in your glorious grief.