Dear Toddler (aka Ruler of My Sanity),

Man, we had a good thing going! You were a strong sleeper, you listened and followed directions, and you loved running around. Suddenly, though, I’m starting to feel as if I missed the memo where you told me you were no longer interested in doing those things. Perhaps you decided life was too boring? Maybe you felt like you were being repressed, and figured you’d embrace the adage of “misery loves company?”

I’m all for pushing boundaries, and figuring out what works for you as an individual, but something has got to give. And by “give,” I don’t mean me losing my mind. Who knew that parenting was such a battle of wills? Unfortunately, I find that I have less and less of a desire to put up with the bullshit. If I was dealing with an adult, I’d be able to give the situation the finger and walk away. Clearly, that battle strategy would work with adults, as they can most often figure it out for themselves. Sadly, this is a poor strategy with children. I find myself repeating that you’re only two, and that this isn’t personal; it is growth. More often than not, the reminder doesn’t stop my tears flowing. I’m trying, I really am.

Your father and I often laugh at what we consider “toddler logic.” We know that at this age, logic is nowhere near a consideration. Because of that, we find humor where we can. When you put a bucket on your head to hide, or when you stand behind the curtains without realizing your feet are clearly showing. When you’ve decided to pretend you can’t hear me, and I catch your smirk in the mirror. Or, in those moments where in the span of two seconds you tell me you want your shoes off, only to lose your mind when I take them off, screaming that you wanted them on! Toddler logic…

I know this is a phase, and that in a year from now I’ll hardly remember how hard it seems things are right now. However, right now, mommy needs a drink.

I love you, baby girl.

My “Do Not Do” List

I get that New Years is when people make their goals for the year in hopes of actually carrying through that year. While the first day of a new year provides a fresh slate, I actually prefer to use my birthday as the first day of that next new year. At the end of every August, I determine what I would like to accomplish, and if I’m being honest, I am sure my success rate is similar to those that start on January 1.

However, this year I’ve decided that I’m not going to create a To Do list. Instead, I’m going to create a Do Not Do list. While I’m a huge fan of being productive (if anyone figures out how to relax, let me know; I need to learn), and checking things off my list make me smile, I have found that as I move through life, there are things I need to stop doing.

First on that list? I need to stop being so hard on myself. I’m sure those that know me will find this one laughable, only because being hard on myself is second nature to me. I hold myself to an excessively high standard, and while in some cases it has served me well, in others it has only served to cut me off at the knees before I even get started. So, enough with it.

Second would be to stop feeling guilty for nothing. I cannot think of a more useless emotion than guilt, and I’m over feeling guilty for nothing. I need to embrace the fact that saying, “no” is a sentence on its own, and I don’t have to feel bad when I don’t want to go along with the flow. Now, if I’m a complete asshole, I’ll accept the guilt, but feeling guilty simply because I have my own path? Forget it.

Third, and last, would be to stop holding myself back. I want to learn to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. I don’t want to shy away from anything, simply because I’m afraid. I’ve made some pretty big strides in being vulnerable, and getting myself out there, but I have yet to fully embrace the magic of being uncomfortable. Because of it, I keep myself on a pretty short leash. Now that it’s on my Do Not Do list, I am cutting that cord.

I’m becoming a firm believer that it is never too late to start. That age or circumstance isn’t what holds you back, as much as it is your mind and your attitude. I’m excited for the next adventure!

Onward and upward!

Actually, I Don’t Need Your Opinion

Is it too much to ask for you to stop telling me what I should be doing to “make my partner happy,” or “erase the damage” I inflicted on myself while growing up?”

I used to think these articles were fun to read and sometimes provided a little something to think about.

Now I think they are downright annoying and completely unnecessary.

I think it all started years ago when I was reading the last Glamour magazine I’ve ever purchased. On one page I read an article about being empowered and loving yourself. The very next article outlined all the ways to change yourself to attract a partner.

F*ck that.

I have a hard enough time not being super critical towards myself. I don’t need help from the media.

You want to know what I think we should all be doing right now?

  • Not buying into the thought that we need to change from head to toe.
    • Unless you derive pleasure from seeing others miserable. You may want to change that ASAP…
  • Recognizing that life has a tendency to be one big shit-show, and that is okay.
  • That some days a Coke Slurpee and a nut roll are the only thing that will make a day better. Wait, or is that just me?

At the end of the day, we are all doing the best we can and not a single person has their shit together. Might as well enjoy the messy ride while we have the chance, right?

 

Managing Anxiety Before It Manages You

Anyone that has experienced anxiety can tell you how absolutely debilitating it can be. Your brain and your body feel under attack, and once that train gets moving, it is hard to stop. If you’re like me, and understand that anxiety is part of life, the goal isn’t to remove all the triggers for your anxiety (an impossible task), but instead the goal is to manage your anxiety before it manages you.

Issues with Control

In my life, the root cause of most of my anxiety is a feeling of lack of control. I can catastrophize a situation without so much as a second thought. This was exacerbated by the birth of my daughter. Where before I would be anxious over any given circumstance I could encounter, I’m now anxious about my daughter’s safety in any and every situation.  While I understand there are times when I should be worried, I know that for the most part my anxiety is completely unfounded.

Stopping Anxiety Before It Stops Me

Because I am aware of my tendencies towards anxiety, and because I’m not a fan of having my days derailed by sheer panic, there are a few things I do each day to help manage my anxiety.

  • I repeat positive affirmations. This effort ends up having the most impact, while also being the most covert. The easiest way I insert this practice into my daily life is through passwords. Taking the positive affirmation, I use the first letter from each word, which forces me to repeat the phrase each time I type it. For example, last year during a particularly harried time, my go-to phrase was “stop living like you’re on fire.” This translated to “SLLYON,” which I had to repeat every time I logged onto my computer.
  • I practice mindfulness. Anxiety often implies you’re worried about something that hasn’t happened yet, which means you’re robbing today of its joy. Being mindful brings you back to the moment you’re in, and helps you pay attention to how your body is feeling. Being in tune with your body helps you identify when you can feel anxiety creeping up. Catching it early means you have a better chance of stopping it.
  • I examine my perception. More often than not, it isn’t so much the situation that causes me anxiety, as it is my perception of the situation. Stepping outside of it for a moment, allows me to get a clearer picture of what is going on, and how I am reacting. The easiest way for me to get outside of a situation, is to write it all down. Once I start doing that, I find that the emotion starts to fall away, and it takes my anxiety with it.

Anxiety is often one of those afflictions that robs you of your ability to enjoy the simple things. With focused intent, you can reign in the runaway train of anxiety, and regain your capacity to live life and enjoy it.