This morning I set out on a run.  I usually turn to my favorite playlist for inspiration and to keep me plugging along, but this morning I felt like listening to a podcast.  I looked at my regular favorites…Invisibilia, The Beautiful Writer’s Podcast, Brene’s Brown’s new one, Unlocking Us, and then I just stopped in the middle of the sidewalk.  Because I saw the one that I was going to listen to. I froze, giving myself time to let the reality of the title of the podcast settle into my bones.  

When the Calendar Goes Blank.

It was as if The Art of Growth–Enneagram Podcast called me before they recorded this podcast and asked me what I needed right now.  Yes, please tell me..what do I do when the calendar goes blank? How do I cope when my usual MO is rush, overschedule, say yes to all the things, and collapse into bed at the end of the day.  How do I handle life when it is not constantly a fire drill???

Are you picking up what I’m putting down?  Do you feel the same way? The best way I know to describe it is “spinning wheels.”  My heart pounds as I try to decide, what do I do now when there is not really anything that I absolutely HAVE to do?  No soccer practice to plan, no hockey practice to rush off to, no baseball pants to scrub. Do I clean out closets? Do I finally write the children’s book I have always wanted to write?  Do I play a game with my kids? Do I read? Do I make them do their work? Do I study for the yoga exam that who knows when I’ll ever be able to take??? Each time I choose something I feel like I am cheating the other thing.  It is maddening.

Then I heard the best analogy for all of this.  One of the podcasters on The Art of Growth said when she heard her kids had two weeks off of school she thought, “Ok, I can do this.  Two weeks isn’t that long. They’ll be ok.” Then she got the news that the date the kids would return to school would be pushed out to May.  She said it was as if she had prepared for a 5K and she was running at a 5K pace and suddenly she was told she had to run a marathon. YES! This hits home for me.

Uncertain times.  That is what they say.  In these uncertain times….when times are uncertain…how can I sustain this pace for 26.2 miles when I was only prepared for 3.1?

I listen to a lot of podcasts and I read a lot.  And I am here to say that if it was not for the constant offerings of wonderfully brilliant and shockingly honest people around me, I would have truly lost my mind many times in the past few weeks (and my kids will probably tell you that my mind is long gone).  But anyway, I want to offer up a few tips that I have learned.  

Ask yourself, Who do I want to be?

How do I want to show up for my kids?  For my husband? For my community? This one is from my life coach, Kelly McCormick.  She’s the one who reassured me it was ok that my morning routine with my kids was thrown off due to a toilet paper run.  When she asked me, “Can you let this morning just be about getting a necessity?,” I told her, yes. Could I ignore the fact that instead of being ready for “school” at 10:00 it was going to be more like 11:00?  Could I still show up for my kids in a good mood and not panicked that we may not get to everything? Yes and yes. She’s also the one who has mentioned to me that some of us (ahem, 1s on the enneagram) are going to have to get used to a little more mess around the house…a little more chaos.  So, when I lost it last night because there is never a time all day that the house is in order, I slowed down my breathing and took stock. There were dice all over the table because my youngest had decided we needed to play Tenzi during dinner. There were piles of books on every surface. Fiction, cookbooks, historical novels, my open Bible…all signs we’re doing just fine.  We’re playing, reading, and memorizing scripture together as a family. All is ok. As Kelly likes to say, “Nothing has gone wrong here.” Go listen to her podcast, The Transforming Anxiety Podcast.  Her gift to the world is teaching us how to manage our minds.  So, you have a little extra time on your hands? Maybe in your usually insane mornings?  Take a listen and learn how to manage your mind in this madness. What better time to start than now?

Use Your Gifts

A neighbor and friend used the hashtag #howCOVID19mademe in a text the other day and I wanted to hug her!  At first I was reluctant to celebrate the fact that I am busier with my business now than ever before. I feel bad that while small businesses are closing down and people are being laid off, I am actually thriving.  But I am thriving because I am filling a space people need to be filled right now. I am meeting people right where they need me. And that feels so good. Because guess what part of my problem is right now with the blank space on my calendar?  I lost a piece of my identity. My identity was tied up in being the mom with a full plate. And when my calendar was cleared, I felt like I lost my title as soccer coach, hockey mom, baseball pants scrubber (is that even a thing?). Who am I without all those things?  Well, I am still a fitness instructor, and I can use the gift I have been given to continue to push clients to stay fit through zoom, checking in with them via email and text, and posting healthy meals on social media. How can you use your gifts and talents and our current amazing wealth of technology to meet people where they are? Check out my site if you haven’t already.  Zoom and FaceTime are my jam these days.

Choose kindness and compassion

On my chalkboard right now is the verse, Ephesians 4:32.  “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”  I decided during week one of the quarantine, that if my kids were going to get through this time at home without killing each other, we were going to have to commit this verse to memory and come back to it daily.  I set an alarm on my watch and at 4:32 every day, we stop where we are and we pray. It isn’t always pretty. There are some protests and sometimes I have to snooze the alarm until I am finished with a client, but we manage to get around to that prayer time each day.  I remind them to be thankful for our health and the opportunity to be together during this time. I ask them to pray for healthcare workers, for our country, and for a cure for this virus. It is probably the only few minutes of the day that everyone is quiet at the same time.  But the thought came to me the other day that if we were in the middle of a normal school week, there is no way we’d be able to stop everything at 4:32 and pray together. I can find the gift in the togetherness we have in the afternoons.  

Say yes to your family.

So far during this quarantine, we’ve built an obstacle course for a ball to run through that stretched from the upstairs hallway down into the den, pulled out the old Nintendo system, made up board games, built Lego masterpieces, put together puzzles, played lots of KanJam, and read a ton of books.  That’s just a small list. What will my kids remember about this quarantine? Not the schoolwork they had to do, or missing their friends. Not the toilets I made them scrub or the other extra chores I assigned them. No, they’ll remember the time they spent with their brothers, and mom and dad. They’ll remember how mom went bankrupt in Monopoly and Jonah won the whole game because Jonah is a master strategizer.  They’ll remember how Carson’s shoe business took off because he finally had time to learn to airbrush. They’ll remember how Camden perfected his soccer moves because he had long stretches of afternoons to just kick around in the backyard. They’ll remember how as they were waiting for me to join them for our daily lunch game, I stopped in the middle of the kitchen and told them I’d be a few more minutes. I needed to deliver the lunch I had just made for myself to my husband, who is busier than ever at work and barely has time to wolf down a PB&J these days.  My kids fought over who got to deliver the plate of steaming noodles with homemade sauce and salad to his at-home office. That day started a tradition of lunch delivery. I make a salad or heat up leftovers, and they deliver it to him. It is one of my favorite times of the day.

We could sit around and feel sorry for ourselves and fear the unknown.  Believe me, I’ve been there. But it is far more productive and comforting to embrace what we do know.  We likely will never be given this time of self-reflection again in this lifetime. Decide today, who do I want to be in this situation?  How do I want to see myself when I look back on this time? How can I use what I know to help someone else? How can I show kindness and compassion to my kids, my husband or wife, my extended family, my neighbors, my friends?  How can I say yes to what really matters?

I want to leave you with a few of my favorite resources, because I feel that it is SO important to get out of your own head sometimes.  Below, a few of my favorite podcasts, books, and resources…

Nonfiction

“Know thyself.” 

-Socrates

The Transforming Anxiety Podcast, by Kelly Hanlin McCormick

Unlocking Us, by Brene Brown

The Art of Growth-Enneagram Podcast, by Joel Hubbard and Jim Zartman

The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self Discovery, by Ian Morgan Cron and Suzanne Stabile 

Fiction 

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies, 

The man who never reads lives only one.”

-George R.R. Martin

I keep thinking that I need to put some kind of book category on my blog, but that doesn’t seem to fit in with fitness–unless it’s the Chi Running book I refer to so often!

The Family Upstairs, by Lisa Jewell

Things You Save in a Fire, by Katherine Center

The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett

Whisper Network, by Chandler Baker

Drop me a note and let me know if you listen to or read any of my suggestions!  I love to talk books and podcasts. Also, tell me your favorites! 

I’ll end with this quote, from author Glennon Doyle (her new book Untamed is on its way to me–can’t wait!!!)…

“We can do hard things.”

We can make this time into the greatest gift of our lifetime, if we only put it into the correct perspective.  So keep on showing up. Keep on being kind and compassionate. Keep on allowing yourself the simple pleasures of getting lost in a book.  Keep on learning about yourself. Keep on moving your body.  

Til next time…