Monday, Monday…

Let’s chat about this morning for a moment shall we? I have been up since 4:00 AM because that is when Maya decided she wanted to greet this Monday morning! Happy and hungry (she continues to nurse at night, but is a sucker for routine and seeks a warm bottle within moments of opening her sweet, blue eyes,) her feet hit the floor early this morning! I woke up pretty easily, I prefer laughing and happy to whining and resistant any day…so out of bed I hopped.

Bottle. Check.

Dry diaper. Check.

Back to bed we go? Not so much!

Here comes Rad Man with Kion in his arms, “Mommy will you watch a movie and ‘nuggle me.” Of course, I am happy to oblige. Precious boy. So we watch a little “Boss Baby” and snuggle in the living room. I am not giving in and making my coffee yet, because it is only 4:40…there is still the opportunity for maybe a few moments of closing my eyes. After some extended snuggle time, I get up take my vitamins, drink my coffee, and get ready for the day. Maya is snoozing again at this point but Rad is going strong.

Then I realize…we are out of formula and I did not turn in my defensive driving when it was due Friday. YIKES. Ok, I am still ok. Both of these things are manageable. I will make a quick run to the store and make a phone call when I get to the office. We are still going to conquer this week.

Finish getting ready for the day. Tell Cody I need to run to the store. He is doubtful of my generously packed list of to do’s this morning but bids me safe travels as I load up Rad in his adorable CatBoy “kajamas” (that is what he calls them) and off to the store we go.

I advise him on the way that this is a fast trip. No toy section. Just formula and out. As we approach the only – open – register behind a lady (no judgement, all LOVE) with 57 cans of cat food…I realize that I am not making the impossible happen. Rad ends up with a sponge bob ice cream and we are 7 minutes behind schedule as we walk out.

Call Cody. “Sorry I am making you late babes. Tell them it is my fault.” This is when the box breathing comes in. I can feel the physical reaction to the stress of this morning building up. My heart rate is a bit increased, my cheeks are a little flushed, and I feel the jitters in my stomach as I get onto the highway headed back home.

Inahle. 1…2…3…4.

Hold. 1…2…3…4.

Exhale 1…2…3…4.

Hold 1…2…3…4.

Repeat multiple times on the drive home.

Rad is tickled with his ice cream, I am rationalizing the fact that he is eating ice cream at 7:10 in the morning by telling myself that he has been up for almost 3 hours and already ate 2 bites of a somewhat nutritional breakfast so we are good. It is all good.

On our way home we acknowledge the stunning sunrise. The sky is full of bright orange and yellow greetings on this crisp morning.

Get home. Wake Lennon up. She not only looks like me, she sleeps like me. (Anywhere and for as long as you will let her.)  She gets up and ready with little resistance in comparison to other Monday mornings. Hallelujah!!!

Out the door.

Drop Maya off.

En route to school, we say our daily mantra “I am brave. I am strong. I am kind. I am important.” Hugs, kisses…Lennon is off to have a great Monday, kindergarten style. Her pony tail is appropriate for Monday. Held together by a string…ba dum tss. #cheesyjoke #laugh #youknowyouwantto

Take Rad to Mimi and PaPa’s. Where he spends his days calling the shots and being covered in love.

Finally, after what feels like a full day’s work I am off to my other full time job.  I have the pleasure of serving as the Employee Assistance Provider for a hospital system. I get to serve the many employees of our organization and help them through crisis, struggle, or just simply helping them be the best and truest version of themselves. Each day is an honor and a refining challenge. I can genuinely say, I love my job.

I walk into work and make the trek to my office from employee parking. Part of me thinks it’s laughable to be the girl who didn’t remember to turn in her defensive driving for a ticket that she got in February and made a 6:45AM run to the store for formula because I forgot it on each of my 3 shopping trips over the weekend AND ALSO be the one who people come to for guidance, advice, and therapy. But a much larger and kinder part of me thinks that crazy mornings like today and the mishaps that come along with life in general are strengthening my ability AND willingness to demonstrate empathy.

Practicing mindfulness has not changed the reality that my life jam-packed to the brim with hilarity, excitement, chaos, and messes…but it has transformed how I experience these moments.

Breathing in Maya’s 4:00 AM joy for life.

Squeezing in the ‘nuggle time with my little man.

Appreciating the patience and kindness of my husband.

Extending kindness to the woman with cat food and the cashier despite my realization of being late.

Being truly present and Lennon and I say our mantra for the day.

And practicing SELF-KINDNESS.  Laughing rather than taking myself too seriously, and rolling with the flow of what this day happens to bring.

Sure, I still have moments of stress but breathing through them and checking the tone of my self-talk has been a game changer.  I have also learned to redirect the thought processes that lead to unrealistic expectations about me and those I live and work alongside. In Rising Strong, Brene Brown talks about the unfortunate reality of expectations and the resentment they lead to.  She says, “Disappointment is unmet expectations and the more significant the expectations, the more significant the disappointment.” I am choosing to not set myself up for repeated disappointment. That does not remove the potential I see in myself and those I live and work alongside…it is simply a manner of reframing that promotes increased emotional health.

On most Monday mornings, the wisdom or absence of grace is defining. Should I choose to walk in unmet expectations rather than grace, my ability to receive moments of mishap with ease will falter. Should I choose recognize the humanity and humor in the hurdles as they pass (in the countless forms that they are revealed) I can survive and hold tight to my enthusiasm for life. Life has never been a gentle breeze, but that does not mean that I cannot appreciate the gentle breezes as they pass…and they will.

 

 

I know I have said it before, but thank you for visiting and honoring my moments of reflection. This continues to be a refreshing journey for me. Taking the break from my daily routine to share these thoughts with you is helping to fill my cup.

Peace, Love, and Laughter,

 

Megan Adams

Sleep…

I tried and tried to develop a pithy title for a post on sleep. Some ideas I had…”Sleep: A Love Hate Relationship.” “SLEEP: The Forbidden Dance for Mothers of Babes.” “How to Enhance your Sleep Life.”  Let’s be honest, at this exact phase of my life, 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep sounds like the most desirable and sought after thing that I can dream of. If I had 8 hours of uninterrupted and blissful sleep, I think I could probably take on the world. I was ALWAYS an awesome sleeper. I could take a nap anywhere and my sleep started the moment my head hit the pillow at night. But then my precious babies (whom I wouldn’t trade for gold) came along, and they need to nurse at night, or pee at night, or have a drink of water at night. When you multiply those needs times three, they can really add up. I give my lack of sleep credit for weight gain, increased anxiety, and memory loss. What I sought to determine was whether or not this credit was due. Was sleep, or the lack thereof, able to cause such palpable symptoms in my journey towards quality of life, mindfulness, and self-care?

In my research on the impact of sleep in our ability to improve our level of functioning and enhance mindful awareness, I came across a “Whole Health Changing the Conversation: Neuroplasticity and Sleep Clinical Tool” created by the Integrative Medicine Program, Department of Family Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health in cooperation with Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, under contract to the Office of Patient Centered Care and Cultural Transformation, Veterans Health Administration.  This document is highly clinical in composition, but does an excellent job explaining how the body views sleep deprivation as stress. In my clinical practice, I often discuss the impact of chronic stress on the body. Your body has a natural reaction to what it associates with or as stress. This reaction is preparing you for survival. It dumps chemicals that (if needed) can make you more reactive, faster, stronger, etc. However, when you are not in a situation where you have to run for your life or fight your way to survival, these chemicals can cause damage. These chemicals also keep you awake and alert. So you can understand how stress and sleep deprivation become a cyclical battle. Understanding that your body is equipped this way is fascinating and helps you to understand the importance of stress-management, rest, and healing for your body. This tool also describes why sleep is essential for neuroplasticity:

Neuroplasticity is defined as change in the brain’s structure and function due to experience. The brain was once thought to become immutable after a critical period of development in early childhood. Now we know that the brain is constantly changing in response to experience and disease. Given the fundamental importance of sleep in the biology of all life, it should come as no surprise that sleep has major effects on the brain through neuroplastic mechanisms.

Neuroplasticity is essential for healing, the creation of and maintenance of memories, creating new pathways for information to be processed, and in maintaining overall brain health. Neuroplasticity is what creates the opportunity for a stroke or traumatic brain injury victim to learn to walk again. The brain is literally capable of finding a new route to process information and commands. Can we please take a moment to applaud our incredible bodies and what they are capable of…?

Outside of understanding the science behind sleep and the brain, I also wanted to start a conversation. Am I alone in the world? Who else has this battle with sleep? Is anyone else out there longing for improved sleep? So, naturally, I asked the question on Facebook. I quickly got a multitude of responses. People expressed that they identify with the struggle. People marketed the products they sell that can promote rest and relaxation. People recommended routines and habits that promote resting well. People expressed that they had found the solution to getting 8 hours of sleep with children. Long story short…I am NOT alone in my ongoing journey towards improving my sleep. It was encouraging and provided me with lots of ideas and set out on a whole new path of research and discovery.

Taking from my Facebook conversation, interactions with friends, my personal experience, and research I wanted to provide you with some tips to improve your sleep.

  1. Consult your physician: I always want to make sure that everyone takes their physical struggles to their family provider. Make sure there is not an underlying reason for your inability to wind down. If you feel concerned about blood pressure, insomnia, anxiety, etc. it is important to implement self-care but also have an ongoing conversation with your provider to be safe and cover all your bases.

 

  1. Develop a Routine: this for me has been the ultimate struggle as a mother. I am spontaneous and disorganized. However, my ability to stay on top of housework, laundry, appointments, practices, projects, bills, etc. etc. etc. has been dependent on creating a doable level of organization and routine. This is crucial at night. Routines create positive habits, but also create signals that tell your body what is coming next. This routine can be as involved as including dinner time, bath time, one cartoon, warm milk, brush teeth, read book, prayers, lay down. Repeat nightly.  Or it could be as simple as spraying a lavender linen spray or rubbing essential oils on your and your children’s feet to create a signal that appeals to your sense of smell then reading a bedtime story. An important term used in my description of routine is Whatever routine you choose to implement must be achievable for the long run. Similar to a diet (or any lifestyle change for that matter) you want to create a realistic opportunity to be successful.

 

  1. Promote the body’s ability to relax: There are so many ways to achieve this. Multiple folks expressed their belief in the impact of essential oils, using oil on their body or diffusing oils in the room (some specific oils mentioned were cedarwood, vetiver, and other blends specific to essential oil companies.) My family and I certainly use oils; I absolutely believe this is a path to promoting relaxation. I have a lavender and chamomile linen spray that I crave at night now. I love breathing it in and my kiddos love it as well. Meditation and mindfulness exercises can also help. Box breathing, the body scan meditation, or certain music enhances your mind’s willingness to slow down and can aide in your pursuit of sweet sleep. Exercise and nutrition can also play a role in promoting rest for your body.

 

  1. Remove sleep disruptions: I shared wonderful dialogue with a dear family friend Jeannie Nichols, who is also a Licensed Spiritual Healer and Raindrop Specialist about this exact topic: the importance of removing distractions that interrupt the ability for our brain to rest.  For instance, falling asleep with the television on is a sleep deterrent. “The light fluctuation is disruptive to sleep,” says Nichols. I also read an informative article regarding blue light exposure and its impact on our sleep written by Michael J. Breus, PhD a.k.a. “The Sleep Doctor.” I recommend reading the article, “The latest on blue light and sleep” in its entirety. Breus summarizes his thoughts by saying, Nighttime blue light exposure is indeed harmful to sleep and circadian rhythms. And taking steps to manage blue light exposure—including using red light sources during evening hours—can make a real difference.”

 

  1. Be open: Life can throw you curve balls and you might have to adjust your routine or day-to-day priorities from time to time to achieve wellness. My relationship with sleep has been heavily impacted by the introduction of those three precious and dependent souls that are my children. One day they will not be as dependent. One day they may not want to snuggle so close. One day they will be headed out to conquer their own version of the world. I will, then, have complete and total access to 8 hours of sleep and my full short term memory capacities. For now, some 2:00 AM snuggles may not be the worst thing in the world. I fully believe that so much of our ability to cope with life’s trials is wrapped up in our willingness to open our hearts, love others, and love ourselves.

 

So, for now, I will mindfully and lovingly meet the needs of my children and give myself grace as I continue my dance with sleep. Sweet dreams until next time friends.

 

Peace, Love, and Laughter,

 

Megan

 

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