I don’t like December. Or the three months that follow. I do love Christmas but the holidays remind me of how different we are, and sometimes that’s a drag. Quite frankly, I hate just about everything that has to do with winter. I even hate fall, because it means that winter is coming. I have tried to look at all of the dead trees around me and convince myself that they’re pretty. I’ve heard how others like to get cozy, read and covet the time indoors as an opportunity for reflection and rest. I have made several attempts to adopt this mindset. Yet, when I think about winter, I recall snowstorms coupled with stomach bugs.
I have a photo therapy light, and might get another to keep at work. I take large amounts of Vitamin D, and I celebrate Groundhog Day because to me it signifies the beginning of the end of the age of darkness. Whether its the short days, the dry heat induced eczema, the coldness limiting the options for activities, or the lack of decent produce, I become a seasonally depressed Eeyore. I miss my flip flops, riding with the windows down and daylight past 5 pm. Our life can be limiting enough with the few places Mark can tolerate in public, that when our time at home is confined to the indoors our house can feel more like a prison.
So, in an effort to not spiral into a total funk, which I’m often right on the jagged edge of, I thought I would try something a little different. In the same vein of a gratitude challenge, I’ve been trying to keep a running list of little things that brighten my day. I scoff at articles about self care, but they’re obviously written for a reason. So today, I bring you, the things that I like a lot, and may count as self care, just maybe.
P O D C A S T S
1. Podcasts. If you have ever spent any amount of time with me, I probably tried to get you hooked on one. A friend from work refers to me as his podcast dealer. Be it crime, storytelling, faith, science or autism, I have an incredibly long list of people and stories I follow. My obsession with them started when I was driving Mark an hour and half away for preschool, and Serial was at the height of popularity. It continued when I realized I could escape my own thoughts and worries by putting in my ear buds.
Here’s what has my attention right now…
Someone Knows Something. I’ve listened to a lot of crime podcasts. A lot. And this one is my all time favorite. I just love the host, David Ridgen. Listening to him makes me want to move to Canada. He is the kindest soul dedicated to justice for family members left wondering what happened to their loved ones. From his social justice piece that brought him to Mississippi to reopen a KKK case, to determining the whereabouts of a little boy lost 40 years ago, to several unsolved murders and disappearances, his kind, earnest attempts to connect with all involved parties leave me completely hooked on anything that David puts together. Even my aforementioned co worker went all fan girl and emailed him directly, and to his delight David replied, because he’s that awesome.
The Moth – True stories told in front of a live audience. Some will make you laugh, others will make you cry, and some will stick with you for a long time. I love how at the end of the show they wish you a story worthy week. To tell a story on a moth stage is a life goal of mine.
Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey – A weekly podcast featuring interviews, with mostly women, focused on topics like marriage, parenting, grief, faith and loss. I know I’m late to the party on this one but it’s become a favorite. I really like Jamie’s style, and as cheesy as it sounds, it feels like you’re hanging out with a friend.
Wellness Mama Podcast – Health and wellness podcast on all the latest trends, gadgets, foods, supplements and lifestyles in the health world. She drops episodes constantly. I’ve learned about nutritional genetic testing, tons about the microbiome, ways to support pregnancy and nursing, and how to make Elderberry syrup and my own magnesium spray!
The Struggle Well Project – A weekly podcast with guests who focus on how they are struggling well and not running away from home. They include many pearls of wisdom, and ways to point back to Jesus. Emily’s segments that feature her sister make me giggle snort and give me the desire to start a podcast with my sister. What do you think, Paige? I listen as soon as new episode comes out, and I love all of Emily’s different shows; between Struggling Sisters, Problem Solved with Rebecca Smith of Better Life Bags (another love of mine) and her Just Em segment, they’re all so good, and totally worth your time.
T H R E D U P
2. Thred Up. I never used to understand the excitement about consignment shopping. I was told that I needed to find something really great and that once I did I would be hooked, but all I usually saw was a sea of unorganized clothes. Then it happened when I went to visit my sister at college and she took me to a trendy consignment store where I bought an amazingly cute dress for $3. There was my hook. So I frequent our local consignment shop a few times per year, and swing by our Goodwill occasionally, but it’s hard to find time to get out, so I was pretty pumped when I discovered this app. It’s online consignment shopping and it’s ah-mazing. Shoes, bags, dresses, sweaters, jeans. Tons of name brands, if you’re into that sort of thing. All for dirt cheap.
J I O B I T
3. Jiobit. After a little boy with autism went missing and was later found dead, Ike felt the panic that I feel almost daily when I think about losing Mark, so he put us on a wait list for this GPS tracking device and a couple of months ago we found out that we were able to purchase one. We researched a lot of them and we liked this one because it’s tiny enough to conceal on him, and clip very securely to his pocket, but big enough for Mark not to swallow. Win! It arrived last weekend and already I love it. I can see exactly where he is, at all times, and know when he has arrived at his destination and can receive notifications when he’s on the move. We currently have Project Lifesaver, which is a tracking device worn on his ankle that utilizes radio frequency, but the only way to track him is to call 911 and have officers use special equipment. So even though that is more accurate than GPS, we would have to call the police immediately whereas now we can at least try to find him while someone calls 911. We like to think of protecting Mark in layers; we built a fence, installed door alarms and sensors, and now between the two devices we’re hoping that it will increase the likelihood of recovering him should he ever be lost.
W A L M A R T G R O C E R Y P I C K U P
4. Walmart Grocery Pick Up. Game changer, friends. I know that I’m late to the party on this one too, but after getting into a routine and befriending Dave, my personal Walmart shopper, I really like how much this simplifies our weekly routine. I order my groceries and meal plan while I wait for Jillian at dance class, then pick my groceries up the next day just in time for the start of the weekend. I like that I can edit my list even after I check out, and that it saves my favorites so I won’t forget what to purchase next time. Although it is semi creepy that they track me when I check in on the app, it does allow them to see right when I get there, and they are ready right away with my bags, so I’m good with it.
T H E C A L M A P P
5. The Calm App. I’ve been in counseling for several months. I highly recommend it, as it has been instrumental to helping me process many things on so many levels, but this app is very helpful in the moment. I scored it half off for the first year when I grabbed it on Black Friday. I have been working through the “7 Days of Calming Anxiety” meditations, and let me tell you, I have taken away so much. This is a gem of a cognitive behavioral therapy tool. I recently caught myself getting carried away with anxiety, and without much effort I was able to re-frame and move on, rather quickly. They also have sleep stories that you can listen to as you drift off to sleep.
N U U N H Y D R A T I O N
6. Nuun. While trick or treating this year, I talked with a friend about my low blood pressure, feeling blah, and basically running on fumes. She mentioned her recent POTS diagnosis, how she had increased her salt intake and how she noticed that it made a difference with how she felt. At the end of the evening she gave me a few of her strawberry lemon-aid Nuun tablets, and suggested I try them. I finally did, and I LOVE them. Clearly I must need to replenish my electrolytes because I feel so much better when I drink water with this added. It’s like an energy drink without the chemical garbage. Hooray!
A C U R E S H A M P O O & C O N D I T I O N E R
7. Acure Shampoo and Conditioner. I look for non toxic natural stuff when I can, and most everything I own is either fragrance free or made with essential oils, but a decent natural shampoo has been elusive. Natural shampoos often leave my hair feeling like a Brillo pad, which then requires additional products to recover from the hair assault. Then I stumbled upon Acure’s lemongrass shampoo and conditioner. It smells sooooo good, is free from all the scary stuff like parabens, phthalates, sulfates, silicone, mineral oil and petroleum, and actually does what shampoo and conditioner is supposed to do, clean my hair and not make me look like I’ve been shipwrecked, thus I am happy.
T H E I N T E N T I O N A L F A M I L Y
8. The Intentional Family: Simple Rituals to Strengthen Family Ties. I have very, very little time to read but I have started this book, and so far I’m loving it. I actually heard about it on a podcast episode on The Struggle Well Project podcast. It was written by a family therapist who gives practical methods to increase communication and create an environment for straightening bonds. I want to create traditions and rituals that become the soft place for everyone to land, and I think I need a manual to help me do that.
D U C K D Y N A S T Y
9. Duck Dynasty re-runs. For a few years we didn’t have cable. And when we finally rejoined modern society, I realized that Duck Dynasty ended, which made me super sad. Although I could never get behind the Kardashian’s, I enjoy most family based reality shows. From Run’s House to Hogan Knows Best, to pretty much any of the shows on TLC, I’m glued. My favorite class in graduate school was my Couple and Family counseling course, so maybe families just interest me in general. But this one is my favorite. So imagine my joy when I realized I could talk into our remote and ask it to record Duck Dynasty rerun episodes. I was delighted! And still am. I have 44 episodes to watch. Where was this when I was up in the middle of night for almost 18 months?
S L E E P, P R E C I O U S, S L E E P
10. Sleep. Speaking of, the last thing I am loving, maybe more than anything on this list, is that Luke is finally sleeping through the night. Dark circles be gone. Praise the Lord! I had no idea when that little bundle came into the world five weeks early that I would spend almost a year and half without a solid night of sleep. I also had no idea how critical sleep is for my mental health. I’ve had so many moments of totally paralyzing fear and anxiety, and I realize now it was because I was getting such short spurts of sleep.
Self care makes me uncomfortable, just the thought of trying to figure out how to relax stresses me out, but I can wrap my head around a great smelling shampoo, binge listening to a podcast and sipping on strawberry lemon-aid flavored water.
So tell me, what do you do to take care of yourself? Special needs parents, we have to do something, because otherwise…. eee gads.
In reading the first part…. don’t worry, I finished as you always write to my heart; I’m starting to think most women don’t like the month of Dec. So much more falls on our shoulders getting ready for Christmas besides what we do daily/monthly . My hubby told a teacher yesterday when she asked if we were ready, “if my wife is ready, then I’m ready.” That about sums it up. So take heart…. Women don’t like Dec unless they have maids to get them ready or happy in nature. Love all your suggestions and will look into nuun. Happy trails to you! (until you write again)
Yeah, December was a lot more fun when my mom made it all happen!