Family · Food, if we must · Memories

Coffee

I drink exactly one cup of coffee a day. I even write it in my planner, right under “feed Zoey.” It says COFFEE. I love my coffee. It’s here beside me right now, while the house is quiet and there’s still an hour or so before daylight.

Coffee was a forbidden adult beverage of my childhood. It would stunt your growth! Of course, now I know that it wouldn’t affect our growth, but the caffeine and sugar would make us even wilder little creatures than we were, and our parents were smart.

But when my brothers and I spent the night with our grandparents, Mama Bea and John Da, we were allowed to have coffee at breakfast. Everybody pretended it was a secret that we got it, and of course we didn’t really like it, but it was special. I actually thought for years that my grandparents’ pastel melamine cups were magic, because my grandparents used instant coffee, and from my viewpoint, John Da poured clear water from the kettle into the cups, but what rose up and filled the cups was coffee! I was a shy child, and for a long time I wondered how that sorcery worked.

Nana, my mother’s mother, did NOT use instant coffee. She also didn’t let us have any. It’s probably for the best, because she drank her coffee black, jet fuel strong, and scalding hot. No modern drip coffee maker could make the coffee hot enough for her. She used a percolator (with the bubble on top) that boiled the coffee ferociously and kept it that way. You didn’t mess with Nana’s coffee. It could hurt you.

She didn’t use a mug. Coffee cooled off too much if it took too long to drink. She drank it one cup at a time from her Franciscan Apple cups, using a pinch of salt “to remove the bitterness.”

VINTAGE-FRANCISCAN-Apple-Pattern-Coffee-Tea-Cups-and-Saucers

I though of Nana’s coffee this morning. Mine tasted bitter, more than usual, so I tried the pinch of salt trick. It actually sort of works, although I don’t know how. The Google says that some think it tricks your brain into tasting the salt instead of the bitterness, but I couldn’t really taste salt. The coffee just tasted better. And made me think of my grandparents.

I have finished my cup now. It’s getting light. Time to start the day. Enjoy your coffee.

 

Family · Inspiration · Life · Organization

Short lesson on Being Enough

Spoiler: You ARE.

You’ve worked super long hours three days in a row. You’ve handled several items of personal paperwork that HAD to be done. You’ve done the emotional work of making sure everyone in the family is heard and appreciated and reminded that you love them. You’ve been there on the phone for a friend who is facing a huge disappointment. You have screened calls from three other friends, letting them know by text that you’ll talk soon. You’ve filled prescriptions. You’ve bought food. You’ve cleaned the litter box.

You’re spiraling. There is no time, NONE, for anything except the next thing. You are struggling with making your daily “Finish Strong” checklist and getting into bed at the time you must in order to be functional the next day.

Your introvert self is screaming for some time alone to gather your energy and recharge.

How do you take stuff off your mental plate, when EVERYTHING needs to be done?

First, realize that you CAN’T do everything. Your work stuff must get done, and it must get done by deadlines. You have to put other things on the back burner, just for now. The trick is to write those things down, even the most minor of things that take up space in your inner brain schedule, and then let them go until they come up on your calendar, or you can delegate them to someone else (Always plan to check back on your delegated tasks). Make a form text that says, “Hey, I’m sorry about the telephone tag, but work/life is crazy. I’ll call you back on (date).” Only send this when it is true, and DO call on the date you say you will.

Second, say NO to anything new. When you’re already at max mental and physical effort, DON’T take on anything else. Even if it’s something you think you want to do, you won’t want to do it when it is time. The hours in a day are finite. Sleep, as part of your self-care, is non-negotiable. The solution is saying NO in the first place, not cutting corners on things you have already committed to in order to cram something else in. Be impervious to guilt. You are good enough. You are better than good enough. You are kicking ass.

Third, don’t spiral. YOU are in control. Mental effort spent worrying and stressing about not getting things done is wasted energy. Use positive self-talk to reassure yourself that you are on top of this, you control your time and choices, and you are doing great. If you forget something, apologize, forgive yourself and move on. Remember to write things down, and carry your list, journal or whatever with you, and check it often.

Last, as you begin to get past the crunch, start scheduling downtime. Schedule time to write, journal, take photographs, paint, play music, craft or whatever re-fuels you. NOW you must prioritize those blocks of time. Say NO without explanation. Hire a sitter without guilt. Your scheduled downtime is important, just as important as any other responsibility or task. Don’t allow yourself to feel guilty for getting low on energy and re-charging. Re-charging is what fuels your super power of great focus and persistence during the busy times.

Don’t compare yourself to other people. Everyone is good at looking like they’ve got it together. It is one of our major talents. Don’t fall for it.

If this sounds like advice from an expert who has it all together and sails through life, never faltering, or screwing up, or bursting into tears of frustration and exhaustion, it most certainly isn’t. All these things are what I know I should do, not what I DO do. But writing them down is a coping therapy in itself, helping me to pull out of a dive when one happens.

Say it with me: It’s hard, but I’ve got it. I am enough.

Beach · Family · Inspiration · Memories · travel

Vacation

I have spent the last few days slathered in sunscreen, dozing under an umbrella with this as my view and soundtrack.

Gulf of Mexico, Aug 2017

For 25 years, one week each summer, we have gone to the same beach, eaten at the same restaurants, shopped at the same grocery store, enjoyed the same delicious seafood. It is truly a relaxing vacation. We read, we nap, we walk, we cook if we feel like it. And when it is over, we come back home, more calm and more tan, and ready to fit ourselves back into our “real” lives and responsibilities.

Family · Memories

Isms

I have yoga class in a few minutes. I totally don’t want to go. But I will go, and afterwords I’ll be the most self-satisfied person in all the land for going. I’ll probably mention it to no less than ten people. “Yeah, I worked out today. Just a little yoga class, you know….”

Which reminds me of of family saying we have. The -isms. You know those things someone said one time and it was hilarious, and so it gets repeated over and over through the years, completely out of context, and no one outside the family gets it, but the family laughs hysterically?

My niece, Beth, was an absolutely adorable toddler. She drew the attention of everyone. But she was a little fearful of new experiences, which is really funny, since she’s now the Rockin’ Adventure Mom of three boys. Anyway, when it came time for that rite of toddler passage, the first ride on the train at the zoo, Beth didn’t want to participate. She let everyone at the zoo know this quite loudly. And being our family, we* took her on the train anyway. Screaming. She shrieked the entire 5 mph ride around the park. The monkeys went nuts. I believe they thought one of their own had finally made it to freedom.

Well, when it was over and we thankfully got off, the Child Abuse Family, covered in toddler snot, Beth announced to all the assembled folks waiting to get on the train with their non-screaming kids, “I ride de train.”

So proud of herself. “I ride de train.”

“I ride de train.”

She told everyone at the zoo the rest of the afternoon. The cotton candy vendor heard about it. A guy emptying trash. Everyone. They were all so happy for her.

So for the last thirty years, we brag about our accomplishments, even when we had to be dragged kicking and screaming to get them done… “I ride de train.”

“I ride de train.”

Anyway, I’m off to yoga. I probably won’t scream during class. Hopefully. But I’ll be back to brag about it later, definitely.

Birmingham_Zoo_6389235.

*I wasn’t actually there, but I’ve heard the story so many times, it feels like I was.

Family

An introvert and an ADD kid went to college orientation…

I’ll skip to the end and say that, yes, he registered for classes. We don’t know what they are, because he was so stressed out by the end of it all that he forgot to print a copy of the final schedule. But he got classes. 13 hours, supposedly, which is what I had hoped for.

But, oh my god, college orientation???? Two full days of non-stop over-stimulation and massive, massive information overload. Introductions, large session, small groups, go here, go there, read this, be sure your child does this, don’t worry, it’s all on the website, time’s up, Q & A, time to eat again, bus tour, pep rally (no, thank you), be back at 7:00 am to meet your kid and get his luggage, then start over. Continue reading “An introvert and an ADD kid went to college orientation…”