Last week I discussed helpless and worrisome trains of thought forming in my mind regarding next fall. Like a rat in a maze (or a cage), I’m tempted to go down them while digging out pointless ruts to nowhere. This can especially happen at night as I tackle insomnia.
Just like how pouring warm water on ice cream causes trails to form that can’t be diverted from as time goes by, my brain knows how to drill and kill something.
To upset that urge, I’m doing two “journal-style” posts about what I look forward to, what I dream about, and who inspires me right now. From upscaling the house to seeking out old books and redefining myself via vintage clothes (last week’s post), here are five more things worth getting obsessed about. (Dwelling on the actionable items below certainly has improved my mental state.)
As a pregnant woman, health and wellness for me means trying to avoid people and stay six feet away from them. As a consequence, we are ordering our groceries as takeout from the local store. This way, even my husband doesn’t have to go in and walk around. We have to pay with a check, so we miss out on the cashback options. (Also, sometimes we receive incorrect items and we can’t tell what the sales are. But this hassle is worth it to us right now).
I’m also avoiding my favorite trails because that is where people are the busiest! I have the stroller and the dog tugging at me, so I am the least mobile or able to proactively get out of the way. It’s frustrating to walk in town everyday out of fear of people breathing on me, but I genuinely encounter far less people in town than I do on the trails.
As far as my diet, I’m way more relaxed about food issues this second pregnancy. By this, I mean I kind of just eat whatever I would normally eat. I’m not trying to make everything 100% organic. I’m simply aiming for occasional novelty and a balanced diet.
For omegas, I try to get some eggs, walnuts, or fish each day (fish about once a week). Dates and pineapples are key foods too. Since I haven’t physically gone to the doctor in 10 weeks, I have no idea what I weigh. As far as exercise, squats and walking are king. (If anyone asks for my health advice, I tell them to squat more. I’m probably not the health inspiration you are looking for. I try to tie everything back to history.)
I’ll probably be more obsessed with health and wellness after I give birth. Until then, sleeping and eating are where it’s at. (In addition, I’m excited about Bill Bryson’s new book, The Body: A Guide For Occupants. Here’s an excellent podcast episode about it.)
6. Our Local Community
As you can imagine, there are several restrictions right now keeping us from exploring our local community. Because of this (being told we can’t have something), I want it more than ever! I have an ongoing list of several activities I hope to do with my young family once we can all meander around together.
- Sit at the new coffee shop (and the older coffee shops) with NO AIM WHATSOEVER.
- Eat out at restaurants with friends (especially the ones with outdoor spaces).
- Shop second hand at some of our favorite locally owned places as I revamp the wardrobe (previous post).
- GO TO THE LIBRARY (Little guy was just starting to love the place when it closed down:(
- Commit to shopping locally (even when it costs more)
- Attend more sporting events/concerts to support my students
- Join (or create) a book club
- Take a pottery/knitting/yoga/something-I’m-terrible-at class!
- Go to the salon! Get a massage!
- Visit the local Norweigin Museum as a family. (I can’t believe my husband and I have never gone into the building together...)
- Go to all other interesting museums and festivals within an hour drive.
You get the idea. Even though leaving the United States is tempting for some people after all of this, I feel committed to the “grow where you’re planted” ethos. This place is beautiful and full of variety. I miss it. I deeply want to help it recover in whatever creative ways I can think of.
7. Cool Moms (Especially Those With a Rocker Vibe Who Own Businesses or Write)
After years of little social media grazing, the influencer world has found me. I’m homely, scruffy, puffy, and need a makeover. I’m ripe for the picking. (It’s probably due to isolation, but like a teenage boy, I’ve never been more in love with random women on the internet.) I love them. I’m in love with all women energy and my women friendships more than ever before. I’m not sure what I would do without their hope and inspiration as I move forward into the overwhelming land of two kids.
- Anine Bing - She started her social media presence as a musician, but pivoted to selling clothing online as a young mother.
- Kelly Oxford - This writer is downright hilarious, sassy, and real. I love listening to her thoughts via podcasts on my walks. She tells her story like she became a writer on accident and out of desperation as a stay at home mom.
- Alli Webb - As a “How I Built This” fan, I really like the structure of her podcast and the feminine touch it has. Alli started her business (the really simple concept of only offering salon blow drys) as a young mom.
- The Informed Pregnancy Podcast - This podcast interviews several creative women about their birth experiences. Lauren Evart’s interview (a true blue influencer) is pretty funny (and inappropriate) at times.
Of course, there are so many others. As someone hoping to create something on the side someday (or at least record my history songs built around bibliotherapy), I don’t always have the motivation or energy for hard-core planning. But I can take this busy time in my life and learn from other mom’s I love (both in person and online).
In normal life, I listen to podcasts daily. However, when everything shut down, I was in shock. I turned to music for at least a month to reconnect with myself. As I look back on why, I think it’s because music offers comfort in a way regular speaking and entertainment doesn’t. Abstract poetry is rarely trying to sell me something, change me, or inform me. It just lets me be. Here are some artists I’ve been into:
- Fiona Apple - She dropped her first album in 8 years! I loved seeking out all of her candid interviews online and learning more about her thought process, creative process, and changes while growing older.
- Karen Elson - I’ve had her album for years, but it recently re-captivated me. (Probably because I view her as a “cool mom” - see above).
- Lord Huron - The aesthetic of this video (and Ben Schneider's bent toward creating lyrics describing natural landscapes) is very soothing.
- Jose Gonzalez - Gorgeous spiritual music (even for the nonspiritual person). His music gets the mood right every time.
- Tiny Desk Concerts - A great way to sample artists if you wonder whether you will enjoy them or not.
- NPR Live in Concert - A fantastic way to sample music from the Newport Folk Festival.
9. My Job
That’s right. All of this taught me I love my job (especially when it is carrying on like normal - sigh). As a teacher, the work I do is closely tied to the love I have for my community. I want to understand the true impact online schooling is having on kids. I’m committed to understanding what they missed this year and how to fill in the gaps.
I want to understand trauma, the way young minds may be processing all of this, how our district will make our “return to learn” plan, and what will make me a better human being able to withstand pressure in the future as we try to find “normal” again. Just like doubling down on my love for my town, I think it’s time to double down on my love for my work. Remember why I started. Remember who I’m impacting. Breeze through the chaos and be forgiving as we all figure this out together.
10. The Present
While several of the above ideas would fit nicely into a vision board of my ideal life and the way things could be in the future (walk out patio from the bedroom - here we come!), I’m also looking for a way to be obsessed with right now. The simple pleasures in life. The taste of home-cooked food. Warm sunny walks after a cool morning. Alone time writing during my son’s naps (in addition to the endless days all blending together).
All of this “being present” was hard at first and still is. It was especially hard being one on one with my son when school closed but my husband was still at work. Now I feel a shift of gratitude and absolute love for his little quirks and changes. I don’t know if this would have been possible without so much individual time with him. We are a generation of parents experiencing something unprecedented - days upon days with our kids. I’m trying to be thankful for this time, odd as it seems… And if my husband is laid off soon and ushered into our simple existence? Really - what else are we going to do? I guess we will balance dreaming, learning from the past, and enjoying what we can in the present.
Of course, I’m also diversifying my interests and paying attention to what our son is obsessed with (fire trucks and this T-rex song by Samuel Jackson). I didn’t add this category, but I think the human spirit expressed through comedy is where life online is going next.
How are you finding ways to chill out and enjoy yourself or your family? How are you balancing hope for the future with gratitude for today?
DISCLAIMER: AS ALWAYS, IF YOU NEED PSYCHOLOGICAL OR FINANCIAL ADVICE PLEASE SEEK A PROFESSIONAL FOR YOUR SPECIFIC SITUATION.