stress

Sorry, not sorry.

At the beginning of next school year, I’m going to implement an optional monthly mental health day for each of my children.

A day to recharge, rest, or catch up if they need it.

This will be a day that they can choose, and I will not question.  The same theory as when a child calls and needs a ride home because no one is sober, you pick them up, no questions asked.

A mental heath day in my opinion is about safety, just as is the call to pick them up, no questions asked.  It’s about promoting safety from stress, anxiety, and possible depression that can come from today’s school expectations.

I understand the other side of the  coin is schools not getting their ADA money on a day that I allow my kids to check out for a mental health day.  I’m sorry about that.  But I’m really not.  My kids give it their all, they put up amazing grade point averages.  I got straight A’s on one report card in 5th grade.  I don’t know where these three kids of mine came from, but they have a drive to succeed in school, and the numbers to back up allowing them to take one day a month if they need it.

I’ve read many articles recently about the anxiety and stress that school and homework can cause.  To be very clear, I fully support my kids teachers.  They have been amazing components in my children’s growth.  In no way are my feelings of frustration over the stress that school can induce directed at them.  I personally feel that the standards that are expected, and the workloads that come home are unrealistic and squeeze out many opportunities to live life outside of school.

So, in order to promote peace of mind in my children, I will give them a day in their back pocket to use if they are feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or just plain exhausted.

If one day can help to create a calm effect and a sense of support, I’m all in.

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Pokemon GO, you are exactly what I need!

Hi, my name is Jenni, and I’m a 45 year old adult who is pretty heavily addicted to Pokemon GO.

Now before you dismiss me for that, read on, because I feel my reasons for loving this game are pretty solid.

First of all, let me put it out there, that my new “hobby” of Pokemon GO may be the nerdiest thing I’ve even been involved in. And this is coming from someone who used to be thoroughly excited to clip coupons from the newspaper ads on Sunday mornings and organize them into my Dollar Store accordion coupon pouch.

A couple of weeks ago I was volunteering at my 5th graders school, putting together first day packets.  There were 4 moms there including me, and a couple of students.  I nonchalantly, and rather fishingly asked, “So, do any of your kids play Pokemon GO?”  And the response from two moms was “Yes, and so do I!” We talked Pokemon for the rest of the packet assembling with our Pokemon GO apps open on the tables.

Shut the front door.  I’ve found my tribe.

When the game first came out and my son began explaining it to me, I told him, “Wow, that is an absolute brilliant app.”

He showed me this a day later, and it was hilarious (truly no political agenda here, just funny), and oh so true to what my friends were posting on Facebook about their kids walking their dogs and getting out of the house for walks and bike rides daily:

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Then I started seeing seeing stories of the game’s therapeutic benefits, which as a Recreation Therapist, really spoke to me.  Getting kids in hospitals out of their rooms, getting high anxiety, or isolative kids and adults out walking in their community…amazing.

My son told me I should download the app, I did, then I got hooked.  Not sure why.  I’ve never been into any game other than my tried and true Words With Friends.  Our family does like to Geocache when camping, so maybe it’s because Pokemon GO is a bit similar to geocaching, in that you need to find things, and Pokemon GO has constant findings and rewards.

I have to admit there was a bit of nostalgia seeing all of the Pokemon names.  My son loved Pokemon cards when he was young.  I still vividly remember the time that he exclaimed, “Mom! I have coughing and wheezing!”  To which I of course replied “What?  Are you ok?  When did that start?” Turns out he had Koffing and Weezing Pokemon cards that he just got out of his new deck.

Back to present day, I don’t know about your house, but in mine, having two teenagers and one preteen, conversations can be sparse at times.  I have awesome kids, but sometimes, the dialogue can have constant splashes of attitude.  For now though, it’s not uncommon while playing Pokemon GO, to hear one sibling say to another “I just evolved my Caterpie into a Metapod, look at how cute and funny he is!”  A whole new non confrontational language and conversation piece.

This has been a new activity that I can share with my kids.  We all enjoy it, and are all super interested in it.  Most days after I pick them up from their schools (an hour event to get all 3 from 3 separate schools), we head somewhere for about 1/2 hour to an hour to play Pokemon GO together, usually enjoying a smoothie along the way rather than just heading home eventually ending up in our separate activities or interests after recapping our days.  Recently, when we go somewhere new, or out of town, we talk about being excited for what Pokemon may be there.  (I know, nerdy, but hey, I’m good with nerdiness.)  Being able to have fun doing something together with my 16 year old son, my 13 year old daughter, and my 10 year old daughter is truly awesome.  I don’t know how long the thrill of this game is going to last for all of us, but I’m going to enjoy it while it’s here.

I posted the following on my Facebook page a few weeks back:

I totally thought this was funny when I read it. Then I started thinking about it, running around finding ‪#Pokemon‬ is a break from the crazy that is needed for a moment.”

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Honestly, life gets hard.  Scary stuff happens, and things get stressful and hard to handle.  A check out from reality is needed and welcome sometimes.  This app allows me to decompress, to mindlessly look for cartoon characters to pop up, and get excited about new ones I haven’t caught before.  In all honesty, it combats my stress and anxiety at times by being able to go on auto pilot for a bit.

Last night, my husband was out of town, and I took my 3 kids out to dinner downtown, where we were all excited to go because there’s a lot of Pokemon GO action!  As we were leaving the restaurant, a couple who was sitting outside watched us as we walked by and judgmentally said, “they are all looking at their phones.”  These are the times where I believe I need a shirt made with the motto that I tell my kids sometimes when they get concerned about others, “You Do You.”  Basically, mind your own business, worry about yourself, you don’t know what other people are going through.

Frankly, if catching a Squirtle, Leveling Up, or having three of the four of us in a frenzy while in the car taking turns to try and catch an Arcanine that has ??? as the CP value brings me or my family joy, I’m all in.

The glory of being 45 and having this hobby, I honestly don’t care what anyone else thinks.  Although, let’s be truthful, I’m not going to put a Poke ball on my purse or anything, it’s just that I can’t care about what people don’t understand.

Poke on friends!!

For my tribe, you get me:

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Problem Solver vs. Fighter

A few weeks back I wrote about having Too many emotional layers… and being at my limit.

As I was thinking today about one of those layers a little voice inside my head said “you are a fighter,” and I thought, I am a fighter.  And then that little voice inside my head said “you are a problem solver,” and I thought, I am a problem solver.

Just this last weekend I was laughing with my almost 16 year old son about a computer game we used to play together called Pajama Sam.  Worst game ever, because even with a college degree, I could not solve the problem of finding the last vegetable person (what the heck was that game anyhow?) and we never beat the game.  I can picture this game in my head with 100% accuracy as I write this, and there’s a part of me that may go look for the CD ROM and see if I can solve it today.

Worst game ever.

When that little voice inside my head decided to talk and say that I’m a fighter, and then, that I’m a problem solver, the lightbulb went on, the sky opened up a bit, and things made sense to me.  I AM a problem solver.  I can’t handle things just dangling, hanging unsolved.  I’ve always been a ‘why’ person.  Call it needing to know, or even suspicious until I know the reason behind some things.  I’m a thinker.  I can get lost in spinning on a thought or a problem.  It’s not always a good thing.  Over the years I have learned to not waste valuable brain space for things that aren’t important to solve or to get to the bottom of.

But, some things in life right now, they need a solution.  And unlike Pajama Sam, I will stick with it until I come up with the right fit solution.  That’s the fighter.  When things matter, you don’t give up until they are right.  I think that in order to be a good problem solver in life, you also have to be a fighter, so you never give up.

 

Oh, and sorry in advance if you aren’t able to get ahold of me for a while, look what I found…

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Too many emotional layers…

Lately, it seems that there are too many emotional layers in my head. I’m picturing it like the way we learned about rocks and land, where there are layers upon layers built upon each other.

Yet, unlike land, in my head, there is a definite limit to the amount of layers that can be built.  When the layers in my head have reached the top, even the smallest piece of dust that lands on the top layer seems to be too much.

I was subbing last week, and while in the lunch room with friends, tears built up in my eyes while I was in the process of figuring out a plan for the afternoon.  I was figuring out where my kids would be going in multiple directions when I had to be somewhere else. Not a big deal.  Everyday, normal decision making.  I’m not a cryer, especially in front of other people.  I tried to shake it off, and gave myself a quick ‘Pull it together!’

Yet, it was the dust on top of the layers.

That’s happening lately. Normal things that aren’t big things at all, at times have a big effect on me.

All I can figure, is that I need to get rid of some of those lower levels of crap that take up space in my head.

Many of these layers seemed to have just shown up, and taken up residence, I haven’t even really been aware that they moved in!   And like current home and tenant laws, after a short time limit of being there, even if they don’t belong, it’s a battle to get them out.

I need to make myself clear, I am not suffering from anything. I have close friends that are going through crazy times. Yet, here I am, my mind not able to take a piece of dust on top of the layers.

After talking to a friend recently, I wonder if a part of it has to do with being in my 40’s.

This seems to be an in between time.

My kids aren’t young, they don’t need me in the same ways that they used to, yet they aren’t around the corner from leaving the nest quite yet.  We’re in the midst of teenager years which brings it’s own challenges.  (Note:  Challenges is a very nice, PC word to use for some teen parenting experiences.)

40’s is finding good friends sick.  Horribly sick.

By our 40’s, most of us have been married a long time, and as I look around, it’s bringing some divorces.

40’s seems to be an in between time.

These 40’s things may be contributing to the layers in my head that are already there from my own life experiences.

But, I can see around the corner. Resilience will bring experience to this in between time, and maybe then the layers will start to lift.

Although, as I chip away at those layers in my head that by now probably have fossils in them, I believe for the time being my motto will be this:

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Just keeping it real.  Shoulders go down a bit in tension, and a small smile comes across my face as I take a sip while making dinner.

It may not chisel the layers, that’s going to take some work, but I do believe it helps me with the dusting.

 

My treadmill workouts: from laughter to thought provoking.

I continue to try and kick anxiety’s ass through exercise very regularly.  Exercise also allows me to not have to be so careful while participating in one of my favorites…eating.

My TV hook up while on the treadmill is pretty sweet.  Although we still haven’t hooked up cable out in the office where my treadmill is, but there is the XBox, which thankfully has Netflix.

Up until recently, my treadmill workouts included watching stand up comedy.  It was great!  Then, once I blazed through all the Kevin Hart and other comedians of interest, I moved on to The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt:

Hilarious, it filled a big void left by 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation ending.

Once I finished Kimmy Schmidt, I was stuck.  No more comedy found of interest.

So, then I went on to other ‘stuff’.

First up was ‘Fed Up’, a documentary/movie about sugar being the culprit in our war with obesity:

Very interesting, and it made me go a little crazy looking at the amount of sugar in all the labels of the food we eat.  It’s a bit overwhelming.

Next up, I watched ‘GMO OMG’.  All about GMOs in our foods.

Again, very interesting.  Made me think about it far after the movie had been done.

I just finished ‘Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead’:

I really liked this one, very entertaining, and funny at times.  And towards the end, during a scene with a certain t-shirt, I had the ugly cry face as tears streamed down my face while I ran on the treadmill hoping that no one would walk into the office as I was in that state!

I find that having something to look forward to watching while on the treadmill allows me to almost (I said almost) want to get on that thing so I can continue the movie!

Looking forward to more comedy as it comes up, but for now, I’m diggin’ on some knowledge!

If you have some time to kill on the treadmill, or just killing time, check them out, hope you like them!

Laughter and Sweat

My anxiety gets its ass kicked quite substantially by exercise and laughter.  More on my anxiety, what works for me, and my likeness to Bob Wiley here.

We recently moved a TV out to the office and now my treadmill is facing it.  This is an improvement over bringing my iPad with me to the treadmill and placing it on the console.

We don’t have cable hooked up yet, but we do have the xBox, which has Netflix!  I am now addicted to watching comedy while working out.  I’ve gone through Chris Porter, Ralphie May, and now I’m totally burning through Kevin Hart stand up.

Thankfully no one comes out to the office while I’m working out, because it’s not always pretty.  There are times I start laughing while running, and then it’s awkward because I’m out of breath, but need to laugh, and sometimes it results in that ‘ugly cry’ type of thing?  Ya, I’d better lock the door from now on.

Double whammy to anxiety, sweating while laughing!

 

Be Quiet Brain!

This last week I have seen two quotes that have stuck with me.

This is the first:

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Why can’t brains pull out a greatest hits reel when you can’t sleep?  Like, just keep rocking all the great things you’ve done, one after the other, so you’re smiling and high fiving yourself as you lay in your insomnia?

But nooooo, instead, when it’s dark, and you can’t sleep, it’s usually the time that regret gets focussed on.  I can recall things that I have regretted, and truly can feel the strong uncomfortable emotions that go along with that event, even if it’s been over 20 years.  In all honestly, the bad decisions that I can focus on really are only ruminated on by me.  There’s no one else sitting around at 4:00 in the morning thinking about some dumb crap I did in my early 20’s.  For some reason though, even though it makes no sense, middle of the night seems to be the perfect time to relive regrets (and to blow them way out of proportion).

Perfectionism is a crazy thing, and it leads to a ton of anxiety, because honestly, there is no such thing as perfect.  One persons perfect is another persons failure.  You can never win.  It’s hard to live every day to the fullest, but a big juicy creative life sounds awesome!

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