The Fantasy of Preparation & Control

I will begin by saying that I really feel that I was missing the following classes in high school:

 

  • Interpersonal Skills: How to avoid assholes and also how to not be an asshole
  • Non-delusional Budgeting: How numbers are numbers
  • Self-regulation: How to not freak out
  • The Dishes: A tale as old as time
  • Wait Until You’re 30: Just basic truth

 

Instead I got a lot of calculus and advanced one-sided history. I won’t knock the English and the literature, that seems useful (says the writer using too many commas and run-on sentences). I do remember a class called Home Economics and basically no one took that unless you wanted an easy A and we were all too “ambitious” for that track. Joke is on us, though, that class probably was the most ambitious now that I see my failing grade right next to me, a la Laundry Mountain. 

 

The point here is that I had big plans and big dreams for my life. I was going to dance professionally until I was 35ish, travel the world, get an advanced education, and then probably become a writer. I definitely DID NOT want to get married or have kids. That was decided when I was 7 years old and I learned that babies come out of your peehole (they don’t). Not for me, thanks. 

 

Instead I retired from dance at age 20, dramatically and tragically, after only 4 years of being professional. And then I got married at 21. And then I dropped out of college at 24 and was pregnant with my first at 25. Since then, ooof, things just got messy. I don’t want to go into it all here, it will feel like a Post of Misery instead of what this will hopefully instead become: A salve for all of us humans in our very human lives. 

 

But, yes, my story involves hard stuff, like yours does too. Stuff that happened to me and stuff that I caused to happen to others. And because I didn’t go through childhood gathering tools for the realities of life and instead gathering them for the “follow your dreams” path, I didn’t really know how to handle any of that “stuff”. Some of it caused me immense harm and trauma, all sewn into my bones still now as I move from here to there. 

 

I really didn’t know life was all of this. And, as I write that right now, this little archetypal cheerleader in the committee of my head comes running into the metaphorical board room and is like, “NO REGRETS, IT’S ALL PART OF LEARNING!” Um, yes. True. But, also, isn’t there room to be content and to have regrets at the same time? Regret for me is grief and, if I let it, it ushers in meaning. And meaning births change. And change affords me a new legacy. 

 

So, I give my regrets a big hug and I tell them they belong here too. They feel close to the part of me that believed it could be prepared and in control of life, even the unpredictability of it. There’s a lot of hope in that part of me, but also a lot of ignorance that is begging for leadership. And maybe that’s where I am now, looking back: Leading myself to a new legacy that is more equipped simply by knowing that I do not always know how to do these life things. 

 

AND this brings me to the actual inspiration for the topic of this post (and our December Challenge): Y2K. Hahahaha, some of you are like what are you talking about? Well, Y2K (“The Year 2000”) was the panic that unfolded directly before 1999 was coming to a close, during which the entire world became convinced that all modern infrastructure and systems that we had built over the past 100 years would suddenly cease to function because the year “00” might very well be the year 1900. How would computers know? Would all of our records just vanish? 

 

In the end, this panic was a fascinating reflection of our society coming to terms with the frailty of our modernity. That we had supposedly developed all these advanced ways of being human, but no one thought about something as simple as using 4 digit date entries instead of 2. It was terrifying for the older generations, who were already facing the shaky validity and value of decades of hard work in the “system”. And for younger generations like mine at the time, we were mildly (or extremely) exhilarated at the thought of our anti-establishment ethos becoming reality in a single blink.

 

In the end, whether you were the person who had prepped in your basement properly for the end of the world or you – like me – opted in for a rager of a party complete with glitter sunglasses and other properly nihilistic items, ahem … in the end, exactly nothing happened. 2000 rolled in and there we were with ourselves, as we were in 1999. The fantasy of preparation and control all thrown into the dust of the panic, as life reminded us: Onward.

 

This month, in our December Y2K Challenge, we will be talking about this fantasy of preparation and control and how it has shown up in our lives, as parents and workers and spouses and dreamers and sometimes not behaving bodies. We will be working through our regrets and also even talking directly about some of the changes that have been happening here at MommaStrong, which is always connected to the fabric of the rest of my life. Finally, we will – together – talk about what we take from these fantasies and how we rebuild the next phases of our lives, holding hands with both grief and lovely lovely hope. 

 

Lovely lovely hope.

 

AND OH WOW, I forgot to mention that this challenge was also inspired by the amazing factoid that we will be celebrating my Daily 15 #2000!!! I mean, for real. What fitness company do you know has shown up for 10 years almost every day (highlight: almost) and through all the sh*tdiddle of life? I know. 2000!!!

 

AND, finally, in case you don’t know what the heck a challenge here is like, basically, you register, you join the challenge group in our community, you listen to one short episode of our mini podcast each week, and you comment or discuss as you like. OH, and you try to show up for 5-15 minutes of exercise as often as possible during the challenge. 

 

The challenge starts on Monday, December 5th, which is soon!. Join me in this special adventure, before you start creating fantasies about 2023, hahaha. If you are a current member, you can register by logging in to your account, clicking the “Challenges” link in the teal navigation menu and following the instructions there. If you are a new member, HELLO! Simply sign up for a membership ($5!) and follow those directions above. 

 

Aging Out

I’m writing this post at 8:47am from my dining room table, surrounded by post-its, each with to-dos and ideas and MUST DO NOWs scrawled on them. I had planned to get up early this morning before school drop-offs and get a start on the day, but – alas – I am tired. Late night decisions about early morning risings never seem to pan out, but for some reason I keep thinking they will. 

 

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the way my plans seem to get upended each day in unexpected ways, leaving me to feel like a ping pong ball in a blender. I didn’t know that this was grown-up life and maybe that’s because it wasn’t exactly like this for our parents or because I was a kid and thus was in my own bubble of things that felt more important than the grown-ups around me. 

 

I’m not sure. What I am sure about is that the ping-ping blender life isn’t working out so well for me. And I’m aware that there are some shifts happening inside of me that are causing me to pay attention, closely, to the ways in which I attempt to care and produce while being utterly depleted. 

 

The discovery here is that no one wins when this formula of adulting is in play. My work suffers. My creativity evaporates. My kids feel my stress. I am disorganized in every area. I am not present with the important stuff. My relationship with joy and meaning is squashed. And my health is at risk. Going 150% and only get 10% of anything done in any one area is most certainly hurting me and my life.

 

Now, the response to any woman or primary caregiver when the above paragraph is bravely, finally uttered is: You need to start saying No and you need to start taking care of yourself. Put your oxygen mask on first. Ooof, there’s truth here. And there’s also oppression. The denial of reality and the attempts to “choose” our way out of systemic, societal negligence for the lives of primary caretakers is, at best, not working. 

 

This advice always lands me in the abyss of not wanting to be a martyr or live in a victim mentality and also wanting to believe myself about the reality I am living. The space between these two extremes, the tension here, this is where I am opting to sit. It’s uncomfortable. It’s the abyss. My mother’s mother and her mother’s mother and the trauma handed down over and over lives here. My past and my own trauma lives here. The choices I made for my life before I knew better live here. My fears of the future and the world and my children’s lives live here. The impossible equation of money and security and survival mode live here. It’s all here.

 

So, this month, I am just sitting here in the tension, in the abyss. It brings me to a place where I begin to see and feel the rise of my wise self surface. The part of me that I have NOT been connecting with because she is not interested in chaos and the rat race. She doesn’t judge it, she just knows she’s not more powerful than it. So, she sits that dance out and makes quiet, personal decisions that all add up to a new formula: Worth.

 

I know that in choosing the path of Worth, that there will be loss here. If I am opting out of the depletion equation, then some things will not be possible for me to chase anymore. But, if the gain is health and joy and connection, even as things in the world remain as they are, then, ok, I’m in. I either learn this now or I learn it when my body/spirit have had to hit a bottom (again). I’d like to have the grace to meet this need before it has to get that bad (again).

 

I know we all need better tools than just the advice to “put our oxygen masks on first”. This is why this November in MommaStrong, our challenge is about Aging Out: The Things We Leave Behind as We Get Older. And in case you don’t know what the heck a challenge here is like, basically, you register, you join the challenge group in our community, you listen to one short episode of our mini podcast each week, and you comment or discuss as you like. OH, and you try to show up for 5-15 minutes of exercise as often as possible during the challenge. 

 

The challenge starts on Monday, November 7th, which is soon!. Join me in this special adventure, before 2023 comes begging you for big change. If you are a current member, you can register by logging in to your account, clicking the “Challenges” link in the teal navigation menu and following the instructions there. If you are a new member, HELLO! Simply sign up for a membership and follow those directions above. 

 

I’ll see you (and your abyss) there.

Scary Body Stuff

This blog is late because I have been putting it off. This is not surprising since the topic of this post is about an area of life in which I have been engaged via the fine art of utter denial and complete avoidance. 

 

This dance feels rather useful when I’m in it, that is until the music stops and the lights get flipped on. There I am with reality and … reality. And I can either hide or, well, face it.

 

And, so, I am opting in, with admitted resistance, to facing it. Here we go: I need to deal with some basic health stuff, which I have put off for quite some time. I’d like to say that the qualifier for “some time” is in months or weeks, maybe even a year. But, in my case, it’s many years. Many, many years of not dealing with stuff I know I need to deal with. This stuff involves mammograms, dental work, ultrasounds, colonoscopies, and skin checks. 

 

Barf. I hate writing all of that because most of this isn’t even routine health screenings, it’s stuff that has been flagged and tests have been ordered and appointments have been made and I just haven’t shown up. For many many many many years. This doesn’t exactly fit with who I am in the world or the congruency I seek with my own wellness, which I why I probably feel nauseous right now. 

 

Yet, maybe it does fit with who I am, as a person who has endured a ton of trauma in childhood and adulthood. The result of that is that I do not like to be touched, or exposed, or cared for by people whom I deem to be in positions of authority. It also means that I have been in survival mode for a variety of reasons, which doesn’t exactly leave a ton of room for agency in my own health. 

 

Also – the gooey middle of this – I just don’t want to know anything bad. I really really don’t. I just, within the last few months, have started to feel better in terms of my own personhood and my recovery around C-PTSD. I feel open, available, yet strong, boundaried. I am learning to trust myself again, a smidge closer to trusting others. I feel hunger and curiosity and space and possibility. Ugh. I’m terrified that if I go to one of these appointments, I’ll find out something that pulls me back like a rubberband out of feeling alive, of feeling my life. 

 

The problem with this thinking is that, when it comes to scary body stuff, delaying knowing is never ever worth it. In fact, delaying knowing is far more dangerous to my personhood in the end. Deep breath, I say to my sweet scared little kid me, let’s dive into this deep end and just know what we need to know. 

 

I don’t want to do this alone. In fact, I know I can’t. So, this month in MommaStrong, we will together be tackling Scary Body Stuff in our October Challenge. We will be talking about avoidant behavior, why it is hard to get help, HOW to get help, and what to do if you get bad news or good news or something in between. And in case you don’t know what the heck a challenge here is like, basically, you register, you join the challenge group in our community, you listen to one short episode of our mini podcast each week, and you comment or discuss as you like. OH, and you try to show up for 5-15 minutes of exercise as often as possible during the challenge. 

 

The challenge starts on Monday, October 3rd, which I am aware is basically NOW, so sign up ASAP! I’ll also be doing a live 15-minute workout at 9:30am CST on Monday on our Instagram (@momma_strong) if you want to kick things off with me. Otherwise, if you are a current member, you can register by logging in to your account, clicking the “Challenges” link in the teal navigation menu and following the instructions there. If you are a new member, HELLO! Simply sign up and follow those directions above.

 

Ok, I feel better having gotten all that off my chest. Pun intended because I need to go schedule my mammogram now. Ok bye. 

Lessons in Stretching (also the matrix)

As a young ballet dancer, I remember being extremely envious watching other girls bend and extend, their bones like gooey instruments. My body felt pretty A to B, B to C. I found a way to make it all look fluid but it never felt fluid. And, some of the ways I did that weren’t exactly healthy. I mean, I definitely stuck my feet underneath the gap under the piano and then sat back while trying to straighten my leg. I remember the burn across the tops of my feet, which I would wince my way through, knowing that following the burn came basically surrender and numbness. 

 

Did it help? Did I get stretchier? I think so, yes. BUT, it also degraded the structure I was born in and left me vulnerable for other types of injuries as my childhood love turned into a professional career. And I never achieved the sort of extension and gooey-ness that I thought I could. It felt like Santa Claus, to be honest. Like one morning I would wake up and suddenly I’d be able to lift my leg as high as the next dancer or bend backwards over an arabesque for a perfectly impressive photo. 

 

But, no. That never happened, nor should it have happened. This is the body I live in, the joint structure I own, the bones to which I belong. The result, though, of my past relationship with stretching is that I am a bit, well, extreme. Light stretching feels useless and intense stretching has been pocketed into the rabbit hole of ballerina “stuff” that I shall not explore. And, the reason I bring this up here is because this relationships has shown up in my work with MommaStrong. Stretching here is a bit meh. Offered, helpful, available, but really integrated into the program? Nope.

 

That’s because it’s not integrated into me, up until now. This has a lot to do with the relationship I just described, but it also has another component, which might be something you feel as well: Stretching takes time. It also pushes me into a place of listening to my body. And listening to my body ALWAYS results in me hearing things that I need to address in my self-care. And these things take time too.

 

So, stretching takes time. And the stuff I need to address when I allow stretching to be a messenger takes time. TIME. TIME. 

 

Time.

 

I just don’t know. I hate to be the person who is like, wah, I never have time. But, also I am the person who actually does not have time. It’s not a prioritization issue or finding identity in being busy busy busy, it’s that – quite literally – I do not have time. I go at 150% all day long, and only accomplish 10% of anything I need to do. It just is what is right now in my life. 

 

And, so, when a task arrives that will beg of me more space and attention and time than I know I can give, I avoid it like the plague. I entirely stonewall the task. It doesn’t exist, I don’t hear it, it’s not barking at me, so ignore ignore ignore. 

 

Here’s the thing with that plan, though. Listening to myself and taking time to give my body some needed and essential things like stretching, it’s actually the thing that ought to be directing everything else in my life. It needs to be in the driver seat, instead of being the now petrified 3 month old Cheerio wedged in the carseat. 

 

This is why this month, I have dedicated my attention to stretching. And I’m looking at two buckets for this topic: 1) The actual physical movement and technique of stretching AND also 2) the sort of stretching in my life (personal growth) that depends upon listening generously to myself. In the first bucket, I am curious about the most current research on stretching, the hows and the why’s and the whens. In the second bucket, I am wanting to understand how to know when I can push myself in some areas of my life and when I need to pause, rest, and hold back. 

 

And before I close this post out and suggest you join me in this months challenge, I thought I’d share with you what I have been learning about connective tissue. I have found it useful to go back to the drawing board and relearn what exactly we are stretching, what is connective tissue. And, as always with the human body, it lends itself to a pretty useful metaphor for the rest of life.

 

Connective tissue has a lot of components, one of which involves types of fibers (collagen, elastic, and reticular). This tissue and its components form a matrix of sorts for our entire body in an exciting and daunting interconnected web. Most interestingly, the main functions of connective tissue are 1) Binding and supporting; 2) Protecting, 3) Insulating; 4) Storing reserve fuel; and 4) Transporting substances within the body.

 

The reason I bring this up is because we tend to lump stretching our bodies into a thing we “should” do because it helps us feel better. And, yes, this is true. But, it feels vastly more important when we consider that this web is doing so much for us and that its interconnectedness inside our bodies is so complex, so delicate, and yet also so sturdy. When we engage in stretching, we connect to this interconnection. We give back a little to a system that holds us together and gives us an opportunity to experience the world around us. 

 

This, of course, extends into the idea of how to learn to listen to ourselves so that we know when and how we can push our limits, alongside when and how we sit back and rest. I’m endlessly curious about to jump back into this part of my life that maybe before was clouded by “you suck as a ballerina, you’ll never be like the rest” and also “there’s not enough time to have needs”. I ask myself, what is there for me now? What can I learn? How can I slow down and do this work?

 

AND, this is where I invite you to ask the same questions by joining me in the September Stretch: Mobility and Flexibility the MommaStrong Way. And in case you don’t know what the heck a challenge here is like, basically, you register, you join the challenge group in our community, you listen to one short episode of our mini podcast each week, and you comment or discuss as you like. OH, and you try to show up for 5-15 minutes of exercise as often as possible during the challenge. 

 

The challenge starts on Monday, September 5th, which we are aware is a holiday. However, I don’t know about you, but holidays means kids home and all up in your space, so maybe this is a great way to do something nice for you. I’ll also be doing a live 15-minute workout at 9am CST on our Instagram (@momma_strong) if you want to kick things off with me. Otherwise, if you are a current member, you can register by logging in to your account, clicking the “Challenges” link in the teal navigation menu and following the instructions there. If you are a new member, HELLO! Simply sign up and follow those directions above. 

 

And, with that, I’ll head off into my day trying not to get grandiose while overthinking the messages in The Matrix, now that I used the word “matrix” a few paragraphs ago. 

 

See you soon!

Sleep, WTF

 

Sleep.

 

Oh, sleep.

 

I remember a dire warning issued to me by a Pilates client when I was 6 months pregnant with my first child: SLEEP AS MUCH AS YOU CAN NOW. I also remember being like, wow, dramatic much? In my barely 25-year-old brain, I obviously knew more than her and obviously this meant that she was wrong, that being a mom was, yes, tiring, but gimme a break, it can’t be that bad.

 

And then my first was born and I genuinely can’t remember a single thing in my life since then hahahaha. 16 years of extreme sleep deprivation and two other kids, guess what? That client was entirely right, and I was entirely wrong. Wrong wrong wrong.

 

We all know how it goes and we know that some kids have an easier time with sleep and some have harder (insert: impossible) time with sleep. I happen to have the full spectrum in my three daughters and I also happen to be a single mom, a reality that is only moderately relevant here because in our culture, the person who birthed the kid is generally also the person who bears the bedtime burden.

 

We all also know that there is an additional layer of difficulty with sleep, which has very much to do with the need for alone time that can usually only be captured once these sweet needy kids of ours are finally konked out. And let’s face it – for some of us, that sometimes doesn’t happen until 10pm or later depending on what you have going on in your house. Yet, even though going to bed myself after that would be the wise choice, I somehow find my way to a giant “eff it” button and stay up doing whatever I possibly can that in some way secures independent brain draining delights. Next thing I know, I’ve convinced myself that a 2:00am bedtime is reasonable and that I’ll be totally functional the next day on 4 hours of sleep.

 

So. Yeah. Now that we’ve covered the surface stuff of sleep as a parent, I’d like to flip this beast on its back and rub its underbelly. I only suggest this after attempting to find a solution on Google, which offered solutions that were either expensive or, well, basic. Let me boil down both the expensive and the basic advice, all of which I am pretty sure you have heard before: 1) Have a consistent early evening bedtime routine, 2) Don’t drink too much caffeine, 3) Meditate, 4) No screens before bed or near your bedroom ever never ever, and – my favorite – 5) Share the bedtime burden with your partner/spouse/gerbil/friendly imaginary friend.

 

The underbelly of my sleep situation tells me much more. It asks me to take a look at my relationship with sleep not just as a parent, but throughout my life. It’s here that it becomes clear to me that I have never had a great relationship with sleep. In fact, as a kid, suffering from severe clinical OCD, I used to count in multiples of 8 the number of times I looked at a book in the bookshelf by my room before bed. It happened to be On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross which is rather appropriate because I had convinced myself that if I didn’t do a perfectly counted multiple of 8 glances at this book, I would die in my sleep. 

 

The rituals didn’t stop there. But as I got older and they became harder to perform, I learned other coping skills, namely just exhausting myself completely from a long day of intense physical activity OR by studying in my bed until the wee hours. Instead of “going to bed”, I learned that it was easier if I just crashed out unintentionally, which feels extremely familiar to how I exist today. In fact, after doing this inventory of my sleep history, I confronted the reality that I have never really learned how to put myself to bed. 

 

If I dip back into the feelings of that as a kid and the possible connection of today, I can see a long thread of feeling unsafe. If I tug at that thread a bit, other things begin to unravel, some genetic brain stuff and some trauma stuff and definitely a lot of worth stuff. As much as I have grown up and become an adult, in the end, I still grapple with these things and with issues around safety.

 

My curiosity here reminds me that, yes, it must have been so hard to let go into the great big unknown of sleep when I couldn’t even let go while wide awake. That’s led to a lot of behaviors around sleep that prevent me from protecting rest. And with some things that have happened to me as an adult, the worth piece has become a bigger component as well. AND then, add in all the surface stuff I mentioned at the beginning of this post, wow. There’s a lot here to unpack, but there’s also a lot that can be changed.

 

This is where I land then, in a place in my life where I no longer want to feel exhausted and I feel more ready to try another way. I want to know what I can control and what I can’t when it comes to my unique sleep situation and then I want to take some action. It’s time. I have been crashing out for long enough. What would it be like to reparent myself and tuck myself in at night? What would it be like to capture, during the day, the joy and freedom I feel at 1:30 am?

 

I’ve got a lot to learn here and I know you do too. I’d love for you to join me as we head straight into the topic this month in our August Challenge: Sleep WTF. We will be talking surface level stuff and also deeper stuff. There will be a TON of room for you to discover your own stuff around sleep, which is probably different from mine. We will compare expert advice and engage with real deal realities. 

 

And in case you don’t know what the heck a challenge here is like, basically, you register, you join the challenge group in our community, you listen to one short episode of our mini podcast each week, and you comment or discuss as you like. OH, and you try to show up for 5-15 minutes of exercise as often as possible during the challenge. 

 

The challenge starts on Monday, August 1, which is SOON. I’ll also be doing a live 15-minute workout at 9am CST on our Instagram (@momma_strong) if you want to kick things off with me. Otherwise, if you are a current member, you can register by logging in to your account, clicking the “Challenges” link in the teal navigation menu and following the instructions there. If you are a new member, HELLO! Simply sign up for our 14-day free trial and follow those directions above. 

 

Here’s to zzzs.

What Happened to Free Time?

 

I fell asleep last night in my bed at 10:30ish, fully clothed and un-showered and un-morning-alarmed. I definitely had an AirPod in my right ear, which I am convinced is basically terrible for my brain in some way that science has yet to determine, especially when left in all night. And I definitely fell asleep watching some wild documentary show about women escaping cults. I tend to gravitate to those. 

 

[insert pause for yes courtney has a therapist]

 

In any case, this is NOT how I imagine my nights to go, certainly not if those nights involve any amount of free time. My nights, ideally, would involve board games, bedtime tea, reading, writing, sitting outside in the still evening air, and going to bed fairly early with electronics far far far away. Alas, over the past couple of years, I’ve run into some very bad habits around how I decompress, how I approach free time, and how I take care of the creative inner child me. And, for ease and simplicity, we can lump all of those habits into one bucket, with the giant label of: AVOIDANCE COURTESY OF BURNOUT.

 

I’ll say that I hate to admit this because the reality of my current free time usage does not match who I am and who you may know me to be. This is exactly why I am here. Things haven’t been matching lately and so much time has passed with these new avoidant, self-care-less behaviors that I now need to be like, HUH, what is happening here? 

 

I’m confident that, in the face of incongruence like this, I am not alone in that the first response to be basically a total jerk to myself. We know how effective this tactic is, right? It’s so effective that we end up just continuing the habits, but now with an extra layer of shame. So, I am opting in for self-compassion instead. And my curiosity here rests in the hope that with self-compassion, motivation will begin to grow and the changes I need to make will feel less cumbersome and more expansive and doable. In fact, as Kristen Neff, who wrote an entire book on self-compassion, says, “Once we start basing our self-esteem purely on our performance, our greatest joys in life can start to seem like so much hard work, our pleasure morphing into pain.”

 

This is exactly is, isn’t it? I’ve been approaching these changes in how I use my free time as some sort of indication of who I am as a person and making sure it all lines up, for me and my kids and anyone who hears my dreary tales. But the truth is that when I operate this way, I force myself into performance mode, rather than WHAT FEELS GOOD AND TRUE TO ME now mode. And that latter mode is where creativity waits, sitting by as you push the shoulds out of the way and just simply opt-in for the grace of being human.

 

NOW, I suppose the other fraught area of this conversation around free time has to do with the reality that for so many of us, it just simply does not exist. And when it does, oooooof, you don’t have any level of capacity to be still, or creative, or kind, or curious. I don’t know about you, but any time I have free time, the last thing I want to do lately is, um, listen to myself. ALSO, I am acutely aware that my free time is limited, which means it’s a ticking time bomb and my attention is spent on what I can get done in a short period of time before it’s all over and I have to go back to caretaker mode. For me, it’s like taking a time test in math class and all my brain can hear is the tick tick tick of the clock and zero computation is even remotely possible.

 

I don’t have the answer to this yet, except to say that I no longer want to keep chasing behind this stinky bus anymore. I am just living on the fumes of “not enough time” and “you wasted that time” and “tomorrow you should do” … enough already, you know? I want to get on the dang stinky bus and take a ride somewhere moderately awesome for just a short bit of time. And I am aware that I am going to have to do some work here to make this change. Nothing changes if nothing changes. But, that work will be fueled by love, at least that is my declaration here in this post now. 

 

FINALLY, one final and very simple note: The pandemic has dramatically shifted our relationship with free time because caretakers have just simply lost all access to routine, autonomy, community, etc. You are not alone if this feels like a new pain point and a painful pain point. I also feel the loss and I also feel the overwhelming burnout. There is a way forward. 

 

If you want to join me in figuring out what the heck happened to your free time and why in the world you feel like you can never use it the way that would feel good, then awesome sauce. Join us in our July Challenge: What Happened to Free Time? And in case you don’t know what the heck a challenge here is like, basically, you register, you join the challenge group in our community, you listen to one short episode of our mini podcast each week, and you comment or discuss as you like. OH, and you try to show up for 5-15 minutes of exercise as often as possible during the challenge. 

 

The challenge starts on Monday, July 4th, which we are aware is a holiday. However, I don’t know about you, but holidays means kids home and all up in your space, so maybe this is a great way to do something nice for you. I’ll also be doing a live 15-minute workout at 9am CST on our Instagram (@momma_strong) if you want to kick things off with me. Otherwise, if you are a current member, you can register by logging in to your account, clicking the “Challenges” link in the teal navigation menu and following the instructions there. If you are a new member, HELLO! Simply sign up for our 14-day free trial and follow those directions above. 

 

Ok, I’m off to squander more free time, I mean work time. I mean, I don’t know what is life. 

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Courtney Wyckoff

The Fantasy of Preparation & Control

I will begin by saying that I really feel that I was missing the following classes in high school:   Interpersonal Skills: How to avoid assholes and also how to not be an asshole Non-delusional Budgeting: How numbers are numbers Self-regulation: How to not freak out The Dishes: A tale as old as time Wait Until You’re 30: Just basic truth   Instead I got a lot of calculus and advanced one-sided history. I won’t knock the English and the literature, that seems useful (says the writer using too many commas and run-on sentences). I do remember a class called Home Economics and basically no one took that unless you wanted an easy A and we were all too “ambitious” for that track. Joke is on us, though, that class probably was the most ambitious now that I see my failing grade right next to me, a la Laundry Mountain.    The point here is that I had big plans and big dreams for my life. I was going to dance professionally until I was 35ish, travel the world, get an advanced education, and then probably become a writer. I definitely DID NOT want to get married or have kids.

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Courtney Wyckoff

Aging Out

I’m writing this post at 8:47am from my dining room table, surrounded by post-its, each with to-dos and ideas and MUST DO NOWs scrawled on them. I had planned to get up early this morning before school drop-offs and get a start on the day, but – alas – I am tired. Late night decisions about early morning risings never seem to pan out, but for some reason I keep thinking they will.  I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the way my plans seem to get upended each day in unexpected ways, leaving me to feel like a ping pong ball in a blender. I didn’t know that this was grown-up life and maybe that’s because it wasn’t exactly like this for our parents or because I was a kid and thus was in my own bubble of things that felt more important than the grown-ups around me.  I’m not sure. What I am sure about is that the ping-ping blender life isn’t working out so well for me. And I’m aware that there are some shifts happening inside of me that are causing me to pay attention, closely, to the ways in which I attempt to care and

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Articles
Stephanie Dillon, PT, DPT, WCS

How can home office workers improve ergonomics and physical activity during their workday?

  How can home office workers improve ergonomics and physical activity during their workday? The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of changes to all of our lives, but in particular to many of our workspaces.  More of us are working from home at least part of the time, or have switched to jobs that are entirely remote.  This naturally can lead to a reduction in physical activity, plus worsened ergonomics as we make do with home offices instead of employer-supplied office equipment!  So that begs the question – how can we improve ergonomics and physical activity while working from home?   I feel like since I started to work more from home, I have more aches and pains – is that normal? In a word, yes!  40-70% of home office workers report pain in the lower and upper back, neck, eyes, and head.  The lower back and neck are the most commonly reported sites of pain, followed by the upper extremities (anywhere from the shoulders to the fingers).  And, 75% of home office workers reported little to no discomfort in their original office setting prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.   What is it about my work-from-home

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Articles
Jya Plavin, MPH, CPT, CPPC

It’s a new day for “employee wellness” and we are here for it.

  “Employee wellness” and incentive programs have historically aimed at reducing sick days and health care costs, and increasing productivity and profit. Today, things have changed. The pandemic led the workforce straight into clinically defined cases of burnout, especially amongst working parents, and what we now refer to as The Great Resignation and the phenomenon of quiet quitting. Employees are not lazy, unmotivated or in need of productivity tools, but instead are reassessing their priorities and work/life balance in the face of higher demands and the immensely heavy presence of uncertainty.    Workers today are asking:  Do I have enough flexibility to juggle work and family life without burning out?  Am I being treated and compensated fairly for all that I put in?  Does this bring meaning to my life?  Has hyperaccessibility hurt me?  How can I protect flow state and creativity?  Am I taking good care of my health?  How can I respond rather than react to stress?  Is “this” worth it?   Re-framing “Good Enough” The shift that we’re seeing among employees today reflects a concept we love to apply in fitness: Minimum Effective Dose. This is the “sweet spot” of doing enough to experience the benefits, but

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Courtney Wyckoff

Scary Body Stuff

This blog is late because I have been putting it off. This is not surprising since the topic of this post is about an area of life in which I have been engaged via the fine art of utter denial and complete avoidance.    This dance feels rather useful when I’m in it, that is until the music stops and the lights get flipped on. There I am with reality and … reality. And I can either hide or, well, face it.   And, so, I am opting in, with admitted resistance, to facing it. Here we go: I need to deal with some basic health stuff, which I have put off for quite some time. I’d like to say that the qualifier for “some time” is in months or weeks, maybe even a year. But, in my case, it’s many years. Many, many years of not dealing with stuff I know I need to deal with. This stuff involves mammograms, dental work, ultrasounds, colonoscopies, and skin checks.    Barf. I hate writing all of that because most of this isn’t even routine health screenings, it’s stuff that has been flagged and tests have been ordered and appointments have been

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Courtney Wyckoff

Lessons in Stretching (also the matrix)

As a young ballet dancer, I remember being extremely envious watching other girls bend and extend, their bones like gooey instruments. My body felt pretty A to B, B to C. I found a way to make it all look fluid but it never felt fluid. And, some of the ways I did that weren’t exactly healthy. I mean, I definitely stuck my feet underneath the gap under the piano and then sat back while trying to straighten my leg. I remember the burn across the tops of my feet, which I would wince my way through, knowing that following the burn came basically surrender and numbness.    Did it help? Did I get stretchier? I think so, yes. BUT, it also degraded the structure I was born in and left me vulnerable for other types of injuries as my childhood love turned into a professional career. And I never achieved the sort of extension and gooey-ness that I thought I could. It felt like Santa Claus, to be honest. Like one morning I would wake up and suddenly I’d be able to lift my leg as high as the next dancer or bend backwards over an arabesque for a

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