The Pep Talk

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Over the last few days, I’ve been feeling like someone of importance has announced that a meteor is on a course for earth and will inevitably collide into our planet, causing insurmountable damage and destruction. Not the case, but the tone in messages from almost every media source is either peppered or overseasoned with fear.

 

 

Truth is: It’s March of 2020. NASA has photos of Pluto, taken billions of miles away. Trump is president. DNA can be edited with CRISPR. Toilets are still amazing inventions. It’s springtime in Wisconsin. Kenny Rogers died of natural causes. And there’s a virus. It spreads easily. Most people who catch it are fine, some don’t even know they have it. It can make a small portion of the people who catch it really sick and sometimes causes death. I’ve seen estimates that after running its course, if it continues on a current trajectory, that anywhere from 200,000 to more a million people could die from Covid 19 out of 7.8 billion on planet earth. Social distancing and staying home impacts the trajectory.

 

Being human means we are naturally scared of getting sick, of seeing our loved ones get sick, of seeing the health care system push its resources to the max, causing impossible ethical decisions to be made like who gets to use equipment and who doesn’t.

 

Viruses have been around for millions of years. We’ve evolved in partnership with them. But death is scary. And right now the whole globe is in the midst of an existential crisis.

 

The things that support and drive our society’s functioning like: public schools, access to income, access to child care, social connections, human touch, church gatherings, group celebrations, and any number of other countless ways we feel value in our lives, has been stripped fairly bare.

 

Big systems and ideas are under the microscope. Death! Ethics! Science! Government! Education! Transportation! Trade! Finance! Poverty!

 

I’ll name all the ways we have earned the right to feel stressed the fuck out with what’s been happening, but first I wanted to note that given what you’re seeing each day in the media, just as easily headlines could read:

 

 

Humanity Bands Together!
Governments Finally Listen to Scientists!
Humankind Make Drastic and Rapid Changes to Assist Loved Ones and At-Risk Strangers!
Pollution Slows and Humans Spend Time in Nature!
Hard-working Truck Drivers and Grocery Store Clerks Celebrated as Heroes!
People Cook at Home for their Families and Eat Meals Together!
Teachers Find a Way to Get Shit Done, As Usual!
Technological Communication Proves Its Value to the Human Race!
United Global Effort Slows the Spread of Virus!

 

There are reasons to celebrate being human here, for sure. But there’s also uncertainty and worry. Alot of it. I’d like to pause for a moment to acknowledge the shitstorm of anxiety we’re either seeing in our own selves or witnessing in others.

 

 

Why is the media spraying fear everywhere about this? In part because scientists want people to take action now in order to avoid the calamity of overriding our health care systems. As my Dad once said, “Death is a great motivator.” The thinking is that if action is taken quickly and extensively, like yesterday, it will slow the virus down and buy time.

 

We are essentially buying time because any number of positive things can happen to the trajectory of the virus’ effect if there is simply more time. More time=more resources. More time=more research. More time= more knowledge.

 

So….fear-based messaging. Would anyone have changed any bit of their lives if the message was, “There’s this bug going around. Most everyone will likely be fine but not everyone. Maybe wash your hands more?”

 

Fear causes action.

 

And in the best sense, this action, even if motivated by fear, shines a major spotlight on what we hope is true for all of us. That we care deeply about the well-being of our fellow humans. We are willing to give up our jobs, our comforts, our routine, our church, our education, our timeline, our plans, and our income if it means we can save lives. That’s pretty remarkable don’t you think?

 

But I don’t want to ignore the fact that for some families and individuals, social isolation for weeks or months will cause such a strain on their mental and emotional health that avoiding one health crisis may create entirely new health crises. Not to mention financial crises along the way.

 

Everything in my perspective on mental health is partially influenced by what life was like in the midst of debilitating panic disorder in my 20’s. If I were experiencing that at this time, with such a whirlwind around me, I wouldn’t be able to sleep, or calm down, or leave the house even if I wanted to. I needed people back then to help me name what I was feeling so I could work my way out of it. So here in this post, I wanted to spend a few moments to name what’s happening for a lot of people in the emotional world and to give some hope and resources.

 

 

Being stormed by the recent challenges has brought a lot of our human frailties and tendencies to light:

 

 

1. Rapid change is not something we as humans usually prefer. In a matter of weeks, most of us have changed our daily routine, work schedule, family schedule, financial schedule, and relationship patterns all at once and very rapidly.

 

2. Genetically, our minds evolved over millions of years to activate our fight or flight response when we perceive ourselves to be in the face of threat or danger. Financial uncertainty and a pandemic, particularly how they are presented in the media, are grabbing the attention of our subconscious panic buttons.

 

3. In modern society, most of us have become somewhat disconnected from our own emotions, particularly when we grieve or lose something or someone we love. Fear of loss looms large in in part because we are not comfortable feeling our feelings, and loss hurts.

 

4. Being directed how to live our lives, even temporarily, and having restrictions placed on our freedoms is a tough nut to swallow for most of us who live in a country where we are generally free to do as we please.

 

5. Many of us are carrying around the energy from unresolved traumas from our past: and any or all of the above can be triggers for past painful events we haven’t processed yet.

 

6. Feeling like our daily connections to our loved ones and the simplicity of human touch are being taken away, at least temporarily, can cause us to feel deep loneliness.

 

7. Feeling the risk of being yourself and owning your opinions is really active. There is a stigma of disagreeing with the practice of social distancing. The fear of losing friendships and family relationships and the love of your community because you, despite hearing the best scientific arguments for social distancing and sheltering in, just plainly disagree- fear of being outcast is an evolutionary fear, whether your reasons are religious, mental health based or otherwise.

 

These are BIG fucking deals. Mental and emotional health are equal in importance to physical health, as anyone who has ever suffered from PTSD, clinical depression, or debilitating panic can tell you.

 

And I feel the need to say that it’s natural to feel all the things right now: overwhelmed, pissed off, restricted, helpless, afraid, cautious, uncertain, powerless, anxious….we are entitled to feel every single bit of what we’re feeling.

 

Not that anyone asked me, but I’m cool with following guidelines of social distancing if it will save lives, of course, as long as we can also keep an eye on what happens to mental and emotional health when people can’t be with each other, go to work, get respite from caring for kids (with special needs in particular), earn money, exercise when they need it, be touched, and are inundated with messages to panic throughout their days.

 

As long as someone has their eye on that ball, great.

 

Pep talk time. There is an “other side” to this- you know, it’s the one we’ll get to and come out on. Some of my best spiritual teachers have advised that in difficult times, you use your prayers as a montage of what things will be like on the other side. This is why Einstein said imagination is more important than intelligence. It can take you places your mind needs to go in order to lift you through difficult circumstances and literally generate a new reality into existence.

 

You can get through this. You will emerge on the other side having used the tools you have and having learned new tools for self-care and stability. You will not be the same. You’ll be an elevated version of your current self, with a deeper appreciation for every aspect of your life including your relationships. You’ll notice things about yourself you hadn’t known, you’ll discover more about who you truly are.

 

People will smile more often at each other, feel grateful just to be together, and see clearly who matters most to them. Old, ineffective systems will show their wear and transition into more effective ones. People will discover they want leaders who respond efficiently and with wisdom and compassion. Communities will discover new ways of coming together and supporting those in need.

 

So what about the day to day? How to get through?

 

Visualize what your positive outcome looks like when this has calmed down. Are you closer to your family? Finally writing that short story you wanted to work on? Have a laser-like focus on what your finances look like? Managed to clean out the clutter in your home? Or just feel deeply grateful for what really matters to you. What does the world look like after going through something like this collectively? What do our systems look like when they’ve had to reshape due to the strain? Visualize best case scenarios…and then make them even better in your imagination.

 

Calm your nervous system. There are many tools to calm our systems down as we navigate the massive changes we’re in. You already know my favorites: meditation and breathwork. But there’s more: trauma release, qi gong, and pranayama to name a few. I’m going to share some links at the end of this post that are awesome resources for acute and low-level anxieties.

 

Feel your feelings and forgive yourself. We’ve been asking alot of our minds, bodies and emotions over the past few weeks. Given all that, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, OF COURSE YOU ARE. It’s ok to feel anything during this kind of uncertainty: helpless, enraged, terrified, lonely, powerless, disengaged. Your system is responding how it needs to and it’s ok to feel what you feel.

 

Discover what heals you. There are parts of us we neglect entirely in our daily lives and parts of us we don’t even realize are within us that are looking now to come online. Massive change fuels growth. Art, movement, nature, yoga, meditation, music…use the tools that work for you to hear that inner voice and be willing to listen.

 

Cultivate flexibility. That saying “people never change” is bullshit. People change all the time. We are constantly evolving. By letting go of things you thought you needed, you are paving the way for all kinds of creative new energies to emerge.

 

Hope.  Hope is underrated. It’s a doorway that guides us forward and highlights the best parts of our humanity. Let your hope become so strong that it actually serves as a stabilizing force.  Let it create freedom within you.

 

 

I’ve got a new podcast series running called Meditate Elevate. You can find it on apple podcasts, stitcher, or spotify . To search, just type in Kris Adams Meditate.  If you need a laugh or want to hear inspiring stories in the meantime, check out Solving Everything.

 

You can find some meditations I posted on youtube here:

 

If you want more, just click on my name and you’ll see links to more.

 

You can find a cool qi-gong immune boosting quick routine here:

 

If you are feeling wired and need help releasing some stored anxiety, check out Trauma Release Exercises: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26zoFKZzbQc
and there are people in Madison who offer TRE at Red Beard Bodywork.

 

For a very cool look at how to piece apart the different aspects of yourselves to discover there is a calm wisdom within, check out this 2 hour meditation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n22a1Hf4rjk

 

And in the coming days I’ll be posting a Nidra meditation soon on that new podcast, so check back for that.

 

Here for you. And as always, sending love.

GROW Podcast: Meet Megan and Kristin: Goddess business owners at Haumea in Sun Prairie.

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Kick-ass prenatal yoga, childbirth education, lactation support, vinyasa classes, baby & mama yoga, and a place in the Madison area that offers community, connection, and a heart-centered place to relax and restore. Meet Megan Stansil-Reilly and Kristin Nemecek, the amazing owners of Haumea in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.

 

 

 

 

A Mother’s Rights #9: You have the right to not always be your best self.

As the saying goes, only you can be you. I love that. Our problem often lies in thinking that we need to be the best version of ourselves every moment of every day. The standards that most of us try to live by as women are 100% ridiculous and will drive us right into feelings of inadequacy, anger, and self-doubt.

 

 

you have the right to not always be your best self

 

 

For most of us, our problem is not that we just don’t try hard enough to be good parents. It’s that we think we must be perfect or our kids will be forever messed up and it will be our fault.

Living up to impossible standards is what drives us into a panic attack trying to choose between organic or conventional blueberries. Expecting that you will never yell at your kids, wear dirty clothes, let your kids watch TV for 5 hours, serve Cheerios for dinner, have a messy house, wear the same underwear two days in a row, put in 50% at work, eat a whole pizza by yourself, have B.O., do some really half-assed parenting, not read the newsletters from school, leave the beds unmade, ignore your vacuum, blow off yoga, or WHATEVER you think is unacceptable and less than your best- expecting that you will never do those things is unrealistic.

You are a human person.

Anxiety often arrives when the expectations we have for ourselves become so limiting that we are squeezed into a tiny box of how we think we should be acting in order to be “good enough.” Your best is good enough. Your worst is probably also good enough too, if you have a conscience, a moral compass and you love your kids (and you’re not Cersei Lannister.)

Consider offering your best to your child for 30 minutes and letting yourself be at 60% awesome for the rest of the day. What would that feel like? Or redefining what “best self” actually means. Or loosening the grip on nighttime nursing your 18 month old so that YOU can get some sleep. Maybe it doesn’t mean picking organic blueberries at a farm with your children even though you were sick the day before with diarrhea. Maybe it means you call Grandma to watch the kids so you can lay in bed and treat yourself with the kindness you deserve.

Most likely, you are doing a great job. It’s fine. And fine is usually good enough. And there is nothing wrong with good enough. In fact, it might be healthy for your kids to see your humanity and your the beauty in imperfection. Every day does not have to be a gold medal day. Just enjoy your green participation ribbon and get this t-shirt.

 

A Mother’s Rights #6: You have the right to exercise every day.

 

There’s an author named Candace Pert who wrote a book called, “Your Body is Your Subconscious Mind.”  I love, love, love this concept. It makes so much sense! All things that happen in your life and the way you feel about the things that happen are stored in your body and mind. Our bodies have intelligence and preferences. They are not separate from our existence but integrally a part of how we interpret and process the world, including our inner world. To keep those energies and emotions and thoughts fluid and flowing, we must move our bodies if we can.

 

 

you have the right to exercise every day

 

 

Bodies love exercise. They need it.

But no two bodies are the same. I know my body is not the same as Charlize Theron’s body.  Pretty sure about that one. Not the same as my husband’s or my kids’. There are exercises that feel good to me that may not feel good to them. There are different kinds of movement that used to feel good before I had children that don’t feel as good now.

It’s ok to meet yourself wherever you’re at and find something that feels good to you now. This is all about asking the very important question:

What does your body want now?

And finding a way to get it.  Is walking around the block exercise? Yes. Yoga? Playing catch with your kid? Climbing up the playground slide? Dance party with your baby? Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes.

We often sneak ourselves into a corner by thinking that exercise only counts if you’re at the gym or in cute workout clothes or it lasts for at least an hour and your kids aren’t there. If we set aside the mind for a moment and pay attention to the body, you may get some clues about what your cells really need. Maybe soft flowing dance, maybe wind sprints, maybe 50 squats before you sit to pee, maybe a little movement every day or maybe something big 2 times a week.

It may be a 10 minute postnatal core strengthening focus (this one has modifications for diastasis recti) so you feel like your insides aren’t that delicious pudding dessert your aunt makes. Or 15 minutes of tai chi during naptime to calm your emotions and re-center.  It could be an hourlong hike if your kids will sit in a stroller or wagon or be happy in a carrier. Like these guys occasionally would:

 

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Awwwwwwwww.  Those walks were crucial to my body’s health and well-being whether they lasted 5 minutes or 45 minutes. So bend over and try to touch your toes every now and then for God’s sake. Your body sooooo needs you to.

 

A Mother’s Rights #5: You have the right to shower every day.

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This one seems like it shouldn’t be hard to accomplish and sometimes it might even seem like not that big of a deal. But I propose that taking a shower can sometimes be the only 10 minutes of truly alone time you may get. It may not be enough, but it can be a few minutes of heaven that you truly need in order to recharge.

It also is one of the only places where the sound you are surrounded by may actually be louder than the sounds of your children. Which means your ears and brain get a small break from the hard work of filtering demands, requests, arguing, outbursts, sharing, questions, wailing, and insistences that they are still hungry even though you JUST FED THEM DINNER.

I recommend carving this time for yourself, even if it means setting your little one in a pack and play with a soft toy, or setting your child in front of PBS Kids in a child-safe room with a bowl of Goldfish crackers. And…this is important-

put your child in a room other than the bathroom you are showering in

It doesn’t count if they are just on the other side of the shower curtain! For toddlers, you know they’re just going to peek their head in at you and ask: “What is that? Ewww” while they point to your pubic hair.  And for older kids, there’s no reason they need to be in there.

Once your kids are settled, spend a second just appreciating your naked bod. You are amazing. Then pretend there is a personal assistant speaking in a sexy Australian accent with a tray holding your favorite cocktail and a CBD joint saying,

“How do you stay so beautiful when you work so hard? Now, I’ve already prepared your gourmet meals for the week. Why don’t you just take your time in the shower and I’ll be right outside the door waiting to give you your foot massage when you’re done. No rush.”

While you’re at it, splurge on some body nourishing and activating items. Sugar, coffee, and dead sea salt are all super cheap, probably already in your cupboard and make really easy feel-amazing scrubs.

You deserve 10 minutes of hot water on your back !! Take a shower already.

A Mother’s Rights #2: You have the right to eat a meal, sitting down, from start to finish.

Yesterday I kicked off the first post here featuring the 15 Mother’s Rights. It started with a Mother’s Rights #1: You have the right to get 8 hours of sleep every 24 hours.

Here comes #2

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Why is this a thing? Of all the possible ways we neglect ourselves in motherhood, why does eating at a table make the list of rights?

Here’s why.  Food restores our health. It is not only fuel, but also comfort and nourishment. I am not going to tell you to go out and buy an organic veggie box and only eat the bone marrow of grass fed cows, but I will say that most traditions encourage taking a bit of time to eat so the magic alchemy that happens when food is broken down in the digestive system can take its full effect.

The above Right is something I stand by. Having this kind of meal every day when you have a newborn or young kids feels like an extravagant luxury and maybe even out of reach for a lot of us.

Like most things that seem out of reach, taking microsteps will eventually get you there. I recommend setting this Right as a goal for at least one meal a day. And if you can’t find a way to make it happen, it’s ok. Instead, see if you can be mindful of any of the options below.

 

7 Tips for Mindful eating:

 

  1. Eat hot food while it is still hot. In Eastern and Ayurvedic nutritional practice, eating warmed food is nourishing to the system. Warm food stimulates digestion and can help restore some of the energy spent in our busy days, especially if you are recovering from birth. (See The First Forty Days by Heng Ou)
  2. Chew thoroughly. Your stomach has no teeth. Let’s imagine that food is filled with all kinds of tiny nutrients and minerals that are wanting to be absorbed by your your body as it digests. Chewing slows down your eating and makes digestion a little easier on your body. It’s a way of being good to yourself.
  3. Smell, taste, and appreciate your food. Whether it is a Hostess cupcakes (that’s right, I just linked to Hostess cupcakes, bitches) or an organic sweet potato, savoring and actually experiencing what you are eating is a way to bring yourself into the present moment. This kind of mindfulness is good for for every system of your body.
  4. Eat without interruption. Ok, this seems like a high bar, I know. Best hope is to realize it’s important and see if you can aim for one meal a day uninterrupted. If that’s too tall an order, start with one meal a week. Why do this? Because being interrupted adds stress and stress impairs digestion.
  5. When eating food, remember its source. The original saying goes, “When you drink water, remember its source.” But the benefits hold true for food, particularly food that comes from the earth. Following this tip slows your eating down and allows nourishing yourself with food to be a whole body and mind experience. It also enhances the connection between you and the fuel that runs your body, and the earth that creates that fuel.
  6. Give gratitude for the nourishment. Gratitude is never a bad idea. But when it comes to food, it is an essential. Food keeps your body alive…so mustering up some thanks for that is pretty easy. On top of that, giving thanks for how your food came to be on your plate is never a bad idea. How tired would we be if we had to harvest and hunt all our own food? Giving a little thanks for the efforts of others that go into allowing us to easily access grub…it’s a no-brainer.
  7. Eat sitting down. Don’t even ask me how many times I have eaten in nibbles while making dinner for others. Or hunched over with a slice of pizza over the sink while doing dishes. Even if you know you can’t avoid getting interrupted, sitting and eating is so much more beneficial than eating on the run. It is better for digestion, better to take a moment for yourself to relax and enjoy your food.