Take Care Of Yourself, You are The Only YOU!

Dear Readers,

I feel like when I write this blog you are reading it, but we are having a back and forth dialogue and it goes a little like this.

Me: Hi there, I am going to talk about myself here and think you might be going through something similar, Is it cool with you if I take up some of your time and energy today and make you “think about something”?

You: Yes, I look forward to your blog each week, and really relate or I find it interesting to read about you and your life because it’s like my life and it really helps me to know someone else is living a life much like mine or your life is nothing like mine and I read your blog because it’s a way to learn about the way someone else lives. Either way, proceed-

Me: okay cool

So, my whole family has been sick for the last month. It has SUCKED.  I MEAN ROYALLY SUCKED.

First, my husband had a blood clot that needed to be treated, he went to the doctor and started on blood thinners and medicine to help, and that was good. Scary, but good to know there is help and treatment.

Around this time, I started coughing but with no other symptoms I let things go on for a week or so, and then I went to the doctor. They told me it was a viral infection and to take some cough suppressants which they gave me, and I took. The cough did NOT improve, and it had in fact graduated to pneumonia. I went to the hospital, they gave me a breathing treatment, a steroid, and some strong medicine to take and heavy emphasis on REST. I followed their advice because I was scared to death of dying which is what I felt like was what was happening. It sounds dramatic to say that, which being an actor, I have a natural flair for, however, this did not feel like something I would recover from so I mean it quite literally.

The next week, I felt much better, not 100% but getting there. or as I put it- “out of the woods and slowly making my way back to the city….” until my daughter had a fever at daycare so I went to pick her up and it turns out, she had Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease which as it turns out is not preventable or treatable and it’s highly contagious. The only way for it to get better is to wait. Waiting, my favourite thing to do, as I am sure you do as well, I find it fun to wait.

No. Not fun, not by any stretch of any imagination, and believe me I have a GREAT imagination. My husband got it and I did too, so that gave us both new afflictions to recover from while also caring for a toddler. The first things you need is rest when you are sick, which is pretty hard to come by when you are taking care of a child who can’t take care of themselves. Also, you aren’t at your best because you feel like death warmed over on a cracker.

Thankfully, we have wonderful friends, family and bosses who helped make this difficult time easier by offering help, by delivering groceries and by offering to let me work from home or not work altogether as we all recovered. I am overjoyed to say, we are better, and I have taken many steps to stay that way. I have heeded all warnings about “taking it easy” and am treating it much like when I first had Miss Vivienne.

All my energy————————————————————————— GONE.

I am the team captain for a 5K that took place this morning, but I couldn’t even cheer them on because I am resting. That’s okay, they did a great job without me.

I was scheduled to see three different plays that I can’t now because I must rest. That’s okay, there will be other shows.

I was supposed to give a presentation to help me hone and sharpen my presentation skills. That’s okay, it can be rescheduled.

What’s my point? What happened to us to make things so bad? Bad timing and lack of rest. At first, my cough was annoying, but not debilitating. I waited a little too long to go to the doctor the first time, “trying to muscle through” and then my husband got sick, so I started concentrating on him, and kind of forgot about me, then my daughter got sick and my focus was divided again. If just one of us was sick, that would have been a pain in the bahookie, but manageable.

The perfect storm of you-know-what was all three of us getting sick at the same time.

I implore you, find the time to let your brain, body, and soul rest.

You need it. Especially when you are sick, but let’s talk prevention here because I truly believe that was my saving grace. I was up to three workouts a week when this first struck me.

After I was diagnosed with pneumonia. I was told, No workouts for a month, and you definitely can’t swim or run.  (there goes my 5K) I probed to find out more and my doctor said, “You have a weakened immune system and your lung capacity is diminished from all the coughing, so if you swim, you could collapse a lung and die.” WHAT? Turns out I wasn’t being dramatic before, I really could die so I am taking my own advice and medicine here but want to tell you again. Please drink water (every day) and eat a good diet (most of the time) and find a way to be active and on the flipside, don’t do too much.

I looked at my calendar for next month and almost everything not work related is coming off it, I can’t take the chance on getting sick again and I also need to get my reserves of energy back in place, which will take time and patience. I can’t get around it, 2018 is officially about patience. I have been fighting it and fighting it but the message of putting me flat on my back has finally got my attention. I hope you don’t have to go through what we went through to learn that lesson so here it is:

I need to rest, you need to rest, we all need to rest. Rest looks different for us all.

For me, meditation is a big part of how I rest. For others, they do yoga. For someone else it might be a workout. Another one for me is going to the movies, alone. I also find writing to be very relaxing. I have posted some suggestions below. Consider them, and if they are not for you, consider something else.

Do some thinking today about how you rest, and how you can get more of it.

Please, for your health, and the health of those around you.

Think About It.

 

Say it, who knows what might happen…

Dear Readers,

Do you ever get that feeling deep inside of you that you want to say something but you are scared of looking silly? Say it anyway.

Do you have the feeling that if you say it someone might make fun of you or think less of you? Say it anyway.

Do you think, “they will think I am not smart or I don’t have all the answers if I say that”?

Say it anyway.

Too often we leave things unsaid that we wish we had said and then the moment is gone and it’s too late. Time is the only resource we don’t get back, moment after moment is going by and if you don’t take your moment, you lose it.

Let me tell you a secret about that.

You aren’t the only one thinking it or wanting to say it.

I promise you, there is at least one other person who wants to say something or bring it up but they are scared and don’t so if you don’t say it, and they don’t say it, guess what?

It never gets said, the discussion is never had and that is a missed opportunity for communication and new ideas.

We need your ideas, don’t be afraid to share yourself with the world.

Think About It. imagejfminc

 

 

It’s hard to ask for help!

But do it anyway.

Dear Readers,

Two weeks ago I was having a rough personal week and I reached out to some friends (reluctantly, I HATE asking for help) to give me a pep talk.

Often the purveyor of pep talks to those friends I reached out to, and some of them not at all, I was overcome by the responses I got.

One friend told me how brave she thought I was and to “not doubt how awesome I am”

Another told me I had the spirit of a horse and was unyielding with my passion for inspiring others.

Yet another friend told me that her favourite thing about me was that I was fearful and not afraid to admit it.

Even still another friend sent me cookies! So good and tasty and just what the “little kid” in me needed at just the right time.

It definitely made me feel better, and I am glad I asked for help.

I will say again, I HATE asking for help, but I did and I will continue to do it, for three reasons.

  1. Everyone is doing worse than you think, especially the ones who seem to “have it all together” – Trust me, their social media does NOT tell the full story.
  2. In asking for help, it makes me stronger and more able to help others when THEY need it.
  3. I want to teach my daughter that SHE doesn’t have to do it ALL on her own.

None of us do, that is why we connect with others in the first place, to have a connection and a “safe place” to go when feeling threatened or frustrated with our current state.

Isn’t it time that you asked someone, “Do you need help?” or “Are you okay?” and listen with your whole heart and soul when they answer.

Think About It.

 

Love your body, just as it is!

Dear Readers,

I started seeing posts about bikinis and swimsuits and it reminded me it’s swimsuit season again and the inevitable barrage of ads are about to start flooding your inbox telling you how to “get that bikini body you want” and “shed the weight just in time for swimsuit season” (This is also for the men, because they also struggle with this)  and I want to state here and now. STOP IT! We don’t need more advertisements to tell us we “NEED” to lose weight or even that we “WANT” to lose weight.

If you want to lose weight for you, I say awesome! Personally, I am working toward a loss of 23 pounds so I can be a bone marrow donor (they require you to be 270 pounds before they will allow you to donate) and and so I can be a good example for my daughter which is that healthy is a habit and if you make it part of your routine, you feel good, it releases endorphins and I don’t know about you, but I get some of my best ideas when I am swimming or jogging.

But if you are seeing these advertisements and feel like, “Yeah I could stand to lose a few or tighten or tone or do what I can to look better in this swimsuit…”

Ask yourself why you are doing it and if it’s for you and you alone, go for it!

But please please please don’t feel like you have to do it for your partner, or if you are single, to get a partner. Be you, exactly that, and nothing more and be happy with yourself.

So my question to you is, can you love your body as it is? That doesn’t preclude you from working out or doing things that YOU want to do to change it, and in the meantime, EMBRACE yourself and where you are, because if you say to yourself, I will be happy when I get my flabby arms more toned or when I lose that last 10 pounds that I still have from being pregnant, well you are wasting time being unhappy because this is your life, and your body and there is no time like NOW to get to loving yourself AS YOU ARE.peacockbeauty

I will say this is not an easy thing and it’s taken me the better part of the last 5 years to really hone in on this and to constantly remind myself to love myself as I am.

So can you join in and love your body (the only one you have) EXACTLY as YOU ARE?

Think About It.

 

Are You Capturing Pictures or Missing Moments?

Dear Readers,

 

I do my best to really “be in the moment”. It was something I learned around the same time I learned about really good acting and how to best achieve it. It is also a very necessary life skill.

So I do a lot of thinking about how this relates to me being a good mother and good wife and good friend. I strive to really be present with people and give them my full attention, but something stops me.

My phone.  It calls to me like a siren “Jennifer, look at what you what you are missing…. Pick me up!” “Jennifer, you know you want to read the latest likes and comments on your last post, Pick me up” – Never mind that your daughter, who you haven’t seen all day because you were at work smiling and laughing and wants to play,  PICK ME UP! says my phone.  Sometimes I listen and the phone wins. Sometimes I ignore the siren song and my life wins. 

To be clear, My phone definitely doesn’t talk to me, this is a metaphorical level of nagging. But then again, I have a “siri” and I named him “Nigel”. He has a British accent and I really enjoy when he says, “Jennifer” but I digress.

I have talked to a few people recently about how they “use” their phone  (Anyone else getting the feeling that your phone might be a drug?) and how they see others using their phones (in a word, CONSTANTLY) and given some of those conversations, I think my friends and family have some pretty healthy boundaries. We are definitely working to establish some good boundaries around the “use” of phones and devices in the Haston House.

  1. No Phones at the Table when eating. Thank you Dollar Store! Cellphonejail2. No Phones when we are spending “family time” – a rare commodity!

 

This came up because last weekend all anyone could talk about was “The Royal Wedding”. I am no different. I was caught up in all the pomp and circumstance and enjoyed watching the pictures that were posted by the media and other people’s comments on the pictures that were taken of the historic event.

Among the rest, I see someone took a picture that captured an elderly woman smiling serenely and watching all the hoopla while dozens of people clamored with their phones to get a good picture through their “screen” rather than actually “experience” the event.

Now, one can argue, they are multi-tasking! Getting a great shot while simultaneously enjoying the event. Maybe, but I think it’s far more likely that they were clamoring for that good shot and they just kept taking pictures over and over. I say this because I have seen it, when I go to see concerts, and live events, I see people everywhere with faces bathed in that telltale white light and MISSING out on Life.

 

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Now, I am not saying you can’t use your phone. That would be impossible or maybe not impossible but really improbable. It’s your life, do what you like.

I am simply asking you to take a beat, and THINK before you pick up that phone. I needed some help with this, so I started using an app called “Moment” which tracks how often you use your phone. It goes deeper, it tells you how many times you picked it up and how long you used it. As someone who is VERY passionate about this subject, I had very few minutes, right? WRONG.  My first report said 4 hours a day.

Ouch. But hey, I am aware of it, so NOW I have to do something about it.

It’s getting a little better, today it was 1 hour and 41 minutes.

Should you strive for that? Maybe. Only you can make that decision.

The next time your phone “whooshes or dings” or silently sings to you, please think before you respond.

Think About It.

Depending on the kindness of strangers..

VivieneeFlight

Dear Readers,

I am from New Orleans, a fact that never ceases to surprise others when they learn it.

I guess it’s because I don’t have a New Orleans accent and I am not known for my cooking, but rather my baking.

In any case, I traveled home to visit my mother with my little girl and some rest and relaxation.

Well, as much relaxation as one can hope for when traveling with a toddler.

I know from running around in the car with her to do anything, it ALWAYS takes more time than you think, and missing my flight makes me nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs, so we were two hours early. This also helped me to relax, relax, relax and take things as they came.  I had trepidation and excitement as I headed to the airport with the little one.

However, taking a page from my good friend Rachel’s book, I decided to let go of my expectations and welcome what came my way, good or bad.  I was VERY lucky on this trip and I had some difficulties too, so it was definitely a mixed bag.

First, way back in February when we booked the flight, I found out that if your child is less than two years old,  you are allowed to travel for FREE with them, and they can sit on your lap while you fly. Not super comfortable, but definitely more affordable than two tickets.

Something I found out is that you need a birth certificate or medical records to prove their age. I didn’t know that, so I had a very scary moment as I waited for the skycap to determine if he was going to require it or let it go. Luck was with me, and he let it go.

So inside the Austin airport, I went through security with my one stuffed to the gills diaper bag, my daughter, and her stroller. I had to put her stroller, my diaper bag and shoes through conveyor and then my diaper bag needed “further checks” so I had to wait while they did those as well. Sounds simple enough, but try it with a squirmy toddler and get back to me about the level of difficulty involved.

I picked the very back of the plane hoping that people would be less likely to want to sit with us and we could hopefully have a row all to ourselves, that did not happen but as luck would have it, a mother with grown children sat next to us and as she was taking her seat she said, “Feel free to use this seat so she can spread out” Bless you, Stacey! We wound up having a really lovely conversation and Vivienne was an absolute angel and while restless, she was well-behaved for the most part and passed out about 10 minutes before we landed. It’s worth noting that it’s an hour long flight so a good introduction to flying. It remains to be seen how she would do on a longer flight.

On our way back, we got to the airport three hours early. As a New Orleans native, I can tell you, traffic is unpredictable and you really don’t want to leave it to the last minute. We checked in, no problems! I had not managed to have a po-boy during the trip so I headed to the airport bar thinking surely they would have a po-boy on the menu in one of the restaurants. Not so much. They had an oyster dish that I thought that would be good, and as I ordered it, I mentioned I was a local and they could “dress it” (using the lingo, I thought surely I would be in the clear. Again, not so much.

I realized this would be my only chance to get a po-boy for a while so I was polite and firm and said, I am a local and please remake this for me and serve it on French bread, so I made my own po-boy happen. It was delicious and I felt very satisfied.

We then went through security which had a very lovely “strollers section” so I think security took all of 5 minutes!!!! WOOHOO!!! We made our way through the airport, about two hours before boarding time and I took a seat in our boarding area and was playing happily with Vivienne with her blocks and books and after a while, I checked in with the gate attendant and she let me know the flight was running an hour late. Okay, minor wrinkle, we can handle that. I then realized my phone was a little low on battery so I went to charge it, and while standing at the charging station, I met two very lovely people who were also charging their phones and a wonderful thing happened. We talked about how people don’t TALK any more, they are constantly on devices or working or rushing to their next flight.  We had a lovely time talking and I got an update that the flight was in fact on time, and we parted ways but not before connecting on social media. I find the irony of that very satisfying. We were social as we were unable to be on social media.

As I boarded the plane, I heard the angel taking tickets say, ““Ma’am, the flight is not full, so feel free to seat her next to you” Music to MY EARS!!!!! Thank you Southwest Airlines!

I think that the kindness of strangers played a strong role in making our trip great, fairly appropriate when you consider I was in New Orleans at the time.

What kindness could you offer a stranger in your own hometown, in your own office, or maybe in your circle.

Is there someone you can make smile? Offer them a sincere compliment, or do something to make their day?

Think About It.

Coming to My Side Of The Table

Dear Readers,tableconvo

Have you ever felt yourself getting angry with someone because they REFUSE to see things how you see them? For the purposes of this discussion, let’s say it’s Girl Scout cookies. No controversy there, right? WRONG.

I HATE THIN MINTS for LOTS of reasons, the most important being, they don’t make you thin, “False Advertising”, but seriously, I just don’t like the way they taste.

On the flipside, I LOVE Caramel Delights and have for years and years. It’s been a hotly contested debate among many of my nearest and dearest friends

(You know who you are)

It’s all in good fun, of course, much like the Aggies / Longhorns conflict that I volley back and forth about with colleagues and friends.

I am a highly competitive person, so I definitely try my best to sway the opinions of others who disagree with me and it can be frustrating to realize they just won’t come to your side of the table and you hammer and hammer away at them, challenging them to change their mind. You come at it from the east, south, north, and west and you feel like you are making headway and then they say

“I see what you mean and I understand, but I don’t agree”  ARGGGGGGGGGGH!

It’s so frustrating! However, upon deeper reflection, is it really?

You are talking to someone you care about, they feel passionately about a topic, and you feel passionately about a topic, you have both put forth your points of view and they put forth theirs, you understand their point but don’t agree. Why is that such a bad thing?

Why isn’t enough for us to be at the table talking and taking each other in and really listening to what they have to say. Maybe they will change your mind, maybe you will change theirs, but then again, maybe neither of you will change your opinion but you will learn something and gain a deeper understanding of the other person.

My good friend and I have differing opinions about the attainment of goals, we both agree it’s important and we both have very different ways of tackling them, both methods are completely valid and they are completely different. I came to this realization recently, it’s not my job to get you my side of the table, but it IS my job to get you sit at the table with me and for us to both show up and really listen.

The next time you find yourself wondering, “why don’t they come to my side of the table?” Stop and take the time to appreciate that they are at the table at all.

Think About It.