Surviving the Pandemic

The title may be a little misleading as there is no surefire way to survive what’s going on in this world. So instead of acting like I know and understand exactly what to do in this situation, I will instead just list some things I’ve done to keep my mind occupied and to keep myself from totally losing it.

Working from Home

  • While my physical office is shut down, I am still responsible for working from home.¬†Set up a place to do your work. I don’t have an office but I try to set up my laptop in places that have the most light and the least noise.
  • I change my working space throughout the day, normally starting in the living room and moving to the bedroom. This helps me to not get too stagnant.
  • I break up my workday. There is no more working 8-4pm when I’m home, especially with my Baby Hawks to look after. I will put in a few hours in the morning, more in the afternoon, and a couple hours in the evening if necessary.
  • To-do lists have always been my friend and I still rely on them to have a visual representation of what I need to do. When it comes to getting the house clean and in order, that to-do list is taped to my dining room wall so family members can also see what needs to be done.
  • The TV stays off in my house now, at least until after lunch for my littles. But I typically don’t have it on during my “work hours.” My phone is normally on silent as well.

Home Schooling

  • Use your older children to help teach their younger siblings. Every day, I have my 11-year-old take my 5-year-old and help her practice writing her letters, numbers, etc. This gives me at least a half-hour of solitude.
  • Give yourself a break. Not every day is going to be filled with scholastic work and well-structured lesson planning. There will be days when you just don’t have the energy. Embrace those days and vow to do better the next day.
  • Look for ways to tackle multiple lessons with one assignment. If you’re reading to a younger child, review colors and shapes; identify characters and setting; ask your child questions about what’s happening in the book, their predictions for the end of the book, etc.
  • Print out worksheets for free here. The worksheets are split by subject and grade and it’s a great substitute if your child’s teacher didn’t send home a packet of work.
  • In school, they have recess and leave the classroom for PE, music, art, etc. Keep that consistency at home. For music, teach them a new song or have them write their own. For art, look at places like Pinterest or Michaels for suggestions for art projects.
  • Virtual field trips, while not as fun, can still be a great way to escape from the traditional work. Many zoos, aquariums, and museums have provided live footage or virtual tours on their websites, for free. Check out this link for a list of virtual field trips.
  • Not all teaching comes from books. If you are able to stay home with your babies, this is a great opportunity to teach them life lessons that you might not normally have time to teach them like washing dishes, cooking small meals, ironing, etc.

Self-Care

  • Eating is important. I find myself not having the energy to make myself something to eat until dinnertime and I know that is not healthy. Whether you are hungry or not, when you feed your children, make a small plate for yourself as well.
  • Physical activity, in all forms, is key. There is sure to be a spike in obesity during this pandemic as some people will find it all too easy to sit around and eat. Self-quarantining, or mandatory isolation, is not an excuse to not move around. Make it a family affair and incorporate a family walk outside, or yoga session indoors. Sex is also great exercise so do it, and do it often!
  • Take care of your hair, skin, and nails. I know our salons are closed but try your best to wash and style your hair, keep your nails clean and trimmed, and maintain your skincare routine. If you don’t have one, adopt one.
  • Family and spouse time. Being sequestered in a house together doesn’t automatically equal quality. Set aside time after the housework, conference calls, and studying to play a game with your babies or snuggle for movie night with your significant other.
  • Read a book. I am an avid reader, especially of fiction. It’s a fantastic way to escape from reality for a while. If you have a tablet or computer, download apps like Overdrive or Cloud Library that directly link to your county’s library system. You can borrow books for 7, 14, or 21 days. Poll your friends for book and author recommendations.
  • Utilize virtual meetings. Most offices use virtual platforms like GoToMeeting and Zoom to communicate with staff. They can also be used to communicate with friends. Some of these platforms have free 14-day trials so sign up, grab a bottle and have a virtual happy hour, book club, game night, or whatever.

Hope these helped!! Drop your suggestions in the comments.

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God Got My Attention

Baby, when I tell you that God slaps you upside your head when he wants to get your attention!! He pulls no punches.

For a little background, this week has been tough for me physically. I’ve always been prone to headaches, as an adult, but I have only had two migraines in my life. One of them occurred this week and it threw me off my game. My head was pounding, the pain had traveled to my neck, I experienced nausea, and I had bright spots in front of my eyes. It was bad.

I normally don’t take medicine because I never want to be in a position where I pop pills several times a week due to the frequency of my headaches. I tend to just power through and wait for the headaches to pass. But with a migraine, I don’t take such chances.

One of my big brothers, whom I love very much and who is almost always right (which is annoying to no end), had tuned in to an Instagram Live video I was doing. I was updating people on my daughter’s health and I mentioned my own issues with headaches as well.

My big brother sent me some tough love and he unknowingly posted the first scripture I ever memorized. Loosely translated, Philippians 4:6 says not to worry about things and to present all your needs to God.

His words made me think of a time when my mother was having issues with her foot. I told her then that maybe God was trying to tell her to stop running around and sit down. If you know my mother, then you know you she is always on the move and doesn’t spend nearly enough time just being still.

God was shaking me.

In the middle of the Instagram Live video, God revealed to me that He caused this pain in my head to remind me of that scripture. I have and continue to worry about a lot of things in my life. Things that I push so far back in my head that I didn’t even realize I was still harboring these feelings of fear and anxiety.

What God wants me to do, and what I have to remember to do, is to lay my cares at His feet. He is way more equipped than I am to handle all the crap that’s swirling in my head. So why am I walking around stressed and anxious like I don’t serve a mighty God??

I have got to let Him do His job.

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Stop the Presses, Kobe died?

I had an entirely different blog post in mind that I will still write at a later date. As I write this, it has been 24 hours since the death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash. I found out from my cousin while I was sitting in my car working. I tapped into the wifi of a nearby building to verify the news and was stunned.

I sat in my car with tears rolling down my face and I couldn’t understand why. I even sent a text to my high school boyfriend, who was obsessed with Kobe for years, and he expressed his own sadness and disbelief. The last time I cried over a celebrity death was when I found out Prince died and I heard Purple Rain playing on the radio. Again, no idea why these deaths hit as hard as they did.

Let me be clear. I was not a fan of Kobe’s. I actually didn’t have an opinion of him one way or another. I didn’t and still don’t watch basketball and I have no affiliations with L.A. And yet I found myself crying off and on for the rest of the day. Why?

Athletics and philanthropy aside, I mourned the family aspect of things. No matter if you liked him or hated him, my tears were less for him and more for the wife, children, and loved ones he left behind. I cried for that seven-month-old baby who will never know her daddy. For his 17-year-old who won’t see her father at her volleyball games anymore. For the three-year-old who may not understand what’s going on but will still miss her daddy picking her up and smothering her with kisses. And for that wife who has to bury her child.

If you’ve ever seen Steel Magnolias, when Sally Field is forced to bury her daughter she says “I was supposed to go first. I was always supposed to go first.” No parent should ever feel the pain of losing a child. And for Vanessa Bryant to also lose her husband is an entirely different layer of grief.

If you’ve followed me long enough, you know that I love my babies but I also LOVE my husband. The plan is always to grow old together and when that dream is taken from you, you don’t know what to do. You feel cheated and unsure how you will live this new life without your best friend, your partner by your side.

And for the other people who were killed in the accident, they have to now face life without their father, mother, sister, teammate, etc. No one was prepared for this, and I think that’s another reason why it hit me as hard as it did.

I am sad and I feel for everyone who had that connection with Kobe, whether real or imagined, and like everyone else, I will seize every opportunity to hug my hubby and babies tight to me.

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Growing and Evolving

This is an actual conversation I had with my husband:

HIM: Hey babe, just letting you know I’m going out tomorrow night to see my cousin. He thinks I’m ducking him because I haven’t seen him in a while.

ME: Have you been ducking him?

HIM: Honestly, yeah, a little bit.

ME: Why? He hasn’t changed.

HIM: I know but sometimes I’m just not in the mood for the drama.

ME: I get it. Sounds like you’ve grown and he hasn’t.

HIM: Exactly!

Our conversation, in addition to this new decade, reminded me of the growth and change that takes place in our lives year to year, and circumstance to circumstance. Though we are growing and evolving and reaching new heights in our career, business, family, etc., there is no guarantee that the people around you will appreciate or support where you are now.

In my husband’s case, he can choose to not be around his cousin. I am the queen of cutting people off and letting them go when the relationship is not as fulfilling as it once was. But what happens when the person who refuses to accept your growth and change is your spouse?

A spouse should want to support their significant other in their journey; on the flip side, a spouse should be patient as their significant other makes the adjustment.

If my growth results in me speaking up more when before I was quiet, that will be invigorating for me but a brand new me that my husband may not be ready for. Accepting change is never easy and is often uncomfortable for you and for the people impacted by the “new you.”

My suggestion, talk to your spouse about the changes you plan to make in your life as they will be directly and/or indirectly impacted. Give them a grace period to adjust and adapt to your new way of doing things and don’t expect them to grow in the same way. Your growth/change is about you and no one else so don’t be that person trying to get everyone to become vegan or join a church or write the great American novel with you.

The positive outcome of your own development will often lead your spouse to want to make a similar change in their own life. (Now, if they refuse to accept the new version of you it might be time to question if the change is what’s right for you and your family, or if your spouse is still what’s best for you.)

 

 

 

 

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Obligatory New Year Blog

It’s 2020. A new year, a new decade, and another opportunity to make promises to ourselves that we may or may not keep throughout the year. I have never been a big fan of resolutions, though I don’t knock anyone who makes them.

I asked my husband, shortly after the ball dropped, what goals he saw for our family this year. He replied that he preferred to take things one day at a time and not look too far into the future. He and I are total opposites as I tend to look TOO far into the future. Time to find a happy medium.

Instead of creating a long list of things I want to see or accomplish, I think I’d rather just start DOING some things in the hopes that they will be habit forming. I could say every year that I want to lose weight or be more active but words are the easy part. Actually getting out of bed, putting on some leggings and walking out the door is the hard part, and most people don’t make it past the first month of a new year.

One of the things I am planning for my family, and for myself, is more travel. And I want to continue on my personal journey of taking better care of my skin. It’s been fun to experiment with serums and creams and develop a routine that makes me feel good and more responsible.

I didn’t take any real time to reflect on 2019 but I do know that last year was my first time feeling completely confident in my body and my abilities; even my walk is different! Only took me 38 years, but I am finally loving the skin I’m in and that is one thing I sincerely hope will stick around in 2020.

This time last year, I was in the hospital with my daughter. She was admitted on New Year’s Eve and stayed in the hospital for about eight days. At the time, they hadn’t figured out what kind of medicine would work best for her condition. One year later, I brought in the new year with my husband, in our home, while both of our babies were sleeping soundly in their own beds.

No matter what happens this year, I will eternally be grateful that I got to bring in 2020 with the people I love the most.

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Pre-Parental Counseling

“You need a license to buy a dog or drive a car. You even need a license to catch a fish. But they’ll let any [butt]hole be a father.” – Keanu Reeves, “Parenthood”

It was the movie quote above and a recent episode of the podcast Gettin’ Grown¬†called “Daddy Lessons” that prompted this post.

Before you get married, people often suggest that you and your bethrothed attend premarital counseling. Whether from a pastor or a non-religious counselor, the counseling is meant to prepare you and your soon to be spouse on how to conduct yourself as a husband and wife. The idea is that these roles are so complicated to pull off that people need extra coaching to know how to communicate and how to resolve conflict.

But, there is no such coaching suggested for people prior to becoming parents.

I’m not talking about the childbirth classes where you learn how to hold a newborn, change a diaper, and breathe during labor pains. I mean some soul-searching counseling or reprogramming to prepare people to become parents before conception.

All of us have, in some way, been influenced by our childhood and the way we were raised. Too many of us are so unaware of the damage that may have been caused until it comes out in our own parenting style years later.

To be honest, the trauma from our childhood has a heavy impact on the way we view relationships in general. Addressing what has happened in the past is the first step in healing. The next steps…are up to you. You can choose to forgive your parents, who most likely only did and continue to do the best they can. Forgiveness is normally contingent on whether the offensive party shows remorse but unfortunately, that is out of your control.

Forgiveness is more for you and less about them. Holding on to that anger, guilt, torment, or whatever you feel will only cause you to sabotage any relationships you find yourself in later on down the road, and this includes a relationship with your children.

Better to get counseling now than to ignore your issues and lead your children to seek therapy on their own for any damages you might inflict on them.

 

 

 

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The Evolution of Motherhood

The season two finale of Pose and a conversation with my beautiful cousin prompted me to think about the roller coaster of motherhood and the ultimate sign that you have done your job to the fullest.

Motherhood is rewarding and beautiful and blah blah blah. But it’s also annoying, tiresome, and, to be quite honest, it sucks. It’s a job that is neverending and constantly changing to the point where it is often hard to keep up.

In Pose, the house mother Blanca faces an empty nest as her “children” have gone on to live lives of their own. In the final scene, the attributes of her children are listed and it becomes apparent to the audience, and to Blanca, that this is what being a mother is all about.

It is far too tempting to tie our children’s shoes, make up their beds, cook their meals, and fight their battles until the end of time. That’s what mothers do. We love and protect our young, even when they’re no longer young and can fend for themselves.

Being a mother means that as each season and year passes, you learn to love your children differently. This love may be displayed by teaching them life lessons, giving them extra homework during Christmas break, or not immediately running to them when they fall. It means teaching them how to iron their own clothes, perfect grooming habits, and encourage them to learn more about the world around them.

Everything I do now will shape the kind of man and woman my baby Hawks will grow up to be. I can’t do them a disservice by doing everything for them or by discouraging them from leaving the house and having their own adventures.

I want to grow up to become Blanca. I want the satisfaction of sitting back and hearing about my babies’ accomplishments. I want the peace that comes from knowing my children have taken the lessons I’ve taught them and are living by them as well as passing them on.

That is when my job as a mommy will feel complete.

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