Finding comfort in small moments has been crucial to my sanity these past few months.
This fall, my family has experienced a perfect storm of overscheduling.
I have always been proud that our family has never been one of those families who has every minute of every day scheduled. We’ve always tried to keep our kids to only one or two activities at a time.
Yes, I think it’s good to let children have some downtime, but the reason is a whole lot less altruistic than that. It’s because Mommy can’t handle that amount of activity and chaos.
But this fall, that all fell apart.
First, my 13-year-old daughter asked if she could please add another dance class to her schedule. Sure, no problem.
Then she wanted to take a musical theater dance class as an extracurricular activity at her middle school. Cheap activity after school on Friday, when we don’t have to worry about homework? Absolutely, sweetie.
Then her dance school announced they were putting together their own production of The Nutcracker and could she please try out? Rifle Solider and Angel…check and check.
And then, the dance school announced that since they have so many talented new dancers at the school, they were going to start at apprentice company, and she was accepted into that, too.
So she went from dancing one night a week last spring to dancing five days a week this fall. She is loving every minute of it, but Lord help me.
Then I decided to do something more for myself. I applied for an apprenticeship with elephant journal. And was accepted. Holy crap. Suddenly, the 20 hours a week I work for my real job doubled overnight.
Luckily, my 8-year old son only plays basketball once a week—although he just asked if he could try out for a competitive spring baseball league, which could have him playing games three times a week, not to mention practices.
Oh, and then there’s shuttling my aging parents to doctors appointments and hospitals.
Sadly, my own self-care has gone right out the window. Yes, that’s the exact opposite of what we’re supposed to do in times like this, but something needed to give and that was it. I’m pretty sure my neck and shoulders are never going to forgive me.
So where have I found comfort amid all this chaos? (I mean, aside from the way-too-regular glasses of wine and vegetarian junk food in the form of nachos.)
From ladybugs and cups of tea.
It’s the strangest thing. In moments where I have been most stressed or tense these past few months, I would close my eyes and take a few deep cleansing breaths. And when I opened my eyes, there were ladybugs.
The first time was in a hotel room for a solo weekend writing adventure. I was feeling particularly lonely after having spent a day at a Brene Brown workshop and wishing I could have enjoyed it with a loved one. I was looking forward to spending some time alone in the hotel room, though, and was eager to spend a whole day just writing.
When I got back to my room and sat down to write, there was a ladybug on the desk.
And it was one of the most oddly comforting things I have felt since this crazy-busy time began.
After writing for a while, I leaned back in my chair to stretch my neck and shoulders and noticed another ladybug on the wall. From then on, whenever I looked up from my computer screen, I checked to see where they were on their journey.
About a week later, when I was back at home and seated at my desk, there was a ladybug on the window screen. Again came the overwhelming feeling of being comforted, as it did the handful of times it happened again after that.
The first thing I do when I notice something repeating in my life is to look up the spiritual meaning, whether it’s numbers I keep seeing or comforting little insects. So of course, I looked up ladybugs.
I wish could tell you a perfect little meaning behind them, like the universe is trying to comfort you. But I saw as many different meanings and symbolism as you can think of. I was just happy to have the comfort in the moments when I needed it most.
This got me to thinking about how else we can soothe ourselves in those moments.
When there are no ladybugs around and we just need one moment of comfort, here’s what works for me:
- A cup of tea. What is it about a cup of tea that is so soothing? It’s almost like that is tea’s sole purpose. It’s different than the caffeine-delivery purpose of a cup of coffee or the glass of wine you enjoy at the end of an evening or out with friends. Making a cup of tea can be, in and of itself, a meditation. An exercise in mindfulness, in which you boil the water, steep the leaves and then feel yourself comforted from the inside out when you take that first sip.
- Deep breathing and meditation. My favorite place to practice deep breathing? Waiting in the carpool line at my kids’ school. I usually have at least 20 minutes when I am sitting in a sun-warmed car, with nothing competing for my attention. If I have time for a quick meditation, I will pop in my earbuds and blur my eyes just enough to still see if carpool starts to move. But usually, I will just take a few moments to simply close my eyes and take a few deep, conscious breaths.
- Writing. Sometimes, all I need to do is write something short and sweet. While I love writing blog posts and articles, I find I can even comfort myself with a quick Facebook post, where I connect with loved ones about the shared craziness in our lives. Not only do I feel better due to the actual act of writing, but I also feel comforted when I connect with others in a meaningful way. And I hope they feel the same after we realize how similar our shared experiences are.
A lot of us are feeling the chaos and busyness of the holidays, and many of us are still managing daily commitments and obligations in the middle of all that. So perhaps one or two of these tools might help us manage our stress and tension.
Meanwhile, I would welcome my little ladybug friends to come back and visit me anytime they want.
Author: Christy Williams
Image: Author’s Own
Apprentice Editor: Amanda Kelly; Editor: Caitlin Oriel