We are a military family, so frequent moves come as no surprise. The excitement of new locations and new people can be very enticing. There are benefits to having lived in a variety of beautiful locations and the opportunity to meet amazing people that wouldn’t have happened any other way. But there comes a point when you start to crave community, comfort and a safe space to just be without having to be on-guard while you familiarize yourself with yet another location.
There was a five-year period for us that included 4 moves, 1 deployment and 2 babies. Those moves took us from New York and ultimately dropped us in Alaska. The year before our move to Alaska we were in Texas and at that point, it was a good day if my head remained intact enough to get everyone fed, my daughter picked up from school and we all made it safely back to our pillows at the end of the day. Really.
During those years I just ran, physically, emotionally and spiritually. I was constantly trying to pick up the pieces and put everything together again and just when I might have gotten half way through the puzzle, it was broken apart and I had to start over.
We all run. In our world of high-speed internet, constant information being thrust at us, and the push to do MORE, MORE, MORE, it becomes easy to get lost in the rat race.
As our body’s start to scream at us and tell us to SLOW DOWN, we usually run to Google and try to diagnose ourselves and treat ourselves with an external miracle cure. We try the next diet craze, we jump into yoga, we look for supplements and chiropractic and acupuncture and more to relieve our pain. I am no exception.
During those five years I would dive into more nutrition science thinking if I just ‘knew more’ I could solve my challenges. If I just studied harder, if I just dedicated more time, if I just did x, y, or z – I would figure it out.
But here is what I was also telling myself each and every day:
I am not enough.
I constantly felt behind because everywhere I turned I found someone doing it better. There was always someone who managed the kitchen better, someone who maintained an exercise routine better, someone who never missed a morning of meditation, someone who researched harder, longer and better and solved all their problems. There was someone who was more diligent with their dietary protocol and never ate x, y or z and always ate a, b and c, someone who was a better planner a better organizer, a better…..
We are two years out from that five-year period now, and I’d like to think a little time and space (and the beauty of Alaska) has finally started the healing process. Maybe, I am getting a little perspective.
What I have learned is that in all that running, what I needed to do most was to stop.
When your brain gets going in the rat race, it is SO HARD to make it just stop. In fact, it doesn’t. Mine certainly doesn’t. A big turning point for me was in that first summer in Alaska and each summer since, we have incorporated at least one trip to a destination with no internet, and typically no cell phones and of course, we were always in a beautiful, spectacular nature-filled setting.
Each trip away (and none were more than 2-3 nights, even a few days makes a huge difference) allowed a little distance, a little perspective and a whole lot of head-clearing. Each was a gentle reminder that it is ok to slow down and just take in the scenery.
I actually remember telling myself how I needed to create these ‘mini-breaks’ long before the kids were even in the picture. But, as life has it, it rolls along and if you don’t stop to create a ‘pause’ for yourself, it won’t remind you.
When it isn’t possible to fully disconnect from the world and drop into the middle of nowhere, I strive to incorporate these practices into my week:
- Turn off all media one day a week.
When I am consistent with this practice, I can feel it. My head is clearer, I focus better and I am calmer. There are weeks when it doesn’t happen and I can always tell. My brain is more scattered, I am not centered and I can’t settle as well. It may feel like you are ‘missing out’ by turning everything off, but trust that you will be able to take in all that you need when you turn everything back on the next day.
- Carve out time to do a daily walk, stretch routine or self-massage with a foam roller or tennis balls.
Self-care and just taking time to check-in with how you and your body are doing in the moment is excellent preventative care. This way each day you return to your center, find your tight spots (emotionally and physically) and allow time to work through them before they become gnarly messes.
- Incorporate a weekly (or more) Epsom salt bath.
This is heavenly. Mix in 1-2 cups of Epsom salts and 1/3-1/2 cup of baking soda to facilitate detoxification and further relaxation. Add in your favorite essential oils and then read an uplifting book or better yet, just sit and breathe and do a little meditation.
Taking the time to clear your head and have some space for just you, is the best thing you can do to remind yourself of this:
I am still here. I am strong. I am enough.