Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Getting Scary

It's scary season and in the spirit of things, I have been working on scaring myself daily.

Last week I read "do something every day that scares you."

I was trying to remember the last time I attempted something truly scary. Usually it's life that does the scaring -- watching the news, praying with a friend that was struggling with breast cancer, making casseroles for a family who is undergoing bone cancer treatments. You don't have to work very hard to be scared every single minute.

I was running through my daily moments trying to find anything I did that was a bit edgy, risky or truly dangerous. Here's my day: car pool, getting some writing done, paying bills, going to the gym, a few errands and then back to carpool. I think the scariest thing in there is the driving.

Scary doesn't have to be huge -- like bungee jumping, doing an Ironman or scaling a mountain -- although those are all good and creepy things to do. The scary I was looking for is in the taking risks. Even little ones that weren't really a big deal in the scheme of things, but a teensy bit dangerous nonetheless.

Scary to me is picking up the phone and pitching my ideas, sending out my writing, actually doing the work and being okay with getting a lot of rejections. It's getting my book done. It's being committed to the craft of being a writer and following through, despite the fact that it doesn't pay well and it's dang hard work.

As we close in on the season of mischief, I'm going to get busy scary myself today.

A good question: how have you scared yourself today?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Remembering Mom's Advice on Staying Well

I’m feeling a bit draggy lately.

With all the news about the flu and its impending doom, I wish I could go ahead and get sick. That has to be better than listening to the constant barrage of ranger danger talk on the news or reading how many new cases there are today. No amount of antibacterial wipes can convince me out the fact that I’m a walking flu time bomb.

Besides the obvious of washing your hands a million times, I was wondering what else I could do for my health this season. I have already read the wealth of knowledge available from the all-knowing medical resources. So instead of turning to the experts for ideas on wellness, I decided to go to the original source: dear old mom.

Our moms functioned fine without having to worry about flu shot supply or sanitizing every nook and cranny of their homes. They lovingly and knowingly took care of us without the help of WedMd or government sanctioned quarantines. So here’s a little old-school advice, courtesy of mom.


If you are feeling a little run down, take a nap. I’m always surprised how much better I feel after a rest. I don’t know why this solution is such a shocker, but many of us don’t think of it or fight it all day long. Don’t wait until you’re completely knocked out by sickness, take a nap.

Get Outside and Run Around the Block.

My mom’s cure for anything was to “get outside.” I think partly it was a self-preservation strategy, but it’s also very wise. She insisted we get some fresh air every day. If we were having a bad day, her solution was to get rid of it by a trip around the block at least three times. If you can’t run, a nice walk is a good place to start.

Have a Little Cup of Tea.

My mom is Scottish, so sitting down for a cup of tea was a precious ritual. Tea happens to be great for you with all sorts of antioxidants for your body. There is something so comforting and reassuring about pouring a mug of something hot and delicious. Make a pause in your day for a good cup of tea to refuel your spirit.

Come Home Before Dark.

Mom expected us to be in before dark for dinner, homework and getting ready for bed. Too many commitments, working late and cramming in the umpteenth activity saps your energy. The idea of getting home before dark is a nice rule of thumb to protect sacred family time and to replenish some down time in your day.

Sit Down and Eat Your Dinner.

In today’s zoomy society, sitting down at a table to a nice meal feels like a luxury. Coming home from school, my mom always had a pot of something hearty on the stove. Usually a soup, or stew filled with lots of veggies. Fall is a great time to fill your slow cooker and concoct a meal guaranteed to mend the spirit. Skip the drive through and plan ahead to come home and slow down over a meal.

Take a Nice Hot Bath.

Mom claimed a hot bath would “wash away the day.” Baths are a great way to unwind from a hectic day and also a way to check in with yourself mentally. If you don’t have a tub, try soaking your feet in a small basin or steaming your face over a hot sink. These small treats don’t cost much, but re-fuel our spirits in a self-loving way. Footed PJs are optional, but always a good idea.

Eat Your Veggies.

This classic advice was true when we were five and still is today. Listen to mom, eat your veggies. The problem is most of us are still stuck in that five year-old mentality that they taste horrible and have to taste like dryer lint to be good for you. Now that you are a grown-up, you actually get to make things you like. If you don’t know how to cook veggies that taste decent, go to www.epicurious.com and search away. Be a grown up, eat your veggies.

Wrap Up in a Blanket.

If mom was getting out the emergency measures for when we were sick, there would be ginger ale, toast treasures (specially cut up pieces of toast with gobs of butter) and there would always be “the blanket.” Mom used to wrap us up in a special velvety blanket and lay us down where she could check on us often. I think she knew sometimes we needed a mental health day, or a time to feel loved and adored. What are the things that make you feel lovingly cared for? You may consider making an emergency sick stash for a future event. Maybe it’s only permission to take some time off. If you need a day to wrap up in a blanket, do it. Take time to give your body what it needs.

Mother Yourself.

Even though these old school ideas aren’t very scientific, they go a long way in keeping us well. What’s remarkable to me is how far I will go to care and comfort my family when they are sick, but finding that same care for myself is rare. Maybe not getting sick is really about being a great mom to myself, not just for my family. I hope you will find time this season to take good care this season and more importantly, to find a way to be your own best mother. After all, she did know best.