Tuesday, April 21, 2020

When The World Paused - Lessons in Adaptation

We've been on lock down for about a month. And in all of the strange hecticness that seems to linger in our days, I've found that I have learned a lot of valuable things.

Here are a few of them:
Lesson #1 - It doesn't have to be overly expensive to be special. (Okay, so in all fairness, I already knew this and acted on it for most of my life. But after doing a Disney Cruise for Christmas, it's hard not to 'think big' for occasions. But the truth is - simple is beautiful.

For Easter, I knew I wanted to make something special for breakfast, but I didn't know what. The Impossible Girl is kind of a picky eater, and she doesn't get hungry. She leaps from charming to hair-raising-hangry-monster in nothing flat, so a lengthy prep wasn't going to work. So what did I come up with? Rainbow colored pancakes. Just your basic pancake batter, seperated into a few bowls. A few drops of food coloring in each bowl later, and viola! From picky eater to making rainbow pancake sandwiches! She loved it. They may now be an Easter tradition.

 Her Easter dress (I asked if she wanted to dress up - I wasn't planning to, so she had the option and said yes) is reusing her flower girl dress from my Brother In Law's wedding last year. She didn't care that it wasn't 'new'. She loved it and it had good memories surrounding it.
 I bought a few dinosaur toys at Walmart with our grocery order (we do curbside pick up only these days, so my 'browsing' shopping to see her reaction is limited). I know she has a fabulous imagination and loves to tell stories with little toys, so I went in for a pack for a few dollars. But I didn't go in for eggs. I knew The Lady in Grey had some, so I asked if I could borrow a few. Ask and ye shall recieve! We picked up some cleaned up eggs, and she got to go on a small Easter Egg hunt in the front yard, finding the eggs the dinos (who didn't always fit in them) were 'gaurding'. She had to save the egg and save the dinosaur! They have quickly found a favored spot in the toy rotation.

  I remind my clients (and myself) to act on the motivation as it hits, because, let's face it, 'motivation' is kind of a shitty friend. It makes you REALLY want to do something, for maybe a week, and then it leaves you high and dry and you have to figure out if you ever REALLY wanted to do 'the thing' at all! That doesn't mean ultimate goal isn't for you. It just means you can't always rely on the swing of movitavtion to get you there.
  And something similiar is true here and now.
As a mother, I find that 'leaning into the curve' is necessary for everyone's mental health and sanity. And when the mental game is on, the rest of it kind of falls into place.
  As an example, a mom friend of mine kept encouraging me to get up earlier and embrace the day at 5:30 am and workout then, before the kid is up! Sounds like a great plan for morning people. I am not one of them. I have never been, and since I'm flying solo in the kiddo department, I need every scrap of sleep I can get - and going to bed at 8pm is not an option in this house. The kiddo has night terrors. I don't even entertain going to sleep until she's been asleep for 90 minutes and is unlikely to wake up screaming.
  I also do my best writing, programming, singing, etc at night. Always have. I'm a night owl. I did make time for me and took part of her well intended advice, but instead of pushing against my nature and trying to rebuild my clock, I embraced the fact that I LOVE the night and the quiet, so I do my studying, working out, etc after the kiddo is asleep.
Listening to her grandmother read stories
 Some days, leaning into that curve means more screen time. Some days it means making messy potions and experiments. Some days, it means sitting quietly and watching the world go by.  (Today, it meant spending about 2-3 hours in the back yard playing games of tag, swinging in the hammock, playing hide and seek, and making mud pies. We made a mess. We played and I just let her lead the way. And ya know what? It turned out okay.
Working on a Dinosaur Potion

Observing sparling things in the movement of water
A bit of reading in the sunshine, between games
 Lesson #3 - I really only eat out when I don't feel like cleaning up the kitchen.
It sounds silly, but as a fitness professional (working on a nutrition certification that will help me coach nutrition for clients) it's been interesting to SLOW DOWN and conserve my budget while still supporting my body with options that are more grown on plants than produced in buildings.
20lbs of apples for $15? Yes please! 

 Okay, so I've been more and more aware of how we use food - especially right now. There are lots of jokes about gaining weight during the lock down, and ya know what? If you gain a few pounds while trying to stay sane, that's not the end of the world. You'll be fine. I know my coping=Sugar to the max habit made a come back here and that's okay. I recognized it, decided when it was okay to indulge it, and when it made more sense to swap it out. For example, I don't drink much at all when I'm flying solo parenting - call it an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, but I'm always afraid an emergency will crop up and I won't be equipt to handle it, so I moderate things a bit to serve my parenting instincts. This doesn't make me perfect. It's just my personal choice.

I find that, when I'm ordering food for delivery or pick up, I don't ever really 'crave' what they are selling. I usually am just willing to pay for the luxury of a meal that doesn't include me cleaning it up. (Even though most of my meals are made in 1 skillet. How lazy can you be, right?!) My food choice is usually motivated by how well I know the eatery. Locally owned, created, sourced, and operated eateries are more likely to gain my dollars once a week.

Lesson #4 - If you have the option to adapt, choose it.

This has been another life lesson I've hung on to. 

For me, a bunch of emotions cropped up when I realized I was buying my 4 year old a mask, because it's likely that our new world will require them out in public. We rarely go out these days. We made a mandatory trip to the store for the first time in a month last week. (She was masked. So was I. She was in a carrier on my back with instructions not to touch anything, which she obeyed. We walked in, had a no-contact interaction with a pharmacist, and touched nothing but our bag on our way in and out of the store, keeping as much distance as we could between us and others.) In other countries though, this is a much more normal fact of life. But for us Westerners, it's just not. It feels demoralizing and one more way we are seperating ourselves from each other - now smiles are hidden. 
In the history books, this may be such a tiny blip on the map that it's barely discussed in a decade or more. For my family, it's hit too close to home for comfort. But, aside from missing her friends and playgrounds, she is handling it with so much grace. She wasn't remotely reluctant to try on her Disney cloth masks because Ariel or Elsa would "catch my cough". She doesn't fight it or act like it's weird at all. I manage my fear, anxiety, and uncertainty about the coming weeks and the changes to our lives. (I like to plan things out in advance, but right now, the most I can plan is maybe a day or two.) 
But kids find different ways to process these things. So we play a lot and hold space for all the other emotions - big and small.  
  The Impossible Girl's attitude toward all of this is a humble reminder that we need to be adaptable right now. Yes, grieve! Be sad! Be angry! Be Whatever! But just Be as well. The world needs us to be adaptable.

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