My favorite part of the day is the moment when I crawl into bed with my weird green drink, a book, my iPad and the notion that I don’t have to be awake for at least 7.5 hours, if I play my cards right.

Settling into bed, typically by 9:30 p.m. every night, signals the culmination of a day gotten through, no more anything to address. I started heading to bed early on in Abigail’s life, predominately so I could clock in enough sleep before waking up at 4:30 a.m. to work out. As the days, weeks and months went on, this time became the most precious of my entire day in a way I hadn’t intended. Scott isn’t one for heading to bed that early, and I am too old to have friends who call me or text me at that time of night. I began to embrace the languidly of the 30 minutes between when I got into bed and when Scott joined me.

For a long time, probably since the holidays, it was the only time I allowed myself to let go and relax.

So it isn’t much of a surprise that last week I had what can only be termed as a “dropping of my basket.” To be fair, a lot of things happened, big and small. Big? My dad had a stroke, though an occipital stroke, and he’s doing well, so I don’t want to make more out of it here. Small? Toilet overflowed and someone hacked by Facebook account. All of these things, and moments peppered throughout, led to me standing in the middle of our kitchen before Abigail woke up and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.

I have control issues. These issues are probably why so much of Anne Lamott’s writing speaks to me, this struggle between knowing control is a myth and our insistence on having it just the same, she talks about it all of the time.

Being present is the goal, but it’s amazing how numb I’ve actually been these past few weeks. I’ve read that some of that is seasonal – not SAD-related, mind you, but just the aftereffects of weeks of too much cold, too little light, too little movement. I swear, every year I end up having to pick myself up, dust myself off and rejuvenate and every year I forget why it works out that way. Some of this malaise is simply my own doing, my inability to keep my hands off of the control panels, no pun intended.

Honest to God, I could pinpoint any number of times where I thought I knew best and, despite all evidence to the contrary, it was as though I insisted on making life as difficult as possible for myself. I’d be sweet to blame that on gray skies, but a big fat lie, too.

There’s been a lot of prayer, a lot of quiet, a lot of working out, a lot of level-setting with myself about how I don’t take care of myself in the way it counts and, instead, push push push on through.

The dishes can wait. The stacks of mail will sort eventually. No one gives a fuck if I have clothes yet to be hung in my closet.

I had someone once advise me, that in the darkest hours, in the time where things hurt the most, that is the time for self-care. I am a little crunchy granola, but this concept has been too contrary to my Midwesterness. It’s the same sort of thinking that makes me scoff when people talk about what they need from a job. Other than a paycheck that doesn’t bounce, I’ve always been of the opinion that such wonderment was always the luxury of the person who has never has real worries concerning money. But I don’t know. My way hasn’t been working too well.

My way leaves me rudderless, searching mightily for my feelings in the bottom of a bag of baked tortilla chips, bottles of red wine and a closet teeming with clothes that are way too tight for public consumption.

So I have been trying the following when my world spins shakily off of its axis and my first inclination is to consult a brownie.

  • Reading on the train. I love to read. I don’t do it enough. Reading gets me out of my own head, gives my overly active imagination and inflated sense of self importance a much-needed break. The 40 minutes I spend to, and then from, work are better served in this fashion, rather than reading Twitter.
  • Portioning out my snacks. I did this RELIGIOUSLY when I first started Weight Watchers again. I’d spend 30 minutes with my pretzels or whatever snack I had and break into serving sizes. I did this again and not surprisingly, it works and it means I can exercise restraint while not judging myself for the small, perfectly acceptable act of wanting a snack.
  • Talking. If you asked my friends what was going on with me, they would be hard-pressed to tell you. I think this is behavior is normal with grown-ass people, but most people who really know me know that I typically lock down. While I’m still not great at this, last week I made myself talk things out with Scott and not surprisingly, I felt better.
  • More talking. Seriously. I’m talking about things a lot. On a regular basis.
  • Reading magazines. We get a ton of magazines – despite ours being a digital household, I think we have about 12 magazine subscriptions. Sometimes I need to just go and read a magazine and be curled up on our couch with it, Glinny and some water.
  • Water. I’m drinking a lot of it again.
  • Working out. I’m also actively tracking it all on Dailymile again. It helps to see myself progressing. It helps to have time devoted to sweatily arguing with the voices in my head to chill the crap out.
  • New socks. I bought neon pink knee high socks to wear for Derby Lite. It’s possible they have super-human powers.

I’m taking hot showers, and putting creamy, soothing masks on my face. I’m buying my favorite hand cream, and taking the longer walk to the office because it means a longer amount of time with the sun on my face. I’m listening to funny Podcasts and trying to stretch more. I listen to music, and buy new songs.

Anytime things just feel awful, and they feel that way an awful lot, I try to turn to the nearest, easiest, simplest thing that might soothe my mind. It doesn’t always work, but I know it’s progress. I know it’s good for me. I know the cumulative of these small actions will build a cushion for when I really need it.

What do you do – or what should you do – when you need to take care of yourself better?