Pillars, schmillars

In hindsight, picking last year a few “themes” to focus on in my life and my blog seemed a bit adventurous.

And sort of silly. Presumptuous, even. After all, who has enough hubris to mandate what life throws to her in that fashion?

Oh, me, that’s who.

Looking at the categories – Family, Health, Work – it’s pretty clear that “health” won out as the dominating topic here at ejshea.com. While the intent of “health” was to focus on getting back into shape and being a healthy, present person, this is what actually happened:

1) I lost 20 pounds by Fall

2) I had sinus surgery which had me out of commission for a month.

3) In November I went and got myself a stress fracture in my left foot, which left me on crutches and in a boot until the end of February.

4) In March my gallbladder went kaput, necessitating quasi-emergency surgery to remove it. That left me hobbled until early May.

It has not been a banner year where my health is concerned. And I’m not even counting that hellacious pregnancy and labor of mine, though I probably should since, with the exception of the sinus surgery, I’ve had doctors and physical therapists all tell me that #3 and #4 can be linked to my pregnancy and tough labor and the impact both had on my body.

What’s more, I’m hard-pressed to feel as though I’ve become a more present person. If anything, the curve balls of this year left me in a few places:

1) Frustrated

2) Sad, in a lot of instances

3) Impatient, in all of the instances

The overwhelming theme to this year, truly, was how poorly I take care of myself. And I don’t mean that in a “Woe is me, I am a sacrificing mother and everyone else comes first,” because other than the spinach smoothies I make AG each morning, and the fact that there is always food on the table and the bills are paid, I don’t know that I do that hot of a job taking care of my crew. And I don’t mean that in a “Woe is me, I am a sub par human being who will never be good enough for these wonderful creatures in her life.” I just mean that in an effort to stay a few steps ahead of the game, I missed things and opportunities to be present with my family, and that was the goal of the process: to be present. And I wasn’t.


Taking care of myself” really boils down to this: Paying attention. Am I tired? I should sleep. Am I exhausted? I should rest. Am I shoveling mountains of food into my pile hole? I should stop. This – the eating of my feelings – was the case during the holidays, right after the stress fracture. In hindsight, I was clearly so crushed by not being able to do much of anything, and by the upheaval to our lives that it caused, that it sunk me into a funk. And because the holidays are what they are, I just used it all as an excuse to have third helpings of everything.

Sometimes five.

Had I chosen to pay attention to what I was doing, or owned up to it,  I could have made different choices. I don’t want to say “better” choices, because sometimes a situation calls for an indulgence of cupcakes or wine or fries or whatever. But just different choices. Ones where maybe I could have sought out my friend who runs the yoga studio here in the neighborhood, and would have learned about the yin yoga class on Sunday nights, where the positions are all sitting and lying down, with no danger of hurting my foot. (I’m taking this class now and it rocks.) But in my usual fashion, I just took the road paved with truffle salt and carbs, the easier road. I don’t know that it would have changed anything, but it would have been better than slumping like a log, complaining.

My inability to be middle ground, to have to live as though it’s all or nothing, is one of my least attractive qualities. I am either full speed ahead, pedal to the ground, or am in corpse pose, zombie-like, slug. Either is no way to live.

I am tired of living this way.


So, a new theme.

I learned through this little experiment that to say you should focus on a handful of things is incredible counterproductive. It’s also myopic and boring and unrealistic.

But my overall goal feels like it stands, and maybe that should be my focus somehow: being present.

I had a therapist once tell me that self-care in time of crisis is the first reaction one should have. This makes sense – after all, on airplanes you’re told to affix your own oxygen mask before trying to secure anyone else’s. Putting this into practice is a bitch, especially since the act of self-care in real or perceived crisis requires a certain amount of patience I have never had.

But I’ve been trying.

So instead of trying to look at the next year the same way as I did this one – trying to rockstar-it-out on a handful of areas in my life – maybe what I’ll instead do is try to find ways to manage the never ending roller coaster without vomiting and then waiting eons to get back on.

Poor analogy, I know.

I don’t know what it means for this blog, of course, but who cares? I’m still going to focus on health – I’m back to working out 5-6 days a week, and I’m back to boot camp in the morning. I run my first 5K since October on Monday. I continue to lose weight and eat more healthfully – with the exception of my cholesterol, all of my recent screenings at my annual were vastly improved from last year. However, I’m back to taking a Vitamin D supplement so I’m trying to get outside a lot more.

Work is great – I have a fantastic team at Edelman Digital and while I’m never not going to wish I could win a bunch of money and stay home with AG, I’m lucky to work where do and with whom I do.

My little family is wonderful, though you may have noticed I stopped writing the monthly letters. I don’t know. I miss them in some way but I’m mindful that she’s not a plot device and I’m taking care with how I write about her. This isn’t to say I’m going to stop writing about her, but I know a lot of you out there have come to this point and everyone has to find her or his way.

I suspect I’ll return to a hodge podge of things, with a greater focus on the ways I’m discovering how to take better care of me, beyond just sleep and exercise and diet. What that looks like, though, is anyone’s guess.

I am glad I did this little experiment, despite it being better in theory than in practice. Here’s to hoping the next year of motherhood is just the opposite.