Tag Archives: Self-Care

In Which I Admit I Hate Exercise

23 Oct

My husband loves running.  He lives for the beautiful days when he can run the 5 miles to the dairy farm down the road, around the trails, and back home.  He loves the thrill of cutting time off a particular route and he welcomes the pain that running brings.  He would run daily if he could.

I run?  If chased by a bear.

I’ve tried several times during our relationship (ten years, people) to pick up running.  He insists that it gets easier after the first few weeks and has patiently jogged beside me, cheering me on and motivating me by humming the Rocky theme as I force myself to run jog just… one… more… lap.  It’s never stuck.

Last month, I swam laps twice a week for three weeks in a row only to then catch a horrible cold and lose my momentum.  A year ago, I made it weekly to a wonderful yoga class – until the positions put strain on my bum kidney and I had to bow out.

It seems there is little routine exercise that I ever commit to, despite knowing how good it is for my back and how important it is to not only be heart healthy but also to set a good example for my girls.  And everytime I try to begin anew, I end up kicking myself for not doing enough and eventually quit.

This morning after dropping the oldest at preschool, and after a very long night with little restful sleep and a very cranky toddler, I sat at a stop sign and pondered which way to turn.  Left to the walking trail?  Or right to my probably-still-warm coffee, a blanket, and some tv with a snuggly toddler.  I should mention I was still in my pajamas and it was 34 degrees out.

It wasn’t my slightly snug-fitting pants or my achy back that made me turn left.  It was my mood.  I have been irritable and anxious.  I have caught myself wanting to hibernate and to lose myself in the next season of The Good Wife.

cutest workout partner everAnd so I forced myself to walk today.  I even did a little jogging. And something happened after 3/4 of a mile.  The urgency in my steps eased. My shoulders relaxed.  I smiled at the baby’s antics as she picked up leaves and attempted to sign me their colors instead of fretting at how she was impeding my progress (good god, how is it possible for someone who moves so fast to walk so slow?). I lost my worry over the oldest’s first bus field trip without me and I felt ready for the day to begin.

Whey do I always forget how powerful fresh air (even cold air), sunshine, and movement are in lifting my mood?

Which brings me to my title.  I hate exercise.  I won’t ever love the activity, the challenge, or the pain.  But I do love the results.  It is a vital component in my self-care and it helps to manage my mental illness.  So though I am not committing to being a runner, a biker, a yogi, or a swimmer, I am committing to move every day.

Especially if it means I can wear yoga pants more often.

Crocheted Happiness

27 Aug

I did something scary yesterday.  As I hit “publish,” my heart was actually pounding in my chest and I took three deep breaths to slow its thumping.

I opened an Etsy store.

Crochet Hat

I know, not really so scary, right?  Except it means I’m saying “I’m so good at something that you should buy it.”  It’s hard for me to self-promote like that.  Hard for me to believe that my work is worthy of a storefront.  And it means that I accept that there’s a possibility it will fail.

Now, I have two choices:  I can take every stat personally, every sale.  I can calculate the ratio of dollars per stitch.  I can be crushed if (when?) nobody buys anything.  OR.  Or I can focus on the value in the attempt.  I can say, “Watch me try,” like I used to as a child.  If you haven’t already, you must go read this piece by Planting Dandelions.  She hits the nail on the head.

It cost me $1 to open my store and list the hats I’ve been making just for fun.  Crochet is my self-care.  It soothes my anxiety.  I’m compulsively doing it anyway. So really, if the shop fails, I will have lost only $1 and a little bit of time.  And so I hit “publish.”

Hold me.

Etsy Shop Banner


You Are Beautiful

27 May

This post won’t have a picture of me in a bikini.  It’s not about what I look like.  It’s about how I feel about what I look like.

There’s nothing that brings more dread come spring than the idea of bathing suit shopping.  No matter what your size or shape, something about having every inch of your curves exposed or hugged with spandex shakes your confidence.

I like to think of myself as intelligent and not susceptible to advertising’s dirty tricks.  And yet, as I stood in the mirror this week, trying on bathing suits in an attempt to walk that fine line between vulgar and mumsy, all I could think about was how I compared to the models displaying the suits online.

This is ridiculous behavior, I know.  But apparently I suffer from the same negative body image that I hope never to instill in my daughters.  Some of this was the depressive episode.  Depression lies – twists reality until you struggle to trust your own thoughts.  But I’ve honestly always been self-critical and dissatisfied with one or more parts of my body.

My husband was disappointed he missed the bathing suit fashion show.  “I wish you could see you the way I see you,” he says.  I do, too.  He looks at me and sees the whole package.  He sees how well I am proportioned, how beautiful my big, brown eyes are, and how my form curves in all the right places.  I see the dimples on the back of my upper thigh, the loose skin remaining from my two pregnancies, and the extra pounds that snuck on during a well-deserved cheese bender.

Yes, I see you checking out that avitar on the right.  I realize I’m saying all of this with a weight and body shape that many women envy.  Perhaps some will dismiss this post as vain and silly.  But I think it speaks to the scarcity culture that Brene Brown writes about in Daring Greatly.  Never enough.  We’re all programmed to believe that we never have enough, are never thin enough, are never good enough.  And that our value is based on our accomplishments or attributes instead of being intrinsic to who we are.  Additionally, in a culture where women are valued more for their appearance than their intellectual contributions to society, it’s hard not to get lost in society’s beauty standard.

I happened to text a couple of pictures to good friends of mine in a moment of vulnerability.  I admitted my insecurities and they assured me I was beautiful.  And though my husband had said the same thing, it was them I was able to really hear.  These are women I believe to be stunning.  And when I look at them, I don’t see flaws.  I see their strengths.  I see their glowing skin, their long, wavy hair, their luscious lips, and their deep brown eyes.  I see their spirits, their histories, their stories.  It is the culmination of all these that make them beautiful.

Our conversation redirected me to look at myself the same way I see them.  It helped me shake free of the cultural bias and recognize my anxieties for what they were.

I hope you have women in your life like this.  Women who make you feel as beautiful – because our culture sure isn’t going to do that for you.  And if you don’t, seek them out.  They are worth the hunt.

So.  In case no one has told you lately?  You are beautiful.  Believe it.

Paying For Sanity

1 Apr

As I sit here typing, my four-year-old and one-year-old are in the other room playing nicely together, sharing toys and building a town out of Duplo blocks.  I haven’t gotten my butt out of this overstuffed chair in over 15 minutes and the music of my choice is playing in the background (I’m on a Brett Dennan kick, if you must know).

I pay for this time every Monday afternoon.  You see, I have the world’s best babysitter.  Her sister babysat for No1 before heading off to college, passing the babysitting legacy to J.  They are both great neighborhood kids from an amazing family, and they are all mine (I may share their number with you for a small finders’ fee and a signed non-compete clause).  J has known No1 from the time she was 9 months old and is one of the only people outside of the family that No2 is comfortable around.  She has this playful yet stern nature and has wisdom befitting someone much older than her 13 years.  And she LOVES my kids.  I’m pretty sure she would come over and play with them even if I didn’t pay her.

When J was unable to babysit on piano lesson days, I was initially reluctant to shell out $10 an hour on a different day for “no good reason.”  But it’s turned out to be one of the highlights of my week.  I get time to write, or cook, or do something for myself, and the kids get time with someone much better at playing pretend than I am.

It always feels like money well-spent.


Mamas Comfort Camp Turns ONE! A Celebration AND A Giveaway!

15 Mar

***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.  Congratulations to Smldada!***

Have you heard about the over 600 members of Mama’s Comfort Camp and the judgement-free culture of support and belonging we’ve cultivated in our Facebook group?  What started as a small group of online friends has blossomed into a once-in-a-lifetime  virtual sisterhood.  And we’re celebrating our one-year-anniversary!

Mama's Comfort Camp

Some very wise mamas have been helping us celebrate by contributing guest posts over at Mamas Comfort Camp, and we held a twitter party on March 10th.  And later today, I’m teaching a short yoga lesson via vlog, so click on over!

And to celebrate here on Learned Happiness, I’m giving away one of my favorite books.  If you know me, it’s no secret that Brene Brown’s books and research have changed my life.  What I didn’t realize about my life was that I’m not so different from everyone else – that shame and insecurity plague every one of us.  That we all just want to be seen, heard, and validated.  And most of all, that when we change who we are to fit what we think others want, we rob ourselves of true happiness.

It’s because of Brene Brown’s books that I’ve become more confident, more courageous, and more authentic.  Her TED Talk on shame pushed me to start blogging and opened up a whole world for me, where writing became therapy and readers became friends.  On a good day, I now believe that I am worthy of love and belonging, no matter what I have accomplished or what has happened to me.  Brene recently sat down with Oprah to share about her newest book, Daring Greatly.  You’re going to love her.

I Thought It Was Just Me

So in the spirit of comforting mothers everywhere, I’m giving away a copy of I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough.”  All you have to do enter is leave a comment below, telling me how you take care of YOURSELF in these busy days when there is never enough time.  If you struggle with this – then share how you WISH could could take care of yourself.  A daily meditation? An occasional good book? A hot cup of coffee each morning? A deep breath at the end of a long day?

And please know, if you’re a Mama?  You’re wanted in Mama’s Comfort Camp.  Head on over to HERE to find out how to join.  It’s easy and free!

Happy, Happy Birthday, Mama’s Comfort Camp!  And congratulations to my friend Yael Saar!  What an amazing baby you’ve created!

**legal stuff:  Giveaway closes on March 20th at midnight, EST.  Winner will be chosen using random.org and will be notified via email.  Winner may choose a hard copy or Kindle version of the book.  I am providing this book as a birthday gift to MCC.  I was not compensated for my opinion – I really do just adore Brene Brown!**


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