Last week I hurt my neck/shoulder/back in a 6am exercise class. It pinched real quick as I did some sort of atomic push up, but I ignored it and worked through the pain. It hurt through my bear crawls, then it hurt even more through my frog jumps, and then, by the time I started sprinting, every time my left foot hit the ground it was as if I was being whipped in the center of my back. (Let’s stop and chuckle here together, okay? Laugh with me over the fact I did things called ‘atomic push ups’, ‘bear crawls’ and ‘frog jumps’… and know this: the class I’m talking about is brand new for me and the hardest thing I’ve ever forced my 40-year old body to do. Seriously.)
Because I was surrounded by amazing people who were easily rockin’ this class and doing way more ‘atomic’ stuff than I’ve ever dreamed, the last thing I wanted to do was show weakness, you know? I mean, sheesh, I’m the Quinoa Queen! I’ve birthed three babies, I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a go-getter, I’ve carried a 10 year old on my back for a mile uphill after she sprained her ankle – I CAN DO ANYTHING. But none of that stuff mattered in those moments on the the turf and, it my neck stiffened and my back tightened up, the reality hit me: I’m not as physically strong as I think.
(Isn’t that how it goes, though? We think we have it all together until something ‘pinches’ us wrong and we fall to pieces in milliseconds?)
I joked with my man after it happened and said, “Babe, I’m like a truck driver: solid, strong, independent, able to function on little sleep, and live life hauling around for everyone else.” (Can I get an amen?)
But you know what? Sometimes I don’t want to be strong, independent, and hard. Yes, I can do it – WE can do it, can’t we? And, yes, our lives as mamas often require we plug away with a firm grip, a strong back, and stiff upper lip. But I am a woman, not just a mom… and, I – WE – have to do a better job at taking care of the woman inside this mama skin.
I’ve been in a season of go-go-go, which according to the chiropractor, is why the injury decided to manifest itself. (He said by the time we feel pain the body has been pushed beyond 70% of it’s capability.) So, if any good came from getting injured last week, it’s this: it’s made me think about the FIVE WAYS I LAY DOWN THE TRUCK DRIVER:
1) Get up before crazy begins. There is something sacred about getting up not just a few minutes before, but at least an hour before everyone else. The house is quiet. I feed the cats, I put the coffee on. No one is talking, I’m not talking; my mind can wake up and process thoughts and gear up for the day’s job. And, most importantly, I pray. I don’t always sit to pray, and I don’t always even close my eyes. Sometimes I’ll just stand at my counter with my warm cup of coffee in my hands and meditate on something from the Word, or from my devotional. The key is simply that I am quiet, alert and dependent on my Great Big Father. Prayer in those early moments reminds me I’m not alone and of His beautiful, loving heart that says, “Elisha – you are My beloved. I am with you. I’ve planned today from before time began and I will not let you fall.” A scripture that seems to be on repeat in my head these days is this: “Get up, and [get your heart ready], for the Lord is about to do wonders in front of you.” In other words, if we don’t have our hearts in the right place, how can we see God working in our days? We can’t. DO IT.
2) Take a Mid-Day Coffee Break. On days where managing the house is all I’ve done, by the time the kids get home I’m wiped! So, it’s really important to ‘regroup’ before they arrive from school. I ‘clock-out’ from mama duties about an hour before and I’ll make a cup of tea, check email, go for a walk, hit the library – anything that lets me be me for just a bit before I go back into mommy mode. (It’s kinda like putting lipgloss on before my man walks through the door… it gives me a little pep in my step.) DO IT.
3) Write. Putting pen to paper in this crazy technology-driven world is cathartic. I keep a little notebook in my purse and, in stolen moments, I write my heart, my dreams… but, most importantly, I write things I’m thankful for. Slowing down to journal a few things I’m thankful for lifts the spirit and sweetens the heart. (It goes back to the idea of ‘preparing our hearts to see God’. When I can see His blessings clear enough to write them, I’m reminded of His goodness.) Sometimes it’s creative writing, sometimes it’s simply a good memory that popped to mind. It’s simply stepping outside of myself and allowing creativity to flow… and creativity is a good thing. DO IT.
4) Lay flat on your back and breathe. Seriously, when everything is in full swing around here, sometimes I steal away for just a handful of minutes, shut my bedroom door, and lay flat on my back to breathe. I roll up a towel and place it under my shoulder blades; I stretch my arms above my head while my legs are flat out in the other direction, and RELAX. I focus on my lower back being flush against the floor; I feel the stretch in my chest muscles and the relief on my posture. I do what always make me sane: PRAY. (Seriously.) DO IT.
5) Wash off the Day. I didn’t grow up with hot water in my house, literally. So, ‘hot bath’ is only something I’ve come to love as an adult – and especially since I’ve had kids. I consider a hot bath like a reverse of my morning ritual: I shut the door, no one is talking, I’m not talking, and I relax in the heat. I’ll read a magazine or a book or even play some of my favorite music (the kind no one else wants to hear during the day because it’s ‘boring’). I think, I dream, and yes, I even pray and unload all my baggage from the day. It is very therapeutic and grounding for my heart… not to mention it makes for a great night’s sleep. (Sometimes it’s just a hot shower, but it still ‘washes the day away’.) DO IT.
Not every day includes every thing… and some days I lay the truck driver down with a quick workout, a lunch date with a friend, a stop for some new mascara, or even a stint in the sauna at the gym. (If your gym has a steam or sauna, USE IT. There is nothing like a good sweat to get you back on track.)
What I hope you’re encouraged with, though, is how simple it is to reclaim a little of ourselves in the midst of our service… and, it’s vitally important to our mama work to remember we must take care of the woman God created us to be.
(Ok, I’m off… got some hauling to do before I call it quits.)
Tell me: I’d love to hear your secrets for laying down the truck driver… got any additional tips?
BTW: Thank you, thank you to everyone who entered my World Market giveaway last week! It was so fun connecting with new friends and hearing what your favorite ‘goodie’ was. Brittany over at www.modernisticmama.com was the winner… and you should check her out: she’s a cutie patootie with her second baby on the way! Congrats, Brittany!!