Some months just suck. April is one of those for me. Not only is it busy with holidays, husband travel, and springtime to-dos, but it’s an emotional minefield for me, overflowing with painful reminders. In other words, April is some triggery shit.
One day near the end of March, when I was looking down the barrel of this upcoming shit show, I took a break to watch my kids play in the mud. It was raining. Again. But they had rain boots and glorious mud and the first spring flowers, so, in their eyes, the world was still a grand place. It didn’t matter that it was raining again. Or that we were going to have to wipe down two muddy dogs ten times a day again. Or that all of this rain meant we were on flood watch again. To them, that rain meant mud pies. Beautiful, sticky mud pies.
I knew April would require some major self care, but I wasn’t even sure what that might look like. I couldn’t steal free time from anywhere, I was in pain most of the month (crappy health stuff), and I still had two kids to homeschool and keep alive. My old bag of tricks wasn’t going to work. I had to get creative and pretty up that mud pie of a month.
- Sign up for something (nearly) impossible – This sounds counterintuitive, but sometimes I need an all-consuming job to focus on. Now, I don’t recommend this if a massive goal will cause more anxiety, but for me this gave me a bit of extra focus. I was so busy writing last month that I didn’t have a lot of time to obsess about anything else. I started April with 19k words of a massive rewrite, and with the help of Camp NaNoWriMo and Cabin 81 (Best. Cabin. Ever.) I ended the month at 56k words. Not meeting the 50k in a month goal was meaningless. Biting off more than I could chew not only got me through April, but it also put me in a great position to finish this rewrite in May AND I met some great new writer pals.
- Stop and smell the horses – I had a lot of fear and anxiety about Easter, for a lot of reasons that were unavoidable and no one’s fault and tied to things that didn’t really have anything to do with that day, but they were real anxieties nevertheless. Then we had the unexpected pleasure of spending Easter at a relative’s house where they raise racehorses. I LOVE horses. If I had my way, I’d have tons of land and horses and I’d hermit the shit out of that little slice of heaven. My 7yo and I spent a lot of extra time hanging out with the foals and a horse named Buckaroo who really wanted to chow down on my blue Chucks. (I know, they’re awesome, but they’re mine, dude.) I might have ignored people more than was probably appropriate in favor of hanging with the horses, but seriously, I regret not one second with them. Plus, a one-day-old horse is just about the cutest thing ever.
- Make a scary doctor’s appointment – Again, counterintuitive, I know, because waiting for that appointment is super stressful. Also, I could have been opening myself up to more stress if the results didn’t go the way we hoped, but I’d been dragging my feet on this and the pain was feeding my depression and anxiety (and vice versa), so it was time to get more answers. As expected, there’s no quick fix (basically, I have recurrent rupturing cysts), but I ruled out really scary things (again . . . I did this with another dr back in December), so I can exhale knowing this is the worst of it for now.
- Throw out a bunch of crap – I’m definitely in the pro-KonMari camp. I purged our closets and books already, so April was time to tackle the paper clutter. I may never dig myself out from the paper (musician, writer, and homeschoolers . . . we have a lot of legitimate paper needs), but I made a huge dent in our files in April. And wowzer, it feels GOOD to get rid of stuff. Like, really good. And guess what? I have a giant plastic tub filled with documents that need to be shredded, so this is a perfect reason to drink wine and burn things in the fire pit this weekend to celebrate getting through last month!
- Schedule/Do all the things – This is like making that doctor’s appointment, but on a smaller scale. All of those little things we’d been putting off for when I felt better or when we had more time (HA!) . . . done. Well, maybe not all, but a lot. I’m talking about all of those nagging to-do’s and maintenance appointments and things like that. I feel so much lighter now that my ongoing to-do list is teeny-tiny again.
- Do yoga and drink lots of water, but also drink coffee and inhale buckets of jellybeans – I started out the month determined to eat better and feel better, physically. I sort of did that. One of the best things I did for myself was to start 30 days of Yoga with Adriene. I really love the variety in the video series, although I could only do the first two weeks before pain took over and I had to reluctantly pause my practice to deal with my health issues. But it was really grounding during the first half of the month, and I’m itching to get back to it. So I took care of my health. That said, I had my fair share of potato-chips-and-jellybeans-and-wine nights. Because that’s self care, too.
Basically, I had to accept that I couldn’t do a damn thing about April, so I had to shift my focus on two fronts. 1.) Head down, one foot in front of the other, stubborn determination to get to the other side. 2.) Make changes so my life would be better when I came up for air in May. Mission accomplished.
So the next time you’re faced with a pile of mud, throw some violets on that shit while you wait for the rain to clear out. Oh, and eat a crap-ton of jellybeans. Because jellybeans.