Wednesday, February 13, 2019

The Year that Was January

30 days has September, April, June, and November. All the rest have 31, except for February, which has 28, and in Leap Year 29...and January, which has 527.

I lost track of how many memes expressing similar sentiments appeared on my Facebook and Instagram feeds in January. Apparently I wasn't the only one who had a tough time making it through the first month of 2019.
This one's for Hallie.

For me, January was challenging for three reasons. First, our schedule seemed fuller than usual (for January), and while I don't mind busy at all, after winter break I had trouble transitioning - at least smoothly - back to busy. Second, I was incredibly worried about everyone getting sick, as January 2019 marked one year since the great Ferris Flu Fiasco. And third, I had an enormous amount of anxiety about pulling off the variety show, to the point that I was having variety show nightmares and developed a stress-related eye twitch.

When the variety show wrapped on the 31st I was SO ready to just let January go. I planned to kick February off with a relaxing and restful weekend, and then take a couple of weekdays to replenish my reserves and catch up on a little work.

Best laid plans...

Long story short, February did not kick off the way I had hoped. Those first 10 days of the month looked and felt like an extension of January - maybe even an uglier version of January - and I didn't handle them well. I lost my temper more than once. I shed quite a few tears. I slept too little, and slept fitfully. I had to cut workouts short. I worked from 6:30am until 10pm every day but when I my head finally hit the pillow each night I felt like I had nothing to show for it. I was grumpy and even a little angry. Oh, and my eye kept twitching.

Part of my problem is that while I can search for - and find - the silver linings, I struggle to embrace those silver linings. For example... I could intellectually grasp that Will's bout with the flu and bronchitis and having to stay home from school for nearly a week meant I could spend extra time with him, but my brain COULD NOT stop reminding me that missing just one day (let alone four days) of advanced math would set him back days, that he had to make up multiple tests when he returned to class, that his cardiovascular health suffers if he doesn't run regularly, that he missed a dose of peanuts, and that he might share this illness with Hallie and me. (Will caught his illness - at least the flu - from Tom, so I wasn't worried about him.) Another example... I could intellectually grasp that my car battery dying in between soccer tournament games on a Sunday, when Tom was available to come jump my car and pick up the soccer players I had been preparing to drive home, was better than it dying on a weekday at 3:30pm when Tom would have been in class and I was trying to take little girls to dance. But my brain COULD NOT stop reminding me that I might not be able to find a place to replace my battery on a Sunday, that I might miss one of Will's soccer games, that I might not make it back to the tournament to cover my required volunteer shift, and that replacing the car battery (just two days after I replaced all four tires on the car, by the way) would be expensive.

I acknowledge that I am a natural worrier. (Tom is not, which is why we work so well together - I worry enough for the both of us.) I also acknowledge that I fear falling behind and losing control, so when forced to slow down or take a detour I can't help but focus on those fears rather than on the benefits that come along with an unhurried pace and meandering path.

Last Monday, while sitting at home worrying about the many ways Will's absence from school could ruin his life, I opened Instagram and came across a post by a friend of mine.

I read somewhere that everything is more dangerous at a high speed. And isn't it so? Falling off a bike while creeping is kinda funny, but while racing is potentially tragic. Spotting a deer while meandering is enchanting, but while driving is potentially catastrophic. 

I teared up while reading her words (I almost always tear up while reading her words - follow her and take advantage of her wisdom here), realizing that I am more dangerous at a high speed. When I push the gas pedal too hard, I miss the silver linings, worry more, say/text/email things I wish I hadn't, and make decisions without thoroughly thinking through my options and the consequences.

In keeping with this car analogy... I need to work on controlling the speed of my life with both the gas pedal and the brake pedal, rather than turning on cruise control, bumping up the speed on MPH at a time, and then sailing down the highway. I know I won't be able to make this change overnight, but it's good to have goals and I'm grateful to my friend for pointing out how a fast pace comes with its own dangers.

Thankfully for us, midway through the month the illnesses subsided, injuries healed, and struggles resolved. I hope that from this point forward I can finally receive from February what I needed: a reprieve from January.

Edited: I wrote this post over the weekend, thinking we had made it through the worst of February. I spoke/wrote too soon...last night Tom was diagnosed with Pneumonia. At least February is a tiny bit shorter than January. 😉

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