One Hip Wild and Precious Life
A shiny new year: 2020! A new decade! 2020 sounds like something big and exciting, doesn’t it, with its pretty round numbers and cute hint of clear vision for the future? Time to accomplish something big and exciting! A new career? A new exercise regime? Writing a book? Launching a podcast? A fully plant-based diet? A complete life overhaul?
Well, based on my very scientific Facebook poll, you all answered a resounding “Heck no!” (I’m paraphrasing). It sounds like most of you moms are wanting to put on the brakes, to stop stressing out so much, to let go of fear, to carve out time for family and friends, to journal, meditate, find quiet and peace. Another friend wants to be more “Mary” and less “Martha,” referring to the biblical story where Martha is running around like the proverbial headless chicken and Mary is sitting in rapt attention at the feet of Jesus.
Recently I heard a comment that really resonated with me: “If we are too busy, we lose our humanity.”
If I’m too busy running errands and driving kids to flying trapeze camp to stop and make eye contact with the check-out lady or take time to notice that a friend is looking down, then what am I really doing with my time? It seems like that in the throes of our busy, tech-filled lives, a voice buried deep in the bottom of our souls is crying out: “Slow down! Less! Stop!” Maybe 2020 is the year we screech to a halt and realize that it’s time, even though we’re all busy moms in the trenches, to live our one “wild and precious life.” (Mary Oliver)
So how do we do this? Well, I’m not proposing anything as preachy and depressing as “resolutions.” But perhaps something uplifting and failure-proof — like “aspirations”? Doesn’t that sound more fun and attainable? Let’s start with the fun and frivolous:
Try something silly, new and fun with your hair. How bad can it be – it will grow, or you can change it! My friend Megan dyes her hair with good old Clairol, and the red just looks glamorous and fun – it always perks me up to see her fire raven locks in the pick-up line. And she kicked it up a notch for her 40th birthday: Mermaid hair! Although it bled a lot and faded fast, she had a lot of fun with her experiment.
My friend Amanda, who is very blonde, used a purple masque that she leaves on extra long for a silver tint – it’s called Pravana. It’s shocking and intriguing and makes one do a doubletake – almost like she’s a medieval sorceress visiting from deep within a Harry Potter novel. Well, alas, she’s too cute and young to quite pull that off, but you get the point.
You can also try some hair masques if your hair gets dry in the winter. Experiment with bangs, layers, dry shampoo, only washing twice per week. Try a pixie cut. Try growing it out! Cover up the grays — or let it all go gray! Aspire to have some fun with your appearance!
Try a new workout or way to be active. There’s all sorts of wild, fun, not-boring ways to sweat a bit and detox that stress away (side note: I’ve found that exercise really does help me get out of my mind and be in the moment. In fact, it’s one of the few things that does! Long gone are the days when I exercised as a punishment for excess brownie consumption. I still eat lots of brownies, but I exercise for fun and sanity!)
Classes at studios like Revved and Orangetheory are fast-paced and – despite the intensity – keep me coming back for more. They offer a really sweaty overall body workout combining strength, cardio and core work. All of the Barre studios are fun too — you get to channel some inner ballerina moves while you get some seriously toned body parts.
One that’s new to me is Hotworx. Hotworx is a virtually instructed exercise program that’s performed under infrared heat absorption — and it’s just 15-30 minutes! The benefits are many, according to the studio: “…as the infrared heat penetrates your body causing you to sweat, the isometric postures further accelerate detoxification by physically removing the toxins from your organs through muscle contraction.” You can choose yoga, pilates, bikes, or High Intensity Interval Training – that’s HIIT, for people in the know. And yes – it’s hot and efficient!
Finally – most critically – carve out time to connect with friends, slow down and just be. Such lofty ideals sound perfectly noble, but how do we deploy them in everyday, whacky, mom life? First, I think, you schedule some time, maybe weekly or monthly — whatever makes sense in your current stage — with a dear and treasured friend. Get it on the calendar with regular frequency! Sometimes I’ve noticed that when I DO schedule time with an old – or new! – friend, the thought of adding yet one more thing to my day seems overwhelming to a natural introvert who craves a bit of solitude in the midst of life with many kids. But I’ve noticed I NEVER regret spending time with a friend. Those conversations where you plough the deep, rich soil of maternal living always make me feel filled up and less alone in my struggles.
And where do you find this time to play with your hair and your body and your friends? Here’s where I really want you to take a cool, appraising eye to your day-to-day life, particularly regarding the kids’ extracurricular activities. We were forced to do this when our 4-year-old was in the hospital for a month. What is really important for any one individual kid to do? Is this activity something they’re passionate about, or something that you feel is good for some far-off theoretical resume? Is there anything that’s just a space filler? If there’s fluff, cut it out! You’re a mom, not a chauffeur. Really, it’s true!
As I face one kid heading off to college and contemplate an empty spot at the dinner table, what I really want to focus on for the rest of the school year is having my motley crew here most nights, most of the time. I know that’s a crazy proposal for those of us in the thick of soccer practice, piano lessons, Tae Kwon Do, and demanding high school practice schedules. But try to find at least a night or two each week where everyone is home, preferably sitting around the table. The time I have treasured most over the years is my whole family just here, under one roof. Don’t take that for granted!
Now, if you’re a mom of only littles, I know you cannot contemplate a time when there will not be a kid dangling off your leg. It will come. And when it does, make sure you’ve logged lots of time with all your kids at all ages just at home, under your own roof, doing not much at all besides screeching at each other.
Here’s to a happy, healthy 2020 to you dear mamas – may 2020 bring you peace, joy, love, friends who make you snort your drinks out your nose, and lots of precious time with your precious, snotty kids!