The other day I arrived home after 3 weeks of traveling, some of which was for fun and some for work. I woke up that day at my normal time, but I felt EXHAUSTED and a little irritable. Following my normal morning routine, I brewed coffee, started the laundry, and began unpacking. Next came breakfast and cleaning the kitchen. As I was wiping down the kitchen table, I heard my therapist’s voice in my head saying, ”What are you going to do for yourself today? When are you going to have a Tania day?”
Pausing, I felt calmness wash over me. Her voice in my thoughts brought me back to her office and the countless times we had that conversation. I could see her sitting in her chair, her soft voice posing that exact question. I was wiped out, and I needed to have a Tania day.
I looked at my watch. By that time, it was 9 am and I thought to myself, “I will finish up a few tasks, and by 10 am I will switch to doing whatever I want for the rest of the day.”
I blogged, planned upcoming CLI events, caught up on research, snacked on chips and salsa, and cuddled up with my softest blanket. I didn’t bother brushing my hair or putting on makeup. Around noon I decided I was going to lie down and enjoy a nap. I’m usually a short napper, but I allowed myself to stay in bed for a couple of hours to rest my body and mind. Being in a state of stillness and calm was relaxing, and it allowed my mind to wander. Relaxing the brain allows new ideas to emerge.
While ideas and thoughts were fresh in my head, I grabbed my laptop and returned to my blogs. Once I finished writing, I turned my attention to pampering myself as I got ready for a gala event I was attending that evening.
No one cared that I didn’t accomplish a million things that day. I didn’t feel the need to run errands or cross items off my to-do list. Often, we create our own personal stress by placing pressure on ourselves to be everywhere and do everything. But you can’t pour from an empty cup.
Everyone’s stress levels are different. The amount of stress you’re able to bear can even differ depending on the day. Make sure you are able to recognize and identify the tasks that create stress in your life, as well as the coping strategies and self-care techniques that work best for you. Try to find ways to balance the stressors with self-care.
Looking back, it was a beautiful Tania day! It took me years to learn the importance of taking days for myself. I hope you take time out of your day to recharge and fill your cup.
What I have learned: Only you can take a day for yourself. Learn to recognize when you need to do this before you are too overwhelmed.
Battling Childhood Hunger
Not long ago, I was supervising some kiddos while they were waiting to be picked up. As we waited, I offered them a snack from my bucket full of granola bars and fruit snacks. They looked at the pile then at me. Their hesitation led me to offer again, this time saying they could each take a few snacks. They asked, “How many?” I looked at my watch. It was noon, so I figured they were hungry for lunch. I told them to take as many as they wanted. Each child took eight granola bars and six fruit snacks. I assumed they were loading up to take snacks home. Maybe their mother didn’t buy that type of snack or they wanted extras to keep in their backpacks.
But as I watched, the siblings sat down, began eating, and continued to wait for their ride. Unwrapping hastily, they ate all of the granola bars and fruit snacks they’d taken. Without a sound or any fooling around, they ate quickly. They filled up their water cups at least six times while they were eating. When they were finished, they quietly got up, cleaned up their spots, threw their wrappers in the trash, and sat back down. A few minutes later, one of the little girls came over and asked me for a few more snacks. I gave her four more of each kind. By now, I had figured out that they were truly hungry. My heart broke. I thought to myself, “Never in my life have I been that hungry.”
I assumed the additional snacks would be for the children to take home because surely they were full. I was incorrect. The kiddos ate them all - 10 granola bars and 10 fruit snacks each. They were slender children, and I wasn’t sure where all that food was going. My heart ached as I realized I didn’t know how to help them get food. I lived nowhere near them and wasn’t familiar with any food pantries in the area. By then, their older sister had arrived to pick them up, and they were all happy to see each other. Before they left, the older sister came over and asked if she could also have a snack. Of course a heaping handful of snacks were given to her too.
Childhood hunger is real! As schools let out for the summer, children lose access to the school lunches that many of them rely on. I encourage you to donate to your local food pantry year round. Many children are hungry, and parents rely on food pantries throughout the year (not just during the holidays when most people donate).
CLI is holding its third annual food drive in June. Join us for our giving campaign, Filling the Food Pantries, to help keep our children fed over the summer. June 21st we are collecting food to donate to a local food pantry. You can donate that day too!
What can you do to help?
What I have learned: Childhood hunger exists. It is real, and we can help.
Tania Farran is an educator, mom, business owner, and an author. Her blogs tell about balancing all of these things in life! Laugh or cry with her and maybe learn a thing or two.