How do you get through hard days?

So here is my question, for anyone who might find it in their heart of hearts to answer, how do you handle your day when it falls apart around you? When the children cry too much, when the boss criticizes, when the wardrobe majorly malfunctions, when the favorite restaurant is closed (happened to us a few weeks ago- we FREAKED out), when you are stressed and anxious and maxed out and you can’t handle it if something else goes wrong… and then, something else goes wrong? What do you do? What do you turn to?

I am looking for a relatively practical response.

Because for me, the answer used to be, if I have ___, I’ll feel better, this day will be better.

My answer is often food. If one of my children won’t nap and is sobbing their head off in the crib, I am standing in front of the pantry shoving chocolate chips in my mouth. Sometimes the answer is shopping. If I am frustrated with everything, a moment of peace looks like sitting on the computer, looking at pretty things, putting them in my shopping cart and buying them.

I do not feel guilty at all for buying myself a latte yesterday, even though I purposefully included no coffee drinks in my year-long spending fast. I do not feel guilty because to me, doing this spending fast is not accomplishing a goal nor passing a test. I am not looking for a pat on the back from anyone and that is certainly not why I am keeping a blog.

This spending fast is not about getting a trophy at the end nor is it about deprivation. It is just a closer look at myself, my tendencies, my own life.

Day in and day out, this fast is seriously no big deal. If I have the urge to shop, I just do something else and it goes away, who knew?! If I am out and want to get a milkshake, I go home and make one instead it's wild! Sure, there are moments, sometimes hours where I am thinking about buying stuff and I struggle, then I move on.

I am very curious, is this how other people work? Do we all use things around us to make ourselves feel better? Or is that just me?

The latte yesterday was GREAT. I sat there, alone, able to journal through my thoughts, read, listen to my i-pod, I left that coffee shop a happy and refreshed woman.

Then I walked through my door. Nobody took their needed naps. My husband had bad news about work and the location of his next bridge project. The plan for dinner wouldn’t work because it didn’t thaw in time. I looked around, took it all in, saw the laundry scattered throughout the room, smelled a diaper needing a change, felt the sweet little hands tugging at my coat, noticed the baby snot that was all over both my shoulders and had been there the whole time I merrily chatted everyone up at the coffee shop, and I felt like crying.

So then what, do I leave again? Request another two hours of solitude to re-energize me to face this new set of problems? How do you engage with your day when it is hard?

This is my question for the year, how will I find contentment, apart from “retail therapy” or whatever pick-me up's I am used to choosing? 

(I fully endorse buying new clothes and latte's, Nordstroms and Starbucks FOREVER and I will remain faithful to them no matter what, Amen).

9 comments:

  1. My dearest Ally, you are such a sweet and special lady!! First, you are a GREAT mom and wife!! I by no means have the answers for you, as only you have them within yourself. Although, I do not have young kids anymore, I do have my Michal, 4 dogs of which one is only 4 months old, and chickens.....they can be very challenging at times. When I have a really bad day, it is usually because my feet are hurting really bad or I start feeling sorry for myself because I have to take all these pills and shots, and things still hurt. Then I remember that it was just 2 years ago that we didn't think I would even be here today, and how bad things were during that time. I then realize how lucky I am to have such wonderful people in my life, and that I need to be thankful that I am here to have any kind of day, good or bad. I have decided that I will take them all!! I know it probably sounds crazy, but when things get really bad and I get upset and overwhelmed, I take a deep breath and close my eyes and thank God that I am here to experience it all! I don't know if this helps at all, but I just wanted you to know that we all have days like that, and you are not alone!! If you ever need anything, please just call me!! By the way, if you guys ever come visit, I have a TON of craft stuff happening, and I would love to buy you a Starbucks...not a bribe....just saying'! I love you all very much!!!

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    1. Oh Jodi, the dogs and the chickens I can't even imagine, they seem much harder than babies to me! Your situation and story really blesses me, how can we feel anything but gratitude when we remember that it is such a miracle you're alive?! That is such a great reminder, and to thank God for being able to be present for the chaos, that is the best advice ever. Love you lots! And we do need to come visit soon, even though I don't believe you that there's a Starbucks in Sandwich...

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    2. You are right, there isn't a Starbucks in Sandwich, but there is one inside the Target on this side of Yorkville, a mear 15 minutes away!!!!

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  2. Ally, Love this post. I can relate sister!! I printed out this prayer and taped it to my computer at work to serve as a daily reminder:

    Let nothing upset you,
    let nothing startle you.
    All things pass;
    God does not change.
    Patience wins all it seeks.
    Whoever has God lacks nothing:
    God alone is enough.
    - St Teresa Avila

    I first heard it while reading Rachel Held Evan's, Year of Biblical Womanhood (so good)! I find the prayer to help me focus in the moment that it's not about that moment even though it can feel so stressful. Solidarity for sure. While I don't think we'll ever figure it out I'm hopeful that your post and reflections on this topic can help us all become more mindful.

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    1. This is great Ashley, I love that quote. To react with peace instead of frustration in hard situations is my never-ending struggle so it rings especially true! I have heard of the Year of Biblical Womanhood and need to read it, I am glad you liked it. Thanks for commenting girl I miss you!

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  3. Praise & thanksgiving...not what you want to hear in the midst of the chaos. I know. I've been a "spaz mom", for 3 days. Ask my kids. They'll tell you. The 3-year-old reminded the 6-year-old on the way to school/daycare this morning...remember what she said last night (referring to our "family meeting"...I was actually calm by then). Yes, a break, a deep breath, a shower w/out the children knocking on the door...always help! I also go for a run, crank what my besties and I like to call "Jesus Jams", and take Him in! HE and ONLY He, can fill those voids and help us when we come up short (which is a lot for me). Lately, it's a 24/7 "Lord have mercy on anyone who crosses my path!" kind of prayer. And my computer now permanently wears Colossians 3:23-24. Back to the basics for me...get enough sleep, drink enough water, get enough Jesus...and when you're short on the first two...drink coffee;) Blessing, dear Ally!

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    1. Oh no Maddy, that is too funny! Thankfully mine are too young to tell other people how spazzy I am... for now at least. Running and prayer, two things I need to do more of. Thanks for the advice and thank you so much for commenting!! Hope you're having a better day today :)

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  4. So, I love your blog and your thoughts and find myself identifying with you so much! I live in Durham and started following with Betsy Bender linked to you, but I remember you from when you lived here. I'm excited to watch this journey of yours. I have gone back to this post a few times - http://inspiredtoaction.com/2012/04/how-to-be-a-good-mom-on-a-bad-day/. I'd also say for me, if my house is a wreck - tackle something, anything, and the satisfaction of a completed task can be a reset for me. And if my house is still a wreck, get outside. I know you can't always do that, but it forces me to focus on the present and usually makes me thankful and reminds me of Jesus.
    Warmly,
    Jen Thompson

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    1. Jen! Thank you so much for saying "hi!" It is so cool to hear from you, I told Betsy before that I wished I could've gotten to know you before I left NC. I'm stopping the other things I'm doing and going to the post you shared right now. Hope you're having a great day Jen, thankful for you and all you've done to bless those I love!

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