Holding Fast: Fairy Tales and Wrestling My Baby to Sleep

What Fairy Tales taught me about loving my son and helping him sleep.

There’s a very old Scottish fairy tale called “Tam Lin” about a man who gets captured by faeries, much to the dismay of his beloved, Janet. Janet learns that the faeries intend to make a sacrifice of him and that the only way to save him is to stand at the crossroad at midnight on Halloween and take hold of him as the faerie court passes by on their way to make the sacrifice. “You must spring upon me suddenly,” Tam Lin tells her, “Then seize me quick, and whatever change befall me, for they will exercise all their magic on me, cling hold to me till they turn me into red-hot iron. Then cast me into this pool and I will be turned back into a man. Cast then your green mantle over me, and I shall be yours, and be of the world again.” Janet does as he tells her. The faeries turn Tam Lin to ice, then fire, then an adder, a dove, a swan, and finally, a hot iron sword. Janet steadfastly holds Tam Lin through all his changes, waits for the moment of iron, and then plunges him into the water and covers him with her mantle. And so, the story tells us, “Tam Lin was Janet’s forever.”

I’ve been keenly reminded of this story lately at nighttime when putting my son down to sleep. He arrived late to the rolling-over party just a few weeks ago at ten months old, but in the span of two weeks this has led to crawling, standing, and now cruising, so life has become suddenly much more exciting for our little boy. Much more exciting than bedtime and sleep.

(Continue reading…)

Fab Friday: Anxiety and Panic Attack Recovery Care

(I wrote this up on Friday, but I’m only just getting around to posting. Sorry about that! Hopefully next week’s Fab Friday will be on time.) Happy Fab Friday, friends! I’m writing this from the front seat of my car outside my in-laws’ house. Why? Because I just had a panic attack.

I haven’t had a panic attack in over a year, and this one came completely out of the blue. I was sitting at the family dinner table, passing the veggie platter and dishing up food for my son when all of a sudden the lights got too bright, and everyone’s voices got too loud and too sharp, and my heart started to race. I calmly turned to my husband and said, “I think I’m having a panic attack, so I’m going to go to the other room.”

I cried, put in some earplugs, and practiced square breathing, but everything was still too loud and too bright, so I went to the car. It’s nice and quiet and dark out here. My heartbeat is nice and slow, but my arms and legs don’t feel like they belong to me yet. My husband came out and brought me a lemon La Croix (bless him), and the rest of the family is leaving me gloriously alone. Thank God for a family who understands mental illness!

So while I’m stuck here in depersonalization-land, I’m putting together a moodboard of all the little things that help me recover from panic attacks. (Your mileage may vary on the specifics, but most people find the general categories helpful.) For those who have never experienced a panic attack, the attack itself is terrible, but the after-effects can also leave you feeling like you have a really terrible hangover. It’s the hangover part I want to try to help with today. So here’s your Anxiety and Panic Attack Recovery Care Starter Kit:

Anxiety and Panic Attack Recovery Care Guide > Thriverguide.com

Fab Friday: Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Hey-hey, Mother’s Day is coming up! Do you know what to get for your mom to celebrate her? Today I’ve gathered up some great Mother’s Day gift ideas that won’t break the bank. (I know what you’re thinking: Fab Friday? It’s Sunday! Sorry! I went on a surprise vacation Thursday and Friday and missed my normal Friday posting. So happy Fab Friday a few days late!)

Mother’s Day 2018 will be my first Mother’s Day with my baby outside the womb, so this is kind of my Mother’s Day wishlist, too! The perfect Mother’s Day gifts for me would be things that are both beautiful and that I will actually use, so we’ll start there. Beyond that, I decided to break these ideas down into the five senses as a framework.

Oh! Also, I wanted to make sure everything here is affordable, which for me means keeping everything under $30. So here you go—15 Mother’s Day Gifts She’ll Love That Won’t Break the Bank.

2018 Gift Guide: 15 Mother's Day Gifts Your Mom Will Love That Won't Break the Bank >> Thriverguide.com

(Continue Reading…)

March Check-in, April Goals

Happy April, almost! I plan to do a check-in at the end of each month if I can to record my progress and growth (and hopefully find it encouraging!) as I continue to write here at ThriverGuide. If you don’t find this kind of thing interesting, cool. I know I enjoy reading other people’s reports and accounts of what is or isn’t working well for them, but that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. If that’s you, feel free to go read one of these posts instead:

 

Still with me? Great! (Continue Reading…)

Maundy Thursday: When the Spirit and the Flesh Are Both Weak

Maundy Thursday: The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Photo by Rafferty Fazakerly.
Photo by Rafferty Fazakerly

Last night was Maundy Thursday, where Christians remember the night Jesus gave a new commandment to love one another, the night he broke bread and passed a common cup to his disciples, the night he went to a garden to pray and asked his disciples to stay awake with him and watch—even for one hour—and they did not. The night he was betrayed and arrested and handed over to death.

Family Day at the Huntington Library and Gardens

I spent most of the day yesterday at the Huntington Library and Gardens with my mother and sister and a friend. We wandered through the gardens all afternoon, ate lunch at the cafe, showed ThriverBabe around the children’s garden, and generally just enjoyed the sunshine and cool breezes and green spaces.

We hit LA rush hour traffic on the way back, and I watched the minutes tick by, stealing away the one- to two-hour buffer I’d planned to have between getting back home and packing up to go to church at 7. I really didn’t want to go to church. I wasn’t in the mood for Maundy Thursday.

I felt a sudden connection to the disciples in the garden.

(Continue reading…)

5 Super Easy, Nourishing Dinners for Low-Spoon Days

Have you ever literally broken down in tears just thinking about the task of making dinner?

Spoonie friends, I’m willing to bet you have. For those of us with chronic illness and/or mental illness, there are some days where the thought of having to come up with something to eat—even if it’s just for yourself—is enough to break you. Severe fatigue, pain, and mental fog are a daily reality, and they can prevent you from taking proper care of yourself. As spoonies, we’re all probably aware that it’s better to eat fresh, healthy foods and home-cooked meals, but there are times when that ideal seems laughable. Heck, I’ve had days where I knew I had a frozen burrito waiting for me in the freezer and that all I had to do was get up and stick it in the microwave, but you know what? Even that seemed too hard. Reader, I cried.

I cried because a frozen burrito didn’t seem worth the effort. I didn’t really want to eat it.

I cried because it seemed like the only option.

I cried because we were out of eggs and tortillas and cheese and I was too tired to go to the store.

What I’ve learned since then is that when you live with chronic illness, you need to plan ahead knowing that your best intentions may fail you. If you know yourself and can plan for your needs, you’ll find you’re much better equipped to take care of yourself on the days where everything is difficult.

On the “Day of the Burrito” my planning failed me because my plan hadn’t taken me into account. I had stocked my freezer with burritos because they were cheap and easy, not because I actually wanted to eat them and definitely not because they were good for me. Pro tip: when your body already feels crummy, don’t feed it $0.50 burritos. Your body needs and deserves more from you.

The other thing I’ve found that makes dinner so difficult some days is the process of deciding what to eat. When you’re over-tired and clouded by mental fog, no amount of staring at your pantry or fridge will make your decision about what to eat easier. So I find that having a list of go-to options combined with keeping a well-stocked pantry and fridge is a huge help in avoiding dinner-prep tears. With that in mind, today I’m sharing my top five fast, easy, low-spoon dinners.

Five Super Easy Dinners that are Low-Spoon Friendly

(Continue Reading…)

Fab Friday: How to Make Your House Feel Like Spring

It’s Fab Friday, and Tuesday was the first day of spring! Hooray! We’re only just finally starting to get some more wintery-feeling (read: wet) weather here in Southern California, so I’m going to embrace that while it lasts, but I’ve also seen the mustard plants starting to bloom in the foothills near us, which means spring is definitely here. Do you have signs like that where you live?

I love when the seasons change, and there’s something about winter to spring especially that inspires me. It makes me want to do more, see more, be more! One thing is always the same, though: I always get the urge to make my house feel more like spring. But how exactly do you do that? How do you bring that springtime feeling inside? This week’s Fab Friday has got you covered!

How to Make Your House Feel Like Spring - thriverguide.com

(Continue Reading…)

Why I Clean My House During Lent

Why I Clean My House During Lent

I’m going to come right out and say it: I’m going to talk about God and Christianity from time to time here. It’s a huge part of my life, and by that I mean in part that I live my life according to the church calendar, fasting and feasting in due season. So a lot of my experiences and thoughts are directly shaped by these seasons and will likely come out in what I write.

It’s Lent right now in the church year—the great fast that precedes the great feast. In some traditions people give up meat (and dairy and oil and sweets and alcohol and sex), but joining in that practice presupposes a dietary and cooking flexibility that I am not able to accommodate. So Lent in my house for the last few years has meant a sacrifice of time and effort to a worthy cause: cleaning time. For the 40 days of Lent, I concertedly spend extra time cleaning my house as a spiritual discipline. That’s not to say that I don’t clean my house in other seasons—I just do it more attentively in Lent.

Why? I don’t know. Because disciplines are good, and they help form good habits, maybe. I have never in my life been a clean and organized person, so there’s always something that needs more attention. I live in the perpetual hope that one day I might become a clean and organized person. I recognize that order is objectively better than chaos, and especially now that I’m a mom, I don’t want my son to grow up in a house full of chaos. But I think there’s something about cleaning house that’s metaphorically resonant with the practice of the Lenten fast.

(Continue Reading…)

Fab Friday: Essential Baby Gear for 6 Months and Under

I know what you’re thinking—another baby gear list? Yeah, that’s exactly what the internet needs. I know, I know, but give me a chance! My mission here at Thriver Guide is to help find ways to make life easier, more beautiful, and more joyful for those of us with chronic or mental illness, so to that end, this list of baby essentials is something I made with spoonie parents in mind.

Without further ado, here’s this week’s Fab Friday roundup:

These baby essentials saved my sanity when my baby was under six months old!

[Continue Reading…]