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A Banner Day

I woke up at 6:30 this morning and am writing this post at 9 p.m. In between those times, the only times I sat down were riding in the car and for a 10-minute phone call with Hart. And I felt good all day.

I’m visiting my sister and her family this week. She has been likened to a hurricane. This combined with her kids’ (who are seven, nine and 11) energy can be overwhelming even on the best days. Not only did I take it in stride today, I kept up with them.

My pain level has been so low and my energy so high today that I didn’t think to worry about overdoing it. Just now, looking at previous posts that have mentioned my sister, I came across this from last summer:

. . . I realized just how counterproductive it was to push myself. (OK, I’ve realized this a thousand times already, but it’s a revelation every time.) I had made myself feel worse than when I started and I had no energy for the rest of the day.

. . . And it reminded me again of the lesson I should have learned by now. Don’t push it. It always backfires. Always.

There it is in writing — I know I should know better. The temptation to squeeze a little bit more fun into a good day is irresistible.

Now I’m going to do my best to be sure I don’t pay interest on the time I took today. The kids don’t have school tomorrow so I can sleep in and take it easy in the morning. I even have a new pillow so maybe my neck won’t ache in the night.

I so desperately want to prove last summer’s proclamation wrong.

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Hot

I have a couple strict rules for myself: 1) Don’t go to Whole Foods, Target or Trader Joe’s after 10 a.m. on Fridays. 2) Don’t run errands if the temperature is higher than 85 degrees. Not only did I break both rules on Friday, when the high was 95 degrees, I went to Whole Foods, Target and Trader Joe’s.

I was hot, my head hurt and I was grumpy. By the time I got home, I was really, really hot; really, really annoyed; and had a really, really bad headache that was probably triggered by the heat. So what did I do? I cleaned the house and worked on my computer (in the hottest room in the house). Dumb, dumb, dumb.

Once I descended into the blissful cool of the basement, I realized just how counterproductive it was to push myself. (OK, I’ve realized this a thousand times already, but it’s a revelation every time.) I had made myself feel worse than when I started and I had no energy for the rest of the day. The sofa in our musty unfinished basement became my friend and I watched baseball on my laptop. All the while stressed because I had to pack to go to my sister’s house the next day.

There’s really no point in continuing the story. I got hot and overdid it on Friday and again on Saturday. I would have done the same on Sunday, but Hart and I hung out in my sister’s air conditioned house while she and her family were at a pool party.

My sister apologized repeatedly for not entertaining us. We were actually perfectly happy — we got to lie around and didn’t think about the housework we weren’t doing because we were three hours from home. And it reminded me again of the lesson I should have learned by now. Don’t push it. It always backfires. Always.

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Walking the Tightrope

I have errands to run. I’m wiped out a little headachy. Perhaps that’s because I have run errands, cleaned, gardened, painted and sanded in the last three days. But I’ve also read, talked on the phone and watched baseball, which I thought would count toward staving off exhaustion.

No matter how well I think I ration my energy, I keep falling off the tightrope. Last week was as busy as this week, except that I didn’t rest at all. Last Wednesday I was drained and spent most of the day reading. Thursday I had a killer headache. I thought I did better this week, but the results are the same.

There are all sorts of metaphors for not depleting oneself (energy units, points, credits, spoons, marbles, dollars). These are great guiding principles; it’s putting them into practice that’s tough. I can list everything I do and try to assign worth to each one, but where do those values come from?

Will going to Macy’s, the appliance store (still looking for a range that fits), and the natural foods store have equal costs? Should I take fluorescent lighting and my expected level of frustration into account? Is the value of stopping at the tea shop on the way home positive or negative?

Even though I’m a Libra, balance has always eluded me. When it’s baked goods and multiple cappuccinos in one day, this isn’t too bad. When it’s my body, pain and happiness, I need to exchange the net under the tightrope for a trampoline.

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You Pay for What You Get

Saturday I drove the 2.5 hours to my sister’s house so I could spend the rest of the weekend with her family and my dad, who is visiting from Phoenix. It was a hard week and I didn’t know on Saturday morning if that day’s headache would get better, worse or stay the same. Thankfully it got better as I drove; we had a nice day and all tucked in to bed by 10 p.m.

Which is when I realized that I didn’t have my glasses with me. Or a change of contacts. I wear daily disposable contacts which don’t “keep” overnight, in my eyes or in solution. And my eyes are really, really bad, so I knew my sister’s optometrist wouldn’t have any in stock, nor would I be able to do anything other than stare off into space the next day.

My only option was to drive back home right then. Not too much of a problem because I was wide awake and don’t normally fall asleep until midnight. Except that when I hit the road I remembered that I’d already taken my meds, including the ones to help me sleep. I stopped at Safeway for supplies, then had to decide which was worse, going to a rest stop at midnight because I drank two Frappucinos or taking 200 mg of caffeine.

I made the wrong decision by starting with the Frappucinos, which were so sweet that I couldn’t get halfway through either one. So I took the caffeine pill.

The drive went fine. I wasn’t wired, nor was I falling asleep. It helps that I love road trips and I had six of my favorite band’s CDs in the car. But the whole time I wondered how much I would pay for messing with my body so late at night.

Sunday morning was promising. Hart and I went out for coffee and bagels, after which I had no energy and an ugly headache. I took it easy all day, hoping that I could ward off any more damage. Ha!

The pain was high when I went to sleep and I woke up on Monday with lie-in-bed-wanting-to-scream-but-not-daring-to-move pain. I hate to tempt fate and say that it was a 10 (Do I really know what the worst pain imaginable is? If I call this one a 10, will the next one go to 11?), so I’ll call it a 9.75. Needless to say, it was a terrible, no good, very bad day. Amazingly, this morning the hangover is pretty light and the pain is only a 3.

Of course I’d pay for the energy needed to drive home on Saturday night. That’s just the way it goes (see the spoon theory). I hoped sacrificing Sunday would be the only toll, but that was wishful thinking. I expected three or four days of 7 or 8 level pain, not one of 7 and 8 and the next of almost 10. I guess it all evens out, but I thought the give and take was more predictable.

As I type, I feel the shadow of a hangover growing. Maybe today won’t be as easy as I hoped. Especially because I’ll spend the entire day reminding myself that I’m paying for what I got.

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Balance? Yeah, Right

I’m totally and completely exhausted. I hoped that after the party I hosted last night, I’d be able to share tips on entertaining without overdoing it. Instead, I’m too tired and in too much pain to write much.

I thought I was doing a pretty good job of self-regulating. I got back from two weeks of traveling on Friday, the last week spent with my high-energy sister and her three kids. Then starting Monday morning, I cooked and cleaned pretty much non-stop until late last night. Within 15 minutes of people arriving at the party, my head was screaming and all I wanted to do was crawl in bed.

I’ve realized that my new boundaries keep me from stressing out while I prepare to entertain, which was previously my M.O., but they don’t keep me from working too hard. So I was totally calm while I shredded chicken and scrubbed the floor (not at the same time), but I never took a break. It’s interesting to make this distinction. Maybe it will help me figure out the right balance one day.

I did learn some great ways to simplifying cooking for a party, but I have to save them for another day. I need to lie on the couch for now.