A Few Charms (Banner)

A Few Charms (Banner)

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Advice from a fish... and a few flowers

Last week was a rough week. But I wanted to tell you how the "happy little fish" charm helped pull me through.
The happy little fish charm (top left) on my all-silver timebead bracelet.

On Tuesday night my son Mitchell came home from basketball practice with a swollen knee. The next day my husband Mike had an early morning dentist appointment and was out the door before we'd all finished getting dressed. Once our doctor's office was open I called, and they wouldn't be able to see Mitchell (and his knee) til the end of the day. So when my husband got home from his appointment he drove us to the Emergency Room at CHEO (Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario). And hubbie headed back to the dentist - for an emergency root canal! 

My son and I spent the morning moving from one hospital waiting room to the next... triage, registration, ambulatory care, X-ray... and finally a doctor. She said there was nothing broken but Mitchell should stop sports for at least a week and follow up with our family doctor or a sports med doctor.  But he could go back to school.

Add to my crazy Wednesday the fact that Mike was in pain the rest of the day (after the freezing wore off) and had to cancel basketball practice and simply went to bed. Which of course meant I was single parenting the remainder of the day.

So... after such an exhausting day on Wednesday, when the alarm went off on Thursday morning I REALLY wanted to stay in bed. To go back to sleep. And to NOT think about all the things I needed to do! But I decided to listen to my fishy friend here who tells me to "just keep swimming..."

It's kind of like saying, "just keep putting one foot in front of the other," but it's much more fun to picture Dory (from Finding Nemo) and sing along with her! Here's the lyrics so you can sing along too! (WARNING: it might get stuck in your head too)

Hey Mr Grumpy Gills
when life gets you down,
you know what you got to do?

Just keep swimming
Just keep swimming
Just keep swimming swimming swimming

What do we do?
We swim, swim, swim

YouTube video of "Just Keep Swimming" from Finding Nemo 

So on Thursday morning, when I woke up, I reminded myself that I already had a detailed agenda on my phone, with lists of all the things I needed to do. So I trusted. I trusted that if I "just keep swimming..." I will get everything done.

Mitchell was allowed to walk around school but needed a drive TO school. I'd have to email the basketball coach and let him know what happened, because Mitchell couldn't play in the tournament that afternoon. And his Phys. Ed. teacher needed to know he had to sit out gym class and couldn't do outdoor skating. His home room teacher needed to know he couldn't do DPA (daily physical activity) and might need a key for the elevator. And he couldn't participate in the ski club that started that night, so I had to send an email to cancel asap so we could get a refund.

But Mitchell's twin sister Taylor was still going skiing, and over breakfast Thursday morning she reminded me that she'd be leaving right after school, so she needed to bring supper as well as lunch. And she needed to find her snowpants. And warm socks. And she discovered that her warm gloves were now too small (she ended up borrowing my husband's.) And she'd forgotten to put skiing on her agenda, so she hadn't told her tutor that she wasn't coming on Thursdays for the next four weeks. Which meant I should email the tutor, and hope we wouldn't get dinged for the appointments because we gave such short notice.
And wouldn't you know it, just as Mitchell was getting dressed to go outside, he said, "You have to fill those forms out or I can't go to high school!" Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! 

Needless to say, he went without the forms. But I did send an email to this teacher asking her to please reassure Mitchell that he would in fact still get to go to high school if the forms came in the next day.

And... they are out the door!

OK that brings us to 8:00 am. And MY day begins. Remember, "just keep swimming..."

The agenda says clean up the kitchen, do phone calls and email, do your journal work, do your morning exercises, have a shower and get dressed, have a morning snack, "just keep swimming..."

Get ready for your ten o'clock appointment, get your homework done for Thursday night group therapy, get outside for a walk in the snow, "just keep swimming..."

You get the idea!

This happy little guy got me through last week, and many previous situations, oftentimes much more stressful or emotionally difficult. Such simple, yet effective, advice: "just keep swimming..."
In fact, this is what I posted almost three years ago:

I am now 19 weeks symptom-free with my eating disorder - which means no bingeing, purging or restricting. My reward was the "happy fish" charm. I had a bit of a rough week last week - feeling down, discouraged, tired - so the goal was simply to remain symptom-free by telling myself, to quote Dory from Finding Nemo, "just keep swimming..."

When I shared that story about earning my fish charm, someone told me that there will be times when even "just keep swimming..." will feel like too much. At those times, she said, it's ok to simply float!

The large and small blue topaz ribbon flower charms.
And when I think of floating I visualize a flower floating on the surface of the water. It's a little precarious. If you wiggle it too much it will get swamped and go under. If we struggle too much, we can get swamped, go under. Instead. Be still. Just float.
And there have been... oh... a few times in the last three years of my recovery when I had to "just float."
At those times I needed to tell myself that the only goal is to get through this situation. Like a get-together with family members that push my buttons. A difficult medical procedure. A confrontational meeting. A funeral. And at those times I gave myself one of these blue topaz "ribbon flower" charms - just the kind you might want to gently lay in a bowl of water and let it be still. And just float.

Now when I have to get through something difficult I wear these charms, and give them a spin. They remind me that sometimes it's ok to just tread water, just keep your head above water, just don't drown. Be still and just float.

The ribbon flower charms on my Beat the Winter Blues bracelet

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