Self Care is a Primary Focus

 

Navigating today’s pandemic is a complicated mix of what to do and what not to do. It is certainly a stressful time, especially for those of us with teens who have struggled. It all comes down to the basic idea of self care. That term gets used all the time, yet it can be as individual as we are. Self-care is what we make it to be for ourselves.

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Self Care - 133 Things You Can Do
Self Care – 133 Things You Can Do

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What is Self Care?

I refer to an article by By (posted at PyschCentral.com) that defines self-care, called “What Self-Care Is – And What it is Not”. Three key components of self care include: mental, emotional and physical activities that help ground us and make us feel good. The author describes some basics that include proper sleep, nutrition, exercise, relaxing, spending quality time with loved ones, finding enjoyable activities and laughing each day.

In my “normal” list of self care physical activities: I have played tennis and pickle ball, swim, take walks, listen to music, watch light-hearted videos and movies and play the guitar. In today’s world, I can still take walks (so many walks, that my average steps are well over 14,000 per day), and many of my favorite activities, but not all of them.

Under our health orders in our county in CA, there are restrictions involving tennis and pickle ball, and swimming in our public pools. I will get back to those things all in good time and I’m okay with that. My health and those around me is too important to rush it and run into the possibility of more contamination and illness. So I feel good about following the guidelines, mainly because it’s the right thing to do.

My self care has evolved as we navigate our new world. There are so many simple and little pleasures I appreciate and enjoy.

  • Looking at and scanning old photographs
  • Baking my first sour dough bread loaf
  • Planning meals a week out since my shopping is now once a week
  • Planting a few veggies in pots: basil, tomato and padron peppers
  • More Warrior Mom Blog posts perhaps turning into a book…
  • Learning new songs on the guitar

 

Some Ideas to Deal with It All

It is tough to watch the whole world going through this pandemic. It is very sad to hear about the amount of death there has been. I do keep up with news and information, but at some point, we all get saturated and it brings us down. Here are some things I am doing to deal with it all:

  • I try to limit my news watching.
  • I try to find the positive stories of good people helping each other.
  • I try to stick to a routine.
  • I accept that change is always inevitable.
  • I try to connect with friends and family via phone or social media.
  • I try to be understanding to those around me.
  • I try to be mindful to relieve any stress, with breathing and being present.
  • I try to focus on what’s positive around me: the earth is resetting, families are together, solutions are in the works.
  • I like watching funny, creative videos.
  • I am fortunate to be able to keep selling on eBay. The ultimate work from home job!
  • I accept that things are different now vs before the outbreak.
  • I enjoy walking near my house and looking at all the beautiful flowers.
  • I am grateful my son is well and working.

 

The Unknown is Still Unknown

Having been through tough and uncertain times with a struggling teen during the past three years, I draw on the many tools I learned during that time. Just like “we lived our lives” during the past three years, we still don’t know what will happen tomorrow. No one does.

  • We all only have today.
  • One day at a time.
  • We are not alone.

We will get through this AND we need to work at it AND it will take time. (Time is such an odd concept, since we have a lot of that on our hands today.)

Our world has been forced to slow down. There are many people out of work and in need of financial aid. Our health becomes a priority. Staying healthy must include self-care. What does that look like for you?

Things I Want to Add to My Self Care List

  • I want to help others – not sure exactly what that means, but I’m thinking about it.
  • I want to get back to more reading: autobiographies are my top choice. Sally Field’s book is on my list.
  • I want to watch some great, old movies, since Tiger King does not interest me. Perhaps watch AFI’s Top 200 List!
  • I want to make bagels. The sour dough experiment was okay, but I think bagels would be fun!
  • I want to keep sorting and organizing photos and videos. I have so many!
  • I want to write more.
  • Get my bike out and start riding again!
  • Try some new recipes!

Last but not least, I count my blessings every day. It does sometimes feel like we are living in a real life version of “Groundhog Day” (Bill Murray movie), but each day is a gift. I have a loving family and as we continue to hunker down (I do love that expression), we are fortunate to have each other. I am confident that things in our world will evolve into a “new normal” and I am planning to continue with my self care.

 

Hanging in there,

WARRIOR MOM

The One Year Anniversary of My Warrior Mom Life Blog

Happy One Year Anniversary to the Warrior Mom Blog

Happy Anniversary to me! Yes, it’s been one year since The My Warrior Mom Life Blog was launched. I feel fortunate to be able to share my journey with you on this website. It has been a year filled with gratitude,  growth and understanding. I know many of you readers personally and want to thank you for your support. It means the world to me! There are many others of you, whom I have not met, and I am thankful for your readership as well. I hope my blog continues to blossom and grow and that I can touch the lives (in a positive way) of many more parents, who are going through similar situations. Don’t hesitate to share one of my blog posts or a helpful link with anyone on a challenging path with a struggling teenager in their lives. We all know someone who is going through tough times with their teen, don’t we? Don’t be shy about reaching out!

I don’t proclaim to have all the answers. In fact, it’s just the opposite. I, however, have surrounded myself with people who can help my family and me through our not so unusual journey. The list of contributing factors that many of us face range from digital addiction, adoption to ADHD to drugs and school failure and others I have not mentioned. I have been honest and open about the ups and downs my family has experienced and about the many feelings that have come up connected to those times.  I know that sharing it all on this blog has helped me tremendously! I will continue to write openly about our story, as we navigate a world that is more complex than ever before.

For me, at this very moment, I must trust in the process, especially because it involves “radical acceptance” regarding the unknown future that lies ahead. More on that topic in an upcoming blog post. I am also planning to write about school issues, time between visits in seeing our son, time tables for possible upcoming home visits, aftercare, turning the magical age of 18 and other relevant themes regarding treatment.  Believe me, it’s not easy, not having our son at home, but he is safe and doing well at the RTC. There is so much to learn and digest that frankly, I have to acknowledge that TIME is the best healer there is. It is also one of the most anxious making parts of the process. That is the Ying and Yang of it all!

So in conclusion, I’d like to thank you all personally for being a part of my ongoing healing as a parent with a teen who struggles. I look forward to being there for others as you have been there for me. It takes a village and beyond!

Gratefully,

WARRIOR MOM

I Am Thankful
I Am Thankful

The Support System…A Parent’s Lifeline…While Your Kid is in Treatment

Support System

 

As parents we are supposed to care for our kids. We are supposed to teach our kids right from wrong. And we are supposed to be good role models for them in life. Even if all those things are true, as parents we still may need to rely on others for support and strength.

Here is a list of some of the ways I have gotten support during the past year, while my son has been in Wilderness Therapy and at his current placement, an RTC (Residential Treatment Center) in Utah. I will add other resourses to this post in the future. I would love to hear from fellow parents! Please chime in below, in the Comment Section ​because it does “take a village”!
What are your lifelines and support systems?

1. Therapist – A parent needs someone to talk to who is unrelated to the day to day drama we face when our kids are struggling. A good therapist is trained to help parents navigate all the ups and downs we feel when we can’t “fix things” for our teenagers and when life’s challenges are too much to bare. Yes, your kid may need help but it starts with you! Find a good therapist.

2. Education Consultant – Here is another major player in the puzzle of helping your struggling teen. Ed Consultants know all the programs that are available out there. They have visited many of them and keep connected with the staff and administrations of Wilderness Programs, Therapeutic Boarding Schools (TBS), Residential Treatment Centers (RTC), Step Downs and Young Adult (18-26 yrs) Programs. A parent just can not make important decisions without the guidance and expertise of an Ed Consultant. It is important to note that judging a program based on their website alone, is not wise. A talented graphic web designer can make a program’s website look beautiful, but the staff and location is what makes your child’s placement a good fit. The Education Consultant will cost you on the front end of the process, but they are essential at all stages of your journey. A must-have component on your team!

3. Local Meet-Up Parent Support Group – For some folks, this may come in the form of a local Al-Anon group meeting (which I have attended). You can google to see what’s available in your area and find out times and locations for those meetings. For me however, I found that a more specifically directed group for parents of kids in Wilderness, TBS and RTCs was just what I needed. There is a local group in the San Francisco Bay Area is called WILLOWS IN THE WIND. They have an additional new meeting location in Broomfield, CO as well. Willows in the Wind is a 501(c)3 non-profit that supports parents and families who are looking for more information of what’s out there in the way of help or currently have teens and young adults in treatment programs. They have three Bay Area meeting locations: Oakland, Los Altos Hills and San Rafael, CA. Visit their website for more information. It is a safe place with lots of support for parents of troubled teens!

4. Berkeley Parents NetworkBPN is a non-profit online forum for parents who live in the SF Bay Area. Members share advice with other parents about all sorts of topics including parenting, schools, health, career, relationships, travel, and local businesses and services. It has been helpful to me for gathering information and links to other resources, especially when info may be difficult to find. (It is how I found Willows in the Wind!) It is not necessary for you to live in the SF Bay Area to use the website. Many of the posts are older, from the past few years, but it can still be helpful to read those posts on the related topics of Wilderness, Ed Consultants and RTCs for a perspective on how others have handled different problems and their personal situations.

5. W.A.B. Connect Wilderness And Beyond – WAB is an emotional support group with a new website and a weekly parent participation phone call. It began in 2017 by two sets of families who wanted to share their experiences of what therapeutic wilderness was like for them, as well as what follows, with other parents by forming connections. The individual stories may be different but it is very powerful to hear from others going through similar situations, including their wins and set-backs. Weekly call topics and notes as well as a blog are on the website. This awesome group of parents will prove to you that you are NOT alone. It provides a safe place to share, listen and learn from others with adolescents and young adult children at every stage of treatment.

Letter Writing

6. Letter Writing – Every week my son writes us a letter. These letters are part of the therapy assignments in Wilderness and at the RTC. It has become such an important weekly connection for us and we truly look forward to receiving the email version of his handwritten letter at the beginning of the week. We answer him back, usually on Thursdays with a typed letter that we send to his therapist, who prints it out on the other end to give to him. Our son’s letters are not very long and his penmanship is rather sloppy and rushed, but we’ve encouraged him to add more content in the letters to create a back and forth dialog. We put a lot of thought and effort into our replies to his letters. Sometimes we keep it light, but the letters are always encouraging and positive. I have saved a copy of all the letters and plan to put them into a three ring binder to save for posterity. Letter writing has become such a lost art in communication these days. I treasure the chance to re-read each one and actually hold that piece of paper in my hand. Yes, it’s old fashioned but it has a value that can not be underestimated. It becomes something to look forward to, rather than the quick rewards of the instant gratification of texting or phone calls. One could even say it builds character.

7. Blogging – I don’t know what I would have done this past year, if I hadn’t started writing this blog. It has been a highlight of the challenging (yet full of growth) year we’ve had. I feel good after each time I hit “publish”. I’ve learned so much about myself and realize how fortunate I am to have so many family members and friends let me know that they have read what I’ve written. I know some of you have not gone through many of the experiences that my family has, but you continue to show me how much you care and are rooting for us at every turn. I also love receiving comments from all of you after I publish my posts. It is a rather public forum, but I know my sharing has helped others. I have spoken to many of you on the phone. I’ve walked and talked with a few of you. I have had coffee and met some of you in person. I plan to continue to blog because it has become an essential release for my feelings and emotions.

Bonus tip: (For those who are not in the position to blog, keep a journal…same idea, and a bit more private! Get your thoughts out of your head and write them down! Try it, you’ll like it!)

Self Care

8. Self-Care – This is an important one! Exercising, eating right and getting enough sleep will allow you to function at a higher level when stress and worry take over your whole being. It can be a simple walk. I have enjoyed swimming, tennis and pickle ball. Others might prefer yoga and meditation. Whatever you choose, do it regularly and if possible daily! As parents we will not be able to offer anything to our kid’s treatment program if we are unable to get out of bed and are stuck in a frozen state. It might not be easy, but do one thing per day. Put it on the calendar or call a friend and make a firm date to do something you enjoy. It will allow you to come back to the riggers of parenting while your kid is in treatment!

9. Connections – Without connections, a support system can not work. Everyday I meet people who may not know my family’s story and when I have a chance to build a new or stronger connection, I am lifted up by the openness and kindness I receive. I have shared with grocery checkers at my local Safeway. I have shared with other parents and lots of friends who are too shy to ask. I try to be appropriate and not “over share”, but that’s what’s great about having connections first, the realization that everyone’s got something they struggle with. And you don’t know what someone else is going through, if they don’t tell you. So be brave: connect. Then share, then breathe, then let go. Take it slowly. One step at a time. One day at a time. Whatever it is that you are going through, you are not alone. And you can get through it!

10. Books – There are so many good ones. Here’s one that I have read and got a lot out of it and was also recommended by a Mom from Oakland, CA:

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Zen Rocks
Zen Rocks

The 4th of July Without Fireworks

Rattlesnake

We had plans to go to our cabin for the 4th of July. Originally it was supposed to be with our son and a friend and her mom, but since we had a massive change of events, it became a small family gathering. We did have one uninvited guest. Just before our first weekly phone call with our son’s wilderness therapist, a rattlesnake showed up near an old BBQ pit by the cabin.

A rattlesnake always adds a high level of excitement to anyone’s day, that’s for sure. We had the call and then dealt with the snake later. Well, I actually took pictures from inside the window of the capture and re-location. The snake now has a new home six miles away from the cabin and was last seen happily slithering down a hill. Disaster diverted!

The call went well. We liked his new therapist and felt that we could all do some good work together. It was not going to be easy or quick, but baby steps in a structured environment. We would be receiving letters from our son during his first few weeks of wilderness to help everyone ease into a new “normal”. We in turn would answer back. It was old fashioned communication at it’s best. His letters were handwritten and we were pleasantly surprised at his “nice” printing and how legible it actually was. We complemented him on what a good writer he was. It had been a long time since we had seen any of his school work, so we had no idea he could write that way.

As I look back on that particular week, I remember feeling very emotional and “raw” inside. I went swimming at the local pool everyday. It is a huge, old time pool with a one foot shallow end that goes up to nine feet in the deep end and has a diving board to boot. I tried to take in the beauty of the local mountains near the cabin and relax as best I could. It was a really “weird” time, but our son was safe and we were all adjusting to our “new” surroundings.

There were no fireworks for us on this particular 4th of July, that is, the kind we had been dealing with from his behavior at home. It was a new beginning, a re-boot, a time for healing. Our son’s sixteenth birthday was coming up. How would that be for him in the wilderness? How would it be for us, without him at home? Come back to find out!

Feeling relief and rebuilding new strength,

WARRIOR MOM

Old fashioned swimming pool

Walking on Fridays

Walking on Fridays
Twinkles the Jack Russell

One of the self-care ideas I had was to start a walk on Fridays for anyone with anything that they were battling. My family’s personal struggle is too much technology started taking over our lives. I’ve had a few different folks join me, but one stand-out friend who comes religiously! We need more people like that in the world, believe you me!

My doggy loves to come along and I like any excuse to walk her. My friend and I chat about what’s new in my family’s journey and other pressing events. During our walk on this particular Friday morning, I got a call from a number in Idaho.
“I better answer it”, I said.  It was the Wilderness Program, saying “Everything was fine”, but wanted to know if I had received the “parent packet and log-in info for the website”.
“YES, I had”. I neglected to respond back to their email, so they were checking to be sure.
Communication, check!

“Oh, also to let you know your son did well last night (his first in the wilderness) and he participated in the evening group chat, but was a little quiet.” What a relief to hear that news! It was still a little bit hard to grasp that we did in fact send our almost 16 year old off to a wilderness program, out of state. I needed all the good news I could get! And so the walk continued.

I have many people who virtually walk with us on Fridays too! Sometimes I’ll FaceTime them or text them as I am starting or finishing to include their energy and support. I know there are people who wish they join us, but because of distance or other restrictions, can’t make it. I just want you all to know that I’ll be walking every week for you, even if you can’t be there in person.

Staying strong and still walking,

WARRIOR MOM

Self Care to the Rescue

My self care pool

The weeks following our Spring Break Disneyland trip were up and down and it became very clear that we needed to take care of ourselves. I asked my therapist what exactly does “take care of yourself” really mean? She explained it was about doing things that you like, along with getting plenty of exercise. I’ve also heard it explained like when the flight attendant tells parents to put the oxygen mask on first, then assist your child. You come first, or you can’t help your kid!

The community pool up the street re-opened in April. I began swimming in that pool five to six days a week. My routine was not hard core, but a slow and steady series of laps that were more like “water aerobics”. Sitting elementary back stroke, breast stroke and a rock climbing motion through the water were just a few of the moves I did. I would increase my time each day until I reached an average of 45 minute work-outs. Boy, did I feel good after getting out of the pool. The water had a calming effect that I was craving. It was my much needed escape.

Another activity that I enjoy is shooting baskets. So after leaving the neighborhood pool, I would pass a school yard that had many basketball hoops. What do you know? There were some basketballs lying around. So, I started to shoot. First close up shots, then free-throws and then further away, three point style. I didn’t make them all, but I shot and shot until I made 50 points (25 baskets). That activity felt good too. I was beginning to get the idea of self-care.

Self Care includes shooting baskets

I was actually enjoying myself in the middle of a “teenage storm” at our house. I still felt crummy a lot of the time, but as I tried to “be in the moment” and “put one foot in front of the other”.  I was beginning to feel a little bit of relief, too. In fact, I highly recommend that you find your own personal activities to aid you in the self-help arena. What types of activities or hobbies give you pleasure? What is something that you’ve always wanted to take up? Or, what things have you put aside from your past that you can re-kindle? I was finally understanding what people meant when they told me “take care of yourself”.

Keeping my eye on the ball!

WARRIOR MOM