I hope you are all well and tucked into your homes. I have made a new video for you that I hope will be helpful to anybody experiencing mental or emotional distress during this time - it's called the Window of Tolerance. I hope this is helpful!
For those of you who are curious, here is a wonderful list of easy grounding exercises from livingwell.org:
I hope this all helps! I'll make a breathing video for you all as well, so expect it in a day or two. If you would like receive notifications of these blog posts, please subscribe to this blog - just scroll up to find the subscribe button.
So much love to you all,
Wow, the collective energy of humanity is CRAZY right now!! If you find yourself getting carried away, or you want some more strategies on how to care for your mental and emotional state during this challenging time, then this video is for you. No makeup, in my sweats, bringing real talk to you.
If you are a female veterinarian and want to sign up for the virtual women's veterinary retreat and 4 months of personalized coaching with me (WHAT THE WHAT??) that I mentioned in the video, or you just want to learn more about the retreat, click here to visit the website.
PS - it is RACE approved for 11 hours of veterinary continuing education, so that is always a bonus. Imjistsayin'...
So much love,
Dr. Sarah Wooten
Did you know?
One of the best kept secrets in the universe is that engaging in feelings and thoughts of gratitude and appreciation can change your life.
Of course it is easy to be grateful and appreciative when things are going your way, but what about when it is hard? Or when you are angry? Or scared? Or frustrated?
The truth is that gratitude and appreciation are even more powerful in situations that are perceived as unpleasant. Sometimes the only thing you can change is your perception - and when your perception of something changes even though the situation itself hasn't changed, that shows maturity.
Believe me, I know this can be realllllyyyyy hard to do, especially if you are really struggling. If you find yourself in a situation where all you can see is the negative, do your very best to find one positive thing about the situation. If you quiet yourself and breathe, you will see that one thing. And finding that one thing will shift your perspective, and perspective my friends, is everything.
I don't have much more to write today, but I did film a little video for you. Enjoy it, and find the joy in today!!
Dr. Sarah Wooten
PS = if you are interested in learning more about the virtual veterinary illuminating women's retreat that I mentioned in the video, click here!
Hello there my lovely humans!
Hope you are well and enjoying your down time. How is your self care? Self care is a survival strategy, and is so so important!
Self care can look like:
1. staying hydrated - drink 2 liters a day
2. breathing deep (check out this blog post for breathing exercises that can calm down your nervous system)
3. moving your body - walking outside, pushups, yoga, impromptu dance parties)
4. eating healthy food
6. limiting and being mindful about your social media and news consumption
7. going outside and getting Vitamin D
9. cooking with your family
10. hugging your family
11. virtually connecting with friends and family
12. being gentle with yourself, extending grace to yourself and others
13. noticing your thoughts and feelings, letting them be there, realizing you are not your thoughts
14. if the thoughts scare you, choosing a thought that feels just a little bit better
17. being the change you want to see in the world
18. loving your pets, walking your dog
Speaking of pets I made a short video giving you the most uptodate COVID-19 information I have. Give it a watch, and let me know how you are doing in the comments. Share your self care strategies!!
So much love to you all,
Dr. Sarah Wooten
Hello my fellow humans!
I hope you are doing well today - caring for yourself and your loved ones, resting, creating, reading, appreciating this day. It is certainly a weird time, but, as Olaf in Frozen II sings, "This will all make sense when I am older!"
(I thought the moment he whispered 'Samantha' down the hole was one of the funniest moments in the movie, but anyways...)
Enough about Frozen 2. Today we are going to talk about managing one of the only things you can in this present time and space, and you probably already guessed what that is...that ONE THING is YOU.
Let's talk about your mind.
So - bad news - you can not able to control what thoughts pop into your head.
Good news - you can choose whether you will focus on those thoughts, or not.
Our minds are constantly seeking solutions, responding to outside stimuli, learning, relearning, practicing mental habits that have been hardwired, etc. Our minds are dynamic, miraculously machines, and are constantly rewiring themselves in response to outside stimuli (don't believe me? Google neuroplasticity).
If you have a history of dwelling on negative or scary things, then crazy thing is that is what your mind thinks you want to think about. Wanting to please us, your mind will automatically start bringing you more of those nasty thoughts because that is the mental pathway you have prepaved with previous thoughts, feelings, and actions. Then, not wanting to be left out, your body gets involved and send you all kinds of messages that your sympathetic system (fight, flight, or freeze) has been activated - feelings like dread, or a pit in your stomach, or nausea, or increased heart rate and blood pressure, etc. THEN your brain will reinforce those bodily sensations with more scary thoughts, and the body will respond, and around and around you will go on the catastrophe merry-go-round.
Its an absolute mind-body-cluster fuck.
God's Honest Truth: If you are filling your mind with scary news, or if you are surrounded by fearful people, or if your social media is filled with negative, inflammatory doomsday crap or fake news then your mind is going to create a reality around that input, and it's not going to be pretty. In fact, it is probably going to drag you down into a cesspool of fear, negativity, anxiety, grief, overwhelment, and paralyzing panic, because that is what you have trained your nervous system and mind to do.
If you are like most people, you are conditioned to base your conception of reality and what will happen in the future on what the news or internet says. And you know what I say?
That is horseshit.
Look around you. Are you physically threatened right NOW, as you are reading this article? The answer is probably no. Are you worried about the future? The answer is probably yes...and I am going to tell you a little secret that only leading edge quantum psychologists know:
Fear of the future is a deep trance, and you are unknowingly caught in it.
Here is a truth about the homo sapien sapien:
One of the basic human needs is the need of certainty. We, as a species, don't like NOT knowing what is going on. It really irritates our root chakra (don't know what that is? Click here) and makes us feel anxious and unsafe. Then we get in our heads and start to imagine all sorts of awful outcomes. When this happens, in our mind we actually time travel to some awful future where our doom lies, and then we suffer. We suffer mentally, we suffer emotionally, which then manifests as physically suffering and a whole host of stress-related disorders because our bodies can't tell the difference between actual reality and our imagination of this awful future. We aren't present - we are mentally time traveling in some horrid future.
This mental trick actually has a name: it a type of deep trance phenomena called psuedo-orientation in time that many people are unknowingly living in right now. It's like a spell that is cast over us, and we mentally don't know how to get out.
We suffer when we mentally time travel, in the form of regret or loss when we think about the past, or in the form of worry or anxiety when we think about the future. If you suffered any kind of trauma as a kid, unless you have had a ton of therapy and healed, you unconsciously drag your traumas with you into the present, creating a blanket, negative association to the future.
Bad news AND good news:
If you are a chronic worrier about the future (like me) then you have built some pretty deep mental ruts in your mind that are going to take some conscious practice to overcome, but there are ways to do this, and if you are diligent, your mind will respond quickly. You train your own mind the same way you train a dog. If you want a different outcome, you need some different mental, emotional, and physical habits.
Here are some tips on how to get out of the deep trance phenomena of psuedo-orientation in time:
1. Realize that in reality, the only thing that actually exists is RIGHT NOW.
Anyone who has read Eckart Tolle's 'The power of now' knows what I am talking about. Want to stop worrying? Get out of your head, stop time traveling, and get PRESENT. NOW is the only thing that exists - everything else is in our collective imagination (and remember - worry is a misuse of the imagination).
If you find yourself anxious about the future, gently become aware of the thoughts and feelings (before they get carried away). Allow them to be present, don't fight them, just notice them, and then redirect your focus to your present environment. This involves forcibly directing your attention to physical things in your present space and noting them. Lamp. Shoes. Dog. Glass. Flower. Whatever.
By doing this, you are taking control of the power of your focus and redirecting it back to the present moment. While you are doing this, consciously breathe deeply (like I described in this post). Do this for at least 1 minute, preferably 2. The purpose of this is to retrain your brain to stop circulating shitty, scary thoughts about the future and instead, calm itself and develop new neural pathways and habits of thought.
2. Flip the Script.
Now that you know you are fixated upon some catastrophic future, train yourself to imagine the opposite.
So, I own restaurants, and they are currently closed due to state mandated health regulations in regards to the virusthatshallnotbenamed. These restaurants are our livelihood. I could imagine all sorts of awful things for the future (and believe me, I am good at that), but instead of catastrophizing, what if instead, I flip the script?
Instead of "OMG we are ruined. How are we ever going to recover from this" I could think "I am so grateful for this time to slow down. My family was exhausted. I know that we are all in this together, and we already have strategies in place to recover. We are going to come back better, stronger, and more prosperous than before".
Instead of "OMG the sky is falling and society is over and I better buy toilet paper!!" I could think "Wow. The earth really needed this. This could be the reset button that humanity needed to evolve, be healthier, and more cooperative as a species. I am thankful for this day."
See the difference?
So, when you find yourself riding the hamster wheel of some negative thought, challenge yourself to think the exact OPPOSITE thought (even if you don't believe it...do it anyway). You will have to do this a lot at first, but over time, it becomes your mind's new habit.
Really want to pour gas on this idea? Pair that thought with how you imagine you will feel having that in your reality. Ohhhhh. Feelssss goooooooood.
That's where the magic is, folks. You perception is 9/10s of reality, and in every situation, there are two polar opposite ways to approach it, and whichever approach you mentally take will influence the outcome. You are powerful. Get control over you mind, stop imagining a terrible future, and start imagining a beautiful reset and recovery. of both humanity and our planet.
Remember - when you worry about the future you are unconsciously projecting your own awareness into the future. When you have a constant fear of negative outcomes, you know that you have created a deep trance of pseudo-orientation in time that is running in automatic in the background of your brain. Control, alt, delete that shit.
It's going to take a bit to get this going, and you make not notice you are mentally time traveling until you are in it or after you did it, but as soon as you know you can start using the tools I listed above. Above all, do not get frustrated with yourself for being in a deep trance of fear - its just some outdated mental programming. Be gentle with yourself, don't get mad or frustrated with yourself, because that will reinforce the negative thought patterns. Instead, bring your attention to the tools I listed above, and watch your mind transform. A belief is just a thought that is constantly held in the mind, and the good news is that minds can be changed.
Consciously interrupt unhelpful mental patterns, and you will change your life. I look forward to hearing about how you are all taking control of your mental landscapes and thus changing our world for the better.
If you find you can't even with any of this, please contact a mental health professional immediately. You don't have to do this alone. I am NOT a mental health professional, I am just sharing what has helped me.
So much love to you all,
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Thank you for taking time to read my words. We are all being collectively challenged right now. While this is ultimately going to be good for our species, in the meantime it can be frightening, frustrating, and uncertain.
It is very important to care for yourself during this time. This means caring for yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. During trying times, selfcare can really fall off as not important, but that is the opposite of what you need to do. Your body and mind are some of your greatest assets, and you will need to keep your body healthy and your wits about you.
In addition, if you are constantly stressed and fearful, you are stressing your own body constantly with showers of stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline. This will weaken your immune system, your digestive system, your heart, your muscles, your ability to think clearly - pretty much everything will go to shit. Fear can also also create psychosomatic symptoms that can mimic the signs of flu, and can give you stress pooping (just like in dogs and cats after they are at the vet hospital or boarding! I had a lot of that during this week, which was just a sign that I was not mindfully managing my body.
So....you gotta calm down and take care of yourself. For the sake of yourself, and the sake of others.
Here are some things that you can do:
1. Go for 2 30 minute walks per day, while practicing social distancing to keep others safe. If you have a dog, walk the dog. It's good for you both.
2. Reduce social media and news consumption - check in once or twice a day, and that is it. If the news is very triggering to you, have somebody else check for you and give you any updates you actually need. If your social media has negative and triggering postings, feel free to snooze or unfollow people. You don't have to partake in collective negativity, and you are not designed to be a receptacle of constant global news.
3. Stay connected to friends and loved ones as much as possible, while practicing physical distance to keep others safe. Remember - you aren't quarantining yourself. You aren't sick. You are being socially responsible by keeping your distance for a little while.
4. Notice your thoughts and feelings. If you have anxious feelings, where are they in your body? How do they feel? Notice them, let them be, and don't judge them. They are just trying to keep you safe. Notice your anxious thoughts, don't judge them. Notice if they are paired with any feelings in your body or any emotions. Refrain from judging yourself if you have negative thoughts or feelings, instead just notice them and be extra kind to yourself in that moment. This is called practicing lovingkindness to yourself, and you really need it and deserve it.
5. If you notice anxious thoughts or feelings, BREATHE. Breathing is POWERFUL. It can ramp up your stress hormones, or it can put your stress system back to sleep. Deep, slow breaths send a signal to your brain that all is calm. Shallow or fast breathing tells your brain that it is being threatened and needs to run. You can put your own stress system back to sleep with just breathing. It's amazing. Just try it - you will be surprised at how much calm and personal mastery you can create with just your breath. You have to do it for 1-2 minutes for it to really work. Here are a couple of resources for different breathing techniques:
4 7 8 breathing
Remember - your body or mind may not cooperate with you at first because you have trained it to engage in fearful thoughts, feelings, and stress. You will have to overcome your initial tendency to jump into panic mode, and instead, MINDFULLY use your will to breathe and calm down.
You will not serve anyone, including yourself, if you are in panic mode.
Worry is a misuse of our imagination.
We can retrain our minds to respond differently in challenging situations. Look at this as an opportunity to develop self mastery - there is no better school than the earth plane, ammiright?
We will get through this and together, we will be better on the other side.
If you have any other resources you use to stay calm in this time, please share them in the comment section.
I will be posting here frequently. If this was helpful and you would like more encouragement and resources, please subscribe - just scroll up - it's on the right hand side.
So much love to you all.
Dr. Sarah Wooten
No one ever goes to vet school to create a game...but that is exactly what I did.
Ok, ok. That is not entirely true. I didn't got to vet school to make a game. I went to vet school because I thought my life mission was to help animals.
It turns out that my life mission was to help people, and when I tuned into my purpose, Vets Against Insanity sprang out the ether and into the hands of veterinary professionals around the world.
Let me back up.
About 5 years ago I started speaking on the veterinary conference circuit on things like customer service, self care, and professional development. One of my most favorite speaking gigs are the WVDLI sessions at the veterinary Fetch conferences every year. These are my favorites because I have the opportunity to share the stage with amazing female cospeakers AND the conference facilitators let me go hog wild with creativity. To name a few o the wacky activities we have faciliated have included playing 'never have I ever', marched in circles to Kesha's "woman", choreographed power poses, and chose our own adventures.
4 years ago, I was brainstorming in a zoom meeting with Caitlin DeWilde and Karen Bradley (my bad ass sisters from another mother and awesome leaders and business women in their own rights) about new ideas to facilitate adult learning for the upcoming year. I believe I blurted out, "What if we play a game? Like a dirty card game, but the vet version. I just. maybe. think we could use it to teach self care and leadership issues."
God bless those women...they said, "Go for it."
So we did. I cobbled together an initial set of question and answer cards, and sent it over to Caitlin, who fleshed out the answers, magicked the content into Canva, and printed out a couple of initial decks at Kinkos.
Bingo. We had cards, we had teaching material, and we had our charisma. Now we just needed the buyin from the veterinary attendees.
The first time we brought the cards to conference and played the game, I'm not gonna lie, it was rough. I was nervous about what people would think. Were the cards too dirty or 'out there?' Had I finally crossed the line? Would I ever get asked to speak again? The first time, I had a small group of attendees sit up front and play the game for the audience, but it just didn't seem to click. The next time, I handed out answer cards to every person in the audience, threw the questions up on the screen, and then handed the microphone around so that everyone could read their answers to the questions. On the microphone. In front of perfect strangers.
The results were straight up hilarious.
Some people had never been on a microphone. Some people could not understand their answers. Some people were embarrassed to read theirs, but to the hilarity of all (their's included) managed to blurt out things like 'electroejaculator' or 'pull it out before she swallows'.
(It's a reference to an endotracheal tube...you dirty, dirty minds.)
Over and over the room would erupt with laughter, and as they did, the creativity and bravado of the attendees came alive. People had so much fun with it!
We played it over and over, and the rooms began to fill up, until 100s of people were showing up to play the game. At the end of the conference season, DVM360 approached us and asked us if we would like to publish the game.
We published the game, offered it for sale, and completely sold out the first printing within weeks.
That morphed into more teaching sessions with the game, then sponsored game nights at veterinary conferences where perfect strangers would play the game together, laugh their asses off, and be friends by the end of the night. Then came the extension decks...x-rated, vet techs, vet moms. Nothing was sacred, everything was on the table, and it was awesome.
So that's the story of Vets Against Insanity, a game created by two veterinary moms with really twisted minds and an insider view of what it means to be a veterinary professional.
How does that help people?
Well...our profession has been pretty down in the dumps. We don't make a lot of money. A lot of us are up to our eyeballs in student debt. We work long hours at a dangerous job (that we still, somehow love). We deal with emotionally reactive people all day long. We can't save some animals. We euthanize animals. We watch people grieve over and over. We get bullied by our clients when all we want to do is help. We are burnt out and on the edge. We feel isolated and hopeless and too many of us end our lives too soon.
The game, I believe, is a tool for well being and connection. It gives people a chance to laugh and commiserate about a shared challenge. It makes us feel in the know and not so alone. It helps us laugh at something that might otherwise break us. It brings joy to the point of tears (and some peeing. I'm serious. Do your kegels...ladies).
I have sat at game nights watching people playing the game and almost cried with gratitude at the fun and creativity that was generated. I have felt overwhelmed by love and joy at the privilege of bringing something to my colleagues and coworkers that makes them laugh so much. I feel like in some small way, Caitlin and I made a positive difference for veterinarians and veterinary care teams all over, and that makes me feel like I did something good.
And now you know. :-)
If you want to purchase the game for yourself or someone you love (or the extension decks, vet moms is my personal favorite), visit www.vetsagainstinsanity.com
Much love and thank you for reading,
Thank you so much for stopping by to read my blog. I confess, this blog has been sadly neglected by me for quite some time. I've been on an epic journey and had many excuses for why I was not sharing myself through writing. Here I am, though, sitting down, forcing my fingers to click out words.
I stopped writing from my heart 7 years ago because the last time I did, I got punished...BIG TIME. I was hurt, my loved ones were hurt, I was financially threatened, and we were thrown into the outer darkness.
It sucked. Without getting into details and dragging the past into the present (because who has time for that?), I felt to blame (I wasn't), I punished myself relentless (I shouldn't have), and my muse disappeared. *poof* She gone.
I didn't want to blog again. My inspiration vanished. I didn't want to write or attract attention by sharing my heart, and get hurt again. It wasn't safe. So I wrote for hire - shielding myself behind my DVM degree and getting paid to write about animal topics. It was safe, it was lucrative, and I mostly enjoyed it because I was helping others.
And yet people continued to ask me when I was going to blog again. They missed the real me. It was annoying. I refused.
Fast forward 7 years. Here I am. I'm older, wiser, stronger, richer, more compassionate to others and myself, a bad ass warrior banshee to the core, and really (truly) have nothing to lose. I've gone to hell and back, faced my demons and unhealed parts of myself, bathed in forgiveness, and against all odds, I'm still here.
So maybe...just maybe it's time to write again about the things I really, really care about. Yes...I care about healthy pets....but even more than that I care about healthy humans. I have come here to this planet to heal myself, and in the process, heal others. I'm waking up, and I'm figuring out my life mission. I am not impressed and I am, at my best, unapologetic and unafraid. It is an exhilarating, free, and kinda dangerous place to be...but who has time for anything else?
So....to anybody who might be reading out there, thank you. I am not sure how many blog posts are going to come out of me, that's up to the muse, and she will not inspire if I am stressed or hurried, which tends to be my default nature. I'm working on that, and I've come a long way, but I have a long way to go.
My next post is going to be a story about how Vets Against Insanity was created. It's a fun story. I hope you like it.
Sarah, the warrior goddess, Wooten, DVM
I miss commercial breaks.
Quick confession: my family and I are borderline TVaholics. I mean - we work at lot, and exercise, and read, and travel, and ski, and swimbikerun and do all the things but seriously - if it weren’t for work, and school, and goals, and vitamin D, and maybe the need to eat and eliminate, we would park ourselves in front of our gorgeous, behemoth flat screen and consume obscene amounts of media.
Our TV is endlessly entertaining. Our family loves shows like America’s Got Talent, Alone, Face Off, American Ninja Warrior, and anything to do with buying an island in the Caribbean. (Hey HGTV - how do I get on that SHOW??) A few months ago HBO did the ole bait and switch and gave us three months free. I started watching Game of Thrones, which was a mistake, because now I dream about Jon Snow and dragons and believe that I am Sarah, of House Wooten, first of her name. I literally am obsessed with that show, except not when they cast Ed Sheeran as a soldier in the red army. Just no.
All that to say, when we have some down time, my family likes to hang out and watch TV. All of the shows are DVR’d, and while we are watching, I wield the remote like Arya handles Needle, parrying and thrusting in endless swordplay with commercial breaks. It’s annoying really, stopping and starting, and stopping and starting. My thumb gets tired. I don’t like it.
One day, in an effort to be rid of the ceaseless battle, I handed the remote off emphatically to one of my family members. “You fast forward through commercials,” I said. “I’m done!”
The thing was, none of them ever fast forwarded. Like...EVER. I’m not joking. They just let the commercials PLAY. It drove me nuts. “What is wrong with these people?” I thought, “have I raised them to watch ads like SHEEP?”
I would remind my family incessantly to fast forward, but not one of them cared to do so. They would get up and stretch, or go to restroom (biological need to eliminate, remember?), or get a snack from the kitchen, or goddess forbid, TALK TO EACH OTHER WHEN WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BE GLUED TO THE TUBE.
It was maddening.
A couple of weeks ago, before I left on my monster-sized work trip (9 days, 2 cities, 3 planes, 1 light rail, 7 talks, 2 videos, 6 interviews, 1 art museum, countless ubers, conference food), I knew I needed to spend some quality time with the kids. I suggested that we - you guessed it - watch some TV. AGT was cued up, and as soon as I hit play, we were mesmerized. When the first commercial break arrived, I dutifully picked up the remote to fast forward, but my youngest got in my face with his adorable dimples and Studio Ghibli eyes and said, “Let’s play mom train!”
I was about to be gone for 9 days. How could I resist?
In case you don’t know, mom train is a variation of a popular game at our house called dad train, where children of all sizes launch themselves onto dad’s back and cling like baby monkeys….ALL AT THE SAME TIME. The object of the game is to let them ride you like a horse, or more accurately a mom possum. It looks like this:
I had never played it before because mom train would have to take place during GOD FORBID commercial breaks. But tonight was different - I already missed them, and I wanted to connect, not just consume. I hit mute on the commercials, let them play on the TV, and for the next two hours, I let the kids play a version of living room Parkour with me during every commercial break. We laughed. We got sweaty and breathless. We jumped on the couches. We toppled pillow towers. We piled bean bags on top of each other and play Hot Lava. Then we would take a break, watch something amazing, and do it all over again.
I felt like I was 8 years old.
My kids clung to me like the primates we all are underneath the glossy exterior. Deep within us is a creature that craves physical and emotional connection and longs to PLAY. It is lodged deep in our primal brain, the part that drives our most basic human urges and needs. When you play, it releases all sorts of feel good hormones and pent up stress that really wants to live in your muscles. Don't believe me?
Let a 70 pound kid sit on your shoulders and just TRY to keep any muscle tension up in there.
As my kids jumped on and grappled with me, I felt things tearing lose, negative thoughts and feelings that had all been bound up inside of me. I kid you not - it was borderline therapeutic. I found myself wondering, can you sell this feeling??
For me, letting my kids, (including my 15 year old daughter who wanted in the action - she's a 100 pounds people!!) play silly games with me and on me was not only good for my body, it was healing for my soul.
The older I get, the more I realize that play is a missing component from many adult lives. I don’t mean go to BlackHawk and gamble, or get drunk and PARTAY, or golf (snore...I mean FOUR!) - I mean actual play like we did when we were kids; like pretending you are a pirate, or jumping on a trampoline, or building castles in the sand. The kind of play where you use your imagination, and laugh until your sides hurt, run like a bat out of hell, and whoop and shout and let go and FEEL the thrill and genuine pleasure of play. If more people played, I suspect that our collective consciousness would be a lot more positive.
For me, play had been reduced to melting in the couch, exhausted, in a heap with a glass of wine, or two or three, not MOVING for 45 minutes, staring passively at the TV screen, and then stumbling off to bed like a white walker. I really had NO IDEA what I was missing.
Letting the commercials play reminded me of what it felt like to be a kid, something that I have since realized has been dormant in me all along. It never went away, it just got buried in life - in vet school, in work, in failures and lost dreams, in financial concerns, in unexpected death, in arguments with my spouse, in dirty diapers, in unpaid bills, in anxiety, stress, and fear. Playing with my kids like I did that night gave me a feeling that I never, ever thought I could have again.
For that, I say bring back commercial breaks.
Bring back that moment when we can bring our focus to each other and really savor the joy that human connection brings.
Bring back the time to play, and tend to personal needs, and to actually TALK about what we are seeing on the TV together (OMG - Merrick Hanna? You fill my heart with joy. KEEP DANCING!).
Bring back a chance to move and stretch and reflect and connect and get kicked in the face and fall off the couch laughing and be a bucking bronco, or a knight’s steed, or a super spy, or a super hero.
Bring back the commercial break, and bring back life.
I have another rain camping story to tell you. It is hilarious. I still laugh when I think about it.
6 years ago we took the boys camping. They were 4 and 5 at the time.
I had been wanting to go for some time. I had lots of reasons: we live in Colorado, we have some equipment (you know - the usual stuff you need for outdoor wilderness fun: tent, air mattress, lantern, iPhone, plastic wine glasses), and we had kids that needed to make some memories, dammit.
So we went up west of Colorado Springs. This was our second time summer camping in Colorado - we had gone the year before with some good friends and nearly froze to death. However, this summer I was feeling confident, and armed with my vast Colorado camping experience (catch the sarcasm? you just wait), I brought warmer sleeping bags, warm pajamas, and lots of sweatshirts, jackets and wool socks. Forecast was decent...I thought. Highs in the 70s, lows in the 50s, isolated thunderstorms. No big deal, right?
How little I knew.
The first day we got there, it rained. It poured. It dumped BUCKETS of WATER ON US. I took one look at the sullen, sodden preschoolers and the nappy, muddy dog and raised the white flag. “Let’s go get some supplies,” I suggested to the soggy husband.
We loaded everybody up into the minivan. As we drove away, I prayed that the river that running through our campsite would stay away from the tent.
Not knowing what to do, we decided to try Woodland Park. Lo and behold, they had a giant Walmart where we could shelter and ride out the storm. Never before have I been so grateful for Walmart. For the next two hours, we hid out in like bandits, riding bikes through the toy section, eating fried chicken from the deli, and convincing ourselves that if it was labeled ‘Coleman’, we needed it.
Two hundred dollars and several angry Walmart employees later, we figured it was best that we leave, but it was still pouring, and as far as our little iPhones could tell us, there was no end in sight.
FUKIT. We drove back down the hill and had Margaritas at Amanda’s Fonda in Manitou. Thankfully, the incessant downpour let up just as we finished dinner and granted us enough time to get back up the hill and into our tent for the evening, but that was it. As soon as we were safely zipped up, all hell broke loose and the sky let us have it. Non stop downpour for the rest of the night.
We gave thanks for the waterproof tent and tarp and decided to turn in. Unfortunately, the batteries in radio lantern and the flashlights we had brought were all dead. I’m not kidding - we didn’t check them before we left. It’s what happens when you try to prepare for camping with two toddlers attached to your legs.
I turned the flashlight on the iphone, found the toiletry bag, shut the iPhone light off, and rummaged around inside until I found the toothbrushes and what I thought was a tube of toothpaste. I quickly squeezed some out onto both of our brushes and handed Aaron’s toothbrush to him.
As soon as I started to brush my teeth, I knew something was wrong. For one thing, the toothpaste tasted awful - a sort of nasty chemical taste. However, the taste quickly became secondary to the fact that my tongue was going numb.
From across the tent, I heard Aaron make an odd noise. Apparently he wasn’t having a good time with his ‘toothpaste’ either.
What was going on? What had I put on my toothbrush???
Quickly, I fumbled in the darkness for the iPhone. Finding it, I turned it on and shined a light onto the tube of toothpaste.
Hey guess what?
It wasn’t toothpaste. No sir, not toothpaste at all.
1. When camping in Colorado, do not eff around with forecasts that include ‘isolated thunderstorms’. If you see that - stay home, or get a hotel room.
2. In the dark, a tube of Vagisil and a travel sized tube of toothpaste feel exactly the same. Unless you want to end up with numbtongue do not, I repeat, do NOT keep them in the same bag.