What Happens at an Elmo Party...

Originally published July 11, 2014

My daughter turned 14 this week.  Hard to believe.  Because of the success of last year's Elmo costumed party guest, we decided to stick with the same theme.  For the very first time, we decided to invite some of Shelby's special needs friends from school.  It was wild - and fun!  Such a sweet dynamic to add for my sweet girl.  She was thrilled with it all.  Did I mention it was wild?  And fun?  And exhausting.  I was beat when the last guests departed.  I sat down on the couch to thumb through my Facebook and then turned in for the night.  

When I woke up this morning, I learned that what happens at an Elmo party...is still there to clean up AFTER an Elmo party.  I stumbled into the main part of the house after a hard night's sleep and it looked like a Sesame Street 'Splosion.  AND I remembered that the friend who cleans my house was coming this morning.  AND I had to get the house completely ready for her by 9am when I needed to leave to teach a class.  AND I had both kids in tow.  My heart started beating much faster than before I stirred 10 minutes prior.  I sprang into action - feeding myself and my kids breakfast.  I was a blur around the house picking up cups, opened presents, muppets and various other toys.  I dragged sheets across the house as quickly as I could strip them off of beds to wash.  And then I heard it.  The sound of a splatter.  An entire cup of milk dropped off the table at the hands of the birthday girl.  It's on the floor, it's on the table, it's on her!  I don't have time for messes!!!  (Anyone having flashbacks to similar mornings here?)  After cleaning that up and noticing that the dog needed feeding, I hustled to get myself and my kiddos dressed.  I couldn't find my choreography notes and I coundn't keep the messy piles picked up faster than Shelby could make them.  When I noticed that I have run out of time, I gathered my gym bag and water bottle and hustled the kids out the door - resigning myself to the things I didn't get to that will have to be cleaned around.  Now...I was running late.  I like to be in the Group Fitness room 15 minutes before my class starts so that I am not harried to get set up and I can greet and visit with members.  And this is not just ANY class.  It's LAUNCH DAY!  Brand new release - Body Pump 90.  And there's no way I will be there with 15 minutes to spare once I make the drive and check my kids into the kids club.  But I'm in the car and on my way.  So here's what I did to change the trajetory of this morning:

1.  I started to breathe deeply.  In through my nose and out through my nose.  Because, "Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow." (Psalm 144:4)  Why waste one of my days in stress and frustration over ... life?  I can feel changes in my body with the conscious intake of oxygen.  My heart rate starts to slow and my clenched muscles start to relax.  

2.  I prayed.  I kept my eyes open, though, since I was driving.  "Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God, for to You I pray."  (Psalm 5:2).  My words weren't eloquent like this passage from the Bible.  I simply asked God to help me put the morning mishaps behind me and teach the best class I could teach.  I asked for energy and strength and to bring Him glory.  

3.  I taught Body Pump.  A 55 minute strength and sweat sesh guaranteed to cure what ails you.  (At least what ails me).  Exercise is a GREAT mood elevator.  It is an even better stress reliever.  I always enjoy exercising, but when I get to teach it to others - especially a class like the one I have at 24 Hour Fitness, I feel elated.  Alive.  Giddy.  Now I realize that exercise doesn't have this same effect on everyone, but if you have never been a consistent exerciser I would urge you to start a new habit.  You don't know how much you can enjoy it until you get past the often times tough and uncomfortable beginning stages.  Most people become addicted to the movement and the post-workout endorphines and miss it if they can't go.  Now I have talked to a couple of regular exercisers who say they still hate it, even though they continue to do it.  My bias would say that if its become a habit and you still don't enjoy it, you haven't tried the right kind of exercise for you.  I believe there is something for everybody.  And the more you enjoy it, the more you will stick with it.  But if you really are someone that can't get any kind of exercise mojo going, you should still do something active to get your heart rate up several times a week.  Your health demands it.  And if you think you don't have time to exercise (am I preaching to any special needs parents out there?), then you probably need it more than your average Josephine.  

In addition to the three things I did today to shift my focus (in review, that's breathe, pray and exercise), I would urge you to do something that feeds your soul.  There are a few things that fit this bill for me - reading, time spent in God's Word and prayer, time with my close girlfriends, and exercise.  I was lucky enough to kill two birds with one stone in my class today.  But if exercise is a duty and not a joy to you, find the things that do make you joyful.  Think about the times when you feel right with God and the world.  When you are enjoying yourself the most.  When you feel most relaxed and authentically you.  Then tuck these ideas away for the next time you are feeling out of sorts.  Make sure that you have at least one activity that takes no advanced planning.  Good fellowship time with friends is great, but it probably won't be available to you in the middle of a Wednesday when the kids are skipping rope on your last nerve.  Don't neglect friend time if you love it.  Plan regular "sanity" outings.  But know that you can have a  "time out" on a moment's notice by putting a video on for the kids and using your lap top to YouTube a 20-30 minute yoga flow.  You can set a timer and have everyone in the house pick a book or magazine of their choice for 20 minutes of quiet reading time.  You can put the baby in the stroller and crank up the tunes on your ipod while you stroll around the neighborhood.  As rushed as we often feel, the chores will still be there when you get back (I'm preaching to myself on that one.)  

What are your ideas for unwinding when you've worked yourself up?  I would love to hear from you!