Friday, August 29, 2014

Back-To-School Coping & A Giveaway

A few days before school started I freaked out.  I was so worried.  I was worried my friends had made all new friends because I didn't live in their neighborhood, I was worried I wouldn't like my teacher, I was worried that I had forgotten how to write.  Hiding in the small space in between my bed and my closet, I took a deep breath and I attempted to write my name.  A-N-G-I-E...phew, I still remembered how to write.  I cried with relief.  I cried because I didn't want the best summer I had ever had in my entire life to be over.  I cried because I didn't know what the future looked like.  It was August of 1984 and I was going into the fourth grade.  

Going back to school was always anxiety inducing for me.  It got a little easier over the years, a little more exciting.  Laying out my outfits the night before helped--like the yellow and red paisley shirt I paired with the red belt, pegged jeans and red flats, oh and I even laid out the red plastic pearls I planned to wow the new middle school wearing in 1986.  Calling my friends the days before school started helped.  Crying a little and taking deep breaths helped.  Watching my favorite soap operas and eating chocolate helped.

These back-to-school moments of mental anguish became the training ground for my version of coping skills that would get me through/haunt me into my adulthood.  Every year the back-to-school terror/excitement had me laying out outfits, reaching out to friends, eating chocolate, watching soaps and crying and breathing.  

Even when I was done with school, Fall became a time of heightened nerves/emotions.  I started realizing that it wasn't just going back to school that had me all messed up, it was Christmastime, it was a hectic job schedule, it was any kind of change or pressure that I couldn't completely control. 

Now that I have my own children, I try not to put all my shitty issues onto them.  We have fun rituals and traditions centered around the first day of school.  In the weeks leading up to school I spend a little extra time with the ones that genetically are so screwed, and need a little more soothing and reassurance that their friends will still like them, they can still write and even though we don't know what the future looks like, it will be okay.  I'm hoping to give them coping skills that don't involve General Hospital, chocolate and so much crying.

I feel confident and loving in my mothering, but as far as taking care of my own anxiety, not so much.  Once again, I am feeling all kinds of anxious about the new school year for my kids, the fact that one of the best summers of my entire life is almost over and that I have no idea what the future looks like.

The other day my friend Amanda who knew I was probably struggling came over to give me a gift.  She gave me a bracelet she made, Mala beads made out of wooden beads and gemstones.  

It was beautiful.  She told me that I should meditate with the bracelet.  When she saw my skeptical look, she said "It doesn't hurt to try."

This friend radiates peace and love.  Amanda is a bad-ass hippie mother who has dedicates herself to "spreading peace."  She started a business called Little Bird Soul and creates Mala beads that she hopes inspire people "to love themselves and take care of themselves."  
She includes a note like this one with each piece she makes. 
After giving me a quick meditation tutorial and a hug, she left.  I wore the bracelet everyday, but held off on the whole meditation idea because you know, I have my coping skills already.  But after a late night crying to Tim about how the lady at the kids' Meet the Teacher looked at me funny and I just knew she was judging how rough the boys are and I can't organize anything and I don't want the summer to be over and I can't felt like it might be a good time to give the whole meditation thing a go.

I sat on my front porch and tried to center myself.  

Per Amanda's instructions I rotated each bead on the bracelet and tried to focus.  Deep breath in...Wait what did she say dedicate a breath? a meditation? Deep breath out...are the kids fighting....take a breath dummy...oh my god was there a skunk out here last night...rotate the bead...oh shit did I put out the garbage last night...that's the garbage truck coming...can I open my eyes...breathe dammit...I should peak and see if the garbage cans are out...the kids are too quiet what does that mean?...okay, good garbage cans are there...breathe, rotate...this is pretty easy, I think I totally got this meditating... I am awesome at mediating, huh, who knew? rotate, breathe...

Amanda told me it might be like this and I've read Eat,Pray,Love.  I pretty much guessed that meditating for the first time for me and my monkey brain/ADD brain/mom brain would go like that.

But she was right, it didn't hurt.  In fact, it felt good to sit and be intentional.  It felt good to be quiet.  It felt good to not be catching up, searching, looking, reading, scanning emails and Facebook.  

I am adding this to my list of skills with which I use to cope. Here's to peace and love and meditation and soap operas.  Here's to coping and maybe not knowing what the future looks like but knowing that it will be okay.  Here's to meditating.  Here's to going back to school.  

How do YOU cope?  Do you meditate? Do you stress out during back-to-school season?

I'm doing my part now to spread the peace and love.  You get a chance to have your very own, custom made, beautiful Mala bracelet. 

And Amanda is also giving away a copy of her favorite book about meditation and mindfulness (for children and grown-ups)--A Pebble for Your Pocket

It's a great way to start out the school year with new coping skills and a great reminder to take care of yourself.  Here are a bunch of ways to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To find out more information about Little Bird Soul click here, and here Facebook  and here Twitter.


  1. I am always looking for new coping skills. I like that this focuses on slowing things down and breathing.

  2. Not sure if my first comment went through but I so want to win one of Amanda's beautiful malas! Music, photography, running and writing are all ways I cope/escape right now but I know I need to work on breathing/meditation. What a great giveaway!

  3. What a sweet friend. I love that she came by and gave you a little gift that is helping with your anxiety.

  4. I love these beads and now I really one one too! My coping skills include getting outside to walk and taking deep breaths. Running, sometimes.

  5. Coping? What's coping? My "coping" includes eating ice cream in a dark kitchen after the kids go to bed.

  6. My coping skills are walking and taking a nice hot bath after a stressful day.

  7. I've tried meditating. Too many thoughts invaded. :)
    I do love those beads, they're gorgeous!
    I cope by cleaning. True story.

  8. Awesome! It is great to have a little beauty in life...

  9. I had to laugh at your ADD meditation, because that's exactly what happens to me when I pray. I'm all over the place, then have to remind myself to bring it all in. Or I fall asleep. That happens too.

  10. Back to school, like Christmas, like before a vacation, like anything other than the routine, throws me off. I'm grumpy and have little patience. I'm not good with the fast-moving. Which is why, with a teen and a tween, I'm on the edge a lot these days. My coping skills are to retreat, and that's no good.

  11. Exercise, meditation, favorite music, beautiful surroundings and family :)