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How to Survive the "100 Days of May"
Hi! I’m Marika, I’m a writer and educator (and a bunch of other things!). I’m here every Wednesday sharing how I’m learning to lean into the in-between times of life. I’m even writing a book about it. You can read more about me here.
Hello, fellow life jugglers!
Can you feel it? The faint tremors beneath your feet? Maybe the hint of a distant stampede, miles away, yet drawing closer by the minute?
Perhaps you, like many people across America, woke up on Monday with sightly elevated blood pressure, or stared at your calendar through fingers covering your eyes, wondering how in the world you are ever going to “get it all done” this month?
Welcome to what I call “May Madness,” or what some folks call “the 100 Days of May.” One podcast I heard referred to May as, “The Spring-y December”?
As a long-time educator and now a mom, May has long been a time of year where the world seems to have suddenly sped up by about 7 clicks. It’s a blur of spring sports and recitals and graduations and performances and bar mitzvahs and email pleas for volunteers at the kids’ schools and teacher appreciation week and employee recognition luncheons and party planning and fundraising functions and OMG, don’t freaking forget about MOTHER’S DAY!
Both my kids have at least one 4-hour rehearsal or performance on 12 out of the next 14 days. My daughter has to build a lighthouse out of recycled items found around the house and write a report on it. My son has to complete hundreds of middle school math problems that we can all remember as being tediously useless (rays and diameters and variables, oh my!). My daughter’s birthday is just two weeks away (her expectations are high as ever!), and we are in the final throes of putting together the last details for our first trip abroad as a family. My husband is traveling for work in the midst of an insanely stressful work negotiation. I’ve got pages due to my book coach, invoices to wrap up in my business, and the laundry waits for no one.
I thought I’d spend some time this week talking about how I plan to survive the 100 Days of May, with the caveat that I fully realize that most of the “pressures” I refer to above are First World, Privileged People Problems.
It is humbling to remember that the vast majority of humans on this planet are not being brought to their knees this month by cutting and gluing cardboard or finding the area of a quarter circle, so I can probably take a deep breath and figure out how to get a grip.
But also, holding onto perspective can be hard for human brains, who often insist that so many things in our lives are five-alarm, life-and-death emergencies that must be quashed right this very minute! To ward against, and maybe more gracefully get through, those moments this month when I’ll surely lose my perspective, I’m exploring the power of pre-deciding my mindset.
How do I want to show up for myself this month? How do I want to show up for my family? For my community? How will I use the everything-everywhere-all-at-once-ness of this moment to grow and become more of the person I want to be?
I have thoughts. The headline is: I know I can always live my values, no matter how crazed my outer circumstances become.
Here are three values that I am deciding ahead of time that I will be living and practicing as the “May-hem” descends:
I heard a phrase the other day that I really loved, “Physiology comes before psychology.” The idea that we must first take a look at and take care of what’s needed, physically, before proceeding to make any changes psychologically intrigues me, and I’m looking for ways to test and explore this.
It goes along with something I’ve been experimenting with writing into my calendar lately that feels a little embarrassing to share, but I’m curious to hear what others think about it. It’s something I’ve been calling “AT,” and it stands for “Animal Time.”
What it means is holding a daily space for remembering each day that I am, indeed an animal, so I should probably try to do some animal-like things. Sit and stare into space. Stretch. Walk around and investigate the surrounding habitat. Listen to birdsong while breathing in and out. Move my body around. Not acting like an animal, just being an animal.
I don’t know what I’ll get from trying this out. Probably just a short break from the panic of believing that anything I have to do this month is “important” in any geological sense of the word. More of that important perspective I was referencing above. But I know that before I mentally psyche myself up to do all the things this month, I can spend time simply being in this animal body of mine, which happens to know itself as perfectly worthy exactly as it is.
LET CONTRIBUTION BE ENERGIZING
One of the reasons my calendar is “so busy” this month that I’ve committed myself to a number of volunteer efforts. I’ve been coaching a Girls on the Run team at my daughter’s elementary school for the past 4 years. It’s one of my FAVORITE things to do all year, but organizing the culminating event—a 5k race in a local park—can be a lot of work. I’m also speaking at an event as part of my board work for the local JCC, and have volunteered several shifts at both my daughter’s and my son’s schools for events.
These endeavors crowd my schedule and, without pre-deciding how I’ll think and feel about that, could easily become just one more thing for me to complain and be stressed about.
But the truth is? I love contributing the resources and skills I’ve been blessed with to help create something special for others. I love jumping in to help make community “happen.” When I let the energy of my contribution come from this love and deep desire, I’ll be able to show up to these opportunities with so much more presence and excitement, fully open to receive the experience of giving.
ABC—ALWAYS BE CELEBRATING
Maybe May should become the New November instead of the New December—a month for thanksgiving. When I’m dog-tired at the end of my days this month, I’m gonna get into bed and keep adding to the brand-new list in my journal, which I’m calling:
The 100 YAYs of MAY!!
Here’s what I’ve got so far:
-Four grocery bags filled with veggies and easy proteins along with a detailed, written-out game plan so I don’t have to wonder “what’s for lunch” for the next 10-12 days.
-GREEN! In all its majestic variations, the color green is having its moment, bringing down the house in every nook and cranny of my neighborhood!
-The spongy softness and woodsy scent of redwood tree needles beneath my feet.
-20 minutes of mid-day Yoga Nidra resetting me in the best way.
-My daughter’s warm maple-syrup eyes shining up as she squeezes me and tells me she doesn’t “know enough words to tell me how much she loves me.”
-A shock of blue sky peeking out behind a silver-white glow of clouds at the end of a few very gray days
-My phone—the magical portal that can connect me with the people I love most in the world for which I vow to use it as many days as possible this month.
-Hands-on grandparents. What in the actual HECK?? “Can you help me pick my kid up from school, make something for this costume, come to back-to-back weekend performances?” Yes. Yes. Yes? I sigh in deep appreciation for, and celebration of, the kind humans in my life helping to make it all work this month.
And when the stress of May’s 98th day starts to creep up, I’ll read my list of YAYs in celebration and appreciation, and maybe even let myself add one more—that the end of all this madness is finally in sight.
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