Winter slumps and soul care

That groundhog supposedly didn’t see his shadow, so if it’s still freezing into April I propose we all make our way to someone’s hole with our torches and pitchforks.

Every once in a while I write about something that isn’t related to running. Part of it has to do with the fact that as much as I love running, variety is ultimately the spice of life and I like to write about other topics from time to time. And frankly, “I ran X miles this week” will get old for anyone.

So with that being said, I successfully completed my weekday challenge of running 15 miles across four mornings. Monday was five, Wednesday 4 and Tuesday and Thursday were 3-mile days. I’m running a 5k tomorrow, which I’ll write about on Sunday or Monday.

And now onto my real topic: winter slumps and soul care.

I don’t have seasonal affective disorder and typically winter driving is the biggest nuisance. However, with my changes at work and in my private life, I cannot shake the exhaustion off. No amount of sleep at night helps, and I’m noticing coffee isn’t as strong as it once was for me. This time last month time constraints were present – as they have always been – but I didn’t feel them crushing me quite like they have been.

I work from 7:30 – 4:30, with an early dismissal at 3:15 on Fridays. For a while I was running in the evenings, but with the addition of a dating life and realizing that I’m more prone to excuse-making and laziness after work than I am before it, I decided I was going to make myself commit to being a morning runner.

Waking up early is pretty easy …. but then I’m also slow-moving. It takes me longer than I’d like to actually get out the door, no matter how much planning ahead I do the night before. I can have my backpack and lunch box packed, clothes laid out, bathroom ready to go and still run behind schedule, which is frustrating even after two cups of coffee.

Work is work, and then once I’m home I have to start my chores, grab a quick dinner before errands or quickly put on some makeup before date night. Everything gets done, which is something I’m proud of, but at the same time, the go-go-go of my evenings until bedtime is starting to wear on me.

I’ve been dealing with hormonal acne since I was 10 years old, which usually resurfaces when I’m premenstrual or going through a stressful time. About two weeks ago I had a serious break out, not too far off from what I used to deal with in high school, and I originally chalked it up to PMS.

However, my skin isn’t improving. The texture, the locations of my breakouts, and I’ve been looking unusually piqued this week. Frankly, a Jerry Springer guest is in better shape than my face.

Normally my skin falls into “it does what it does” category, but today was different from the get-go. Fridays are my rest days, even though I still get up and do a few loads of laundry. I got the bed made, cat box cleaned and several loads of laundry done, in addition to cleaning my kitchen. But then I looked at the clock, realized I had less than ten minutes to get myself dressed and on the road and the frustration hit me like a ton of bricks.

I didn’t have time to put in my contacts, so I’m wearing glasses and have my hair up in a ponytail. The dry shampoo failed me for the first time, so I have crusty roots going and my face is still red and shiny in spite of being washed. I decided to wear a new long-sleeved technical shirt I picked up with my bag for tomorrow’s 5k, which is too big and long on me in spite of being a small. I’m not kidding – in between my winter pastiness and these ridiculous long-ass arms, I look like Slenderman today.


Although his sleeves are actually tailored correctly to his body.

As I was driving into work and stewing about all the crap I have to do today and all the crap I’ve had to do this week and why does my time seem to get yanked away, a small voice in my head asked me, “So what exactly have you done for yourself lately? You got your laundry done, you’re squeezing chores and errands into weeknights so you don’t have to rush around on weekends before The Boyfriend comes over, you’re waking up and getting your runs done first thing in the morning … and yet you genuinely struggle to do anything beyond washing your face and brushing your teeth. Doesn’t that bother you a little bit?”

The last few weeks the answer has been no. But this morning I saw tired eyes looking back at me and realized that, for once in a very blue moon, I actually was embarrassed by my appearance and how I had let myself go. How I’m imbalanced and it’s showing.

Here I was accomplishing all that I wanted to, with my housework and marathon training and my job – my team member passed along that our agents had been expressing to him how happy they are with the job I’m doing. My boyfriend and I are enjoying quality time and exploring local places together, and I’ve happily dedicated a part of myself to cultivating a happy new relationship.

But yet I’ve given caring for my own mental well-being the same amount of thought as I have cleaning the cat box.

The point of this post isn’t to complain about how as a woman I’m expected to do everything for everyone – which isn’t something I’ve ever felt – and bellyache accordingly. But it is one of the ways I’m getting back into soul care, via creating content and writing regularly again.

There’s a lot going around about self-care, and to be honest a lot of the self-care movement strikes me as superficial. You all know what I mean – those articles, directed at women, about how we all give and give and give and need to give to ourselves because “you can’t pour from an empty jug.” (Fair enough.) But then all the tips for practicing self-care are always something superficial, like scheduling a manicure or taking a bubble bath.

Maybe for some women a bubble bath does solve all imbalances. But frankly, if I’m dealing with an inner turmoil, the bath doesn’t eliminate that root problem. If anything, it only turns me into an anxious, resentful woman who happens to smell like mandarin.

And what is the thing with professional manicures anyway? For women who have time or money constraints, scheduling an appointment and spending between $30-40 is a short-sighted way of dealing with those problems.

Therefore, whenever I hear the words “self” and “care” strung together, I tend to wince and make all kinds of disapproving noises.

However, I am a firm believer in soul care. My soul care steps are to 1.) acknowledge there’s a problem or imbalance; 2.) brainstorm what I can or should do to resolve the issue and 3.) put a plan into action and get on with it. Because all the external feel-goods (distractions?) does not change a conflicted, worrisome, or stressed out soul.

I haven’t attended church in over a month, and my sleep schedule on weekends is out of whack. In fact, a lot of the weekend downtime I used to have has been slashed, so I’m going to have to reschedule myself to get some of that back.

In other words, I’m going to have to put myself on the front burner again and take care of my well-being, which does include my self-image and putting forth some effort to like what I see looking back at me. Dark circles ain’t it, ya’ll.

So friends, I’m making the effort to put myself on the same level I prioritize the rest of my life. I’m not ready to be a frump, and I’m not ready to let the daily grind wear me out. Time to talk to God, pray for his help in having discernment and tempering myself, and put on some eyeshadow again.

I’m not Superwoman, but I am a super woman and it’s high time I start feeling like it again. And I hope any of you going through a similar season can feel like your own hero again soon.

Until next time,






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