Fear as Your Compass: A Scary Story

What do you fear? Can you make a list? Or do you get prickles on the back of your neck just thinking about jotting down those heavy anchors of anxiety?

I made a list of my fears this week. Know what I learned? Fear is the equal and opposite reaction of the heart.

See, the deepest part of my heart has this true north. It knows where to go. It needs no rationalizing. No reasoning. No explanation. It is and has always been. It will be there in the morning when the sun rises and when the shades are turned down for evening slumber.

But then comes along Fear, like the drunk at the party who ruins the casual conversations, hurls in the punch bowl, and passes out on my newly-laundered bedsheets, only to wake in the morning and wonder how the hell he got there. You’d think he wouldn’t be invited to the next affair, but yet there he is, his invitation clutched in his hand with a bottle of Jack in the other. Time to crash and burn, again. You asked for it.

Heart: Let’s experience the world. There’s so much unchartered territory. It’s time.

Fear: Really? What about those obligations? How can you take the world off your shoulders long enough to enjoy it, anyway?

Heart: Please don’t keep me locked in here much longer. I’m bursting at the seams.

Fear: Are you sure? I don’t think you’re ready. Why don’t you settle in to a more comfortable setting? Here, I’ll give you a few distractions to keep you busy. Makes the days go by faster, you know.

Heart: You’re giving me someone else’s problems? Honestly, It’s like I’m talking to a brick wall. Look, why don’t you just get out of my way. I know where I’m headed.

Fear: Ah, but dear Heart, did you forget what you’d leave behind? What will the others think? What makes you entitled to do what you want? Selfish! That’s what you are. And just when I was starting to like you…

Mind: Well, Heart, you know he’s right. it isn’t in your nature to hurt anyone. Just yesterday, you invited a down-and-out friend to join you for tea in your chambers despite your overbooked schedule. And oh dear, it looks like she left things in a mess! Better get this place cleaned up before your next guest! Where was it you said you wanted to go, again?

Heart: Ugh, not you, too! I could keep this place clean if you would stop convincing me to invite guests who overstay their welcome. I know you’re both worried about me, but I assure you, my map is pretty reliable.

Fear: Must I remind you, Heart, of the last time you went out on a whim? Oh, how easily you forget! You lost poor Mind along the way and then all hell broke loose. You failed then. You will fail again.

Mind: I know you mean well, Heart, but last time you raced ahead and I couldn’t catch up. There I was, lost in the wilderness with my list of to-dos just getting bigger and bigger while you were out gallivanting to God knows where….

Heart: I knew where. I know where now. Let me go.

Fear: If you insist. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Mind: Wouldn’t tomorrow be a better day to start, instead?

Heart: <face plant>

A wise friend of mine told me that if I’m living with one leg in the past and the other in the future, I’m pissing on the present. With my list of fears in front of me, I realized how piss-soaked my “right nows” had gotten. So, I did something to stay vigilant of the present. I grabbed a lighter and lit a flame, and watched my list of fears slowly but surely burn into powdery embers.

Note to Mind: It’s time to take a backseat. Heart knows where she’s going. Stick with her. Keep her in check, but never in line.

Note to Fear: You’re an asshole. Back off unless there’s a real wolf afoot, rather than the one you’re parading to be.

Note to Heart: Go. I’ve got your back.

Have a comment? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section or contact me at chelsea.kauchick@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow and subscribe! You can also like my Cuprunnethover page on Facebook for blog updates stress management. Thanks for reading!

You’re Just Overdrinking It – A Mom Living Life on the Rocks

Hello, I’m Chelsea and I am an alcoholic, kinda sorta maybe. At least that’s what I’m supposed to say when I go to those meetings when we only know each other by our first names. For the record, I wasn’t court ordered to go. I just felt like I was overdrinking it a little.

Between you and me, I’m not much different from you. Hell, for moms, drinking is synonymous with coping these days. If we didn’t have wine, how could we have ever gotten past that last season of Game of Thrones? Or that pile of dirty dishes? Or that constant dinging from our phones from people who forgot our shift ended at 5 PM instead of 5 AM?

You know those feelings of guilt from working a full day at the office but hearing your kid complain about all the moms who miraculously made it to the field trip at Sky Zone? Except you, of course. Here’s the good news. Those feelings can easily be doused with a tall glass of Merlot.

Oh, and those afternoons when you get in after dark and still have to check homework, rustle up an acceptable form of dinner, argue about bath time, and wait an extra hour after lights out because your kid refuses to give in to that sweet, soft slumber? A stout whiskey sour can calm those nerves.

Chaotic family life? A salted rim from a top-shelf margarita has been known to right your father’s incessant reminder that you could have done more with your degree.

And here’s a tip between you and me: that last Cosmo totally obliterated your disgust with your lack of a thigh gap.

Hooray! You’ve miraculously made yourself funny after that bubbling Prosecco.

But hey, we aren’t alcoholics. We’re just part of the mom club where the only requirement to join involves a desire to take a little trip away from reality, albeit just for an evening. And you get to rise in the rankings if you’re the fun drinker (Notice I didn’t say drunk. We’re no fan of labels).

When you’re the fun drinker, you can do a phenomenal rendition of Robert Bentley’s “Luv Gov” when he’s sweet talking Rebekah Mason in that cell phone recording. You can be that Endless Flame The Bangles sing about, and if you’re anything like me, you can down two and half martinis and still explain why Faulkner could paint a better picture with five words than Dickens could with a thousand.

So where was I? Oh, the alcohol thing. It’s not really a thing, though. It’s just a nice little addition to the currently unmanageable expectations of myself. And for the record, I don’t drink EVERY night. I just need a little nightcap. A little me time. A little “wine down” to feel ten feet tall and bullet-proof. I wear my suit of armor made of wine corks and bottle caps. Take that, life!

It was November of 2016 when I cradled a bottle of Chardonnay in my lap as I watched the world as I knew it crumble before me. Donald Trump had just been elected President of the United States. Now before you scroll away, this is not becoming a political rant. I simply want to take you back to a situation when everything seemed “hunky dory” in my bubble-wrapped life. I had the perfect job, a killer family, and a new home full of endless possibilities. The world as I knew it was going my way. And then Wolf Blitzer ruined it. He flipped my perfect little world right on its ass with his transition of blue states into red. The map of peril. My dreams of seeing empowered, elated women across the nation high-fiving and saluting a new frontier of shattering that glass ceiling imploded, all in one night.

How could I cope with losing such a surety I had felt deep in my marrow? With that bottle of Chardonnay, of course. As tears poured from my puffy eyelids, my hand tipped to pour from an endless glass of bitter, chilled grapes.

Moms, do you know that feeling you get when you take that first sip? You know the one. It’s like a warm hug that digs into your bones until you’re numb from the inside out. It’s that feeling you need when everything around you feels a little misplaced. Well that warm feeling of oblivion is not what I felt in November of 2016. It hastened the dread. Each sip was me admitting that I didn’t have all the answers. That nothing is certain. Not even the things we hold most dear.

I know you’ve been there, too. You have the battle scars of carrying that world on your shoulders, and you just need that little pick-me-up to put down all those cares that life throws at you. You may have wondered how much you can drink before you “become an alcoholic.” Friends, I don’t have the answers for you. But today, I am in a better place. Not because the world has righted itself, but because I realized I cannot right the world.

There is so much in this life to worry about…to do…to stress over. And sometimes it can feel like you’re held over a wine barrel. But don’t drink those bitter grapes. When alcohol becomes an escape rather than an enhancer to your day, you may want to consider a nice hike instead. Or if you’re like me, a nice little article to let out all those feelings with your friends.

Cheers to navigating this mom life together. You’ve got this.

Have a comment? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section or contact me at chelsea.kauchick@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow and subscribe! You can also like my Cuprunnethover page on Facebook for blog updates stress management. Thanks for reading!

My Cup Runneth Over – Draining the Mom Guilt

Spoiler Alert: You may not like me after reading this, but I’m okay with that.

Hello, it’s me again. You remember me, right? You’ve seen my daily posts on Facebook and Instagram. You know the posts of me showing you all how to live life to the fullest, working mom style.

Today I just managed to make a 7:30 meeting regarding economic development AFTER rousing my five-year-old daughter, Adele, from bed and getting her dressed into somewhat decent attire (that means her clothes passed the sniff test, but I still couldn’t get the black sharpie off her face from the previous evening when she decided to draw Harry Potter’s lightning scar across her forehead).

We arrived at the school drop-off line one minute before the dreaded walk of shame to the office to get a tardy slip. Of course, we only made it because I asked her to jump out before I completely stopped, causing the crossguard to have a minor myocardial infarction.

Her rush to the school door would have been a full-on sprint, had it not been for her calm and calculated balance of the metal pot I put on her head for Johnny Appleseed day. See, I totally forgot she was supposed to dress up for this enigmatic, larger-than-life character. I had only noticed the reminder sheet this morning amidst the burgeoning pages of field trip forms, cookie dough order packets, hearing and vision test results, and PTO meeting notices brimming from her Kindergarten notebook.  

So this morning Adele got a pot on her head. Too small, I might add, and she was running down the path to get to school with a half-eaten apple in her hand. Oh yes, the apple part. It would have been a full apple had I known that bruised fruit was our only savior from the God-awful metal contraption unruly bobbing on her noggin. I wish she didn’t like apples for breakfast, at least this particular morning. Don’t take another bite!” I shrieked with urgency as she nibbled her way to the core before entering the classroom. At least the pot on her head was a good disposal container for the apple core once it finally slipped off her head and clanked across the lime-green linoleum.

So where was I? Oh, yes. #killingitmomstyle.

And did I mention I work, like for a living? Girl, do I work. I get paid, too. I am what they call a “working mom.” Obviously, if I told you I’m just a mom with unmanageable expectations of myself, that wouldn’t carry as much weight, would it?  Obviously, these moms who are just moms need more to do to fill up all that spare time they have lying around. They need to earn their keep. They need to bring home that bacon, unwrap it, fry it til it’s golden brown, ensure the kids and spouse have had their fair share, clean up the mess, and put that bacon away for tomorrow. Anything less and you’re just proving all those working dads out there that we belong in the kitchen, and well, who wants to deal with another mess?

Sidenote, I took a call today from a close friend who was convinced her husband would learn that socks are better left inside the laundry basket rather than beside it. Poor girl. Mine at least lets his two-day cultured, jersey knits touch the rim of the receptacle. #proudwife #tooblessedtobestressed

Three meetings into my day, I made sure to break for a little post-promo on social media from a big event I attended last year. #memories. And you know me. I had to include a photo or two of myself to prove I was in on the fun (but not too many selfies. I can’t come across vain). I’ll just post the one of me splattered among the smiles. I think that one photo captures all you need to see. But girl, I AM ON in this pic. That dress is smokin’ and those elbows have been rubbed down to the nubs from all those exhilarating convos with people you may have read about in Business Alabama magazine or seen on the Today Show (Did I ever tell you I hung out with Jenna Bush Hager? She even let me hold her lipstick bag when she went to the loo).

I saw that you commented on my post about how you wished you were there. “How do you do it all, Chelsea?” “You’re truly a one-woman spokesperson for the Shoals.” “I wish I had your job.” “I wish I could do that.” “I wish I could be more like you.” “You make my life feel so small, sometimes.”

But here’s the thing. You know that photo? It was taken the same day I locked myself in my office and dry heaved on the floor. It was a day very much like my debacle of a morning in the car line at school. That event was held on the same week I went to the doctor with chest pains and trouble breathing. He told me there was nothing physically wrong with me. It must have been bad indigestion from eating all those over-priced hors d’oeuvres at that last soiree.

Nevertheless, that same week, like many to follow, I medicated myself out of fear from drowning. I downed wine like a working mom should, because we deserve it after a long day, right? After all, that’s what they tell us makes it all go away. And it does, girl. I drank until I was numb. Until I was able to see myself how you all see me. You know, over-brimming with put-togetherness.

Here’s what that cup is really filled with. I am a mom who loves her daughter with every fiber of her soul, and I still feel it isn’t enough. I am a wife who remembers special occasions, holds her husband’s hand, tells him her dreams and asks to share his own, and it’s still not enough. I work in a position where I am seen as the community’s advocate and best friend to all I encounter, and yet I’m pained by the one friend I failed to acknowledge in a crowded room. My cup is filled with one long laundry list of things unfinished, including the laundry. I am constantly striving to be the Johnny Appleseed who spread the fruits of his labor across these United States, but I am oftentimes just the one balancing an ever shifting, heavy object on my head, bound to hit the floor at any moment.  

I know this must come as a shocker to you, and I admit, it took a long time for me to call that wild-eyed adventure girl a sham. But let’s be real. I’m not doing you any favors. I am starting the journey now to drain the bullshit. The mom guilt. The one last thing. The should have dones. The wish I didn’ts. The now whats. I’m emptying my cup of dregs of someone else’s life, and filling it with just enough. Enough. Isn’t that refreshing?

Moms out there, won’t you join me in feeling enough? I know with a lot of self-love, we can get there. One day, we can sweep what’s still left to do and those unattainable goals under that dusty, unkempt rug of ours. And we won’t touch it tomorrow, or even the next day. I know what you’re thinking. Someone’s gotta clean that shit up. But it’s not us. Not today. Today, we are enough, and that’s a wonderful place to be.

Have a comment? Share your thoughts with me in the comments section or contact me at chelsea.kauchick@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow and subscribe! You can also like my Cuprunnethover page on Facebook for blog updates stress management. Thanks for reading!