December | 2011

Lesson No. 36: The "Hangover"

Last week I attended a baby shower and had to bring William, my 8 year old, because my sitter cancelled. He was invited to hang in the living room with a few other children. An a hour later I walked to see my enormously happy child: GameBoy in his hands, iPod in his ears, favorite show on the TV, and an expansive pile of Hershey Kiss Wrappers growing in front of him.

What a job it was to extricate him from this incredible bliss. It took great finesse, and a promise to come back, to get him to return the GameBoy and iPod to their owners and leave this Den of Delight. He walked out totally high.

However, a couple of hours later, he crashed. He actually became sad… his energy plummeted and he described himself as ‘just not right’… He said, “I don’t know why I feel like this. Or exactly how I feel, mom. I just feel blue. I feel like crying.” And while he wanted me to hold him, no amount of hugs changed his mood. So we spent the rest of the night, just relaxing quietly together with the way things were.

Unfortunately, the next morning his funk continued as he struggled to get dressed and fought me on going to school. While I’m sure it was various factors which caused William to lean into this ‘despondent’ place (including that I had just returned from an out of town trip), I think he really lost his balance with his Technology and Chocolate Binge. And, basically, he had a major hangover.

Instead of over-indulgence and total titillation, what William really needed was quiet time, and a deeper connection with me. So I picked him up from school and we spent the next 24 hours together re-nourishing.

Now truth be told, if the opportunity arose again, I am 100% sure William would re-choose the Technology and Chocolate Binge. But, I am happy to report, that the memory of it stuck with him. A few days later, on Thanksgiving, he cut himself a huge piece of chocolate cake. I watched him as he ate it and noticed him really slowing down and savoring every bit. As I watched him enjoying deeply, he turned to show me his plate which had one last bite left on it. He said, “Look mom, I left some over so I won’t get a hangover.”

So that’s a start.

It’s really hard for an 8 year old to make healthy choices. I also think it’s just as hard for a 28, 48, or even 68 year old to pause and make more nourishing decisions. It takes a lot of practice to really know what’s best for us, and then have the courage to act on it. And besides, we are so used to feeling a bit off, that it takes a lot of ‘binges’ - a lot of really 'off' days - before we realize we need to find a better way to take care of ourselves.

And while we each have to find our own balance, I do know that slowing down can really help create the pause needed to make a better choice. Not gobbling or gulping our food, experiences, and entertainment is the best place to start.

If you move through this season just little slower than usual, you may find that you organically make better decisions as well as savor what you do come in to contact with, more deeply.

And remember, you don’t have to say ‘no’ to all the fun! You can have fun and ALSO take care of yourself along the way.