I have been balled-up off and on for about the last 6 months. What’s “balled-up”? That’s the term I use for being so stressed about something that your body literally turns into a ball – your shoulder and neck muscles tighten and curve up to your ears and then pull your upper body forward into a standing tuck. It usually is paired with a deeply furrowed look – you know, the one that makes your eyebrows nearly cover your eyes.
I honestly think that the strongest muscle I have at this point is my forehead muscle. Too bad there isn’t an Olympic competition for that – I know I’d get a medal.
You’ll have to trust me that being balled-up is horrible for posture and any attempt to overcome lack of exercise/increase in food intake by trying to look skinner by standing tall.
Usually, being balled-up happens for a short period of time before I am able to dissipate whatever the stress cause is and settle down.
Until this year.
The move, the wedding planning, the work on the farm that needed done/still looming, the new school, a couple of personal issues, world events, financial rollercoasters, and most of all, the lack of time for Curtis and I to actually talk together – all have conspired to the current state of balled-up’ness that I am in. It has gotten so bad that I had one of the “catches” in my side when I breathe for 10 hours yesterday.
I went to get a massage that some wonderful friends had given me a gift card for back on my birthday. The poor massage therapist did her best but still couldn’t work out all of the muscle knots I’ve made for myself. She thought I probably needed a therapeutic massage at least once a month for 6-8 months to get back to normal. (I wish)
I’ve tried pulling out some yoga moves to loosen my muscles.
I’ve tried other stretches in the car, at work, at home, in the grocery store. The girls were most embarrassed by that last one.
Yesterday, I drove with my little square change purse wedged behind my back to try to hit some pressure points. That’s when I knew I had to get serious.
I remember someone in my vast family talking about using a tennis ball to help work out muscle issues. Thankfully, we have some cheap tennis balls that I once bought for the girls when I thought you could buy cheap tennis balls and they’d work for kids tennis playing. Yeah, not so much. But one of them did wonders for my back when I stood with my back against a wall and put behind me.
I also had the first chance in about two weeks to actually talk with Curtis. Well, talk more than just answering the questions “Where are my work clothes?” “What’s the weather going to be like?” “Can you get on the computer and find…?”
I think he may have gotten the hint that I was at a level of balled-up’ness unseen before when he kissed me on Wednesday night and I burst into tears.
So, the tennis ball combined with talking to that cowboy of mine started me (hopefully) on a path of calmness.
But, you’re thinking, what about the carrot? Back around Mother’s Day, the girls and I had gone to IKEA. They wanted to get me a present while we were shopping, so I gave them $15 and stood by my cart while they walked to a particular part of the store where I could still see them but I couldn’t see what they were purchasing. Their gift? A giant (and adorable) stuffed carrot. Carroty, as she was called that day, has actually been a wonderful addition to our family (as a side note, IKEA has come out with smaller baby carrots so Carroty is now a Mom of twins). She is big enough that all of us can use Carroty as a body pillow when we need it most.
And I needed her last night.
Thankfully, Curtis was cool with someone else snuggling with me last night and neither of us had dreams of eating carrot cake.