How cool is a sandwich? It can be simple or complicated. Hot or cold. Plain or elaborate. It takes no time to make, depending on it’s level of complication. I love a nice sandwich. More so since a sandwich was the cornerstone of my recovery.
In amongst the raindrops during my Raindrops to Rainbows story, I was given an amazing piece of advice that changed my journey. A health visitor took myself and Mr LMR to a side room during one of many visits to the baby clinic. TM hadn’t gained enough weight again. I was exhausted and the issue of my steadfast determination to breast feed was being questioned again. Instead of telling me I should introduce formula feeds, like the other health professionals had, she asked me what I wanted.
That health visitor was one of the few people who spoke to me, not just examine my baby. I said that I wanted to keep going. “Ok then, we need a plan.” She turned to Mr LMR and said “look at her. She is exhausted. If you can do anything to help her, do it. Before you leave for work on a morning, make her a sandwich.”
The advice was so simple but so powerful. It is a basic human need to be fed and nourished. A basic need that must be met in order to build a solid foundation. By making it for me Mr LMR could show me he supported me, at a time when he didn’t really know what to do. That sandwich nourished me physically and mentally. It gave me a foothold. A secure cornerstone on which to build.
On this sandwich I build my pyramid
Abraham Harold Maslow, an American psychologist, knew a thing or two about the importance of sandwiches. (This isn’t true I am using artistic licence. I have no idea about his knowledge of sandwiches). In 1943 he wrote a paper entitled “A Theory of Human Motivation”. Maslow outlined a theory, that illustrated human needs and the order in which they are to be fulfilled, to enable you to reach your full potential. The foundation of the pyramid is physiological or biological needs such as air, food, drink, shelter, warmth, relationships and sleep.
When you become a parent these are the basic needs that you crave. You miss the feeling of being well rested, the ability to enjoy a hot cup of tea or a meal eaten with both hands in peace. The warmth of your bed as you pace the floor in the early hours with a teething baby.
You miss the intimacy shared with your partner pre children. Neglected as there is no longer time or space in your life or your brain. Occasional moments negotiated with the promise that you need not emotionally engage, remove your glasses or socks, or even be fully conscious. Just as long as there is some connection to remind each other that your relationship means more than just the nurturing and wrangling of monkeys.
Desperately seeking fulfillment
I have spoken before about how everyone is in a hurry to get places these days. By rushing to the finish line we often miss so much on the way. We get there exhausted and unfulfilled. I speak to other runners who don’t feel happy with their abilities. They struggle to meet what they believe is their full potential. From experience, I know that comparing your successes against those of others is a futile venture. You will not achieve the goals of others because they are not your goals.
It is easy to feel as though one mistake means that all is lost or that taking time out to heal somehow makes you weak. If you don’t follow the plan to the letter you will never achieve your goal. You signed up for a big event but you are struggling. Surely you cannot achieve what you set out to do if you stop to heal yourself? A younger version of you could do this, why does it feel so much harder now? Frustration breeds doubt and you only believe you can fail.
The practice of Mindfulness encourages you to live in the present. Not to be influenced by a past or future you. In reality the only solid, physical, person you can influence is the present you. The person stood in the kitchen, with (hopefully) the ingredients for a sandwich.
So feed yourself
My recent return to running was built on a solid foundation. From experience, I knew that my body would take time to heal after the birth of BM, so I made a plan. I fed myself, I tried to drink plenty of water, I nurtured my relationships (it is not difficult to remind yourself to hug someone close to you to feel reassured). We are lucky to have a roof over our heads and be safe and warm. I could always do with more sleep, but if I cannot sleep I will always rest if I need to. Often in conflict with the washing pile. I built my foundation before I added new layers. Everyday I remember to look after that foundation. If I struggle, I go back to basics.
What would you lose if you made yourself a sandwich? Maybe five minutes of your day? Is it difficult to take two slices of bread and put some ham and tomato or chicken and mayonnaise in between them? Add a cup of tea or just a glass of water? If the baby is crying or the monkeys are tantruming and your tummy is rumbling, what would happen if you took a slice of bread put something on it, folded it and ate it? It might just give you that little bit of strength to push through the pain. An action to repeat every day. A cornerstone to build from.