Looking and Feeling Awake in a Season of Exhaustion

Looking + Feeling Awake in a Season of Exhaustion

Disclaimer: The following is my unprofessional opinion. It is meant for entertainment purposes only. Use common sense, do your own research, and consult your own professionals for any kind of diagnosis or treatment.

"I'm so exhausted I could cry."

Those are the words that take over my mind when I've woken up with a stuffy-nosed, teeth-breaking baby every hour or two throughout the night. Those words could also be followed up with, "I'm so exhausted, I can't cry." It's a very frustrating and pointless cycle I find myself in when I'm on consecutive days of sleepless nights.

The good thing about being on Baby Three is I've learned a thing or two about dealing with sleeplessness. I still get tired and we still have pizza too often. But I feel more aware of life happening all around me and less overcome by exhaustion. There are ways to sneak in some faux rest, or at least look a little more rested. There are also ways to help maintain, or even restore, sanity.

10 Tips for Looking + Feeling Awake

Whether you're sleeplessness is infant-induced or some other life-happening, here is my round-up of ideas to make the most of those missing ZZZzzzzs.

10 Tips for Looking + Feeling Awake

1 | Suck it up, princess.

There's an ecard that reads: "Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance... The five stages of waking up." It's funny because, when we're missing sleep, it's true. The longer we spend in one of those first four stages (pushing snooze over and over, being grumpy, pleading with husband to take a sick day, sulking), the harder it is to recover from our lack of sleep. Getting to the last stage, acceptance, as quickly as we can will give us the best shot at making the most of our groggy day. Suck it up princess, morning comes whether or not we got sleep.

2 | Brighten your eyes, and look the part.

I've read tips like putting two spoons in the freezer at night, then holding them under your eyes (where those pesky bags are likely to show up). Ain't nobody got time for that. Splashing my face with cold water may not do much for those bags, but it sure helps me wake up. I follow that up with a light liquid concealer and apply generously around the eyes. It's my "mom war paint." Brightening the eyes with concealer, and a little light eye shadow helps make me look a lot more alert. There are other ways to look put-together, which can make us feel put-together.

3 | Eat good food. Drink water. Stay healthy.

We can be more energized by fueling ourselves with good foods: Whole grains, low sugar (particularly when not eating the whole fruit), unprocessed, greens, etc. Life fuels life: Food that was once alive is a natural source for energizing human life. Water is cleansing, hydrating, and another necessary part of staying healthy.

This is all important because when we're lacking on sleep our immunity is down and we're more prone to illness, which will of course only lead to more sleeplessness. We need to stay healthy, especially when we're lacking on sleep.

4 | Drink coffee or other caffeine sparingly.

I've never been much of a coffee drinker, and certainly not a coffee-promoter. I acquired a diluted taste for it in college (read: must be sweetened and milked down), and only in the last couple months started making it myself and drinking it most days. Caffeine is addictive, can be damaging to our health, and generally comes in equally unhealthy forms (i.e., lots of sugar). That's the disclaimer. The reason I bring it up: It's currently part of my solution for surviving.

I can't sit around the house all day like I did with our last sleepless baby and his 3-year-old sister. I now have to be up before 7, getting our big girl out the door for school, and running errands with the younger two. Caffeine on those days helps me get it all done. I'm sure I'll visit this topic again to re-address that addictive and damaging side when I'm getting more sleep at night. Until then, I'll be drinking a cup most mornings.

5 | Drink an Emergen-C. Or take vitamins.

Vitamin Bs, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D are all energy-inducing and mood-boosting. Emergen-C powder is high in these and can be healthier and more lasting than caffeine. If you're not up for the "magical powder," then do your own reading or ask a professional to find out which vitamins to take and how much to supplement daily.

6 | Take a mid-day break. Get your blood moving.

Naps aren't always an option, and not everyone finds the same value in taking a nap. There are even different types of naps and results from each. I used to do the napping thing, but quit because interrupted naps were more frustrating to me than sleepless nights. Now, I try to work in a few minutes of rest. This can be a short stretching session, a little eyes closed meditating, or a few minutes with my legs up against a wall. That last one is something done in yoga and talked about on Oprah years ago (so it must be true), that roughly 8 minutes with your legs up against the wall can rejuvenate you the same as getting a full sleep cycle. Whether or not that's true, I've done it many times in my sleepiest and have left the session feeling a little more rested and a little more ready to finish the day well. Concentrated slow, deep breaths, eyes closed, and body in a relaxed position seem to be key.

Getting your blood moving is likely part of the success of putting your legs up against the wall. You're taking a break and you're encouraging blood to cycle throughout your body. You might also try a 4-minute tabata workout, or just do some jumping jacks or go for a quick walk.

7 | Stop whining.

It's clear, this is what I preach to myself, right? I'm harder on myself than I would be on you. As mentioned above, "I'm so exhausted I could cry" are the words that consume my thoughts when I'm not getting sleep. Obviously, that's not really helpful. When I notice myself thinking this, I try to replace it with something more positive or energizing. Basically recreating what I'm choosing to believe. Even something as simple and un-profound as repeating "I am awake" can do the trick. If nothing else, it at least stops the self-defeating thought cycle. Reading something life-giving (like my morning devotional time) does the same.

8 | Incorporate the senses.

When I'm really trying to feel awake, alert, energized, I make that happen with all of my senses. Sniffing something like peppermint, citrus, or cloves through diffusing essential oil or a candle; and turning on some peppy or upbeat music (like New Shoes by Paolo Nutini or Happy by Pherrell Williams).

It works for the opposite purpose, too. When ready for a mid-day break or winding down at the end of the day, use lavendar or other calming scents, and play some soothing music.

9 | Be safe. Make good choices.

I have read about sleeplessness inhibiting thought-process in a similar way that consuming alcohol inhibits it. It can slow reactions and cause things like driving to be dangerous. Drunks stumble over a line thinking they're fine, and sleepless people everywhere commute to work and school without thinking of the safety issue. We should be brave enough to ask for help or, when we can, waiting until we've gotten some rest. We can incorporate the help of that caffeine when necessary. We should avoid important decisions and discussions when we're exhausted--we're less likely to be irritable and irrational that way. Let's not be naive about the dangers of going without sleep, and make good choices with that in mind.

10 | Address the issue. Embrace the season.

If possible, and when sleeplessness is ongoing, we need to address the issue. Are we drinking caffeine too late in the day, or does our babe need help learning to sleep more than two hours at a time? (Babies need sleep as much as we do, and their ongoing sleep-disruption can cause problems for their growth and development.) If there's something we can do, then we should address the sleep issue.

Whether it's temporary or ongoing, let's wake up and embrace the season. We may not exactly "enjoy" it (like so many people tell us to do), but we can certainly slow down to notice life happening all around us. To find the little things to appreciate. Sure, acknowledging the challenges, but not being overcome by them.

Bonus | Sleep when baby sleeps. Clean when baby cleans.

Ha ha. Just kidding :) That's another meme I saw: If I should sleep when baby sleeps, should I clean when baby cleans, and cook when baby cooks? If all else fails, at least we can find a little humor in the situation.

Sleeplessness will not keep us from living.

wake up. life is happening.

w h a t ' s   n e x t ?

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Embracing Epic Beginnings

5 Statements for Embracing Epic Beginnings

Six years. That's how long I've had this blog--my little corner of the internet. It all started with Journey to Yes, a post I wrote on December 29, 2008 after watching Yes Man on Christmas Day with the family. Starting this blog was my hope for trying new things and uncovering the unknown one yes at a time. Of course, back then, I titled it TrinaCressDotBlogSpotDotCom, replaced by a couple other similarly cringe-worthy titles.

It's fun to reflect on all that has changed since then. I mean, cloth diapering was a distant thought I hardly believed we'd follow through on, and now we've been there, done that. My photographs have improved, I've done all of my own blog design, and I've created products I would have hardly believed came from me back in 2008.

2008. When I was working full-time for the college from where I graduated. When we had one sweet little one-year-old. I clocked in, clocked out, and dreamed of one day staying home with her (and future kids) and doing work I loved. Somehow, I saw those coming together. Something like at-home writer for Real Simple magazine while the kids played. What, a girl can dream, right?

Fast forward a few years. Six, to be exact. And I'm reluctant to admit my mixed emotions. Don't get me wrong, I'm proud of where I am. I'm so in love with my three crazy children and so thankful to spend my days at home caring for them and all of the little details that keep our lives moving while my hard-working husband carries the burden of clocking in, clocking out. I'm also humbled from what has come of this little corner of the interwebs. This place where I've discovered a little piece of God-given creativity that I've spent a lifetime denying.

It's truly wonderful. I'm blessed. And thankful. And I imagine Trina of 2008 would have been thrilled to have all of this. Meanwhile, Trina of 2015 has mixed emotions.

I didn't have the same comparisons back then. Posts about where people have come in their years of blogging are hard for me to ignore. They start around the time I did, maybe a year or so off. And in their more focused time, they've published books and booked speaking engagements. They've paid off all of their debts and finished simplifying their homes. They've created online businesses that have replaced not only their own income, but their spouses, too.

It should be obvious by now I'm describing a "them" only in my head. These fictitious people are hardly human the way I perceive the perfect details of their perfect lives. They started where I was in 2008: broke, exhausted, and ready for a change. Except they got their change. Here we are still broke, exhausted, and ready for a change.

The journey to yes isn't an easy one. Not for this girl, anyway.

All of those things that I'm not, and that lifestyle that we don't have, isn't really the point. I never started blogging to make a career out of it. (I still cringe when people call me a blogger or when real-life friends talk about my blog.) I never imagined it would pay off my debt or make my home all I dream for it to be. So I shouldn't have any disappointments there.

For me, it's always been about the journey. Following the process. There's no end point of arrival here on Earth. That's reserved for Heaven. The yeses here are just tiny little steps in that direction. Not about finding the one Yes to end them all. Just a continuous habit of Yessing. (The one Yes would be Jesus, and even He calls us to live this life and live it well in Him.)

And so, we start over and over. Many of those starts hardly looking any different than the starts before. Until we let time pass, then look back and realize the starts of 2008 (including a little nameless blog) are far different from the starts of 2015 (including a simple blog called Beginner Beans and lots of unknown).

It almost seems as if I'm getting ready to submit my resignation to the blog. I've seen lots of those going around, too. Posts of people (again, starting around the time I did) realizing their work here is done and they're on to new yeses. Quite the opposite, actually. I'm just trying to find words for my mixed emotions. To acknowledge somewhere that while I technically started in 2008, I'm here in 2015 just getting started.

Working out the journey with more words than can fit into a tweet. Allowing the time it takes for yeses to become something of meaning.

Like Joseph from pit to palace to prison back to palace. Years of journey before the story was worth telling. Because Joseph's story wouldn't have been much if it ended in the pit or in prison, would it? I mean, that's kind of depressing and not at all what God is about.

Or like Moses from river to palace to field back to palace. Years of journey evolved to make his story one for the Book. Can you imagine Moses dying in the river? So much for Jochabed's faith, am I right? Or even if it ended after his escape from the palace. Murderer. That would have been it of his reputation. God had bigger plans for his story and there was quite a journey of yeses to get him there.

I could go on. The Bible is full of them. Noah and Jonah, Esther, the disciples, and prophets. So many examples of Yeses. Not just one per person. Many yeses each, over years, and trials, as God worked His power in and through their lives.

That's what I'm here for. Here in this life and on this blog. Working out the journey. Allowing the time it takes for God to transform my yeses into something of meaning. Because it didn't end in 2008 or 2014, and so far it hasn't ended in 2015 either.

How about you? Are you ready to refresh your journey of yeses? To give them to God and renew in your faith in Him that He is making your life mean something?

5 Statements for Embracing Epic Beginnings

I created a little 35-day ebook and journal about this journey to yes called Epic Beginner. I'm giving it away for free to new subscribers for a limited time. Sign-up at the end of this post. Here's a quick snapshot to get you started (from day 1 of the journal). Complete the following statements for yourself. I'll share a few of my quick responses to share a glimpse of where I'm beginning 2015...

1. Things I'm STARTING (or soon will be)...

Better eating. Simple daily exercise. Reading through The Message. Weekly posting here on the blog. Weekly date nights. Dividing my spending money into thirds: Give, save, spend. A couple e-products. Supporting my Main Man's marathon training. Listening--lots of extended solitude to listen for God's leading.

"Are you going to do something or nothing?

That is the epic beginner difference."

2. My current or most recurring EXCUSES and FEARS...

Unsure of next right steps. Not making money. Too tired or overwhelmed. Looking like a fool. Being "just a blogger" and not finding real value (connections, service, income, etc.). Missing my real purpose. Wasting time.

"Our fears are often unfounded. Even the craziness of the

unknown usually turns out far better than we imagine."

3. My current or most common CHALLENGES...

Waking up with baby every 2-3 hours at night. Still dealing with occasional epic fits from the preschooler. Read: Difficult to muster time and energy to do anything besides basic mothering. Lack of money stressing me out. Too many "good" things consuming that limited time and energy too quickly.

"The grass is greener where you water it."

4. My recent or most regretted FAILURES...

Selling only a couple ebooks (feels like a failure when people ask how many I sold). Resorting to frozen pizzas for too many meals. Not doing date nights or making my Main Man a priority. Wasting valuable writing time on social media. Getting hung up on stuff and not just letting go.

"Your next epic story may not be far off from your last epic failure."

5. My recent or proudest SUCCESSES...

Getting a couple collages hung up at home. Newsletter list at 1,075+ subscribers. Getting positive feedback on Simplicity vs. Getting emails from people that find a couple of my posts on Google. Finding peace in a chaotic season of having a baby and moving. Being asked to speak at a women's retreat this year.

"There is always some success--some reason to be

thankful and content--in this moment."

Join the conversation on Twitter or Instagram with #EpicBeginner. Would love to hear some of your responses to the above statements, and journey together in our yeses!

Ready to join in?
Sign-up for monthly encouragement in your journey, and receive printable resources for FREE. Learn more >> here, or sign up below...

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Epic Beginner Ebook + Journal

Epic Beginner: The 35-Day Ebook + Journal

start-anything ebook + journal

Beginning anything new is hard. Starts are often messy, countless challenges and fears get in the way, failing is inevitable, and success seems allusive. The Epic Beginner Ebook and Journal will help you through the beginning process. Take 35 days to make the start of anything (a new hobbie, job, habit, year... anything) mean something.

Epic Beginner: The 35-Day Ebook

Epic Beginner: The 35-Day Ebook for starting, facing your fears, overcoming challenges, failing with grace, finding success, and resting along the way
The Epic Beginner Ebook includes 35 short daily readings going through lessons in starting, facing fears, overcoming challenges, failing with grace, finding success, and resting along the way.

See the first week >> here.

Epic Beginner: The 35-Day Journal

Epic Beginner; The 35-Day Journal for working through your own beginning on purpose on paper
The Epic Beginner Journal 35 daily prompts and guided questions with writing space to work through your own beginning on purpose on paper. The inside is black and white making printing easy. Can be printed as a booklet on 11 foldable pages.

See the first week >> here.


Will be added soon.

Join the Community

You're not alone in your beginning. Join a community of epic beginners. Wherever you post about these products or your experience getting started with anything new, use the hashtag:


Let's join together to encourage each other, help in the challenges, give virtual high fives in overcoming those fears, and celebrate the little successes along the way.

Sign-up to receive the Epic Beginner Ebook + Journal FREE. Or learn more >> here.

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