Breathe In, Breathe Out

August 25, 2021


Yesterday, I basically took the entire day and wallowed in my feelings. I lowered all of the usual expectations for myself. I got a minimum amount of work done during the day, but there was plenty of pouting and “WHYYYY” and sharing with/complaining to friends. I watched planner videos. I organized my pen drawers! I am not even sure why I was so emotionally impacted by our early quarantine, but I was.

(And now I’m excited to have organized pen drawers.)

Sorted by type! Gel on the front/right, ball-point in the middle, ink + specialty pencils in the back
Drawer #2: Colored pens only! Mildliners in the back (umm, many). Brush pens up front. The rest somewhat randomly layered in there, for now.

Reasons it should not have been so hard to handle:

#1: We have childcare. So no logistical quandary was had!

#2: I fully expected it. I mean, duh, with these kinds of case rates.

I am feeling much better today. I printed C’s work out (kudos to his teachers for having an incredibly organized plan and working very hard to engage a class of 1st – 3rd graders, and kudos to our nanny who has to sit near him and constantly remind him that he is supposed to pay attention).

And I won’t be home to oversee it (patients all day), but our nanny will be fine. At least (for now) she is not having to watch G while supervising the other 2.


Today I am feeling much more accepting and just . . . ready to go with the flow.

I guess proof that sometimes wallowing for a day can help.

Side Note:

Laura and I are prepping for 2 upcoming Q&A/Mailbag Episodes on BOBW! I received a number of great questions on our show instagram, but can always use more. Feel free to submit via email, in a comment, or through instagram! I’m glad the Back to School ep was well-received – we had fun recording that one.


  • Reply Elisabeth August 25, 2021 at 7:30 am

    Um, it’s hard because despite all the helpful things you have going for you (nanny, access to the technology needed, this isn’t a complete surprise) there is the huge cloud of uncertainty. Is this going to happen every month? Every few weeks? Will all three kids be home at some point? Will schools get shut down again? That is SO much to think through. And it’s not really feasible to not consider contingencies…even if they never do come to fruition.

    Also it’s hard because you want what’s best for your kids (and for C, at least, that’s in-class learning) and what’s best for you (having a set routine that’s predictable).

    It’s hard because it’s a global pandemic and there is so much emotion and fear and tension and political fear-mongering.

    It’s hard BECAUSE THIS IS ALL FREAKING HARD. It’s okay to say “This feels hard, but I’m going to accept that it feels hard” and still list what you’re grateful for.

    Again, going to put in a plug for The Happiness Trap book. Russ Harris talks about this sort of thing A LOT. I’d say I’m doing 5% better at handling my emotional roller-coaster as I’m working through his book. 5% isn’t much…but it’s not nothing.

    Also – that is a lot of pens. I love how we all have different pick-me-ups. Organizing something small, like a drawer, is always such a huge boost to me. Colourful pens sound like an exceptionally nice thing to organize šŸ™‚

    The last two days I have been wallowing like CRAZY. Yesterday I took a short nap and then just systematically tackled some relatively mindless, but really necessary, work tasks. It felt so good to just get them done. I also washed and blowdried my hair last night. All summer I’ve just been throwing my hair up in a bun. Waking up this morning to hair all ready to be straightened and putting on makeup felt SO good. I need the wallowing, but I was mildly productive in the midst of it so not only did I let my emotional state just do it’s thing…I also come through the other side with work tasks completed that have been hanging over my head…

    You got this Sarah! And you’ve got a fine looking (and organized) collection of pens šŸ™‚

  • Reply Jen August 25, 2021 at 8:19 am

    Sending you the biggest virtual hugs. I think we don’t let ourselves feel our feelings sometimes and you have them and taking some time just to feel them and not feel bad about it is completely okay, healthy even. You gave yourself some space and have thought it through and can move on. We have this whole stiff upper lip business and ‘others have it worse so i shouldn’t feel these feelings’ but you still do. It’s not a suffering contest.
    I admit that i took my screen limit off instagram because i find the scrolling there less anxiety inducing than the news that i turn to when my time limit was reached. And I downloaded a new game so that i could just focus on that. It’s more time ‘wasted’ than i want but what is with the need to feel useful all the time??

  • Reply Shelly August 25, 2021 at 8:48 am

    Thank you for sharing Sarah. I want to echo some of the other commenters that have expressed gratitude for you posting so regularly. I was going to say through the pandemic but really, I have been reading your blog regularly for several years. I appreciate your openness and vulnerability of being human with all that life throws at us. I also really appreciate the commenters and dialogue.

    My kids also don’t go back until September 9. Where I live we have always been delayed. We just came out of the third wave and had loosening restrictions over the last several weeks. By the look around me (I live in Winnipeg, Canada), the fourth wave won’t be as delayed. Sigh.

    I had been really hopeful for a really comfortable return to school thinking we’d have time before worrying about quarantine from school exposures but now I’m not so sure.

    I feel on the edge now all the time, where one more thing is a tipping point to feeling so overwhelmed. I recognize that I have been lucky for both my husband and I to keep our jobs, I’ve been working from home, and my kids are doing ok. At the same time it is exhausting to manage work while constantly being interrupted at home. I feel like my focus is so scattered that adding in anything more, even if it’s small, I just don’t have any energy left.

    Yet, I try and pick myself up and see the good. I will actually get to do a campus tour with some of the new students later this week. And even though I will be teaching online again, some contact is better than none.

    I feel inspired to do more organizing! A project that has been on my summer list and I have only done my closet. It’s time to tackle my “home office”!

  • Reply Christine August 25, 2021 at 9:47 am

    Oh my goodness, Sarah, so sorry to hear this is happening so soon in the school year! I can imagine it’s just so disheartening! I have pretty much nothing useful to contribute, except sympathy and support for the wallowing tactic! I took some wallowing time the other day too (this summer has turned out almost more stressful than the academic year it was supposed to be a respite from, on my end) filled it with reading books just for fun (Homegoing, which went on my list based on your recommendation, actually – thanks for that! I loved it and am now reading Transcendant Kingdom!) and taking a walk outside. I’m not going to say I bounced out of it feeling good as new, but I think it did help to just take a little break from internal and external expectations, so… I don’t really have a point, just… hooray for wallowing sometimes, I guess. (I do realize that that is also a huge privilege – being able to take wallowing time.)

    Also… this is going to be even more random than the rest of this comment, but… like you, I have a “fun” allowance every month, and this month I went ahead and splurged on some new skincare to help cheer myself up. Anyway, I ordered some products that I’d been wanting to try for a while (spoiler alert: one of them is Good Genes… heard it recommended in so many places, including maybe here, but it’s always been a bit on the pricey side for me) and here is my super random tip: if you go to Caroline Hirons’ website (been vaguely following her since she was on Forever35), she currently has some discount codes for a bunch of brands – like 20-30% for some of them, including Sunday Riley! Worth a look if you are due to restock on any of those! It doesn’t solve all of life’s problems by any means, but being able to indulge in something that I’ve been eyeing for ages while saving 30% has brightened my morning for sure!

  • Reply LDMN August 26, 2021 at 1:10 pm

    For what it’s worth, I strongly believe that it’s really healthy to sit with feelings for a while (and acknowledge it when possible). I think it makes it easier and more efficient to actually move past them, rather than continuing to try and fight them down. Good for you!

  • Reply Abby August 30, 2021 at 9:34 am

    I am with you on the Covid doldrums. I almost cried when they sent the email with the expected numbers and asking us to pick up additional shifts (hospitalist). Iā€™m better now but it took some time.

    I was catching up on episodes of best of both worlds the other day when you and Laura were talking about FI without RE. You should interview Jimmy Turner (Money Meets Medicine) or Jim Dahle ( the White Coat Investor), two people very dedicated to FI but no interest in RE.

  • Reply Krista Lusby August 31, 2021 at 11:18 am

    I just have to ask about the pens…do you use all of those regularly? I have an issue with pens drying out when I have a bunch “open” (the nub cover off) at one time. So I try to only open a few at time and use those up, but that means I have a lot just sitting there. Do you have a system to rotate or make sure you are using all the pens at some frequency?

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger August 31, 2021 at 2:38 pm

      Some them still have the little cover on them šŸ™‚ The others seem to last, for the most part! Horizontal storage is key but you are probably already doing that šŸ™‚

  • Reply On Wallowing and The Happiness Trap – Elisabeth Frost September 2, 2021 at 5:05 am

    […] done my fair share of wallowing lately. I know I’m not alone. Turns out, it may actually be a good thing and could provide a faster path to greener, […]

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