An important lesson from a toe-curling adventure

Day 330: Banana Apologies I could tell you our lives have been in minor upheaval for months and we are just beginning to see normal again.

You might nod your head in understanding, as you’ve been through those seasons, too, where routines just fall by the wayside.

As a consequence, we often find ourselves dealing with something more time-consuming after the fact because we didn’t handle the task at the outset when it was smaller.

This point was painfully and humorously driven home to me recently.


All was quiet in the bedroom, except for the whisper of our slow and rhythmic breathing.  Throughout the evening, the gentle sounds of the forest had drifted in on the warm summer air through the screened-in window, but even those were beginning to fade as dawn approached.

Without warning, I shot bolt upright, pulling wildly at the covers to free my tangled self, filling the tiny room with a loud and constant stream of “Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow!” I scrambled out of bed and attempted to stand, but instead fell against the wall as pain clawed at my foot. I wanted to be quiet so my husband could continue to sleep, but it was a lost cause as anguished utterances continued to stream spontaneously from my lips. The cramp in my arch was so severe that it felt like my toes had been folded almost completely under my foot. In spite of the pain and still not quite awake, I marveled that my bones could actually be that flexible and yet not break.

My husband, who was now pretty much wide awake, asked if there was anything he could do to help as I floundered around to the end of the bed. I declined, sure that I could break the iron grip myself. I bent over in the semi-darkness, intent on grabbing my toes, peeling them out from underneath my foot and flattening them to the floor in submission. My hand refused to cooperate, as it clubbed clumsily and ineffectively against my foot; my arm was completely and totally asleep from fingertip to elbow.

As I laughed in frustration—and still continued to express my torment—I asked Keith for help, explaining my dilemma. He laughed too, and jumped out of bed to help. His hands were working just fine, thankfully, and he was able to coax those errant little piggies out so they were facing towards the front of my feet where they belonged.

Walking just a few steps around the house usually solves this midnight misfortune in minutes. This time, that solution proved to be a non-starter. In addition, I was left with relatively sore arch muscles that felt as though I had stepped on a hard rock with a bare foot. Fancy that: apparently your toes can’t curl up under your feet without some residual side effect. And every once in a while they would twitch threateningly, as if they were signaling another possible attempt to go rogue.


Here is the real kicker to the story: This whole episode was preventable.

My doctor had recommended that I needed more potassium.

He was right. When I get enough, the leg cramps disappear.

And he was right about how to make them subside: do not just try to wait them out or massage them away; get up right away and walk them off.

Very counter-intuitive, simple and successful.

So why am I suffering again?

Because I ceased to take care of myself in some small ways, and those seemingly inconsequential choices have now caught up with me.

It was time to pay the piper, and this time the currency was painful cramps, interrupted sleep, and unnaturally bent toes.

As a wise friend once told me: We must take the time to care for ourselves, or we will take more time later to bring our lives back towards normal.

Although we have all heard this multiple times, we need to continue to encourage one another to move self-care higher up on the list. When we are rested, eat right, get some exercise, and take time—even minutes—to pray and refresh, we respond more effectively, appropriately, and compassionately.

We become happier and more loving moms.

Today, I encourage you to take a closer look at your day and choose one thing to change.

Just one.

For me, that means I need to focus on the simple action of getting my daily dose of potassium.

What does it look like for you?

I invite you to share your one thing and to encourage one another!


Philippians 2:4 Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (NIV)


Sharing at NOBH, Better Mom, Finding Heaven, Things I Can’t Say

Image credit: Snugg via flickr

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  1. So true! I recently took stock of my life and decided that I could make a few small changes for long-term benefit. I asked my husband to keep me accountable to put in ten minutes of prayer, exercise, and playing music (I’m a musician) per day. In the daily struggle to keep house and keep up with my little kids, I get so overwhelmed that I often neglect everything but those tasks that seem absolutely critical (like preparing meals). But that’s partly because my ideal of praying for 1 hour, exercising for 30 minutes, and practicing the violin for 90 minutes is completely unrealistic. But I can fit in 10 minutes here and there. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing, and it’s making such a difference in my spiritual and emotional outlook!

    • I laughed when I read your ideal prayer & practice goals-it hit close to home! I think you’ve really hit some important points here! Many of us assume our goals need to be done big or not at all. Thinking “I don’t have time to run 4 miles, so I won’t do anything” certainly won’t help us get closer to what we want.

      I love how you asked your husband to keep you accountable. What a message of love between you both! Thanks for really adding to the conversation!

  2. My one thing may be to take some time to relax during the time my son is at Mother’s Day Out this morning rather than franticly trying to get as much as possible done. It’s only Tuesday, and I’m already dragging from a full weekend!

    Mary Beth @newlifesteward
    PS Your blog is beautiful!

    • Thanks for stopping by and for your response! We try to cram so much into our day not realizing that perhaps filing some of the minutes with nothing is the best thing for us. I pray you were able to refresh while your son was away.

  3. So, so true. For me, it’s my daily meditation. If I don’t care for myself by taking the five minutes out of my morning, it catches up with me during the day when I am not being mindful, react harshly to things, or make poor choices. Thank you for the reminder!

    • You are welcome, Ilene. That time to renew, refresh can make a big difference in how we treat ourselves and others throughout our day.

  4. So true that we need to take care of ourselves. It usually is just something small that can make a big difference!

    • I always noticed that especially in regards to my children. If I didn’t take some time, even a few minutes, i would end up having much less patience with them. Not fair, not adult, and certainly not right. :-(

  5. My husband has been having leg cramps too and he said it was the most painful thing he has experienced next to pleursy. Even worse than his heart attack and open heart surgery. I have had these pains also. We used to call them charley horses. My toes do this every once in a while. We heard that calcium and magnesium were good for it too. I am going to get some potassium for him. It is totally true that the only thing that helps when you get this is to walk it out. I think it also helps to walk on a cool floor.
    I enjoyed your thoughts today and I will ponder on taking care of some of the small things first before they become big one.
    Thanks and blessings to you!

    • Thanks for adding to the conversation, LeAnn. No doubt others have experienced similar issues.
      I hope your husband is doing well.

  6. I must need some potassium, too.

  7. “Encourage one another to move self-care higher up on the list” – this is so true, Kim! As I move knee deep into the sandwich generation, it becomes easier for me to let the basics “slide.” And ultimately, I end up spending much more time on fixes than the time I saved in the first place. SO: for me this week, it will be more time in prayer in the morning.
    Thanks for the wise post!

    • Oh, the sandwich generation can be a very challenging place. I will keep you in my prayers!
      That morning time is so important. I find it just puts life in perspective and my heart in the right place. Thanks for being such an encouraging voice here and on your wonderful blog!

  8. It’s so true….we get so busy taking care of everyone else there is no time or energy left for ourselves. Still working to get some exercise and prayer time for myself on a weekly basis….it’s not going perfectly but it’s a start!

    • Sometimes it is baby steps that will get us where we need to go rather than giant leaps.
      Glad to hear you are working on carving out that bit of time, Michelle!

  9. I really get this post because I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and must pace myself as well as do what the doc says. Just the other day I said “no” to something because I knew my body could not handle it. Thanks for your humorous, albeit, painful insights, Kim! I’m so glad there’s a simple solution for you and hope you’re feeling better soon! :)

    • I am so glad you set limits to take care of yourself, Beth. I find that so hard to do, especially when a request is made of me. Thanks for stopping by!

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