The Chicken Tender Strategy


This morning I woke up at 4am to a thunderstorm. Just the night before I’d been woken up at 4am by something else, so I’d taken a sleeping pill last night to catch up on sleep. As a result, when the storm came through, I was in a deep sleep and having a weird dream about trying to sculpt my face out of cookie dough as a gift for someone. Thank you, sleeping pills, for that crazy visual.

Suddenly awoken by the loud rain, thunder and 20+ flashes of lightning in under a minute, it took me a moment to gather what was going on. The rain was so loud that I had to focus in my sleepy stupor to figure out if it was pouring through the ceiling into the bedroom. (It wasn’t.)

Then, I had to check in on the boys (i.e. my husband and dogs). Now, the theory is that my husband is a light sleeper and my dogs are scared of storms. I quietly whispered my husband’s name to see if he was awake. You know, one of those whispers you hope will wake the other person up but you can play off like you weren’t trying to wake them. πŸ˜‰

He was in a deep sleep and didn’t hear me. As the flashes of lightening continued to fill the room, piercingly bright and only seconds apart, I saw my dogs curled up like two little cinnamon buns, completely unfazed by Armageddon outside.

The thunder, lightening and rain continued to rage on. I started to wonder things like, “Does our homeowner’s insurance cover lightning striking our house?”, “Should we rescue more dogs to keep them out of storms?”, “What was that thud?”, “Did a tree or lightning hit the ground?” and “Can I get electrocuted inside the house somehow by what’s going on outside?”

As my sleeping pill impaired and sleep deprived brain tried to rationalize what to do next, I found myself in the kitchen making chicken tenders. I knew I needed to eat at some point this morning, so 4am seemed like a good enough time and chicken tenders were easy to heat up. I tried to watch tv while I ate them, but the cable was out from the storm.

So, there I was at 4:30am, eating chicken tenders in bed, staring at a tv with just an error message. The storm continued well past 5am, but munching on my chicken tenders really helped.

My point from all of this is that sometimes we’re woken up in an unexpected storm. After our feeble attempts to figure out what exactly to worry about, who can share in this storm with us or all things we need to do next, we need to just start doing something – even if it’s simple. Even if it’s making chicken tenders at 4am.

We don’t always have the luxury of seeing a problem coming from a mile away. Sometimes it’s just something that seems to come out of nowhere. Or maybe it’s a problem we’ve created ourselves and are caught up in it after years of struggling – unsure of how to ever unravel it all.

Either way, take a small step and do something. You don’t have to fix the entire situation immediately. You don’t have to figure out every detail of how you got there. You’re in the situation. There you are. Start there. Find a solution for that specific moment and tackle the next challenge later.


7 responses to “The Chicken Tender Strategy

  1. Now that I’m off caffeine, I’m noticing that my sleep patterns are unusual. Better, but unfamiliar. I wake up at odd times and where I usually would have been dehydrated and groggy and angry at everything, misophonia out of control, now I’m not. I’m just awake in a sort of peaceful way. Most of the time I just get up to let the dogs out (2 black pommies! What are yours? πŸ˜€ ), go pee, and then go back to bed and lay there either trying to make out the conversations my sleep talking husband is having in his dreams or reading on my phone. Now that spring is coming back, I’m hoping to get rid of this compulsion to always be turning to my phone in a moment of inactivity. Maybe early morning walks again! 4 AM is a bit too early for that though. When all the worms are built in to our lives, what can we do if we become early birds? I’m a bit of a Thoreau, I love to take walks.

    Chicken tenders are a real weakness for me! When I was a teenager I would go to my dad’s house and he would actually HAVE FOOD. Mom was poor, zero food and then when she did buy it I ate it all too quickly. No wonder she never bought food. Poor mom. Anyway! He always had bags of frozen precooked chicken tenders. I would eat them by the plateful with 3 different dipping sauces! Homer Simpson donut drooling reaction right now just thinking about it. Danger, Will Robinson, Danger.

  2. PS. I know your post wasn’t really about waking up in the middle of the night or chicken tenders at its core. πŸ˜‰ Action and diversion really are the best coping mechanisms to deal with moments of crisis and anxiety when we feel powerless and out of control. I agree. πŸ™‚

    • Haha. Sounds like we have a lot in common. I have a Shih Tzu and a pug mix. They’re little guys and they have a bromance.

      I get caught up in checking my phone too. The internet never sleeps. I like taking walks in our neighborhood. We usually do evening walks. There’s a creek nearby that our dogs like to visit. One time the pug mix walked right out into the water and tried to swim for the first time. He has stubby little legs so I pulled him back in. I think the swimming sensation startled him. I may take him to a nature park this summer so we can practice his swimming more.

      My go-to for chicken tender sauces is 50/50 honey mustard and ketchup. Chick-fil-a sauce is good too.

      Diversion seems to be really helpful for me. I can easily overthink things, so little victories and reliable distractions are always a quick fix. ☺

  3. By the by, massive storms here too. Southern Missouri. It’s odd though, my best friend’s father is dying. When she has life emergencies, I volunteer to watch her 2 boys. The oldest has Type 1 Diabetes so babysitting them means figuring out carbs and maths and giving shots of insulin. So it goes. I was taught how to give shots when he was diagnosed so I could be a help to his poor, frazzled parents, both of which I dearly love. Last night we ate stew and watched Tarzan. I had so much on my mind, that the constant lightening and downpours barely phased me! Distraction for the win!

    • Wow. That’s very kind of you to help them so much and to learn about how to properly care for your friend’s son. I’m sure they enjoy their time with you. Stew and Tarzan sounds like a fun night!

      • It is a privilege to have the freedom of time and mind to be able to support the people I love. This is largely because I have chosen not to have my own children. πŸ™‚

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