Some of the secret joys of living are not found by rushing from point A to point B, but by inventing some imaginary letters along the way.
~ Douglas Pagels
Some of the secret joys of living are not found by rushing from point A to point B, but by inventing some imaginary letters along the way.
~ Douglas Pagels
I’m getting ready to do a little/a lot of travelling the next few weeks — camping this week and up to the cabin next week. It’s not so much escaping my day to day reality (which it kinda is), but it’s a chance to be away from the chatter of TV, loads of laundry, and pandemic protocol.
I can set up blogs ahead of time, stop the mail, and leave three pounds of cat food in the feeder for my pussycat, no problem.
Unfortunately, I can’t take my crafting with me.
I know I will feel guilty sitting around daily, in a fishing boat, on the deck, or around the fire, reading, writing, sketching, visiting, sleeping, doing every thing a vacation is supposed to encourage. All I will be thinking about is the craft fair over Labor Day and if I will have enough product to sell.
What a dope.
That leads to the fear of not selling anything at all. The guilt of having spent money on supplies over and over again, of coercing my family to help out in the booth, and in the end having 300 Angel Tears hanging from my back yard gazebo. The fear of Mass Tanglement from Hell when Tears start wrapping around each other in knots only God can get out.
I wonder if I’m the only one who blows reality out of proportion for no good reason.
I know it won’t be as bad as all that — I am looking forward to getting a fresh look at nature and her beauty. I love the outdoors. I love campfires. I love the cabin and not being far from the water. I love sleeping in and going out for ice cream. And, of course, I love being with my grandkids in both situations.
I just wonder why I waste time stressing about things I have no control over. Work will get done. The laundry pile in the corner isn’t going anywhere. It will wait for my return. As will the housework and yardwork.
And the crafting.
Do you sometimes get carried away with your stress moments?
I’d like to think that’s all just part of being human. Of being passionate about life.
Maybe I just need to take up a more “portable” hobby.
Before you congratulate me on my multi-tasking abilities, let me assure you. I am beginning to hate it.
Take Saturday, for instance. I was watching Downton Abbey, writing my Sunday blog, plus I had a bin of cardboard I needed to cut to size, went into the kitchen and scooped some ice cream, and my phone was nearby just in case I need to look up something or text someone.
Why can’t I just sit still and watch a chapter or two of the telly? Or just sit and write a blog?
I tend to blame my senior-onset A.D.D. The older I get the less I can sit still for any length of time. I have already talked to my physician, so that part is just fine.
But I’m making myself crazy with all these things lined up to keep myself busy.
I’m too old to be kept so busy.
I’ve tried meditation, Valerian, and deep breathing. I’ve told myself I don’t need to keep busy every second of the day, yet everywhere I look there’s something I can be doing while I’m doing something else.
And I find myself thinking why not kill two birds with one stone? Sew the holes in my socks or research artists while a movie babbles in the background? And since I’m already online, why not check out other blogs, work on updating my website, look for a new recipe for Apple Crisp, and type a text to a friend? I can also paint my toenails and let them dry while I’m surfing and watching TV. I’m not moving around, after all ….
I’m making myself crazy.
So yesterday I decided to stop multi tasking. Just for the day. I had a sinus headache anyway, so I just aimed to do nothing.
At 8:30 pm I couldn’t take it anymore and went online, wrote this blog, turned on my iPad and downloaded a game, plus edited the story I wanted to post. That was after I took time to find some ambient music on YouTube.
It’s midnight now. It didn’t work.
I truly have to start tackling tasks one task at a time. Concentrate on one thing at a time. It’s okay if a half dozen ideas and projects bombard me at one time, but I have to learn to prioritize and not stress myself out by trying to do three, four, or five things at once.
Do you have multi-tasking-itis? Do you do ten things at one time? If you do, let me know how you do it. If you don’t, let me know how you do it as well.
Like I said earlier, the task list is getting longer and my attention span is getting shorter. And I’m not getting any younger.
I just can’t keep up with myself anymore …
One thing I am discovering on my quarantine vacation is that now that I have the time to finally do all of the things I’ve wanted to do in 40 years I don’t feel like doing anything.
That includes TV marathons, long walks in the woods, cleaning and rearranging closets and drawers and rooms (for the 4th time), writing, crafting — even eating.
That’s not right.
I feel so blasé about everything. Except my stress.
THAT I can’t seem to control.
Between my brother-in-law in ICU for C-19 and the article I just read about rehab after ICU and my cat in the midst of dying and driving 200 miles round trip to clean twice a week, I’d say there’s just a little to be stressed about.
I’m sure your caseload is just as stressful. If not more so.
It seems to cluster and peak when you can least do anything about it.
I guess it’s called going through $hit. We all have to do it, deal with it, move through it and past it. Standing still, running backwards, or beating your head against the proverbial wall does not make it go away.
So you still have to go through it.
You HAVE to find ways to go through it.
After writing this piece, I’m going downstairs and sponge painting my bedroom that I’m turning into a library. I will be making a forward motion in my stand-still world. I can take my time, pretend I’m Picasso, and leave the stress behind for an hour or two.
You have to do that, too.
Even though your energy level may have changed in this lock-down phase of life, you can’t let blasé-ism get you down.
Even if you have to listen to Benny Goodman or Ozzie or Justin Bieber, you’ve got to find your beat and jiggle it. Wiggle it. Paint it or dig-in-the-garden it or calligraphy it.
You won’t be living under the blanket of C-19 forever.
But you will be living with yourself.
You’ve got to vent it somehow. Scream it or whine it or cry it or babble it. It doesn’t matter how you get it out — just GET IT OUT.
Make your going through $hit colorful and sparkly. Like a rainbow or glitter or fluorescent painting. Make your statement loud and clear. Work it out! Get through it! We’re all in this together. And we’ll all get through this together.
Even if we all don’t like glitter.
I will probably wait a few days before I publish this blog, because I don’t want to send too many blogs out a week, filling up mailboxes and facebooks with more personal dribble. After all, it’s invading your personal space, and you might not like me for it.
That’s the stress talking.
My husband came home from his 2nd shift job and woke me up at 4 a.m., asking if I was okay. It seems the knob on the stove wasn’t turned off all the way and the house was filled with gas fumes.
This is me talking through the stress.
I always thought the older I got, the less I’d care about things that upset me. That I could truly not give a $hiT about things that plague my every day existence.
That hasn’t happened.
I seem to be taking more and more things personally. I wasn’t near the stove yesterday except to take rice from the pot. I was second in line, delayed by at least 10 minutes because I was on the phone. But I was stressed because I thought I “might” have been the one who didn’t turn the handle all the way vertical. And stress, being what it is, told me that my husband and kids might start thinking I’m getting senile.
I’m training a newbee at work, and I’m upset because I’m training him on something I’ve never quite worked on, and his desktop shortcuts are different from my shortcuts, and my Photoshop froze up mid-demonstration, plus I’m slow in getting the hang of learning something new. And stress, being what it is, told me that I might lose my job or get reprimanded or not get a raise because of my dilemmas.
We are paying off medical bills as steadily as we can, and have worked with doctors and hospitals and told them we can’t afford “their” payment plan. We send in a goodly chunk of money every month, yet they still like to call and remind me of how much money I owe. And stress, being what it is, told me that I could go to jail or get in trouble for not paying off thousands of dollars of bills right away.
My wonderful daughter-in-law is spending Friday morning at my house, waiting for her husband to get off of work so they can follow us on a weekend escape, and I feel I have to spend 4 hours just cleaning my kitchen so she doesn’t get ptomaine poisoning. And stress, being what it is, tells me that she might not like me anymore if she has to spend four hours in my messy house.
Why am I so screwed up about these things?
I know I should save the stress for big things…Lord we know we all go through them. Jobs, families, and illnesses are all sources of stress. But lately I feel like I’m taking the blame for everything, leading to higher cholesterol, sleepless nights, heartburn, and worse. I’ve been told to let it go — you can only do so much, you can’t change others, do your best. Blah blah. After all, it’s not my fault if a computer program freezes or someone else is late for something I want to go to. Don’t sweat the small stuff, they say. Smell the roses. Get some fresh air and clear your head. Don’t take it so personally.
But I do. All of it.
I’m already taking something to keep the door closed on an all-out anxiety attack. Still I have to stop my mind from wandering and wondering about stupid things that have nothing to do with my reality yet really stress me out, like: what would it be like to be tortured? What would it feel like to be mangled in a car accident? What if I anger somebody and they come back and turn postal on me?
It’s like I have something to do with all the bumbles of the world. Like if only I were smarter or quicker or more graceful I could avoid most of the faux pauxs that happen around me. I don’t move as quickly or as calculatedly as I used to. 61 is not 31. But that doesn’t mean I’m one step away from senility, either. Who is thinking I’m getting senile? No one but me.
Yet I continue to second guess everything I wear, everything I do. I don’t work efficiently enough, I don’t clean my house well enough, I don’t learn fast enough. I’m not sure what “enough” is, but I’m sure someone somewhere down the line thinks that. I should have enough time to work and fill the dishwasher and visit my grandson and grocery shop. I should be able to remember codes and go to bed on time and cook great meals and go for walks.
But I don’t.
And that stresses me out even more.
I doubt if I’ll go to jail because I’ve made up my own payment plans, or never have my grandbaby over because I have dust bunnies peeking out from beneath my couch. I doubt one negative remark will terminate my friendships, or that leaving dirty dishes in the sink will make it into the local newspaper. I will still be the same person I was yesterday, which, in the grand circle of things, isn’t a bad thing.
I’ve got to find a way to not take the world personally. It certainly doesn’t take me personally. I’ve got to find a way to let go of a lifetime of self-doubt and self-judgement.
But now I’m going to stress out about how to do that.
Washing my hands in the company washroom the other day, I was listening to two women talk about the most over-used word/topic I’ve heard lately — stress. They were talking about being “stressed” at their job. Fortunately, they parted on a laugh and a “tomorrow’s another day.”
These days everyone is “stressed.”
It’s your job — you are expected to do everything while someone else does nothing. It’s your kids — once out of sight, you have no idea what trouble they’re getting into. It’s your family — your brother/mother/sister/grandmother is out of control again (probably the me-me-me thing). It’s your health — cholesterol is off the charts, need to lose at least 15 pounds. It’s your age — I’m too old to do this, I’m not old enough to do that. It’s everything around us. Everything inside of us. It’s as common as salt on French fries.
Were human beings always this messed up?
I admit I am one of the first in line to succumb to this dreaded disease. I’m older, I’m heavier, I’m poorer than I was 20 years ago. I have a hard time sitting still staring at a computer screen all day. I have lost a couple of loved ones recently which broke my heart. I have had other close ones have surgery, lose their jobs, crash their SUV. I get tired of everyone else stirring up hornet’s nests and not doing a thing about it. It’s a mess out there.
How did we get this way?
Life has always been life. Kids have always been a handful, family members too. Jobs have been hard, paychecks small. People we know have been dying since we were little. People have never had enough free time, and appliances and cars have always fallen apart at the same time. But our lives have balanced out, too (at least most of the time). We love our family. We have a job. We can afford cable. We can walk through parks and snowbanks and feel the sun on our face and play in the rain. We have quit smoking or picked up a hobby or made new friends. Yet these positive things still don’t make a dent in our over-reacting to the world.
Were our parents this wound up all the time? Our grandparents?
I am not making light of stress…on the contrary, I’m worried about it. Talking to others, there is not enough time in the day (or night) to do what we need to do. No less what we want to do. Companies are downsizing, so a lot of us are doing the job of two or three people. The cost of gas and food is rising a whole lot faster than our yearly cost-of-living raise (if we get one). The cost of healthcare in one form or another is out of control, as one visit to the doctor’s office can cost us a week’s pay. We are paying for car repairs and mortgages and fixing aging appliances and paying doctor bills all from the same paycheck.
No wonder we are stressed.
I worry about this because, the older I get, the less roses I get to smell. I have at least another 20 years of spoiling my grandbaby and trying to grow a garden and I still want to go to Ireland and Italy. And every ounce of stress — I mean the really mean stress — takes me one step backwards from where I want to go.
We can’t get back yesterday, but we can work on getting to the future. And to get there we have to get rid of this over-used condition. And the catch is, we can’t get “stressed” about it, either. How do we do such a monumental turnabout? Here are my simple ideas.
* Get a whiff of fresh air every day. No matter if it’s frigid, humid, scorching, or grey as flannel. Get out and inhale, deep and long, every day.
* Talk to someone you love every day. Not just like trains passing in the night — like real people. Ask them how they’re feeling. What made them laugh today. That you’re glad they’re in your life.
*Remember that, for most of us, a job is just a means to an end. Some of us enjoy our jobs, some of us don’t. Some of us will make a career out of our choices, some of will just make it a job. Don’t get involved in scenarios you can’t change. Some things are just above your pay grade. Do you best but don’t bring it home with you. It’s just not worth it.
* There will never be another you. Savor that fact. Learn to hone that self into one that rolls with the punches. You have to. You can’t stop the river flowing, you can’t walk to the moon, etc., etc., etc. Be true to yourself, and flourish within that light.
* Make time for the little things. Watch the sunset, play fetch with your dog. Watch an old movie. Know that the little pleasures are all that matter — that sometimes that’s all you’ll get. And mountains can be made out of those molehills.
We can’t really wash all the stress out of the world. But I truly believe that if we all make an effort we can make it less of a stain and more of a blush. Deal with what you can, let go of the rest.
Your heart, your blood pressure, will thank you.