Stressed Out!?!? Who, Me?!!

Well, here we are again.

Snack dab in the middle of another holiday season, and sliding into the end of another year.

It seems that every year, no matter what I intend, I end up getting super-stressed out. Gifts to be got. More appointments to keep than usual. Parties to attend. Traffic. Travel arrangements. Crowded stores. Projects and aforesaid gifts to be wrapped up.

It always feels like I am running down a mountain with an ever-growing snowball rolling behind me. I can feel the icy snow at my neck. The avalanche threatens. Argh!!!

Let’s all take a deep breath. Just breathe in and hold a few counts, and breathe out, slowly and fully.

That’s better.

I am doing my best to do better this year. I took a day off yesterday to play with my husband. We both run our own businesses so we work 7 days/nights a week, so weekends aren’t really weekends.

But I consciously forced myself to put aside the many pressing things to do, and we took a short drive out of town and went to a day spa.

It was wonderful. Yes, I was jonesing a bit for my cell phone by hour four. But we did it, and it did feel great.

Guess what? Those pressing things are still all there. They did not go anywhere. Nothing fell apart.

I feel more nourished and not miserable in the way I can often feel at times like the end of the year. When I historically drive myself into a worry-filled bundle of stress.

I am remembering to get sleep as I can. Maybe not as much as I’d like, but sleep nonetheless.

Prompting myself (nicely) to drink water! It is easy to start to neglect the little things that are so important and that contribute to a feeling of well-being.

I am (so far) resisting the urge to use food to give myself anything other than sustenance. When I get into what I call Stepford Wife mode – as in, I am driving myself as if I were a robot and have no human needs – it is easy for my system to rebel and turn to food as a way to get the relief, comfort and attention I am no longer giving it. I am trying to take care, pay attention, even though it feels contra to how I tend to respond to the pressure o the holidays.

I am doing my best to maintain the daily practices that keep me connected to my soul: meditation, writing, prayer, gratitude. It is sometimes tempting to say I do not have the time, but they are the things that make the other stuff more enjoyable. They are the things that keep me tethered to myself. Otherwise I am a parade float that just blows off-track and eventually I crash and it is not pretty.

I am taking time to just breathe. Pet the cat. Do nothing for 3 minutes.

Another deep breath.

How are you riding the waves of this time of year? What are your go-to’s for staying sane? Your helpful tips for enjoying the rush?

May your days be filled with moments of connection and serenity within the inevitable chaos.

And don’t forget to drink some water!

 

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A Stitch in Time

When my mother was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2001 and was going in for surgery to have it removed, I immediately knew I wanted to fly down to be with her.

But I was 6 months newly sober, so it was daunting to fly across the country, leaving behind my support system. But more frightening than that was the fear that my mother would die while on the table, or that they would find more cancer than they could treat.

It was a challenging time.

I knew that I would be experiencing many emotions as I navigated her illness and surgery, and I really wanted to deal with them in healthy ways, not fall back into old coping behaviors.

Someone suggested to me that I take up knitting as something to occupy my hands and eat up some of the extra energy (aka anxiety) that I would be experiencing.

Thankfully, I took their advice, bought some knitting supplies and took them down with me. And as I waited for her to come through the surgery, I began to knit.

My mom had been the one to teach me how to knit in the first place, so it felt really right to sit and knit, waiting for those awful hours to hear how the surgery went. Anyone who has gone through it knows how difficult that waiting can be.

I only remembered one stitch, but that was enough. I had no pattern, so I just started knitting a row about the width of a muffler and took it from there.

Thankfully, my mother came through the surgery very well. I moved back into her hospital room, and the knitting came with me. In fact, it would continue to be my sober companion for the rest of her hospital stay and afterwards as she recovered at home, because I ended up staying longer than I had planned.

My mother had her surgery on September 10, 2001. We were both sleeping in her hospital room that next morning, when a friend of hers called my mother and told her to put on the news. We watched together as my adopted home city was terrorized.

In shock, I immediately did two things: I went to a meeting and then I went to donate blood.

Then, I went back to the hospital, where knitting became a lifeline again as my world was rocked from its axis a second time.

I was so desperate to get back to NYC, but could not leave until they allowed flights again. I knitted with fervor through those days following 9-11, as I helped my parents take my mom back home and settled her in.

And then finally, I was able to return home to NYC, and my knitting accompanied me on the plane and through the weeks as our city began to heal.

Eventually, I stopped knitting…though from time to time I will pick it up again when the proverbial sh*t hits the fan or I feel that I need it as a way to stay calm under duress. I guess that is just the nature of my relationship to it. I am grateful it is there for me when I need it.

I still have that piece of knitting from that time when my world was rocked to its core. It is a very, very long muffler-type knitted piece that is a bit misshapen and not at all suited for anything. But it stands as a reminder to me that there is always a way to show up and consciously move through even the hardest of times. That I can survive anything, be of service and even be creative even as my world is falling apart.

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: knit

Untamed*

I rise today,

All-powerful One

Mark the date and time

For I am done

I wanted to work

So I appeased

To follow my dreams

I scraped my knees

If you really don’t know

Somewhere deep inside

How wrong it has been

Then why did you hide

But this is not about You

You’re just one of Too Many

Time to change the conversation

To solutions, not controversy

Inspired by The Daily Post Daily Word Prompt: tame

*I am tired of the news stories re: the Harvey Weinstein “revelations” focusing on who knew what. Why no discussion of legal ramifications? It feels so insane that we hear about these people in power abusing their authority to sexually harass women (and men) and all they get is fired? Or it becomes a business story – how will the company go on? To me, the whole point is being lost. The conversation needs to be this: why does this keep happening and how can we, as a society, take responsibility for a culture that still allows for it and is somehow even supporting and creating it? Finger-pointing to individuals misses the bigger picture. I had to say something to find some sanity in this very dismal repeating story that keeps getting lost in the stories around the story.