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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On the Road Again

My husband and I are driving a Penske truck filled with furniture from our last apartment In the Bronx, NY to Texas. We’ve made this trip before.

Last time, we drove the opposite way with the same furniture from my parents’ home just after we were married 8 years ago, just after my Dad died, a year after my brother died and two years after my mother did.

I was so grateful for that furniture at the time. Newly married, making a home with someone for the first time, I was thrilled to have really nice things to bring to our shared space, a new apartment we’d chosen together.

Having lived in a tiny studio apartment in the West Village of NYC for 18 years prior to this big change, I had no furniture to speak of. My husband had some nice things to bring from his place, but not enough. We were stretching our budgets to get our apartment. New furniture was not in the plan. So my parents was a blessing.

It was amazing how perfectly the furniture all worked together. We chose rich colors for the walls off of the colors in the rugs, and somehow, it all had an eclectic warmth that just felt right. So “us,” somehow. The us we were becoming.

For the first years of our marriage, in those years after those huge losses in which I grieved and lived as best I could, that furniture surrounded me and held me and filled the empty gaping hole their deaths left.

I cherished it all. I had my father’s bronzed baby cowboy boots as book ends. A china cabinet held bluebirds, brown ware and silver pieces from my mother’s collections. We ate off of plates and used pans brought up from their kitchen. Put drinks on coasters from their den.

Our bedroom furniture was from my parents first house. The first expensive rug they bought, a now-worn but still lovely Oriental, sat under their gorgeous dark wood dining table and chairs.

But somewhere along year 6, something began to shift in me, and now, 18 months later, after a Konmari wave that washed away my clutter, a new apartment search, offer, and purchase, a renovation, putting an apartment on the market, a sale, a closing, a move, and a settling in, here I am. Day two of a three day journey to take much of that furniture to a new home.

My cousin, who my parents loved, who has a lovely wife and two young kids and a house, is happily taking the furniture off my hands. Whatever he did not take, others in NY needed and wanted.

Tomorrow we reach Austin, where the pieces will be put in their new home.

And I will let go. Of the grieving time. Of the me that has lived these 8 years in the after-shock, doing my best.

I feel such a mix of sadness and relief and excitement. Sadness because I still wish they were here instead of their things. Relief because something is done that I seem to have needed to do. Some job I unconsciously took on will soon be complete. And excitement is for this next part, whatever it will be.

Today I crave space. I want to be surrounded by things that resonate the me I am today. Our new home in no way resembles our last. And I love it with its new colors and furniture, and kickass river views.

I kept one chair out of it all. And reupholstered it. It looks wonderful there, surrounded by our new pieces, our new rugs.

At the end of the first day’s drive, we were treated to a blazing orange sky. Since my mother passed, I am convinced that beautiful sunsets are her way of letting me know she is there, loving me. It was clear that she, my Dad and brother, approve of this trip.

My parents and brother are still with me. But now they fill my heart space. I carry them wherever I go.

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Momentos

I’ve been thinking about keepsakes.

Objects carry energy, there’s no doubt about it. And I am seeking to surround myself with an environment that reflects who I am today.

I have done a great deal of work on my self the past several years. Deep, difficult, but ultimately gratifying and freeing work. It was time to match my outside to my inside.

All the changing and growing that I consciously conjured for my life that I have been living through the last 14 months was inspired by a desire to let go of certain parts of my past and create space for my present.

I found a new home for my family. We renovated it to reflect our needs, taste and lifestyle.

A part of that process was going through everything I owned, seeing what to keep. Choosing what would live with me in our new home.

Furniture and items have been given away with care and love. New homes found. I’ve thanked these pieces for all they’ve given to our home.

We ate finally in our new home. Still settling in. It has been an unexpectedly rough transition.

A mentor expressed it perfectly. We transplanted ourselves into the future we created for ourselves. It is taking time to establish our roots again, each in our own way.

Back to keepsakes.

I really pared it down. Way, way down. Let go of things I never thought I could or would want to.

I hope they are being enjoyed by just the right person now.

I did keep one thing. A chair that was my grandmothers, now repainted and reupholstered. It has always brought me such joy. I remember playing in it as a 4 year old!

As I establish my new roots in the ground of my present, I relish the space that is here with me. I want to fill the space with relationships, creativity, and love.

The new view from my window holds new keepsakes: sunsets and clouds will be my new souvenirs. I think I will throve in this new land.

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Fast-Forward

I reach forward through time

Caress my own face

Trace the worn rivulets

Heart-lines that reveal

The worries, the laughter

The life that I have lived

I tuck the silver hair behind my ear

I run my finger down the

Cords and veins on my hand

Touch the wedding ring

My pride, my true love, my joy

I whisper, “Rest now, my friend.

You did it. You survived.

And then you thrived.

And now, you can let go.”

I feel such love for her

The me I came to be

I come back into my present

Filled with love-swell and peace

And deep knowing

Nothing to fear at the end

Nothing to fear

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For Laura

I know some incredible women.

It is one of those women’s birthday today.

Some people just blow you away. Laura inspires me daily. She is an artist, a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. A leader. A teacher. An activist. A community contributor. An active citizen.

She lost her 20 year old brother to suicide in 2000. Rather than fall into despair, she has used her grief to create, educate, help and heal.

Read about one of her creations, Arts & Dreams, and the incredible work they do here.

Enjoy her art work here.

Laura reminds me to live creatively, lovingly, with ample doses of self-forgiveness.

I am so lucky she was born and that I know her.

She Is
Scarlet lips
Piercing chocolate eyes
Portals who see your soul
Lives in brush strokes
Of love and thoughtful heart
Colors rich with knowing
Midwife of self-love
Earth angel saving
wretched alone-hearts
One mantra at a time