Tag Archives: stress

When Everything Is New

8 Feb

Moving away from your home, your state, your work, your friends, and your family isn’t easy.

Everything is new.

The excitement of change comes with a price: stress.

I am taking some lessons from the trees in this new climate.

In the first photograph you can see a skinny tree standing beside a house on the right. On the day I took these photographs I watched that skinny little tree — standing taller than the house — bear more and more snow as the day went on, gradually bowing under the increasing weight until the tip dragged on the ground. I thought the trunk might break. The homeowner soon tramped out and whip-lashed the flexible branches, freeing the snow and allowing the tree to spring back to its original posture. I noticed that the tree stayed upright after that, regardless of the continuing snowfall.

The first wet snow sticks and pulls everything down. If this initial weight is released, further snow slips off more easily.

I might need some help shaking off that first snow, but I will stand tall again.

Self-Service

19 Oct

Recent events have led me to the rather obvious conclusion that I can reduce my stress level and even simplify my life to a great degree simply by focusing more of my energy on myself.

Shocking, isn’t it?

I often come across The Usual Free Advice about how to feel better and find inspiration by focusing on helping others through volunteer work or other selfless pursuits. This is excellent advice for those who have a natural inclination to focus too much on themselves.

On the other hand, those who have spent decades focused on the needs of others may realize, as I have, that too much outward focus eventually becomes detrimental, and the solution sometimes lies in the opposite direction.

I am taking a minimalist approach to stress. Less outward focus means more inward focus.

The Stress Festival

24 Aug

My life has recently evolved into such a stress festival that I have actually stopped having fun. Obviously, this is bad. There is no joy happening at all.

This lack of fun has really yanked the stopper out of the drain in the inspiration tub. Nothing is left in there but soap scum. The highlight of my day was visiting the grocery store. My feeble attempt at self-attention took the form of some chicken mango sausages and a container of tuna salad. No one else around here will eat these things; these are “selfish purchases”. Yes, it is true: when I am feeling down, I still eat healthy food. I am one of those people. Don’t hate me for it.

This stress festival is the worst festival I have ever attended, by far. There are no rides, no second-rate bands, no face painters, no overpriced foam lizards on wire leashes… not even an ugly and inexplicably green stuffed gorilla. Nothing but petty resentment on display here, and I had to bring my own tuna salad.

Whose idea was it to buy a ticket to this mess, anyway?! Probably mine, I will admit, but I am leaving just as soon as I can find my way to the parking lot, and no, I don’t want my hand stamped for re-entry.

I had more fun at this festival, although it may be hard to tell from my expression in the photo.

Change

9 Feb

I have been posting on this blog once a week, but this week I had expected that I might not write at all.

I thought, “I have too much anxiety this week.  My life is turning upside down.  I can’t think straight.  I can’t write.”

Then I realized, “That is exactly why I should write.”

Recently, I took some pictures of Spring branches and used them in a post.  The branches were bare to start with, but tiny buds turned to flowers and a few leaves.  The photos showed beauty, but they also showed change.

Sometimes you think you have it all together.

Everything changes. 

Some people looked at my photos of blossoming  branches and made comments about the speed of nature and the speed of life.

Sometimes life is too slow and we are impatient.  Sometimes it is too fast and we want it to stop.

Today, thirteen days after I brought them home, the branches still hold my attention.  Most of the flowers have now withered or shattered.

Petals are strewn across the tablecloth.  That is not a serious problem for me.  Something is always strewn across the tablecloth around here, and it is normally far worse and more difficult to remove than a few pink petals.

The branches have changed again.  They are not bare, however.  The few green leaves have become many.  At this point, there are more leaves than flowers.  Something dies and something else appears.

I am thinking about closed doors and open windows.  I am thinking about caterpillars and butterflies.  I am thinking about the nature of change.  I am thinking about chaos, about simplicity, and about Life, and how it is never the way we plan it out, or the way we expect it to be.

That is the adventure of it, right?

Sometimes life is messy.

Our family is preparing for a move.  This is a forced downsizing of our household, for financial reasons.  My life will change dramatically over the next six weeks.  Such is the nature of life.

Life is messy and stressful.

Life is surprising and interesting.

Life changes and we change with it.

One of my mothers-in-law ( I have two) refers to problems, difficulties, or struggles as Periods of Growth — as in, “Her husband left her with six children and no support, and wow, she experienced a real Period of Growth.”

My Period of Growth will be relatively minor, but I will grow and I will change.

It will be interesting to see how I turn out.

Getting Ahead of The Holidays

14 Oct

I like to get an early start.  Don’t hate me for it.

September is when I typically start preparing for Christmas.

I’m not talking about elaborate home decorations—I don’t do that.  It takes up too much time, and too much storage space for the rest of the year.  I’ll leave the fancy decorating to the department stores.  When it comes to decorations, I have only the basics.

And no, I am not really that organized—although I certainly strive to be.  If I were that organized, I probably would have finished this post in September—the same month I started it.  Instead, I became distracted…for a month.

I start my holiday preparations early because I want to avoid unnecessary stress.  Being so easily distracted, I need that extra lead time to stay on top of things so I can have a peaceful holiday.

December is a hectic month for many people, and there is even an urban myth about an increase in suicides during the holidays.  (For more information on this myth, visit the snopes.com: Christmas Suicides page.)

“Hectic month” is the key phrase here.  I know that some people actually enjoy a good adrenaline rush, but I am not one of those people.  Instead, I like to stay serenely ahead of the game.  I do things gradually.

So, in September I start shopping, in October I start addressing the holiday envelopes, and in November I start wrapping.  I use gift bags as much as possible, because they save time and can be easily re-used.  I aim for small, practical, meaningful gifts.  If they don’t take up too much space in my home, they won’t take up too much space in the recipient’s home.

The plan is to have nothing to worry about when December rolls around.  No shopping in crowded stores, no searching endlessly for parking spaces.  I don’t want to be forced to listen to three different versions of Jingle Bells while standing in line to buy whatever the store put on sale that day.

In December, I can relax with a mug of hot chocolate and enjoy the twinkling lights.  Now that’s what I call a holiday!