How To Deal With Stress in Your Life

Every day we deal with stress and frustration. It never ends. It never goes away. It hovers around you just waiting to attack. I have days where the stress is endless.

I have been thinking of ways to avoid, evade, or just ignore stress and frustration. I call this escaping from the real world. That is not easy to do. So what do you have to do to live with these two culprits? You need to have a plan of options to bring into action. Use self talk, take deep breathes, leave the room, go outside, hop on the treadmill or my favorite go read a book. You need to step back from stress and frustration to see if it is really that important to deal with. Then you need to laugh, even if you don’t feel like it. Now, maybe you can face the stress. Stress is hard to live with. It makes your day seem long and unfruitful. Nothing is accomplished, you get frustrated and then everything you say or do is wrong. Doctors will tell you stress effects your health. So stressing out will shorten your life. What happens when you get angry with yourself, you find excuses to blame it on someone else or whatever is handy. Anger can turn your words into weapons. I have tried jumping up and down, that didn’t work. I tried having a fit, that made everybody angry. So I gave up, decided I needed a plan. You should always have a plan A and a plan B.  I am still working on plan A. Everything is trial and error.

I am now working on the following:
Step One: if at all possible, leave the area. If you can’t leave, try to find a place where you can be alone. Think about the stress causing problem. What can you do to deal with it.
Step Two: My favorite-go to your room and a read a book. Remove your mind from the arena of stress.
Step Three: Write down ten blessings that are in your life. Say a prayer for patience and endurance. Instead of talking, write your feelings in a journal. Be grateful for what you have.
Step Four: Take two tylenol for your headache, sit in your favorite chair, put your feet up, turn on the cd player with your favorite songs, and sing along with the music.
Step Five: Realize that whatever is causing you to stress out can be solved eventually. Time does not have to be a deciding factor for your decisions. If you can put off your problem to another day or time, do it. As long as your problem is not important and it can be shelved, do it.
Step Six: Pack a bag and think of someplace you would like to visit. Just the action of packing a bag helps to calm you down. Take a day trip to the museum or art gallery. Decisions made in a hurry have a tendency to stay around longer. It is best to delay your actions if you have any doubts.

It is a known fact that stress and frustration robs you of your energy. It causes a multitude of health problems, such as high blood pressure, depression, and heart problems, just to name a few. It is necessary that you prioritize your problems, especially those that cause the most stress. Everything changes and nothing is permanent in life, even our troubles. You need to see your problem for what it is. Take care of yourself so you can help or deal with everyday life. Stress will always be with us. You have to deal with it to the best of your ability. Let it go if you can. Don’t let stress rule your life or make your life miserable. Only you can do what is best for you. Try to stay strong and remember “this too shall pass.”

Have you heard the saying “practice what you preach?” I’m working on it. I need to remember that my thoughts will affect my behavior and decisions and I need to think before I act or say anything in defense of whatever I need to defend.   I love the serenity prayer because it helps you to accept the things you cannot change and to change the way you look at things.

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Crossing the monkey bars

“Getting over a painful experience is much like crossing monkey bars. You have to let go at some point in order to move forward.” – C.S. Lewis

I like this one and it reminds me that courage is necessary because sometimes letting go of old life styles is the only way to move forward. This is the third of my four quotes that I chose for my ‘reinventing my life’ blog.

Wow! In just a moment one’s life and life style can be changed. Just one moment an announcement of a health problem is made, and…BAM…your life has been changed. For me, this time, it was a health issue. It could be loss of a job or of a loved one. Any one of those situations can change our lives. Of those, the loss of a loved one has changed me the most.

I have lost loved ones; friends, my mother, my father and a young daughter. My live was changed so much after each of those losses. It’s not only that your life has changed, but that you have been changed. Still today I can not speak or write of the depth of the loss I felt from the death of my daughter. Yet you have to get back on the monkey bars. You do. I can still vividly remember the first time that I fell off monkey bars. The breath was knocked out of me, my eyes were open, but I couldn’t breathe and I remember wondering if I was still alive. That is just how I felt when my daughter died. I stayed on the ground a long time wondering if I could possibly live. Later, it gave me a perspective of what should matter in life. Letting go of grieve was my new monkey bar. I carried grieve with me, it was buried in me and I couldn’t let it go for many years. You might wonder if I let my life stand still during the grieving period, I didn’t. I started a new job with my brother and learned new job skills that would allow doors to open up to opportunities that helped my husband and myself later on. My young son was the recipient of both the good and bad decisions made during this time.

So, in wondering how to change my life style, I realize that most times, it is circumstances that changed my life style or should I just say, changed me. Health, death and even wealth will change how we go about our life, who will be in it, how we will work or, even if we will be able to work.

So C.S. Lewis says it is letting go to that allows us to move forward, but what’s forward? That is what got me thinking about changing my lifestyle. Now, it has become a process of retrospection. It’s funny, because my life has been in many ways conflicted, complicated and complex. It has been filled with intense sorrow, joy and love. I find it funny now that I should be seeking a change…seeking verve…in my life that has been fulfilling in so many ways. I have love (my husband and I have over 50 years of married life and still want to be with each other more than any one else), my son, grandchildren, sisters and brothers and friends. I can only think that I have been in a relatively calm period that I should want VERVE or excitement. Now that a new crisis has arrived, I realize how foolish I have been.Yes, I wanted to change my life style, but I wanted the changes to be good ones, not bad ones. Now I realize that bad changes come and it is how we deal with them that reveals who we are. Letting go of anger, letting go of false expectations, letting go of grieve, is the only way we can move forward. I know that it is sometimes very difficult to get back up and get back on the monkey bars to move forward and I know that it may take time for the process. It’s just that letting go is truly the way forward, or as Budda says” You can only lose what you cling to.” Now the dilemma of letting go.

Letting go of bad things, hanging on to good thing; how simple it sounds, but for most of us it is not easy at all. Through some very difficult times in my past I know only this “The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.” So if I cling, let me cling to my Lord and if I do well, let me praise Him. Now I realize that I cannot anticipate the future and should not hold on too tightly to the past, but right now, RIGHT NOW, enjoy the moment.

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My Mother’s Daughter

It’s turning into fall and although my Mother is always on my mind, she is especially so this time of year. She fell ill 30 years ago on Labor Day and we quickly realized that her illness was going to be terminal. We had always counted on our Mom to be the one to pull us altogether as a family, to keep us connected and of course to always cook the turkey for Thanksgiving. In an instant, life as we knew it was about to change in a way we couldn’t fathom.

Since we had lost our Dad in a tragic accident over 20 years prior to our Mom getting ill, we weren’t prepared for her sudden illness. In fact, she had the energy all her life of a rock star. She could out dance, walk faster and work harder than all of us combined. She would never sit still and her gardening skills were of legend. She would stick a branch of some plant or other and boom! it would turn into a beautiful wisteria vine or a poinsettia that grew to 8 feet tall. She was amazing in every way, our protector, our guidance counselor, and our main chef for all family holidays and of course, our Beloved Mother. She was it.

So when we noticed her pallor and her quietly sitting rather than walking, we knew something terrible was wrong. We traveled to UCLA, USC and when they didn’t give us the answer we needed to hear, we flew her to MD Anderson in Houston for a cutting edge experimental cancer program. For two weeks, all of us would crowd into that small hospital room and color, crochet, and try to keep our minds busy, all the while listening to our sweet mom reflect back on her life and tell us stories of her growing up on a farm. She was the 7th sibling of 14 children, 7 girls, 7 boys, 7 brown eyes, 7 blue eyes. To hear her talk about her childhood memories was so wonderful. She had this lilting voice that always hid a smile and a humor that was evident in her telling. She was just so beautiful. We all felt that these precious few moments would have to somehow last us for the rest of our lives and so they would.

In looking back, we somehow managed to get our frail, beautiful mother back home after the treatments had ravaged her once energetic body. She just wanted to go back home. The doctor treating her had sat on her bed and told her what a beautiful spirit she had. He said he could see it immediately when he first met her and he could see it shining in her eyes. But he said that he had to tell her in truth that her life was ending and it was important to have, at this stage, quality rather than quantity. She said she understood and that she really appreciated his care of her and that in entering into the experimental program she hoped she had helped to save others. I remember looking at her for the first time separately as my mother and seeing her as the strong, courageous woman that she truly was. I remember thinking I didn’t know how I could live the rest of my life without her. I was 30 and I needed her so much. There was so much more to do with her that we hadn’t even done. She was my best friend and I realized then that I would have to go a lifetime without hearing her laughter and sweet voice.

When we arrived back home we all decided to put our lives on hold and take this precious opportunity to stay with our mom for whatever time was left. One of my sisters was gracious enough to let us all move in with her family and so we did. All of us slept on the floor or couches, wherever they was a place and for the remaining few weeks of my mother’s life, we bonded in a way that none of us could have foreseen. We went shopping together, cooked meals together, we laughed and we watched our mom as she took all this in with her knowing smile. She could no long talk as the cancer had metastasized so quickly but her graciousness and her quiet dignity shone out of her like a beacon. In a strange twist of fate, a brother of hers had also fell ill and half of her siblings had come to stay with us and half had gone to be with their sick brother. Time had stood still. What we didn’t understand then was what a gift that we were being given with this time spent together as a family. We all had our own successful businesses and life had been hectic prior to this. We saw each other as much as we could but this brought with it a sense of life-altering change. We knew but didn’t know the depth and width of what we would experience and the intensity that would change us and how we would look at life and each other differently from that point on.

On the morning of 11/4 our mother’s spirit rose and as fate would have it, her brother that she was closest to and had loved so dearly, died exactly 8 hours later. It would be comforting to know they were together once we allowed ourselves to grieve their loss. For me, the process would seem like forever as I stumbled through my own life. This was the beginning of so many changes and one of many losses. It took me a lot of soul-searching before I could regain my footing after losing my mom. As the first stages of grief passed, I only felt the tremendous loss and emptiness that only losing my mother and going through a separation simultaneously in my marriage can bring. I had to start over and see myself in a new way. I remember having the thought that I was no longer anyone’s daughter without having the understanding that death doesn’t change or end relationships. But I started to grow as a woman and without my mother’s support, I had to find my own way through the mist of grief and pain. I emerged through this process a much more compassionate and wiser soul. It made me, no forced me, to take stock of so many things in my life and I can say with certainty that without going through that particular life experience with my Mom, I would not be who I am today. I might have not learned the life lessons I needed to move forward in my life. I might have stayed stuck in a one-note life and kept going around and around the mountain of uncertainty of who I was as a woman and as a mother. I learned to let go of behavior that was no longer serving me and to really take a long hard look at who and what kind of life I wanted to have. That didn’t happen overnight, in fact, it took many more life altering events that nearly broke me, to have me put myself back together again.

Reflecting back over the years, I see the bigger picture with so much clarity now. I sense my Mother’s presence in my everyday life so strongly. It’s as if she has never left me and I know we remain deeply connected in ways that can’t be seen but only felt by the heart and the love that we share. Those two weeks in my sister’s house have born gifts that have truly lasted a lifetime. I learned my family is solid gold. I learned that death is only a word and our spirits live on. I learned love is eternal and it finds a way to speak to us through time and space. I  learned that life’s  lessons sometimes, in fact most times, have to be learned the hard way and that if you are strong enough and love enough, life will give back to you tenfold. But mostly, I learned that I am so very glad I am my mother’s daughter.

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I want to change my LIFESTYLE!

So many things have happened recently and I now realize that I don’t want to change myself. That’s OK. The circumstances in my life have changed me into the woman I have become. Many changes have made such a deep impression on my psychic that I don’t think I can reinvent myself. I am what I am. I mostly love who I am. If I was younger this may not be totally acceptable, but many years have just taken their toll.

I want to change my LIFESTYLE! I want VERVE! I am in a rut and have made certain changes to step out of it, but not very big ones, just small ones. So how should I start?

I have looked over my list and decided to pick two or three interests and explore the how, why and what for.

  • New Interests: I need different interests and  allow doors to open to new experiences for opportunities to do something different. Over the years I have explored lots of things now what comes to my mind most often are not new interests, but ones that I had abandoned: writing, painting, traveling.
  • I can’t seem to get enthused over things. (This is where verve comes into play)

Those interests let go of or never explored:

  • Travel – I really hate traveling in airplanes now because the seating is totally uncomfortable and whenever the person in front lowers his seat I want to scream and great waves of claustrophobia come over me. I like traveling in a car with my husband and some of our road trips have been memorable and are still laughed about at family gatherings. So I want to do more of that: Road trips with Ron.
  • Work less — write more. I once dreamed of being a writer. Maybe my sister and I could write a mystery. Yes, I would like to write a mystery book with my sister. We have talked about this over the years and maybe we could get it done. Our discussions about our story line sometimes included undercover stuff and just doing any of those things would add VERVE to my life.
  • Scribble Sisters. Our books of quotes and art need to be exposed to a bigger market. I want to go to a book fair; a really, really big one and meet with people who could help us. Starting with San Francisco then maybe London (even though I would have to fly), would be a dream come true.
  • I have begun painting pictures… really. Through a national art program called Paint Night offered in many cities one can paint classical and modern art with the instructions and help of local artists. This has been so wonderful for me. I don’t paint well, but my paintings actually look similar to the original. I’m doing something I have dreamed of, but never believed I could. Next, I want to be be creative and paint something of my very own.

Traveling and writing would open me up to experiences that would certainly allow other changes to happen and I may once again be changed as in the past. That’s OK.

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein.  This one encourages me to keep being creative, to keep thinking and be open to change.

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