31 Days of De-Stressed Living, Day 20: Practice Patience

shadowOne of the fun surprises of middle age, I’ve discovered, is the body’s newfound ability to wake up in the middle of the night, mind whirring like a video on fast-forward, alert and ready to … well, in most cases, ready to pee. But then alert and ready to start the day. At 4:00. Dang.

Months ago, I thought the nighttime insomnia was because of all the stress in my life, caused by the ordeal my family was going through (plus the on-the-job stress I was feeling at the time). Now, I realize it’s just part of the journey, so I’ve learned … to practice patience, and take advantage of it. So I’m typing instead of staring up at the ceiling, silently cursing the Sandman. Practicing patience. (Nice segue, Heidi.)

This morning I woke up with a line from the “shepherd’s psalm” (Psalm 23) spinning through my head: “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…”

Have you ever noticed that the psalmist didn’t RUN through that valley? Not even a quick-step. He walked. So often when we find ourselves in crisis, the temptation is to get through it as quickly as possible, which (truth be told) can greatly add to the stress.

Some experiences are more of a marathon than a sprint. When we find ourselves having to transom some dark valley, pushing ourselves to get through it quickly is likely to backfire, whether that particular valley is cancer, divorce, or … yes, even grief. But if we take the time to look around and to tend gently to the needs of those we love (including ourselves), it will take less out of us in the long run. No matter how much we need to practice patience with other people, the most important person to be patient with … is ourselves.

Have you had to “walk” a valley recently? How did you “practice patience” with yourself and those closest to you?


31 Days to De-stressed Living: Days 1-4

I’ve hNaBloPoMo_011614_465x287_pressure_1eard that it takes 30 days to make a habit. Thirty days of doing the same thing, every day (or, if you’re trying to kick a habit, thirty days of not doing something).

It’s like Lent, but shorter.

My blogging theme for January, thanks to BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo, will be “Stress” (whenever I’m not writing about books or road trips). No sweat — I’m an expert on stress. But then, who wants to read someone rant about all the stressors in her life for an extended period of time?

monster momNobody, that’s who. And so …

January will be about 30 ways to BEAT the stressors in your life. A kind of 30 day challenge. (Feel free to chime in.)

And so, it being January 4th and all, without further ado I give you FOUR of my favorite ways to combat stress. Ready?

January 1: Restoring order. Having been on the road for 10 days, I could feel the stress coming out my ears. So, I started unpacking. Sent the boys into the basement to work on laundry. Daughter up the stairs to put away toiletries. Me, I tackled the kitchen, where I could sneak a truffle and pour myself a glass of wine. Then I went to bed with a migraine. (Okay, these home remedies don’t always work.) But the next day, I felt MUCH better!

January 2: Don’t pressure others, either. One of my children has reached the “moody” stage that is part-and-parcel of adolescent angst. The other day I discovered that sometimes, if I don’t bug them relentlessly about why they are moody, the kind of self-adjust. Good to know.

January 3: Cook something special. When we married, I promised my husband that if he watched only two football games a year, I would make sure he celebrated in style. This year I made crab-stuffed mushrooms, fried calamari, and sausage squares (sausage and peppers stuffed in little wonton wrappers). Then key lime pie. Beer for him, something fruity for me. Yum.

January 4: Arrange to see a friend. Tomorrow I’m going to celebrate “Rose Sunday” a little late. In honor of the “Downton Abbey” premiere, I’m having tea with a few friends from Ascension Press (my former workplace). Just the thought of a little girl time … It’s positively relaxing!

What do YOU do to de-stress?