Things were whirling out of control.
Every day was an exercise in survival. Lots of take-out dinners, scrambling to complete daily tasks, to keep up with the rotating chaos of laundry, dishes and trash. I could feel life slipping through my fingers, days passing by without significance.
It made me sad.
I love life. I want to feel it, breathe it, enjoy it, relish it. To soak up the moments wherever I am.
I declared war upon stress and overload.
I formulated the first stages of a peaceful plan of attack, which has been in action for a week or two now. Small steps to get me going in the right direction, as I detail a larger front to find a more permanent peace:
1. Worst Case Scenario dismissal
Awake with anxieties, I started asking myself, “What’s the worst that can happen if…” I found that the answers were never as terrible as the stress that was boiling in my busy, responsible mind.
2. French Music & Open Windows
For the past week, each morning as I pull out of the driveway I roll down the windows and crank up Carla Bruni’s Little French Songs. It is so nice. So relaxing. To feel the cool Autumn air in my hair, on my hands, listening to music that transports me to Paris, reminding me of a bigger, wider world…happy sigh… I feel the sky open up above me, and I feel my feet more firmly planted in my place. I notice the rays of sunlight wash over me as I drive the beautiful winding roads, and I am ready to live life with my eyes open.
With my car fully loaded with kids one afternoon, I brought them into this peaceful experience. In the rear view mirror, I watched as my 5 year old son closed his eyes to “see” what the songs brought to his mind. They thought it was awesome. On one song, they felt like birds in the clouds. Then things got more elaborate. They envisioned a funny king penguin with an ice crown on his ice throne, and ice palace with penguin servants who slid down ramps on their bellies. Yep. I asked them to draw their penguins later:
A few days later, my son asked me “Mom, can you roll down the windows and turn on that music so we can breathe?”
Pretty much sums it up.
3. Vision Adjustment
When I hit the peak of stress one afternoon, I was sitting in the car waiting for my daughter’s dance class to end after two failed attempts to run errands (due to uninteresting, but irritating complications). While we waited, my son hung out the open window, singing away to the world, completely oblivious to any cares. My stress evaporated as I watched him, and I gained a new perspective.
Taking a step back from the to-do list and noticing the real, tangible situations around me has helped tremendously… looking at the clouds, the people, the fallen leaves instead of passing by on a mission to somewhere else.
“Pay attention, just for a moment. Think to yourself, This is my life, right now. I need to remember.” -Roxana Robinson
4. Up and at ’em
This one is tough. But everyday after I (or more correctly my husband) drag myself out of bed at 5:15am, have that waiting cup of coffee (my requirement for getting up an hour earlier than usual), and wake up a little, I find reward. I have about 45 minutes to just sit, sip coffee, do whatever I want or nothing at all. No getting ready, no requests from kids, no noises, no demands. My husband writes on his blog, and I sit in a leather chair in my warm robe sipping coffee. It’s nice. It starts the day in peace instead of hurry.
“Stillness in your body leads to quiet in your mind.” -Elona Landau
We’ll see if I can keep that one up…