Last month, my Dad was diagnosed with cancer. It was a few days after I posted my last post about losing my brother. And THAT was about a week after my husband found out his contract was ending and he had to find a new job. Oh yes, and I received two pieces of hate mail in one week. And... business growth is s-l-o-w... oh, and, I received news that an investment I made in 2006 was unaccepted as a tax 'write-off' and now I owe thousands of dollars and need to begin payment immediately. Oh right... and my pain has increased and my back went completely out. Needless to say, I was working hard at managing my emotions and being 'in' my life!
Ten years ago, the last month would have knocked me on my arse. I won't say I didn't shed a few tears, communicate irrationally with my husband, and eat too much of what is not good for me. BUT, I did feel better than I would have earlier in my life. And I am living through it instead of pushing it away.
Now, I have had high levels of stress in my life for extended periods of time in the past (my business failing and me sitting in the bankruptcy chair comes to mind). And I handled those situations OK. Well... if I had to choose fight, flight, or freeze... I was well practiced at flight... but I did OK. However, this time, I am doing better.
And that is what growth is about. Progress. Not perfection.
So I thought I'd share some of my lessons and ways to get through it... and add a little humour... because in real life, that's often what I do.
- Always, always, always laugh after an argument with your spouse/partner. We are all growing and we are all imperfect. If you can't laugh at your imperfections with your spouse, who can you do it with?? At the minimum you can have better sex when you have a few endorphins running through your body. Oh, alright.... these high stress times lower the libido and if you don't want to have sex, that is OK. Just don't forget it all together! Because it keeps you connected. So... laugh after an argument so you have a higher possibility of having more sex. Or something like that. As I have been saying since I was 10 years old (I have no idea where I got the information at 10 years old) - Laugh. It releases endorphins.
- When your adult child catches you not listening to what they are saying, apologize and offer to bring them for ice cream and take selfies of you and her/him being foolish. And allow them to make fun of you for your inability to have a normal mother-daughter/son conversation. Orrrr... just stare at them while they are talking even if the voice sounds far away and you don't really hear them... at least if you are looking at them they think you are listening. (Of course, when you come back to being present, make sure you really do listen - it really is that important... but you are also allowed to be human.)
- When supper burns or you just didn't get to making it at all... boil eggs and eat raw veggies and hummus... even if it's your third time doing it that week. Then have a cookie.
- When you need to cry, cry. And cry vigorously. Seriously. It gets it all out there like a crazy lunatic. Because you are. Try to do this in private.... and if you find yourself crying uncontrollably often, check in with yourself to see if you are truly losing it (in which case help may be required) or you are just a temporary, yet passionate, lunatic (in which case help may still be required.. but maybe it's just a b*tch session - followed by laughing - with a friend or maybe it's a counsellor... just be open to all).
- When your toddler or young child is not acting as angelically as they usually do... because, well, you probably weren't paying full attention to them... do something silly. Be completely, outrageously silly. They laugh. You laugh. All is well in the world. You do not have to be super mom to be loving mom. Just laugh, be silly, and give them lots of squeezes. They won't remember that you forgot to wash their face when you went to the park even though it looked like a martian from the avocado from supper. They won't even notice all the other parents staring, so you're good.
- Eat chips. Or chocolate. Or cake. And enjoy it. IF. YOU. MUST. This is where I did not do so well. I ate chips several times a week! So I started telling everyone I was addicted to chips and it became a bit of a joke in our household. And eventually, it started to subside. I believe it is because I stopped beating myself up about it. So eat chips if you must. But remember that there are consequences to your actions. Remain light and keep trying to replace chips with something healthier... but don't beat yourself up about it.
- Swear. Well, only if you want to. Just let it out somehow. We live in a world in which most people try to be a certain way because that's how they believe they should be. It's funny how when you are at your lowest moments (not that the last month was one of my lowest moments.. far from it!) you realize that you need to break free from society's 'rules'. Anyway... swear. Or do something perceived as inappropriate.... like dancing in the streets (which I also did)... not stripping in public, though... that may be perceived as a show and if you're going to have a show, you may as well charge a fee and get paid. No seriously, don't strip.
- I would like to say move your body. However, honestly, I was a sloth for much of the time I've been managing the stress. Yes, I walked and did yoga and went outside to meditate - although Jedi Mind Tricks helped with even that and it was much less frequent than the norm. So, I think the lesson is to move when you feel like moving and don't feel bad if you don't move. Be where you are today and start again tomorrow. That's the key. Start again tomorrow.
- Do not do the Facebook thing. Holy moly. The absolute worst time to hang out on Facebook is when you feel like crap. Well... in my experience. Facebook is an amazing tool for sharing information, learning, keeping in touch, and even inspiration. However, when we feel low, we are more vulnerable and can begin to compare ourselves to what we are perceiving others' lives to be like... and if we get to an irrational state of mind when our emotions are heightened and not managed well, we may very well begin to think that everyone around us is living perfect lives while we are struggling to get through a day without losing it. So, live your own life. Get off Facebook. Unless you can go there and truly not feel bad.
- Meditate. Breathe. Be. There are many days when this is easy for me. I've been doing it for so long and I even teach it and I continue to learn it with more depth. However... sweet lord, it can be so difficult to get a 15 minute meditation in! Where does the time go? Well.... of course, I KNOW it slows when I slow. And I KNOW I feel fantastic when I meditate. But... well.... I'm an imperfect lunatic. So, even after years of practice, I still have days when all I get in is a few deep breaths. And that is OK. Just do it when you remember to do it... as much as you can. And the breaths that you take to calm down when your toddler is screaming, your phone is ringing, your husband is asking what vegetable to cut up next, and your oldest is trying to tell you about why you can or cannot walk into the same stream twice (philosophy 101 apparently) while you are helping hubby cook and also clearing out the dishwasher.. yeah, those breaths count.
My main message, I guess, is to enjoy your progress, whatever that may look like, and enjoy your imperfections too. Because the stressors won't stop... but you can manage your life through them as a peaceful lunatic rather than all out lunatic.