Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dust Yourself Off

One way to dust off stress...artistic collaboration with a young child!
“Pick yourself up

Dust yourself off

And start all over again”

-Jerome Kern & Dorothy Fields

You know when you’re trying your best to react to and overcome unfortunate circumstances, but each time you’ve arrived at a place where everything is getting better, it’s too short of a stay? A relentless cycle of challenges, big and/or small, can begin to drain one’s energy and whittle away at one’s resilience. How can we maintain our resolve through such cycles? How do we prevent reactionary tension from setting in? How can we pick ourselves up and resume heading toward that “getting better” place? The answers sometimes seem beyond one’s grasp when faced with a steady flow of stressful situations.

I am currently stuck in one of these cycles. I can sense tension building up more easily and must work harder to respond calmly and optimistically to each situation as it arises. A leaking pipe, a disappointing workshop, a parking mishap, a health concern (not me, but a loved one), then just yesterday, someone dented my car door and although very minor in the grand scheme of things, I accidentally deleted half of this post which had been ready to publish. Meanwhile, I keep trying to look at the bright side (a worst case scenario averted, for instance), to find the silver lining, to pick myself up despite feeling emotionally weary.

A beneficial outcome of my cancer experience has been learning how to manage my stress more effectively. At the same time, however, my tolerance level for stress is lower than it used to be which sometimes leaves me feeling more emotionally vulnerable. I strive to go with the flow, but it’s much harder, of course, to go with a flow that’s headed in an undesirable direction (like through a hole in a pipe under the house…thank goodness, a small one!) Over the weekend, I needed to pause and regain my bearings, so I could “pick myself up, dust myself off.” I realized that by regaining my bearings, I would feel more capable of reacting and responding to the current issues at hand, moving forward and hopefully, eventually reaching that “getting better” place.

Here’s how I dusted off some of the stress…

Being present in the moment - sharing in the excitement and pride of our daughter's
first 3K run with her school (a kids run sponsored by the Big Sur International
Enjoying creative time – handcrafting my notecards plus experimenting with a new
Collaborating – drawing with colorful markers on a large paper bird with  
our daughter, outside in the sunshine (our collaboration is now taped up on
the kitchen wall!)

Relaxing – enjoying a family movie night, watching the animated film "Brave" 
together and starting a new 750-piece puzzle (a work in progress spread out on
our living room floor at the moment!)

Bringing order to chaos - tidying one of many messy, disorganized spots in our
house (our daughter's desk!) 

Remembering to notice every day grace - hummingbirds visiting our fountain and
the very top of our red bud tree, our radish seedlings growing robustly and the
first teeny tiny carrot seedling breaking through the soil, the warmth of the sun  

Recounting gratitude - for the enthusiasm of the 3rd graders during my last Picture of
the Month lessons of the school year last week, for new opportunities sprouting up so
soon after my disapppointing workshop, for our daughter drawing "I Love Mom, 
I Love Dad" hearts on her steamy bathroom mirror     

Looking forward - to this week's possibilities, to a week that WILL get better... 
What helps you regain your bearings during a challenging stretch?