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Friday, November 19, 2010

How to deal with paralyzing stress

There are moments in life when you’re sure of a lot of particular things or subjects then there are moments in life where those subjects become even clearer causing a somewhat surprising – and sometimes “duh” like – moment. Intellectually, I realize that personal situations and setbacks cause stress and inner upheaval, but it wasn’t until today that I realized how truly paralyzing some of these situations can be. Or, for my new-age, uber positive, overly thoughtful group: how truly paralyzing I allow them to be.

I’ve mentioned in the past how… uh… challenging the past three and a half years of my life have been. And I’ve even eluded to what has been going on the past three weeks. I told someone that either something truly, extra, stupendously fantastic is going to happen or it’s all going straight to hell. Yea, that’s a little chuckle worthy, but it’s so how I think. Let’s look at the most recent evidence:

  • Almost three weeks ago I had the washing machine replaced after the other finally and completely died. Huge sigh of relief and happy dance to have a new one, and a bundle of love and thanks to the person who enabled that to happen.
  •  DSCF5374 About two weeks ago, a small leak in the tub began. That turned into a major, gushing waterfall. It went from a potential $55 job to a $345 job. Good gracious. Another happy dance for getting it fixed, for the sound of running water finally stopping and for the plumber who allowed me to give him half of the money at the time of repairs. The other half? Well, let’s just hope he’s understanding and patient.
  • Last week, Friday, the alternator in my van died. Suddenly, but slowly. I did my morning run/carpooling and it slowly died and shut down during my afternoon carpooling. Thankfully, I got it into the driveway (happy dance for that!), and I won’t tell you how the past week has been trying to find rides for the children to get to school, waiting for money to get it fixed and the ensuing stress of the whole ordeal.
  • Then the phone goes out. That’s all I’m going to say about that one.

That’s where the paralyze-ation comes in.

As I’ve tried to force myself through my regular activities and work, I couldn’t figure out why I was so immobile. Why nothing was getting accomplished. Why I felt … AARRRGGHHHH. Yup, that’s the only word I can come up with for the feeling.

That’s when I realized I was paralyzed. I was paralyzing myself. I couldn’t shake the thoughts of trying to solve these problems especially the one of not having a vehicle to take care of my responsibilities especially when it comes to my children. Of not having enough resources. I couldn’t focus on anything else.

Now the question is: How do I un-paralyze?

I’ve found that if I completely and narrowed mindedly focused on one task, I can forget about everything else and get through it, but that didn’t cause an ongoing level of movement. It only caused spurts; important responsibilities were being neglected. Before I – or anyone else – can move through paralyzing worries there are some steps that must be taken:

  1. DSCF5381 Read a book or watch a movie/show that is entertaining or interesting to you, which  normally works for me. (Right now I’m reading Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink.)  By focusing my mind on something else it wipes the worries from my mind. But you can’t do it without also …
  2. Meditating. For some that means prayer, but I mean just spending quiet time clearing your mind. Think about what you just watched or read, and gradually let your mind drift. Picture a meadow, a sea, the sun, a naked body – whatever causes you peace, happiness or both. Now you should be ready to get things in …
  3. Order. With a detached attitude and logical thought make a to-do list of what you must do. These are things you are in control of. My list looks a little like this: wash a load of clothes, write a post (with the subject, if applicable), wash dishes, straighten living room, make bed, complete assignment, call mom… You’ll notice the list consists of work- and home-related tasks. For me, it’s the only way to move forward because if it’s all work I’ll feel overwhelmed again. Before you begin your list, you must decide on a …
  4. Treat/Reward. Yup, you have to treat yourself like a child. Well, I have to treat myself like a child. For instance, if I complete my assignment I can have another cup of coffee. If a wash dishes then I can have a piece of chocolate and so forth. It doesn’t have to be food or beverage, but you get the idea. Then you’ll have to …
  5. Repeat.

One of the keys now is for me to remember my own advice and, most importantly, implement it. In fact, the act of writing this post has been somewhat therapeutic because it’s doing something I love to do.

Now it’s time to move on to the next task. While I’m working (sleeping, goofing off…), take a moment to share how you move pass paralyzing stress.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just a little reminder about Campus Talk Blog…

… I’m over there as well.

At the very cool and informative Campus Talk Blog, I’m the resident “first-time college mom” and I write Parents’ Perspective. In case you’ve forgotten, my baby went off to college last year (summer 2009) and now she has about two years under her belt. I think for her it feels like 10 years, but that’s another story.

image So while it seems like I don’t talk about my beautiful Amber that much any longer – that isn’t necessarily true. She’s actually the topic of conversation in almost every one of my posts. Lucky her. :-)

I’ve been able to take my experiences as a first-time college mom – and her experiences as a college student – and mesh them with some helpful, entertaining and informative pieces. Not every post is about Amber, but just about every post is inspired by the fact that I have a child in college.

image Be a dear and pop on over for a peek. The CTB experts (in student leadership, finances, study skills, relationships, etc.) would love it if you took a look around, read a few posts and left some comments. Then come back here and let me know what you think. Mmm’kay?

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What I should have said…

I’m taking Bloggy Moms’ November 2010 Blog Challenge

This may be a hard post for some to read and understand, but it’ll be the only time you’ll “hear” me say this online. I never want my children to think that I don’t love them or want them, but I must admit that I wish I had said no when my ex proposed.

Or I guess I could write, I shouldn’t have said yes. Either way – it shouldn’t have happened. I shouldn’t have let it happen.

Yes, my children are a blessing and a gift – the situation, in my eyes, is not. And it wasn’t necessarily so from day one of the marriage.

I should have known the second day of our honeymoon. The minute I thought, “What the hell have I gotten myself into.” The next thought was I should leave immediately and get an annulment. Not a great way to start…

There’s no way to relay all of my thoughts and everything that happened from that moment on. It would be a lie to say every moment was awful and, from my perspective, it would be a lie to say that my short marriage was good.

There were good times. Good moments. In the end the bad moments, and one significant final moment, tainted the entire relationship. It’s unfortunate and even sad especially for my only son – and second child – who still has memories of his parents being together.

Hopefully what I should have or shouldn’t have done will become a distant memory. There will be no guilt, no blame and life will continue to move forward … for the sake of my children who I love with all of my heart.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sisterhood, chocolate & Stampin’ Up fun

After the recent unexpected events in my life, I needed a little time to relax, reconnect and have fun so when Saturday rolled around and it was time for my Chicks & Chocolate Stampin’ Up party I was ready and raring to go. Everyone needs a little down time, right?

Now it’s not the type of party you may be thinking of; it’s a hostess party that featured the Stampin’ Up line of products including rubber stamp sets, wood or clear mounts, stamping wheels, decor accents and stencils for custom-made home decor and, I’m sure, much more. Our demonstrator for this Stampin’ Up class was Shaunalynn. You may recognize Shaunalynn as the blogger behind The Art & Science of Parenting, but she’s also a Stampin’ Up demonstrator.

DSCF5347Before the demonstration even began we started laughing and having fun. Beatrice, shown here on the right, came with her daughter Gara and they both immediately proclaimed to be NON-crafters. They said they couldn’t cut straight, didn’t glue anything and plethora of other un-crafty type behavior.

Shaunalynn, being the ever roll-with-the-punches-type gal, said that’s okay because cutting straight was not necessary and there’s no wrong way to do it.

And what exactly would we be doing?

DSCF5347We would decorate little chocolate candy bars and make them suitable (and beautiful!) for gift giving and make greeting cards. As soon as Shaunalynn said chocolate, Beatrice was all ears. Seems as if she and I share a certain chocolate fetish. She likes it so much that she allowed Shaunalynn to stamp her hand with “So much chocolate so little time.” (Of course this was after she joked and asked Shaunalynn can the stamps be used on people…) Perfect, don’t you think?DSCF5348 And Beatrice was quite amused with the result. So much so that she decided she would purchase the chocolate stamp set in January when it becomes available to the public. Yea, we had the inside track thanks to Shaunalynn.

 

 

 

DSCF5351We finally got down to the business of stamping and began with our chocolate bars. I managed to capture a few steps in the process. Even though the three of us complained, fussed and presented our OCD tendencies, we finally ended up with little presents we are proud of.

That’s my first Hershey bar after it was wrapped with the cute little papers. Then we stamped some stock paper  and used a fancy punch to shape the paper. Below are the two I covered – the middle and bottom ones. Shaunalynn, who created the one on top,  showed us how to use the inkpads to put a little color to our cutouts. I’m really pleased with how they turned out and don’t think I want to share. :-)DSCF5353DSCF5354

Then it was time to make our greeting cards. We were each given a little baggy that contained five different sizes of paper. We took the stock paper, folded it in half and were taught a trick to get it folded straight – that’s our card. Then we were instructed to tear the second piece diagonally. You would have thought she told us to build a pyramid. Every ounce of OCD came out as we tried to tear perfectly. Regardless of how many times she said there’s no wrong way. Each piece had to be torn, glued and made to have a weathered look around the edges.DSCF5357

That’s Gara giving her paper the weathered/worn look. I’m not going to mention how many times she tore one of her papers in the wrong direction – twice!  The next couple of pictures show the card as I made it.

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The finished products:

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The card on the left is the one I made and Shaunalynn did the one on the right then gave it to me. DSCF5367

 

 

 

 

Gara and Beatrice, despite their doubts that they could do it, made fabulous cards and cutely covered chocolates.             DSCF5365 DSCF5366  

Just for hosting the Stampin’ Up class I received the holiday mini catalog, the Definitely Decorative catalog and the 2010/2011 Idea Book & Catalog. Those books are filled with ideas and products that are great for the seasoned crafter as well as the beginner. I saw quite a few ideas I’d like to try. In fact, the holiday mini catalog featured some Simply Adorned Baubles that gave me the idea to create jewelry-inspired gift cards to add to my Etsy shop, Jewelry World. (If you visit, don’t say anything about there being just one piece there. I’ve been having “technical difficulties.”)

If you’d like to schedule a class with Shaunalynn (that’s her pictured above) or order some products, check out her Stampin’ Up site. She’s patient, fun and not at all bossy. :-D Her demonstration was easy to follow and we had fun doing it. In fact, I’m waiting for Bea to schedule hers so I can do it all again.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Muddled mind, missing muse

I love alliteration

Just write.

That’s what “they” recommend when creativity wanes. This worked fairly well when I was a magazine editor because I could take the facts and the quotes, arrange them how appropriate and muddle through stringing it all together with some input from the editorial team. This often doesn’t work so well when you’re alone working from home.

I guess there are ways to find my missing muse, right? We’ve all read the tips: read others’ work, take a break and come back, just write, meditate … there are quite a few things that work for different people. I haven’t found a sure-fire way to get them to work for me especially when life is getting in the way.

I actually started this post in the hopes of fueling some magical beginning to my writing day. Hoping it would spur me into my quick clicking, multitasking writing, answering emails, tweeting, blogging and reading. Yea, my multitasking is over the top and today would be a good day to take one thing at a time. My “one thing at a time” is blogging/writing and watching television – I generally have office hours on my couch when I’m extremely stressed. It’s better than sitting at my desk, trying to work and gazing at a blank screen or shuffling papers.

Now I’m running out of time before the first child gets home from school (all getting rides because of the dead van) and the motivation of little time to myself is pushing my brain into gear to at least get some things accomplished.

What about you? How do you motivate your mind and your muse?

Have a happy Monday.

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