Sunday, February 23, 2014

And whatever you do, let the air out of the balloon as you go along

It's the weekend and I'm recovering from the week that was. Friday felt like Monday and what a joyful surprise it was when I could remind myself that it was in fact, Friday.

Let's just say that a couple of the Really Important People in my life were dealing with Big Stuff that threw us into a crisis mode. You know how that is. Coasting along and BAM, you get ricocheted into another orbit temporarily or forever. It's hard to concentrate on anything other than the crisis because dealing with those details becomes all-consuming.

By now, things are pretty well sorted out. And I'm hugely relieved. It's just that I forgot to exhale. You know, slowly, instead of all at once.

I'm the kind of person, and maybe this resonates with you, too, that when I am in The Zone of Crisis, I tend to be so laser-focused on what I need to do to get through the crisis that I forget to exhale and release the built-up stress.

Friday afternoon, I ran into a good friend and her teen who had had an accident. Nothing serious at all, but not comfortable by any means. The teen began to cry as Mom told the story of what had happened. And because I am who I am, I cried too. My friend said, "Don't worry, these are tears of release, letting out the stress of it all."

My p-shrink gets out the trusty balloon when I have those moments of complete overwhelm following some sort of big deal that requires a ton of my energy. He blows air into the balloon and says, "This is the energy, positive and otherwise, going into this balloon, into your situation. If I let go of the balloon, it depletes all at once." And the balloon goes whizzing around out of his grip. "If I let a little air out in increments, I can continue to hold on to it and control it." The other danger is where I used to be. Just keep blowing up that balloon, just keep holding on to that stress and adding more as you go, until the balloon pops.

I'm getting better at it. I do recognize that. But I often fight back those tears of release earlier in the midst of the crisis because I have some kind of belief that looking strong in the face of it all will somehow scare off the crisis? That it will convince me that I am strong enough to deal with it? Silly. I know I am strong enough. More than.

It's about honoring our emotions. Letting them come up, feeling them, and watching them subside. Because eventually they go if you let them leave. Often we are so scared of feeling something that might be perceived as negative or hurtful that we try to ignore it, stuff the emotions down with food, drugs, alcohol, shopping, (fill in the blank of your favorite means). If we just allow the emotions to come, experience them, and then let them go, then the emotion no longer holds power over us. If we ignore them or use other means to repress them, then those emotions control us.

I continue to learn and continue to put these lessons into practice in the heat of the moment, because that's when it really counts. I know all these things, and so do you, it's just actually remembering to do it. Noticing the signs of tension and the need for a healthy release rather than a toddler-type tantrum will help you deal along your way through crisis mode or every day issues that can put our panties in a knot. Let the air out of the balloon gradually as you go. (You know I am saying this for my own self, right?)

Friday, February 7, 2014

Making sunshine in the depths of winter

From the depths of January (must give credit to Jonna who first wrote that very descriptive phrase) into the depths of February. When one wakes to -12 F and the view from the porch looks like a freezer seriously overdue for a defrost, we are talking about "depths" on many levels.

It is nearly impossible to be anything but in the present moment when it is this kind of bone-chilling, "Little House on the Prairie" kind of winter. One may have a vivid imagination and can go to their "happy place" in their mind, but I think that might take some level of Zen mastery I have yet to accomplish. I've been following a ten-day series of saying yes to the simple and extraordinary beauty that constantly surrounds us. Being aware of what our senses are currently taking in is one way of being in the present moment.

Senses sensing...

It's just plain cold. My eyes see cold. My nose smells cold and the little nose hairs are freezing together. (the tried and true test to determine if air temp is below zero) My skin, what little is exposed, feels cold. I like winter. I do. I will gladly take a foot of snow in exchange for this kind of cold. SubZero is a fridge, not my kind of climate.

Days like this I hope to see sun dogs in the morning skies. I marvel in the sparkling of the snow and if I get a glimpse of the cardinals in the yard, all the better.

But even this Pollyanna is starting to wish for a slow thaw. Still six weeks until spring break, so in the meantime I'm defying winter blues by taking a long weekend to see dear ones and have a change of scenery. Granted, Iowa's west coast will look highly similar to where I am right now, but a little windshield time is good therapy.

Find something this weekend, wherever you are, to warm up your days. Make that coffee date with that friend you've been meaning to catch up with. Bake something - even if it is pre-made cookie dough. Plant seeds for a windowsill garden. Knit something. Put on your favorite dance music and shake what your momma gave you. (No one's watching so get over yourself and work up a sweat!) Snuggle with a special someone.

The point is, make your own warmth until Mother Nature catches up. What will you do to generate some heat?