Wednesday, May 19, 2010

When life is pressing in... day two

It is somewhat on the order of Bleak House here at the edge of the forest... cool, dark, rainy, and gloomy.  Not really a bad thing after Monday's excitement.  It is what Stephanie and I used to call "a Casablanca kind of day", as we watched my favorite movie only when there was a steady rain (or perhaps a blowing snow) outside.  Bogart must be enjoyed in black and white film and in a gloomy environment.  :)

Such days remind me of home and family and another way I overcome stress.  It took just a little creativity to come up with Casablanca days when Stephanie was growing up.  One could either complain about the gloomy or snowy weather or learn to make it work for you.  As an adult, I think Stephanie would call them Jane Austen days.  I know when she is having a bad day, the new Emma DVD will be brought out... or one of the other British flicks.

My son has his own ways of getting away from it all through media, which usually has something to do with watching movies where lots of things get blown up or tuning in to a Law and Order marathon... or one of their multiple spin offs.  As a college student, he no longer sees reading as a stress reliever.  :)

It helps to have an understanding that challenging days are part of life and to have in place ways to overcome them.  In our home that would be stacks of books waiting to be read, cookbooks with pictures to peruse, ingredients in the pantry for spending time in the kitchen, music on the itty bitty iPod, or reading decorating and garden blogs.

Because I live with stressful situations, I have learned to always keep stress relievers in the back of my mind.  They become a budget priority, as with DVDs of good movies (or old TV shows), certain authors at library sales, or even a scented candle to light in the evening when I'm reading.

In the past (when I did more sewing), I have lost myself in an embroidery project, or a quilt, or cutting out and assembling teddy bears.  I would put together ahead of time all I needed to work on a project so when the time came I had time to work on it, everything was available.  There is nothing like a good project to forget what is causing stress (as long as the project, itself, does not add to the stress).

In much the same way, I kept projects or books or puzzles or Lego kits or some other item put back for kids... when I had little ones at home that needed something to do so I could take a mental vacation.  Sometimes it is not Mom who needs the project for stress relief... when kids are at home it is their getting carried away with a creative endeavor that gives a chance for Mom to sit and think.  :)

Recently I moved items on the deck around so I can see pretty flowers out the French doors from the inside.  Buying flowers for the deck meant not spending money on something else but they are worth the small amount of money spent.  For three seasons, I can not only enjoy the natural green of the tall trees and bushes but the colorful flowers and whimsical design.  Just a little money and a lot of creativity paying off in huge rewards.

Seasons of life can change what we find stress relieving... for instance, I have to go through family pictures to locate a few for those family members here for the memorial.  There have been seasons of life when looking through pictures brought great peace and I have enjoyed scrapbooking.  However, having lost many loved ones in the not too distant past... now it can make me sad.  Same process... different outcome.

I guess that is what I'm trying to say here (I think I need another cup of coffee to break through fuzzy thinking).  Having stress relievers in place, making them an everyday part of life, it takes thinking ahead of time and being prepared.  What works for me may not be what will de-stress you. 

Knowing that there are ways to relieve stress and find peace and making it a priority of time and budgeting is essential to my life.  Which is why I have taken my last $5.00 to choose one special stress reliever... planting an herb and flower, having coffee with my husband or meeting Christopher on campus at McDonald's, buying chocolate chips and butter for special cookies, perusing the thrift shop or the used book room at the library, or even choosing an inexpensive but pretty floral pair of garden gloves which will make me smile all summer... little things with big rewards of joy and peace and giving one the ability to forget for awhile that which burdens them.

Some things cost me nothing... like chatting with Stephanie on the phone.  Some stress relievers have excellent rewards... as in weeding the garden.  But always know (and it took me years to figure this out) that one needs to have ways in place to keep the pressure cooker of life from exploding.  :)

Picture: Water Baby and Moon Print;


The Working Home Keeper said...

When I have one of those days, I find myself drawn to homecaring - arranging a new centerpiece for the dining room table or a new vignette on the table in our foyer. Also like watching episodes of my favorite British comedy Keeping Up Appearances.

Great post!

Mary Ellen

Mrs.Rabe said...

These are excellent thoughts and ideas! I find I need to think about helping the kids to find stress relievers! We probably already have them in place, but because they are a natural part of our life, we don't think about them.

Thanks, Brenda.

Vee said...

Yes! Have a plan is becoming my motto.

Sometimes I've been run over by not realizing I needed a plan. Monday was so very stressful (beginning with the staring vulture and ending with my nan having an Alzheimer's outburst) that I wished I had had a plan besides calling my mother and burdening her with the thing. The next time, I believe that I must remove myself from the scene. A self-imposed "time out" if you will.

Thank you for sharing those things that make your stressful times easier to take. (Today, John and I spent a very leisurely morning with a third cup of coffee. Delightful. But now I'm wondering about the afternoon with all this caffeine. :D )

Echoes From the Hill said...

I have had absolutely the worst year of my life, and it just isn't getting better. Yesterday, my daughter had a miscarriage, the second in the past year, after losing her three year old in a tragic accident, one year ago this month. My mom died, unexpectedly, one of my best friends died suddenly, my sister-in-law, who was a friend for many years, died of cancer. I am afraid to be happy, for fear the other shoe will drop. Your posts are helpful, and hopeful. Thanks.

Terra said...

I like your Casablanca watching on a dark day. I watched Blind Side last night and that is on my top 10 movie list, and a good addition to a "dark days" marathon.
I find getting out of the house and walking is upbeat, and going to exercise in a pool.

Mrs.T said...

Another helpful post, Brenda. And I like the suggestions other commenters have added in, too.

I too have had a tough year, and the year before that was no better -- maybe worse. One thing that God has been teaching me is that true joy is to be found in Him and need not be impacted by circumstances. That's easy to say, but an ongoing lesson in practice. I have been studying the book Loving God with all Your Mind and have just come to the chapter where the author uses Joseph as an example... how he lived a fruitful life even in the midst of exile and imprisonment. I am learning that God wants us to also be fruitful even in the midst of our own difficult circumstances ... just as you, Brenda, are doing by sharing your hard-earned wisdom with all of us. Thank you so much!

God bless,