Tag Archives: stress

Brand New Day

I’ve written here before about May being like December because of its financial outlays. This year, May reminds me of December for other reasons, too.

rabbit, rabbit, image credit:

rabbit, rabbit, image credit: notsogoodphotography

There’s the over scheduling of events. End of school programs, concerts, field trips, parties, sporting events, conferences, graduations—all squeezed into a few weeks, just like at Christmastime. There are weddings, retirements, and going away parties. There’s May Day, Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day, and Memorial Day, not to mention the lesser known holidays like Candied Orange Peel Day, Frog Jumping Day, and Dance Like a Chicken Day. No kidding.

In some parts of the country (Kansas), the seasons are changing. The weather’s finally beginning to level out, if gale force winds can be considered leveling out. At least it’s sunny. Flowers bloom. Winter wheat fields turn from brown to green. Bunnies the size of my dog saunter about the yard. Nature’s in flux, pressing on to summer.

Add to that a stressful life event or two, like moving, and you could wind up dancing like a chicken. The one that flew over the cuckoo’s nest. Yes, change is stressful. Even good change is stressful. We’re allowed that, I think.

We go to sleep in some of the darkest winters of change. We wake up to clouds, gray, drizzle, snow, cold, bleh. Night comes again. Then gray. Then night. Then gray. Again and again. We get up. We sojourn on. Maybe for years.

Then one morning, a little light. The twinkle of an idea.

The whisper, “Hey, this could be the beginning of something beautiful.”

robin

robin, image credit: cruadinx

The next morning, a little more sun. The wink of possibility. The glimpse of a robin or a rabbit, rabbit, creature of habit.

Another morning, and the sky is the brightest shade of blue. The sun, oh, the sun is shining and we are warmed by it. Sweet promise of a brand new day.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 NIV

Hold On by Selah. Originally by Evie.

What are your hopes on this brand new day?

photo credit: notsogoodphotography via photopin cc
photo credit: cruadinx via photopin cc

6 Comments

Filed under faith, life

Heart of the Matter

Boomer, my yoga instructor, faced a life crisis earlier this spring when her 50-something husband had emergency bypass surgery.

faceted heart

faceted heart

She’s the more talkative of my instructors. Responsible for phrases like Vikings and temple dancers, bellies on vacation, and the duck index.

I like the banter.

“Stretch the myofascial tissue.”

“Stop carrying enormous handbags.” 

“Stand up straight or you’ll end up with a hump on your back and a walker!”

He survived the surgery. She missed a week or so of class. I don’t think she realizes it, but a new theme has surfaced in her coaching.

“Engage your thighs. You should feel them working, pumping blood up, strengthening your heart.” 

“Open your chest. Don’t let it close over your heart and lungs.” 

“Remember to breathe…” 

And then last class, this one.

“It’s amazing how easily the heart gets involved with everything.”

Yes, dear teacher. It is.

Guard your heart above all else,
for it determines the course of your life. Proverbs 4:23 NLT

Nothing Is Wasted, my new favorite song by Jason Gray. Listen. Take courage.

 What’s on your heart today?

7 Comments

Filed under faith, life

Shampoo

In a few short years, I’ve gone from washing my hair every single day to betting how many days I can go without washing my hair.

bloggess wannabee back

who’s that girl?

I suppose I could call it a matter of health. Most hair stylists agree. It’s not healthy to wash your hair every day. (I’m speaking of women here. Men, wash at will.) Over washing can mean over drying, especially as we get older and our hair loses its natural moisture and shine.

Good grief. That sounds like a shampoo commercial.

What was once a luxurious cleansing ritual now results in tresses crisp as sun-dried straw. Not pretty. Plus it takes so long to blow dry. Once upon a time, I thought nothing of spending hours on hair and makeup. Today it’s different. Pardon me, but I need to wash and go.

You know, I think it all started with that child I have. My hair was voluminous and glowing when I was pregnant with him. A few sleep-deprived months after giving birth, my hair (and the rest of me) looked tired. I barely had a moment to shower, much less dry and style. Besides, who has time for hair when there’s a boy’s childhood to be lived? There are Legos to assemble, imaginary wars to fight, books to read. Alas, I succumbed to the inevitable. I got mommy hair.

I cut it short. Then shorter. Then shorter. Then I saw myself in a photo. Shocked back to my senses, the race was on. A race more grueling than any marathon. Many of you recognize this perilous trek. Cursed is the day you agreed to layers and bangs. Your psyche bears the scars of the race to grow out your hair.

Since crossing the finish line about four years ago, I’ve kept my hair long. Pinterest helps me cope with impulses. When I see a photo that inspires me to cut my hair like hers, I pin it instead. Then I can think about it before I act on it. Maybe I’ll cut my hair short again some day. For now, I’ve relinquished my daily shampoo in order to preserve some semblance of health on my head.

I have to wonder if all this dryness has to do with our environment. No, not global warming. I’m talking about humidity. My hair was raised in Southern humidity. Most of my time in the Midwest has been spent in the drenching, river town seasons of St. Louis. It’s only recently we moved to the arid prairie-land of Kansas. Even the snow is dry here. Surely that must take a toll on my hair.

bloggess wannabee

I am not the bloggess (as if there was any confusion about that)

One of my friends has her hair done at the salon each week. She swears by the blow out. Says she doesn’t have to do a thing between visits. My stylist suggested pricey keratin treatments to make my hair like silk. Moisturized, manageable, lustrous silk.

But I know stress shows up in my skin. Makes sense it would show up in my hair. Forget the humidity, the expensive treatments, the weekly blow outs.

What I need is a vacation.

And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Matthew 10:30 NIV

Props to the 90s and Swedish bands. Beautiful Life by Ace of Base.

What do you and your hair need?

26 Comments

Filed under humor, women's studies

Dare to Hope

I love Christmas. Really, I do.

pink poinsettias

it’s beginning to look a lot like…

I love that our culture still reserves a time to celebrate Jesus’ birth. But the churning of the holiday season is a mixed bag for me, and I’m not the only one.

After I published the bah-humbug-ish post Saving Duck this past Tuesday, my best friend, my closest cousin, and my brother all contacted me within a three-hour period. These people are more dear than I deserve, so their concern could be a coincidence. Just in case, I thought I better clarify.

First, I’m okay. You’re okay. God willing, we’ll all make it through.

Second, this is not a retraction of my thoughts from my last post. The unrealistic expectations of a perfect Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year’s are destructive. They steal our joie de vivre and drain our bank accounts. We question our faith and our sanity.

Now I know there are a few of you who would prefer I only write about shiny, happy things. I appreciate that, and I wish I could meet your demands.

But I can’t.

It’s not my intention to be a negative Nelly. I do write about fun stuff as well from misread song lyrics to missing underwire, from discontinued lipstick to dismissed hair accessories. But to me, it wouldn’t be honest or helpful to present as if everything is sunshine and roses (or pink poinsettias) when it’s not.

Yesterday I hung out with some Christian girlfriends. One caught my attention when she said, “I don’t really like this season. I mean I like Christmas, I just don’t care for all that goes with it.”

Her courage struck a chord. One by one, every woman recounted personal stories of how painful the holidays can be. My December dread didn’t seem so abnormal after all.

The wisest of all the women shared a story from when her kids were younger. She and her husband piled their little ones in the car and drove across three states to visit a relative for Thanksgiving. The trip wasn’t a surprise visit; the relative knew they were coming. Imagine their shock to arrive just in time to stand in the driveway and wave good-bye.  Grandma had made other plans to go out with friends for Thanksgiving dinner instead.

chocolate turkeys

don’t be a turkey

“We laugh about it now,” said my friend. “We joke and say, ‘Remember when Grandma left us on Thanksgiving?’ But at the time, it wasn’t funny.”

This is in part why we need other people in our lives. It’s why we need to tell each other the truth. It’s why some of us write and read and comment. How good to know we’re not alone. Others have walked this road or on it with us now. Many have survived. Maybe we will, too.

Walk on, pilgrims. Walk on.

Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease. Lamentations 3:21-22 NLT

He Walked a Mile by Clay Crosse. An oldie but a goodie.

Do you still dare to hope? Tell me more.

5 Comments

Filed under blogging, family & friends, life, women's studies

Saving Duck

Remember the Duck Index two posts ago? How we’re going to do more of what we want to do and say no without guilt to everything else? Yeah, I talk a big game.

two ducks by Richard Broderick creative commons license

two ducks are better than one, image by Richard Broderick, creative commons license

No sooner did I write those words than the calendar page flipped and tossed me into the most wonderful stressful time of the year.

The time-sucking, sanity-sapping specter of shopping, cards, decorating, overeating, and road trips seized my duck with the sole intent to lop off his head, smoke, and serve him for New Year’s brunch.

I suspect the true target is me. 

The marksman crouches low in the dried cattails along the late autumn shoreline, his quiver full of guilt-tipped arrows. Silently, he pulls back his bow and launches the Dickens three-pronged attack.

Zing! The arrow of Christmas Past hits me in the chest. Memories of years long gone by and loved ones lost steal the air from my lungs. Zip! He hits me again. Christmas Present lodges squarely in my left shoulder. Pain shoots across my back with the knowledge that I can’t possibly do all of the things I’m supposed to do to make this the best. holiday. EVER. Pop! Christmas Future pegs me right between the eyes. My head aches with premonitions of a time when I’ll be too old, alone, and destitute to jingle even the tiniest silver bell.

I’m not dead yet, so the duck slayer gingerly lobs the Martha Stewart arrow. It’s carved of Quaking Aspen wood, finished with Peregrine feathers on one end and a rare, Native American arrowhead chiseled from Yellowstone Obsidian on the other. It slices through the skin on my right arm like a whalebone-handled table knife acquired at a tag sale in Connecticut slices through artisanal butter. I bleed enough to ruin the linens of an otherwise perfect holiday table setting, but the injury’s not fatal.

Korean Arrows by garryknight, creative commons license

Korean Arrows, image by garryknight, creative commons license

The archer selects the Good Christian Men arrow in an attempt to finish me off. This arrow screams as it flies at me, “Rejoice already! What’s wrong with you? Rejoice! Rejoice! It’s what good Christians do!”

I’m drowning in guilt when here it comes, the mother lode. The hunter lets fly the I’ll Be Home for Christmas arrow. True, I’ll be in someone’s home for Christmas. My home now? My home back then? The home of my relatives or in-laws? Could home be an illusion that exists if only in my dreams? Perhaps I should pitch a tent along the interstate. Set up camp under the Eads Bridge on the banks of the Mississippi.

The archer is ready with more ammunition. There’s the You Busted Your Holiday Budget and It’s Not Even December Yet arrow. The You’re Going Out to Eat on Christmas Instead of Cooking a Meatless, Organic Feast of Locally-Sourced Winter Vegetables? arrow. And new this year, the special edition red, white, and blue Happy New Year’s Dive Off the Fiscal Cliff arrow.

I shudder, quite sure my punctured carcass will be thrown onto Frosty’s compost pile to melt into oblivion. When what with my wondering ears do I hear?

“Quack!”

Oh, sweet horn of Gideon.

“Ree, ree, ree, ree. Quack!”

My duck is safe and hungry. He chatters at me to get up. 

I leave the hunter and his arrows behind to follow this simple, ingenious, waddling creature. I watch as he steps into the water and floats. Can you do that?

He glides along the surface, his body the motor, rudder, and hull. He scoops up the bread crumbs I toss. He inverts and dives. He shakes off droplets, tucks his head, and rests. He flaps his wings and flies.

Surely He will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His feathers,
and under His wings you will find refuge;
His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:3-4 NIV

The Duck Song by Bryant Oden.

How will you save duck this holiday season?

6 Comments

Filed under humor, life, women's studies

Hitting the Wall

The Championships, Wimbledon

The beautiful tennis player with long blond hair was winning. But not by much. On the other side of the net, a spunky, dark-haired Italian was holding her own with moves more contorted than graceful. This was Wimbledon.

Back and forth. The blond pulled ahead, only for the Italian to catch her. The sportscasters sided with the blond for technical superiority. Yet they couldn’t discount the heart of the underdog.

Tennis games are way too long. We didn’t see how the contest ended. We were on vacation and the beach was calling.

Secretly I hoped the dark-haired girl would win. How many more beautiful blond tennis champions do we need really? Yes, we have Venus and Serena. But an Italian tennis queen. Bellissimo!

Today I identify with that girl more than I would like, and not just because of my Italian heritage.

BAM! The serve. Extensive travel in June.

SWACK! The return. Intensive upheaval back in St. Louis.

SLAP! A high lob. Close on the sale of our house.

CRACK! Another return. Move everything we own and downsize.

POW! The slam. Normalize only to set up for more changes.

In the middle of the game, I’m about to hit the wall.

My husband says I’ve simply run out of adrenaline. The synapses are shot. The serotonin took a nose dive, suffered a concussion, and is sitting out indefinitely.

Bad habits are back. I organize stuff, rather than stake out precious time to work. My husband works until the wee hours, rather than stake out precious time to sleep. My son is not eating enough (any) vegetables. And my inner critic has reclaimed the judge’s seat.

This is no time to quit. It’s precisely the time to keep hitting. The goal is within reach, even if the goal is to make it to dinner with all family members intact. One step, one second at a time. The most crucial moment could come in the next match. Or the next serve. You can’t win if you don’t play.

Break it down. Back to the basics like Elijah in his cave. Rest, eat, breathe, listen. Or like Hannah in the temple. Dust yourself off, clean yourself up, nourish yourself well. Come out swinging like Sampson. Or a certain Italian tennis player who just wouldn’t quit.

Ask for help from the One who never quits. The One whose strength has no end. Lord, help me persevere with grace instead of criticism, humor instead of depression, hope instead of despair. Amen.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 NIV

C’mon and rock with me now to a little bit o’ TobyMac, won’t you? Get Back Up!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

2 Comments

Filed under life