How do YOU relax?

Change can be a good thing, but it can also bring about so much stress. For the past two weeks, the stress at work AND at home has increased. The work stress is due to a variety of reasons, one being the extra work due to lack of staff. I needed to learn to not internalize everyone else’s opinions, let some things go, and just do what I thought was the right thing. Once I made up my mind to do just that, my tension eased a bit.

I didn’t think I was that stressed about home. Having my husband unemployed is indeed stressful, but I thought I was handling it well. Until I realized that driving home every night, my chest would feel tight. Of course driving to work my chest also felt tight, so maybe it was driving? But then during the weekends, driving anywhere I felt fine. Ok. Home and work are stressing me out. Maybe so much that they’re affecting my health? Hopefully not, but let’s fix this now before it becomes a real problem, shall we?

I’ve started doing a few things that make me happy. I’m not running at the moment, but I’m marching and jogging in my living room while watching Netflix. In particular, I’ve been watching “Tidying Up” with Marie Kondo. You know, the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up book? Marie goes around to a bunch of homes in California and helps couples or families tidy their homes. Oh my gosh, it made me so happy!! I hate clutter and love tidiness so watching these people find what sparked joy for them sparked joy for me!

I’ve also started to drink more herbal tea. Preferably in large mugs with Wonder Woman or funny sayings on them. Something that makes me smile.

But the tightness in my chest has continued. I’ve even noticed it as I’m starting my walk/march/jog. This morning I could barely breathe as I started to exercise, so I ramped it up and ran in place, hoping the sweat and exertion would help my body fix itself. It didn’t really work. But then I started to watch a comedy special on Netflix.

Ali Wong, Hilarious and Crude Comedian

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen Ali Wong, but this woman is a riot. I think many women like her more than men because of what she talks about. She can be totally nasty and crude but completely honest in her portrayal of women’s bodies. She talks about how our bodies are used up by the babies we have or how we love our children more than anything but can’t wait to get away from them for a day (particularly when they’re babies or toddlers). So I’m watching her special and am laughing while jogging. I have to walk for a bit because I just can’t laugh that much while jogging. When my 30 minutes are up, I stretch in another room and my husband and I chat. I have no idea what we talk about, but we’re totally razzing each other and I’m laughing so hard my laughs become silent while my whole body shakes. You know what I mean? It’s absolutely fantastic! I realized I hadn’t laughed that much for a really long time.

So when it’s time to go for work, my chest isn’t tight. I’m comfortable in my body and my breath and I feel like me again. All because I laughed until I nearly peed myself.

Admittedly as I’m writing this, it’s nearly bedtime and my chest is a bit tight again and I have to keep taking deep breaths to feel ok, but I suppose this is a process, right?

Now I’m asking you, my friends, what do you do to relax? How do you keep the stress from hurting you? Or do you sometimes just eat, drink or smoke too much to ease the tension and THEN find a way of not hurting your body? Or do you throw your hands up and say “Fuck it all!” and dive into that pint of ice cream?

Looking forward to hearing from you all and your fabulous suggestions! (Or your stress stories because misery totally loves company and I’d love to hear those, too.) ❤

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In the midst of things…

My family and I are in the middle of the 5th month of our spending moratorium. After cancelling our vacation,  we seem to always search for that silver lining. We have our days that we feel sorry for ourselves and mope around the house, whining that we’ll never go on a nice vacation….ok, I’m the one that really does that….but other days we try to look on the bright side of things.

For instance, with our tax refund this year, we were able to not only pay off the credit card but one of our loans that had some old debt on it. We paid it off a year early! And with that bit of extra money, we’re hoping to pay off this new car loan by January.  So what does that mean for us? Does it mean we can ease up on the moratorium and try to have a little fun? Well…not really.

Since we paid off the loan, we were able to loan two of our family members a little money (just $20 or $25) when they needed it and it didn’t hurt us too bad. That was a good feeling, and they both paid us back which is even better! But for the past few weeks, I’ve spend more on groceries than normal. I haven’t been as diligent. I kept saying, “Oh, we’re good! Look at all we’ve done!” And then I felt the squeeze. My husband didn’t work 40 hours one week, we both had doctors’ appointments the next week, two of our cats were due for the their shots…you get the picture.  That’s when Holly started freaking out.

I started getting grumpier than my normal. I started interrogating my husband on what he bought and where. I ate cereal for supper more than once, trying to spread the meals out a little more for the rest of the family. Of course, then I gorged myself on chocolate chips on those nights because it felt good and I needed to feel good. Which made me depressed about my weight, my lack of running and the fact that we were low on chocolate chips.  See that nasty downward spiral?

But then little things started to pop up that made me happy.  Little things that were really big things. Like my mom taking my son and myself to McDonald’s for lunch. We went INSIDE the building. We sat INSIDE! Last week Mom went grocery shopping with me. She actually went INTO THE GROCERY STORE. This is really big. I haven’t been inside a public building with my mother in over a year, except for hospitals and doctor’s offices. When we went into the store, she folded up her walker, put it in a cart, and started pushing it all through the store. And I mean all through the store! It was awesome! Really, really awesome. She recognized a few people, she remembered what was on her grocery list, she knew what was going on. It was FANTASTIC!  True, she was wearing the sweat suit she seems to want to wear all the time and she didn’t have her teeth in, her teeth that were never found, but who cares? She was aware and coherent and cruising along. It was a good day.

Other little things that have made me happy? Watching the Oscars with my brother. It may have been in the hospital, but he made me laugh hysterically, like he always does. And right now, at least this week, he’s feeling better and he’s home. So that makes me happy. Hanging out with some of my family this weekend, just having lunch, chatting, watching The Love Boat–all made me happy. Listening to my child spell words for his father–that not only made me happy but amused the hell out of me. Watching comedians on Netflix, laughing at a joke my husband told, talking with some of my favorite people via email and Facebook–all of that made and makes me happy.

There really are silver linings out there, somewhere. Not for everything for sure, and certainly not all of the time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not all sunshiney and farting rainbows, people! I’m not always happy when friends they tell me about their fantastic vacations they’re planning or what incredible (and incredibly expensive) outings they’re going on with their children. I can get downright pissy. But when I come back to myself, I remember that this debt business isn’t their fault. That’s all mine (and my husband’s). And although I might think snarky thoughts and hope they get into debt because of their fabulous vacation, I usually snap out of it and wish them well and try not to be such a bitch.

Then I go off and start looking and searching and hoping for the bright side, the silver lining, the good stuff.

It’s usually out there.

So let’s go find it.