broadsideblog

Posts Tagged ‘managing stress’

Under stress, are you a cookie or a teabag?

In aging, behavior, culture, domestic life, life, women on October 4, 2014 at 11:24 am

By Caitlin Kelly

20130622075940

In other words, do you shatter like a cookie/biscuit into helpless crumbs?

Or, like a teabag, as hot water surrounds you, gain strength?

It’s not a question I ask lightly, but one that seems to separate those able to find life pleasurable — even  as it’s filled with inevitable stresses: illness, the death of loved ones, divorce, miscarriage, job loss/search, un/underemployment — and those who choose to sit in a corner, wailing in the fetal position.

I’m aware I may here sound heartless, lacking compassion or understanding.

It’s not for lack of facing a pile o’ stuff in my own life, starting before my teens, that included parental mental illness and alcoholism, abandonment, an often cruel and competitive step-mother, blablablabla.

I’ve been the victim of four acts of criminal behavior. Had four orthopedic surgeries since the year 2000.

I didn’t love getting fired from several jobs and surviving three recessions in 25 years after leaving Canada for the gilded streets of New York.

Blablablablablabla…..

But I’ve reached the limits of my tolerance for whining, moaning, hand-wringing and helplessness.

If you’re addicted and/or mentally ill and/or barely surviving on poverty wages and/or suffering chronic illness….life can be hard as hell! Anyone facing a serious illness also faces multiple issues at once, and just getting through a day can be an ordeal.

But if you’re blessed with health, strength, saleable skills, (even if they don’t always add up to a well-paid or secure job, the Holy Grail of a crap economy), let alone a family who supports you financially, emotionally or intellectually,  do you step up and do whatever’s necessary to improve your situation?

I do support public policies that help — unemployment insurance, disability pay, and more — and the taxes that pay for them; good people do land in terrible straits.

But…

I recently joined an on-line women’s group that I celebrated here a few weeks ago as a pillar of on-line community. Most of the women in it are in their 20s, 30s and 40s, all decades now behind me. I was excited to find a group filled with fun and interesting people.

It has evolved into something else, a minefield of hurt feelings and expected apologies. Plus, the draaaaaaama! The angst! The unhappiness!

So, whether it’s an issue of age and experience, or personality, or my putative white/middle-class/heterosexual privilege, I just don’t have time.

How much patience do you have for others’ dramas — or your own?

How do you get through tough times?

Why struggle? Drop that crocodile!

In aging, behavior, business, life, women, work on May 9, 2012 at 12:31 am
American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus). This p...

American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus). This photograph was taken at La Manzanilla, Jalisco State in Mexico, on the Pacific Coast. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the umpteenth time, my life felt like I was wrestling a large, wet, thrashing and dangerous creature — a crocodile, as it were — that was the drama du jour. It might have been the crappy relationship with my mother, half-brother, stepmother, an editor (or three).

It might have been a fight with my sweetie, now my husband. It might have been my own insecurity or fear over my weight or my work or my income.

The more I wrestled with it, the more it thrashed, its scaly and powerful tail smacking me in the head, metaphorically speaking.

Hold it tighter! Make it submit! Then I had an epiphany, one that’s shaped my life ever since.

Drop the damn crocodile!

Just drop that slimy scaly sucker and walk the hell away.

Oooooh, that feels so much better.

It’s counter-intuitive for some of us to let something drop, to allow it to simply not matter anymore. We’re taught never to give up. To try our best. To work at things.

But, you know, sometimes that damn crocodile will kill you if you keep hanging onto it, its ferocious strength draining all of yours as you keep wrestling it.

Here are just a few of the crocodiles I’ve dropped in the past few years:

— obsessing about my income. And, funny thing, it’s rising, up 40 percent in 2011 over 2010. I expect 2012 to rise even further. Neurosis is rarely appealing to anyone, especially clients.

– whining about my weight. I need to lose 40+ pounds. I could go nuts or just try to do it in my own way. I’m working on it. It will take months. Whatever.

– worrying about whether or not I’ll be able to sell my  next book. Probably will.  If not, something else will come along.

– caring what my Dad thinks. Yes, I still do. But not nearly as much as I used to.

– keeping a spotless home. I used to waste a whole ton of productive work-time on house-cleaning. Now we have a maid coming twice a month, for a total cost of $110, which is less than my lowest hourly rate. I have more time to make more money.

— fretting over the normal costs of running my business, like my web designer and hiring paying assistants and lawyers and others for their help and expertise. Outsource! It’s all a tax deduction next year anyway.

– managing some of my business associates. Too difficult. Time to move on.

– trying to please my mother. Impossible. We no longer have any relationship at all. Sad to say, I have never been happier.

– keeping up friendships that actually left me feeling miserable. Just because someone was once a dear friend doesn’t mean they’re going to remain one. You change, they change and habits that might once have seemed normal can become unworkable. If you’ve tried to resolve them and it’s just not going to happen, time to drop that croc.

– getting my hip replaced.  Two years of increasing pain, exhaustion, depression and frustration are gone since I had a new hip implanted in February 2012. I was terrified of the surgery and a poor result. I have my life back! I’m happy and strong once more.

What crocs are wearing you out these days?

Can you drop a few of them?

When Family = Stress

In behavior, children, domestic life, family, life, love, parenting on November 23, 2011 at 1:11 am
A mother plays the guitar while her two daught...

If only it was really this calm! Image via Wikipedia

No matter how much we look forward to visiting our distant family members, (and many of us do), there’s often a whole pile ‘o unexploded ordnance lying beneath that linen-covered holiday table: resentment, envy, insecurity, fear, doubt.

No matter how much we’d love to ignore them, they often blow up when you least expect them, or want them to. Here are some of the old standbys:

When are you getting married?

You still don’t have a boyfriend/girlfriend?

How’s that “freelancing” thing working out for you?

We had such a great time in Paris — how was your summer?

You’re still ABD?

Billy just got a promotion, and a bonus. Did you find a job yet?

It’s so great they’re making plus-size clothes in such pretty colors these days. Love your dress!

Having just survived the latest “helpful” advice from one family member — which left us both shouting in rage (nice) — I know all too well the joys of spending time with relatives who have firm and fixed ideas about how much more effectively or wisely one might behave.

It takes a soul of steel, (not to mention duct tape), to not let old patterns re-emerge, snitty comments get under your skin or ancient feuds simmer to a boil with the addition of alcohol, overeating and too much time in a small space with people you never got along with in the first place, shared genes be damned.

Right now, my mother isn’t speaking to me (I’m her only child); my half-brother insists it’s him or me at Christmas and none of my husband’s relatives (all two of them) could bother attending our recent wedding.

Family, schmamily.

What are you most looking forward to when you gather for Thanksgiving?

What are you dreading?

Drop That Crocodile!

In behavior, blogging, domestic life, family, life, women on January 26, 2011 at 1:57 pm
Phylum : Chordata - Class : Reptilia - Order :...

Image via Wikipedia

Do you ever find yourself feeling like your life has turned into a crocodile — large, wet, scaly, heavy, unwieldy?

Thrashing wildly in your arms and trying to snap your hands off?

Time to drop that sucker, stat!

Right now, here’s what’s happening in my life, all at the same time:

My new book, “Malled: My Unintentional Career in Retail” (Portfolio) comes out April 14, and I have hired two fantastic assistants, paid from my own pockets, to help me promote it. That means: setting up events and readings, finding people to blog and review and write about it, finding places to promote it on-line, setting up a book tour, etc.

My mom is in the hospital in another country, a six-hour flight away, facing surgery then moving into a nursing home. That means, as her only child with a shared power of attorney with another woman, finding buyers for, and selling: her car, home, contents and finding a nursing home. And managing all her affairs.

My right hand has two weird things happening at once, including a finger that clicks internally and needs to be seen by a doctor and I am sick to death of doctors.

My left eye has finally stopped looking like Frankenstein, bloodshot for a week, quite likely (you think?) from stress. The doctor warned me that until the stress has subsided, it could happen again.

My left hip, which has dead bone in it, makes walking difficult and painful. Now that New York, where I live, is covered in ice and snow, I walk like a Japanese lady in a very tight kimono, praying I don’t slip, fall or shatter that dead bone, forcing me into immediate hip replacement surgery and an eight-week recovery.

I was threatened by a fellow blogger who said he wanted to “beat me bloody” . I don’t laugh such threats off, and called the police, who investigated him, even though he lives in Florida and I in New York. FYI, making such threats is a Class B misdemeanor and carries jail time.

It’s been fun!

But the point is….how to cope?

Drop the bloody crocodile!

By which I mean, and here is the real silver living in it all, it all teaches you to take a break from whatever stress you can. Heave it, like that nasty croc, as far away from you for as long as possible.

Because it will kill you.

I met a woman yesterday to talk business. She’s lovely and passionate and very beautiful, but has already had one heart attack from stress and, after we met, I can see the next one lurking. She is driving herself at industrial speed. She sleeps very little.

So here’s what I’ve been doing to de-stress, and all of it works really well:

Pedicures

Movies

Long lunches with very good friends

Long phone chats with very good friends

Sweating it out at the gym and dance class

Sleeping as much as my body tells me to, if that’s 15 hours in one night, so be it

Taking naps during the day, if necessary

Drinking a lot of water and fresh juice and being careful about caffeine and liquor consumption

Reading some terrific books (Keith Richard’s “Life” is one)

What are some of your stresses?

What do you do to cope with them?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 12,201 other followers