Drop That Crocodile!

Phylum : Chordata - Class : Reptilia - Order :...
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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:



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?

18 thoughts on “Drop That Crocodile!

  1. I used to be carrying a really heavy crocodile, and I’m lucky that I was able to drop it. At the time I used to unwinde by taking long, long walks with the dog, usually through the snow. I live in Toronto, and there is a wonderful little path near my apartment lined with trees, and usually covered with snow at this time of year. It’s just so nice to be cold (since every office in the city seems to set their thermostat to 30C) and quiet. In some places on the path you can’t even hear the traffic. As soon as I droped that croc I reevaluated my life and my goals, I made up my mind that I don’t want to climb the corporate ladder, so now I have a much nicer pace to life and I feel really good about that.

  2. Wow, bsb, at least you’ve recognised what you’re dealing with and are doing what you can to maintain your equilibrium. Having said that, are you okay?
    Dancing and sweating at the gym are fabulous foils for the crocodile, as are long lunches and chats with good friends.
    So much exciting and scary stuff going on – do take special care of yourself.
    Sunshine xx

  3. circe, I grew up in Toronto and am back there many times each year to visit family and friends. There are such amazing parks and ravines, so I know what you mean! Being out in nature is incredibly soothing, I find, and the snow adds another calm, beautiful dimension to that — it’s snowing here in NY today and maybe I’ll go for a walk in it. I miss snowflakes on my face!

    SIL, I’m OK.

    I at least, I think, know my limits enough to know when I am nearing burnout: I’ve hired the two assistants precisely so that they can do a lot of the phoning and emailing I am too fried and distracted right now, and for at least another month, to do well.

    I know how bitchy and impatient I can get when this overwhelmed, so as long as calm, competent, smart people (thank God!) are around to help me, I’m good. Thanks!!

  4. I am sorry to hear about your mother. I hope it is something that can work out well.
    My crocodiles are family and their activities, a husband who is changing from a jerk to sort of nice guy -disconcerting and wishing it happened 10 years ago, losing a job and wanting to find one as invigorating without the bad boss, and just a bit of depression. To me the list looks like a mix of good and bad. Sometimes, even those good things can be stressful. And yet, I like it.
    Your book thing sounds very exciting.

  5. Thanks for the concern…

    I agree that good events are also stressful! Managing all of this gracefully (?!) at once is the challenge, even just sheer time management and setting priorities, then remaining calm in the face of it. With the personal stuff I can sometimes afford to be less charming with family and friends — but NOT with my professional contacts. That’s what I worry about the most. It’s too easy to let the stress leak out into crucial work relationships. Not an option!

    The book is super-exciting. We got a very good early review this week from Kirkus, which is really a good start.

  6. Good luck.

    I reckon in terms of reducing stress – because you can never really get rid of it and even need it so you can actually get some work done – doing what you like and forgetting about what’s hanging over you is the best remedies.

    I particularly like that you said to be careful about liquour consumption! I assuming other drinks are alright???

  7. I think it’s easier for some people to “let go” than others, that’s for sure!

    I drink, and love, a lot of tea: Constant Commment, Earl Grey, green tea (rarely), chai. It’s soothing and hydrating (which is also very good for the health and a change from boring old water.) I have a ritual around 4 or 5pm every afternoon, certainly in the winter here, of making a large pot of tea and really enjoying it. It winds down the day.

    I drink about 1 or 2 (very small) cans of Diet Coke some days. I never drink fruit juice (way too many calories, unless fresh squeezed) or anything sugary. A morning smoothie (a banana, some strawberries or blueberries or a bit of mango, 0% fat yogurt, a bit of vanilla, skim milk) sometimes.

    If I’m going to imbibe calories, I’m drinking liquor!

    1. Cups of tea is the Irish solution for attaining world peace.

      I think every writer needs to imbibe calories more regularly than their doctor would suggest – if anything, the misery of a good hangover always helps me think straighter.

  8. Good on you – life is hard and it is so hard to look after ourselves. You seem to be tackling some difficult situations well.

    I’m fortunate that I have my dream job – sad that it is only a temporary contract though. I am an historian and my work requires me to spend hours in archives. When my mother was seriously ill recently I managed to get a couple of days work in. Researching in the archives is like a treasure hunt (I am just a kid at heart!). I felt my stress rushing out of my body as I worked my way through books and documents.

  9. Wow, its’s amazing how our struggles are all the same.
    I’m glad you’re getting sleep, I’m praying for your mom and cursing the person who threatened you!
    Most of all I’m glad to meet you and look forward to your journeys and the new book! Congrats!

  10. Great suggestions!

    I hope you and your mother feel better soon, and manage to keep the creepy blog stalker away.

    My favorites are: pedicures, the gym, anything that makes me laugh, and extra water. I agree on getting as much sleep as my body asks, even though I sometimes have to fight the guilt on it. I know it’s necessary.

  11. Holly, thanks for the kind words! The blog stalker is gone, and, I hope, for good.

    Pedicures are so great…Last night, the sweetie and I laughed like crazy as we were lying in bed and it felt so good to laugh that hard. It has been a while.

    I think people often feel guilty about taking a nap but I think it’s as basic as drinking water when you feel thirsty — your body is trying to tell you something important.

  12. great advice! For me the sleep thing is really key. Listening to my body and giving myself permission to go to bed when tired (the dishes and other stuff can wait) makes all the difference in the world. The stresses are still there but if I’m well rested I can stare them down and sometimes triumph! Cheers – MJ

    1. Sleep is the best! Not only to recharge one’s weary body but, when things are sooooo stressful (and there is little relief in sight as the conditions are ongoing), a free, safe, legal and restorative mental break. I agree with you, once rested, things go back to normal size. When I am weary, I am horribly impatient and can drive off the very people who might help if I were nicer — and had gotten some more sleep.

      But so many people associate sleep with sloth/laziness. I wish we could all re-frame it to be (as it is) as necessary and healthy as exercise, fresh air and drinking lots of water.

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