living stress free.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

i read something cool last night.
in one of my MANY awesome self-help books.
i'm a self-help book junkie if i haven't told you that already.
but it was about stress.
that basically, WE manufacture stress ourselves.
that there are no stressful situations, per se, but it's OUR REACTIONS to our circumstances,
that causes the stress.
interesting, huh?  and true, don't you think.
"stress does not exist, other than in your own thinking.  your stressful thoughts are no more real than your non-stressful thoughts.  they're still just thoughts," says dr. richard carlson.
if we could truly live this way and approach what we PERCEIVE to be stressful situations, 
as well, not really,
but become mindful of our thoughts in these situations,
and not buy into them?
think of how light and fluffy life would be?  
how less dramatic.  less exhausting.  less chaotic.
i've been thinking, i've had a nice break from my work,
but i know it's going to get crazy.  that keeping my house clean and keeping on top of the laundry, will sit on the back burner.
my kids may spend more time in front of the t.v. and i may be gone more on the weekends,
but does that have to mean stress?
absolutely not.
"when you redefine stress as something you can control, it's possible to maintain a positive feeling, even when circumstances are a great deal less than perfect," dr. carlson continues to say.
i love that.
i know a small handful of people like this, who, despite what's going on in their life 
(and we all have something,)
handle it with grace, ease, peace and calm.
doctors and surgeons seem to be special like that.
my husband is good at that.  
SO good at that.  detaching himself from the situation, no matter how horrible i may think it is,
and just doing what needs to be done in that moment.
not getting lost in thoughts of the future, reliving the past, anger or resentment.
just becoming emotionally detached and focused.
it's quite inspiring and a way of living i strive for, or would at least like to integrate in to my own thinking, the best i can.
and those are the people that inspire me, who i want to be around, who exude strength and courage but also empathy and compassion.
i may not become the master of stress-management, although i'll try.
but want my kids to know how to deal with it.
i want them to learn how to cope with life.
in raising my children, of course, i'm so focused (and a little obsessed,) with their physical health, feeding them the best foods, teaching them all their is to know about nutrition and taking care of their body,
not to mention educating them, teaching them what it means to be respectful, kind, open-minded,
strong, independent, fearless.
there are so many things i want them to be.
but i'm adding another to the list.
and now i feel it's so important.  teaching them to learn to 'go with the flow.'
to harness the ability that they ALL have within them, 
to learn to cope in stressful situations, the best they can.
to not get their panties in bunch over the stupidest things.
things that won't matter an hour from now,
to understand that MOST of the stuff we experience in life, 
good and bad,
is our PERCEPTION of it.  our REACTION to it.  not about the severity of the experience itself.
now this is heavy for a 6, 4 and 2-year-old.  so maybe i'll hold on to that one for awhile.
but i feel, having the ability to let things roll off your back, to learn to do what needs to be done and stay focused but also find peace in life, is so important.
i know so many women who thrive on drama, even though they'd never say those words.  
everything that happens to them is horrific, devastating, filled with drama.
maybe that's why i love the real housewives' series.
my jaw literally hangs open through every episode.
i'm in AWE of the way these 40-something's behave like children.
how caddy, self-centered and delusional they are!
but i can't not watch.  it shows me, although parts of their life are spectacular,
and i see them living in this big, maid-cleaned and windexed-bubble of security and money,
that my life is so much more fulfilling.  so much more beautiful.
so much more appreciated.
and i'm learning to respect that everyone has their OWN view of life, their OWN perception,
and who am i to tell them they're wrong for choosing to use those words or act that way? 
i can't.
oh, it can be annoying to me, but i do things that would be annoying to them, no doubt.:)
but i know how i want to live and sometimes find myself giggling in my head or rolling my eyes, 
when someone says how awful or tragic something is, because in my eyes, it's really not.
but again, that's THEIR perception and how they see life.
so let them have that.
i tell myself, in what may feel like the shittiest situation, 'it could always be worse.'
it could always be worse.  
for me, that brings comfort.
to know, out there, someone else is going through MUCH worse.  and you know what? 
are probably handling with much greater poise and grace.
i say all this deep, meaningful stuff:)
but please, i'm human.
it doesn't take much some days,
for the flip to switch and turn me in to a total monster.
let's take this morning for instance.
grace, who, as we're trying to get out the door to school,
head to the van i didn't have time to start and warm up,
the lunch i forgot to make,
the boots i forgot to put on tuna,
well, she decides at the last minute, as we're LITERALLY walking out the door, jackets, backpacks and all,
that she doesn't like her outfit and needs to change.
now, in the beginning of parenting, this would've sent me in to rage.
now?  i know who she is.  i know how she'll react.  and sometimes, there's no point in arguing with her.  she is a girl, after all, 
and already, at FOUR, wanting to feel comfortable in what she's wearing or wear something that her little friends will like.
super annoying. 
but whatever.  as i have one foot out the door, 2-year-old in arms, she strips down and takes off for her bedroom.
long story short, she comes down, grabs a tape measure on the counter that charlie had been playing with (of course, because he had it, so now SHE wants it,) also annoying,
which sends him in to a fit, but i've got no time for that now, we have to go.
as we're running out the door, she drops the tape measure in the snow.
now.  here's where we make choices as parents.
these split seconds we have where we can either let it go, or make it a 'disciplining, learning experience.'
you tell me.
she drops it, and BECAUSE it lands in the cold snow, just takes off and leaves it,
but i yell to her to come back and pick it up and hand it to me.
'we don't leave our stuff in the snow!'
this sends her in to tears.  then a fit.  then a full blown tantrum, as i stand over her, waiting for her to pick it up and hand it to me.
(and we're already late for school, so it doesn't matter.  my gloves are on and i'm ready to play.)
but she won't do it!!!  she won't pick it up because it's covered in snow and doesn't want her mitten-less hands to freeze, in the 2 seconds it will take for to grab it and put it in MY hands.
but now it's become a 'situation.'  i wanted this to be a learning experience.
and show her again, for the bagillionth time, that mommy's not going to budge.
'i'll stand here all day, girl.  you need to pick that up.'
so as i stand there, charlie on a hip, she squats below me,
staring at the snow-covered tape measure, BAWLING!
oh geez.  yes, we could've just moved on and i could've picked it up when i got home.
but then they get away with what is to me, unacceptable.  and she wins.:)
not taking care of your/OUR sh**!!!
i have a huge problem with this.
and on some days, i'll parent like that.  where i just won't say anything and let it go.
but not today.
and how did this end?  because she's just as stubborn as i am,
i nearly shoved her face in it, put it in her hands, and told her to hand it to me.
you would've thought i killed her dog.
she ran to the car screaming.
my God.
but see people?  no saint here.  i'm still learning.  and parenting CAN present itself as stressful, as it did in this situation.  but it's all how i perceive it.  
could i have handled this differently?  of course.
did i do ONE thing right?  i know i did.
i pulled over not even 500 ft. from the house, because she was screaming and kicking and throwing a tantrum in the back seat.
and because she knows, if she behaves like that, mommy's going to get out of the car and wait until she's done.
and i found peace in that moment.  standing outside the car, despite the frigid temps and ever-falling-cotton-pickin' snow melting on my face.  no mittens.
i found peace.  because this, or any situation, no matter how 'brutal' it may feel,
doesn't have to be.  we make it that way.  so for this morning, at least,
i chose peace.  no stress in this. 
i'm all for tears, yelling, venting, being annoyed, standing up for yourself, saying 'life's not fair,' on occasion,
but there's better ways to accept and deal and live.
that's where i'm at.
anyway, here's the tuna, unedited.  this is why he gets away with playing with feces.

here's wishing you a stress-free day.
(and if it's not, it's your own fault.:)


gabbygrace said...

perception is reality, always my favorite quote!!! LOVE IT! Can't wait to see you! :)

Jenny said...

Liz! Literally, just as I was in the middle of reading this, I get a call from W upstairs. "MOM!" The kind of tone that scares me. Makes me wonder what I'm going to find. What I found was diarrhea all over his clothes and the bathroom floor. The poor boy is sick and couldn't make it in time. Ugh! But I just dealt with it and aside for a little gagging it wasn't a big deal. Anyway, thanks for this post because it couldn't have come at a more perfect time!

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