The Curve Ball
My foursome is currently in four different states. This has never happened before. My husband is on a business trip, the oldest is away at camp and my youngest is on a road trip with her aunt and uncle. I get to be home alone in my house for a few days. I think I swooned a little when I typed that. I also get to lead two sessions at The Life Fest Conference this weekend. The conference is thru The Life Raft Group which is dedicated to supporting patients with and finding a cure for a specific type of cancer called GIST. In short I get to do work that I love and have some serious me time. I cannot remember a time since my children were born that I could make plans, choose what I want to have for dinner, decide what to watch on TV or read a book without considering other people's opinions or needs. I don’t need to tell the mamas out there how very exciting this is for me. I love my family ya’ll please don’t question my devotion to them, I was just looking forward to a little break.
Cue the curve ball. It is just my youngest and me at home and she is due to leave on her trip later in the day. She says, mom I think something might be wrong. I won’t share that something out of respect for her privacy, but while it wasn’t a serious issue, it required an
appointment that day. My mind instantly went into spin mode. Can I get her in today? Will it be ok for her to go on her trip? I don’t want her to miss out and I don’t want me to miss out on my plans either. I have instant guilt for even thinking that. I was able to get her a same day appointment and race her to it. All the while my stress level is high, I’m churning thoughts in my head about what might or might not happen and frantically watching the rear view mirror for police as I’m driving slightly over the speed limit to get there on time. And then I stop, pause, take a deep breath and hear the wisdom from deep within me... getting worked up and speeding isn’t going to make the situation any better. Sure I could keep worrying, stressing, but it was only going to make me feel lousy and I suspect my daughter too, thinking she had somehow caused the chaos. Which she hadn’t.
I’d love to say that from that point on I was completely calm. That wasn’t the case, but what I was able to do was notice when the chaos would start kicking up in my mind again and bring it back down. I’ve discovered recently that chaos is my default and now that I’m aware of it, I’m working on it. It is a practice like anything else. I’m happy to say I caught it (over and over and over) but I caught it. My daughter is fine and is on her trip. I think the moral of this tale is that chaos will always make it worse. As I was frantically driving with a stress level through the roof, the truth was that there was nothing wrong. My daughter was going to be fine, we just needed something looked at, her trip wasn’t cancelled, it might have been later but it wasn’t at that point. In that moment, as I was driving, nothing was wrong. I was future projecting and stressing about something that hadn’t even happened. We do this all the time. We worry about the past that we can’t change or we worry about events that haven’t happened yet. This robs us of being in the moment that is actually happening. That is what I learned (again). Would I have felt differently if she’d had to cancel her trip? I’d be disappointed for both of us, but the lesson would have been the same. I was making the situation so much more stressful than it had to be.
I’m guessing some of you can relate. For me, I have really become aware of the spinning sensation in my head and body. I liken it to the The Tasmanian Devil from the Looney Tunes Cartoons. When I feel Taz start to kick up, that is the indication that I need to take a breath and look at what’s going on. Do you have a default body sensation in a situation like this? If so, use that as your barometer to take a breath and take stock of what is going on. If not, pay attention next time to what happens when you get stressed or future project. You may not be able to stop completely, just as I couldn’t. But, keep coming back to the breath and grounding into the moment. It is so much better than the alternative.