Tag Archives: stress

Beautiful Letting Go

It’s finally fall. In Texas we’ve been enduring ridiculous October days with high temperatures in the 90s. This makes us cranky, unable to breathe and creates fashion problems because you cannot wear sweaters and cute boots when you are having a heat stroke. We can’t decorate because pumpkins rot so fast in hot weather and rotting pumpkins is not the look we were going for.

Just this week the weather finally has turned for us. There are no words for how this feels. I made tortilla soup and pumpkin bread as fast as I could. I was ready with long pants, a long sleeved shirt and fuzzy socks for the first time in what seemed like decades.

Yesterday, I saw this quote for the first time, “The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let the dead things go.” I don’t know who said it, but it caught my imagination. My yoga teacher often says at the end of our practice, “let go of that which no longer serves you.” In yoga, for me, that is stress, a busy mind and the bound up feeling in my joints. I always think about what else I might need to let go of as well.

I’ve never before tied autumn to the practice of letting go. But, as the leaves release, perhaps so should we. Maybe it is time to let go of a bad habit, a toxic relationship or  the clutter in our homes. Maybe it is a season to let go of an old hairstyle, a resentment, an anger or a destructive grief. Maybe it is time to release the clothes we’ve not worn once 1977 or from 3 sizes ago. Maybe it is time to let go of a job, a burden or that worry that you will never fix. Maybe it is time to release our resistance to help and call the therapist, the doctor or call on God.

More than once, I’ve had to call on God’s spirit to let go of something that was no longer serving me. The prayer was simple, “God, I need you because I cannot let go of this alone.”

Imagine, in this new season as we marvel at the golden, orange and red leaves of fall, breathe in the crisp cool air, make and eat pumpkin everything, that we are also taking our cue from nature and allow a beautiful letting go.

 

 

 

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Emotionally Able

Sometimes there are just seasons of emotional ups and downs. Sometimes you and I just get into times of being stretched, challenged or pushed just a little too far. One unfortunate thing about being in such a season is that the high emotions make it difficult to realize we are in a time like no other and we simply need to be gentle with ourselves.

No one will argue with me that our country is today in a time like no other.  Emotions are beyond high and roller coaster like. I watched a news piece last night where they brought together a group of widely diverse American strangers in a focus group, about 15 of them, to talk about the election and how they are feeling. In minutes, they were yelling and crying and were just sort of beside themselves. Strangely, it made me feel better about my own ups and downs. I kept telling my husband as we watched, “See, look at them.  They are taking this whole thing pretty hard too.”  Thank you, out -of-control focus group, for making me look somewhat normal as we head to whatever happens tomorrow.

We are now on day 29 of work happening in our home. Some things are done so there is light at the end of the tunnel. Other parts are just sadly hilarious. The floors and ceiling work, led to wall and trim work. This led to taking down every set of blinds and all window treatments. The painter suggested gently and tactfully we might want to clean all that window stuff. Cleaning curtains and blinds is not that easy, especially when they disintegrate when doing so. My husband and I are learning all over again that WE ARE TWO VERY DIFFERENT PEOPLE. He is thorough and painstaking in his approach to home projects. For example, he likes to find studs in the walls before hanging things. I am fast-paced and streamlined in my approach to getting things done. We each think our way is best. Our two styles create a bit of emotional clash from time to time.

Last week, I went for my every six month mammogram. When you’ve had breast cancer this is a BIG EMOTIONAL DEAL. Making the appointment is hard. Waiting for it is hard. Going to it is hard. This time when I arrived, I was told I had scheduled the wrong kind of mammogram and would have to leave and reschedule. I said, “No.” As they looked at me, puzzled, my voice got sort of preacher loud for the whole waiting room to hear. I explained the part about mammograms post breast cancer being a BIG DEAL and not without a lot of angst. As all the other waiting women listened, I found myself saying, “I cannot leave and reschedule. I’m just not emotionally able to do that right now.” They worked me in. My mammogram was (whew) all clear.

Here’s what I’m learning in this season. It is okay to admit that we are in a season of high emotion. It’s okay to be election-stressed, home-stressed and mammogram-stressed. It is okay to not be emotionally able to do what others want you to do.

It is okay to say to relatives or others, “I cannot have this conversation right now.” It is okay to trim back your schedule or to do things you know will nurture your soul or level you out. For me that is getting lots of rest, exercising, writing and making banana pudding.

I’m bringing all this up in case it helps you; in case you are in a season too. Feel free to say to whoever is demanding something of you, “I’m just not emotionally able to do that right now.”  Take good care of your self. All will be well.

A Few Thoughts on Marriage…and Geese

A wise man once told my husband and me to think of our marriage as “the goose that laid the golden egg.” After I processed through a few weird visual images, I started to get it.  He meant our marriage partnership was stronger and more productive than either of us was apart.  He was trying to tell us to take care of the goose, for heaven’s sake.  Feed it, water it, shelter it, take it for walks, give it nutrients and vitamins and good goose food. Our marriage needed intentional nurturing to produce good fruit. I mean, eggs.

The same man asked us if we had a weekly (weekly!) date night.  He asked if once a quarter we got away together for long weekends.  What?  He had the nerve to ask us if we’d ever gone on a trip alone for two weeks or more. Are you kidding me?

We still have not achieved the once a quarter get away much less the two weeks gone thing but we got the point.  The goose needs love and attention, now.

As a pastor, I see it too often.  Marriages running on fumes.  Relationships depleted.  Couples so stretched, busy and out of the habit of tending to their marriages that they have almost nothing left.  There are some very malnourished, emaciated geese out there.  How did it happen that we put careers, kids, sports, community, hobbies and friends before our marriages?  How did our geese get so feeble?

Dr. Richard Swenson is a physician who writes about margin, making space in our lives for what matters. He writes, “Relationships require time.  Marriage requires time. Love requires time….Shared experiences, romantic date nights, reconciliation, errands, play, all require time.” He writes a “prescription” for marriage: “Make time for it.  Schedule time for communication….Have regular dates. Keep short accounts….When culture makes home deliveries of stress and overload, don’t open the door.  Guard the atmosphere of your home and the resilience of your marriage.” A Minute of Margin

Or, more simply put, wake up and take care of the goose, now.

Paused

We are iced in today here in Texas, our first of the season.  Of course, it is nothing like the dangerous, crippling, on-going weather the Northeast has had to deal with in recent weeks.  It’s just a thin sheet of ice. But here, that’s enough to shut down schools and businesses; erase plans and meetings we thought had to happen today. Life is paused.

At first, it is hard to stop because most of us move through life with schedules so full; hurry so automatic; stress, a given. Just add a little ice and suddenly all that seemed so necessary to do today falls away and life becomes about comfy clothes, a warm fireplace, the challenge of a puzzle to work, games of cards, a good book, warm soup, hot chocolate, the family tucked in safely…a pause.

I’m know there are many who are having to work today: healthcare workers, police and firefighters, those who are working to make the roads safe to travel and others. I’m thinking about those struggling with cold or homelessness or hunger today.  I’m aware that some workers are losing income today because they can’t work. I pray for them.

But for the rest of us, too busy, too driven, too overbooked and over-scheduled, stressed and stretched, I give thanks for the pause.

A Golden Season

Yesterday morning, as I was driving to church, I noticed the sun was at just the right angle to cast light over all the changing trees and, for a few minutes, everything just glowed golden.  It was breathtaking.

We are entering a golden season as we head toward Thanksgiving and Christmas; a golden time of gratitude and joy; of things that glitter and shine. Some years I’ve resisted the holidays, claiming we rush the arrival of Christmas and over-do just about everything, making the season gaudy, loud, stressful and over-the-top.

In my better moments, I find a way to embrace the golden season; especially the simple expressions of it…food shared with friends, one candle in a window, a worship service, a simple tree or wreath or nativity scene. No doubt, the holidays can easily be too much but they can also be rich, golden times; times like no other.  This year, I’m choosing to embrace the golden..