Editor’s Note: I found a batch of my newspaper columns that I haven’t shared with all of you. Thought it would make a nice 5-part series this week, so look for a new one every day!
My mother laughs at comedies as she pets our cat, Harry, on her lap each evening.
It works for her.
My aunt sports a nice basket of worry stones in every color of the rainbow that she bought on ebay.
It works for her.
My cousin treats herself to a morning spa treatment.
It works for her.
And my other aunt spends hours pouring over genealogy paraphernalia tracing our family tree.
It works for her.
I admire these people. Not for their high fashion (worry stones). Not even for their immaculate skin or perfectly coiffed nails (spa treatments).
They have found the secret to calming that inner voice, the one that roars as loud as a lion as you stand squarely on the edge of that metaphorical mountain. What do you see when you look down? A sea – a thunderous, churning sea – of anxiety.
But everyone in my family seems to have no trouble turning that storming sea into a lazy, calming river. They hold the key to some magical place, where the pretty flowers grow tall and the white clouds take the shape of cute little animals.
My family’s stolen the key and locked me out of this most glorious place. It’s not like I haven’t tried to soothe and calm myself. I have. Many times. In fact, I have a whole list of tricks I’ve tried.
We all try to help ourselves, to be strong and take care of ourselves, but the question still remains: Why are we reluctant to take our own advice? We are we so afraid of ourselves sometimes? Is it that the medicine is too hard to swallow, or are we simply our own worst enemy? Short of bending myself into a Yoga position and humming a calming chant, where’s my relief?
MORE JUICE AFTER THE JUMP…
I first took my cue from my ebay-loving aunt. Scouring the shopper’s paradise for everything from Pez dispensers to bath towels seemed like a good fit for my inner shopping fiend. So one hot day at the library, I logged on. The bright greens, reds and yellows – ebay’s trademark colors – practically jumped off the computer screen and into my soul. Maybe I wanted to give myself a makeover and dress like Paris Hilton post-jail, but my hands furiously typed hematite magnetic bracelet in the cute little search box. While on my Wild West Adventure, I’d seen them all over the desert and heard countless stories of their healing power. They must be able to help me, I thought. More than 500 auctions spanned some six pages, but my eyes were immediately drawn to a set of 20 colorful bracelets. That must be 20 times the healing power, so I entered my bid.
“You’re the current high bidder,” screamed a giant green checkmark.
I heard the “Ommm” of calm in my head already.
And then my eyes spied another auction. 40 bracelets. I sat giddy with anticipation as my hands graced those computer keys (apparently, I’d forgotten of the bid I placed a mere two minutes ago).
“You’re the current high bidder.” Again.
Two days later, my sleepy eyes open my email only to find I’ve won. Both auctions. I am now the proud owner of 60 bracelets. And I’m out a whopping $80.
The result? Embarrassment and even more anxiety over my shrinking bank account.
My next stab at relaxation came under the guise of feeding and comforting my soul. It’s a hush-hush secret among us freelancers, but the word freelance writer really means “being your own boss and making your own schedule.” I planned everything around my precious lunch. Three hours of it. Did I have an overflowing pile of query letters to write? They wouldn’t get done between hours of 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. I prepare my fine cuisine of tuna, carrots and two Reese’s peanut butter cups. I even spice things up a bit with nacho-flavored Doritos’s or Jay’s BBQ chips. Only the best for me, of course.
So off to my mother’s cozy bedroom I’d go, spreading out my feast in front of me, and picking up the slick heavy silver remote to watch at least three hours of my 100-hours of DVR madness. Maybe it was the drama of Friday Night Lights or the comedy of Ugly Betty, but as I ate and ate – and ate – I somehow lost track of every morsel I crunched in my body. Only later, when I patted my little round tummy and had to loosen my stretchy shorts, did I realize this activity didn’t bring me the desire relief I craved.
The result? Glazed eyes from too much tube time and an unhealthy habit of singing along to the contestants of American Idol.
Singing. Maybe that’s what I needed. After all, I’ve always been the sort of girl who isn’t afraid to let her pipes roar in song, much to the chagrin of my younger sister. Music is a window to the soul; maybe it would be the only way to set my own soul free. The next time I stepped into a record store, I found myself veering from my usual pit stop in the pop/rock section. I kept going. Past classical. Past blues. Past R&B. Even past oldies but goodies. That’s when I came face-to-face with them. The Faith Hills. The Keith Urbans. Even the Miranda Lamberts. I was smack-dab in the middle of the country section. I’d spent my life making fun of the truck-driving, cowboy-hat wearing crowd.
Short of wearing the cowboy hat, there was no denying I was one of them. Because when I started to listen – really listen – to the lyrics of these songs, they told a tale. A story of love lost. A story of a broken heart. A story of a cheating boyfriend.
A story of a scared woman. I’d found myself in those songs. Those singers sang my life story.
The result? An overwhelming urge to learn to play the guitar and sing the blues.
But maybe all these activities are merely a convenient way to distract myself. Maybe that’s not the wisest route. I’m starting to think it’s even poisoning me. I need to find a balance. I need to be comfortable being a busy girl, but I need to be even more comfortable with not being busy. I need to smell the roses without worrying if they’re poisonous. I need to take a leisurely walk and not worry about getting overheated.
Maybe my aunt is on to something with those worry stones after all. Maybe I should check good old ebay again.
Oh, Mel. I know that feeling. I usually go get myself a new video game and dull my senses for a few hours until the worry goes away.
You make me laugh! 😀 I hope you’ll find your relief thing ! When I’m worried, I do something very odd – yeah I told you I was awkward but I forgot to say that I was odd too 😉 lol!
I call some of my friends and ask them every stupid questions that crosses my mind , like ‘ Do you procrastinate? (I just hate this word, that’s why), or ‘Do you think the word ‘dictionary’ is in the dictionary?’ and so on. Once they’ve replied I hung up. Fortunately my friends are cool XD It helps me to forget about my worries for a while.. well my friends must be crazy I always falls down laughing with their answers!