Tag Archives: stress

A New Leaf

5 Aug

A little more than a year ago, Nia was plagued with worry. She obsessed and fretted about the smallest thing. For a 10-year-old, the worries were heavy and I — a natural-born stress case myself — didn’t always know how to help her. It also started to — get this — worry me. I felt like I was absorbing her feelings and carrying them around with me.

Naturally, all this lead me to venture into the dangerous world of web searching. I found several articles that made me worry more but I also found a few that offered relief. To make sure I covered all my bases, I also took advantage of a work program that offers employees a free counseling session. I came away with two things to help us both manage our anxieties:

  • The counselor told me to picture my worry as a streaker. (Yes, a naked person.) You may see one run by but you never chase after the bare body. We agreed to modify this to be age appropriate for Nia. She suggested an animal that Nia would never chase. The streaker thought is pretty funny though.)
  • One bit of online information I learned said to visualize a tree with a leaf about to break free. Place your worry on that leaf and then watch it fall and gently land in a stream. The stream then carries the worry away. I told this to Nia and she asked, “Could an animal also eat my leaf?” I’m thinking, sure. Whatever works. (Here’s a blog that has more about the leaf relief.)

Both of these techniques have helped us both but now it seems it’s Nate’s turn to worry and he just doesn’t relate to those. His little heart is filled with concern – so much so that I wonder if it’s been contributing to him sleepwalking. A few nights ago, I actually caught him opening his bedroom window while sleeping. We’ve since child-proofed his windows but the thought of him accidentally hurting himself while we all sleep was too much for me to take. I told him about the ways Nia and I have used to ease our hearts. He asked, “Huh?”

With that, I tried something different. My own thing. Last night, I cuddled with him before he fell asleep and I put my hand on his heart. I told him I was collecting all the worry from his heart so he wouldn’t have it anymore. He giggled as I gathered but then really let out a laugh when I told him I was going to eat all his worry. “I also have room for dessert,”  I told him, “so let me get that worry from your head too.”

Sure, kind of twisted. But you know what? I think it helped some. He went to sleep with a lighter heart and didn’t sleepwalk.

Of course, it could be because of all the other techniques we researched online and tried too (earlier bedtime, consistent sleep and wake time, quiet time before bed, earlier dinner, more water throughout the day …) but I want to claim the giggles as the victory.

I know it made us both feel better. (And me quite full too …)


Listen Closely

19 Aug

“If you listen closely, you’ll hear the ocean.”

I remember my Grandma Rafaiani telling me about the magic of the conch shell she had sitting on her record player console. I don’t remember how old I was but I was young enough to be amazed by what I heard and believe it really was the ocean trapped within the shell. I kept the shell cocooned around my ear, absorbing the waves.

How was that happening? It had to be a trick with my ears and the curves of the shell, I thought. That’s not really the ocean. I know that. But it sounded just like it – and what’s wrong with believing it is?

I know there’s a science behind the sounds from the shell but sometimes I just need to believe for a minute or two that when I cover my ears to block out the noise, the sound of the ocean will be there to sweep me away – to calm my breathing and still my thoughts. To help me listen closely to what really matters.

Sea Sounds

Sea Sounds

Me Worry?

16 Aug

You name it, chances are I’ve worried about it. In fact, I’ve written a blog or two about it. (I got four pages of results when I searched the word “worry.”)

I think I’m a pretty smart person. I realize worrying doesn’t get me anywhere. It doesn’t solve anything. It doesn’t change the outcome of things. It doesn’t prevent things from happening.

Why then? Why all the worry? It’s such a waste of energy, time, sanity, happiness. It’s what I’ve been reminding myself when I feel the senseless anxiety bubbling up within me. But that’s also when I start worrying (of course) – if I don’t worry, does that mean I don’t care?

I’m not sure I know how to care about something without worrying about it. If I let go of that worry, will it change how I care about it or make it seem like I don’t care?

Ridiculous, I know. See what I mean about me worrying?!

To quiet that inner loon, I’ve been trying a few things to help ease my mind and heart. They’ve been working for me so I wanted to share because they may help a worrier you know.

When I feel the worry invade my space:

    • I think of my kids. They see me worry too much. What am I teaching them? As Nia’s sweet note shows and I’ve written about, it makes her worry. If nothing else, it can’t be fun to always hear me say something worries me. That has to change. They need to be carefree kiddos.
    • I think to myself, will this worry fix the issue? No? What will fix it? Anything? Focus on that.
    • Is this going to matter next year? Next month? Next week? No? Toss it.
    • Will this define me? In 15 years, am I going to remember this moment or issue? No? That was an easy one.
    • Will this affect my family in some way? No? Not worth an ounce of stress.
    • What happy, beautiful things am I missing out on around me because I’m stuck in the fret zone? Sucker. You are letting worry rob you of the present.

The last point actually came from something recently talked about in church. I don’t always connect with what’s taught but this spoke to me. It was about how we are only supposed to think about we need for today. “Give us this day our daily bread” refers to that. This day. Focus on today, not tomorrow. Be content and full in the present because if it was my last day I wouldn’t want it spent on worrying about what might happen. I’d want it filled with rejoicing and cherishing.

That’s what brings me to the thought that seems to soothe me the most.

Am I satisfied?

I think of my here and now and feel at peace.

Wasted Worry

31 Jan

There’s no rest for the weary.

That’s what Andrew has told me. We both know the saying has more to do with those who work a lot and are tired but he said it to me because of the constant worry I weigh on myself.

I’m starting to force myself to realize that some (most) of my worry wastes my heart and soul. Especially after days like today where Nate got a behavior note home or other days when the kids have fevers or Andrew is told he needs to travel for work or is laid off or the car breaks down or sad news comes in a phone call from family. All of those things slap me in the face as a wake up call of things that justify worry. Things that don’t justify worry are things like another day or work, commuting, homework, grades, headaches, cleaning and what’s for dinner. Sure, I should care about all of that but I shouldn’t let those things dictate my emotions.

No rest for the weary. And no smiles on days filled with wasted worry.

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15 Nov

With the known disclaimer that I am not a licensed professional with years of education behind me and a Ph.D. or some respected title after my name, I am diagnosing myself with a chronic case of stress-mares.

These things started a few days ago and have returned nightly. Here’s a synopsis of each one I remember:

    • I was pregnant and had a another little girl. (I am NOT.) I immediately knew it wasn’t real because the baby in the dream had hair. (Both Baby Nia and Baby Nate were hair challenged.)
    • Suffered through alien sickness complete with special effects and gross out moments that I will never be able to completely erase from my memory. (I blame my yuck cold and NyQuil for this dream.)
    • Nia failed a test. I have zero clue why this would be stressing me out. She is a responsible and engaged top student and – why am I worried anyway? It’s not my test and as Andrew comforted me, “Well, it’s going to happen.” Cue second stress-mare.
    • My car wouldn’t start. Just thinking about that one freaks me out. The panic I felt as I kept trying to start it. No idea why. It’s not like I was trying to escape a murdering maniac or anything. Just couldn’t start my car.

I realize these aren’t typical scary dreams. For me though, they are concerns I’ve had at one point or another and now I can’t even shake them in my sleep.

Can’t wait to see what fear invades my subconscious tonight. Hopefully it’s not the one involving …


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Speed Test Stress

29 Jan

It was time. I told myself I knew this stuff. I got it. I stuffed the inside of my Second Grade desk with the books and paper from our last subject. All that remained was my pencil, a sheet of paper with my fat-fonted name across the top and my fidgety hands as I waited for the teacher to slide the cassette into the top of the hand-held tape player and press down the button. I can do this.

The voice began. Math problems were slowly and robotically spoken to us. We had seconds to write the answer. There was no pause, stop or rewind. My palms sweated. My leg shook. I bounced in my seat like I had to go to the restroom. I blanked.

Speed math tests were painful for me. Pain. Full. It wasn’t that I didn’t know math. Me and math were cool. It’s just, when you add the element of time, well, I lost it. I used to study/train just for these tests. My friend, Eleni, would help me practice. Her mom had some speed math tapes and we would play school. I think I was actually being tutored but it was playing school, in my head.

I got through it all ok and actually forgot about the panic I’d feel until Nia started bringing home half sheets of paper with math problems and the words “speed test” on them. I worried for her. Would she stress out like I did?

I’m relieved to say, this picture sums it up:

No Speed Test Troubles

Phew. I can’t help but flashback each time I encounter one in her folder though. I think I’m already stressing for Nate’s.

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Registration Relief

15 May

It’s over and it went just fine. Nia is now all set to be shunned by the private/home schoolers!  Whatever. It’s not them that I have to worry about – it’s that our little girl makes the most of her education, no matter who’s teaching her.

Now, on to the next stressful thing we face as parents!


Patience Wanted: Apply Here

18 Feb

Stay-at-home mother of two, ages 4 and 2, is in need of patience immediately.  Must be willing to work long hours, lift 30 to 60 pounds (depending on whether both kids want to be held or need to be separated) and endure a short-tempered boss who loses it when asked the same question 20 times in a row.  Must have a proven track record of handling unnerving situations with ease while maintaining a calm composure.  Salary is negotiable between a bag of chips and a pint of Ben-n-Jerry’s.  Benefits include a few beers or a White Russian at the end of the day.

So there it is – my somewhat confession that my patience is gone.  Lost.  Or maybe it just ran away.  For Lent this year, I didn’t give up junk food, chocolate, cuss words – I made a promise to try and be more patient.  Well, the first weekend of Lent just so happened to be the trip to Philadelphia – so much for keeping it together then.  Now though, I feel as though I still haven’t really been trying.  The littlest things set me off – I already wrote about Nia asking me the same question over and over again (even though I answered her 2 or 3 times already) or repeating “Nate” over and over again until my eyes want to bulge out of my head as it pops off and explodes (I think Nate feels the same about that one).  Nate’s tantrums have another kind of effect on me.  I more want to bury my face in my hands and start crying.  He’s just exhausting.  Then there’s the both of them together.  The SCREAMING.  Oh my goodness.  The SCREAMING.  I know I’m going to be deaf.  I can almost feel the damage happening as the shrieks pierce my ears.

Well, so much for my period of peace as the kids rest.  I just heard Nate throw some things out of his crib.  As long as he doesn’t have poop on his hands like he did yesterday – I’ll be fine. Well, I’ll try to be anyway.

And So It Begins…

27 Aug

I’m a mess. Tomorrow is Nia’s first day of school (Pre-K) and I’m freaking out.  I never thought I would be like this.  I’ve always been able to handle leaving the kids on their own with daycare workers or at the YMCA child watch.  This is different though.  This time I’m dropping her off all by herself and it’s not to have fun with friends like at daycare.  It’s to learn and listen and make new friends.  From tomorrow on, she will be judged for how much she knows and how she acts.  It’s just unnerving to me.  I’m even totally stressing out about where to drop her off – you should see the freaking map we have to follow for drop off and pick up!  I’m so afraid I’m going to be ‘that parent’ who drives the wrong way or something!

She doesn’t seem fazed by the idea of starting school.  I took her there for an open house last week and she walked right in and started playing with the toy kitchen. She was fine.  She was also ok that a few other little kids were  playing together – when two of them came over to play with the kitchen, she didn’t want to play with them.  That made me worry that she might not make friends or something but by the end of our time there she was playing with them.  I know it will all work out the way it’s supposed to – I just wish I didn’t worry about it so much.  I know Nia will adjust and have a good time there – as long as I make it through drop off and pick up, the rest should be a breeze.


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