Friday, July 10, 2009


Just as de-stressing can involve a massage to calm one down (and if you want the quick massage, go to my previous post, where you get to take a mini-staycation), another way to ease one's stress is to try the opposite. Systematically, take each part of your body and tense up all the muscles. Hold it for a few seconds, then release. Such a method helps to direct your attention to each area, concentrating on releasing the tension once you've gotten yourself good and balled up.

So here it is: imagine the worst possible life. Then look around you and realize how much better your real life is. It's not too hard. Just take your stressors and explode them exponentially, and add on a bunch of stuff you are fortunate enough not to have to deal with.

My worst life? It would involve a house full of children--maybe ten or so would be enough to drive me absolutely insane--and all of them would be making noise of some kind, screaming, yelling at each other, crying, calling from the bathroom that they needed to be wiped, fighting over toys, even laughing (one could be laughing, anyway). They would also be tugging at me, at my clothing, pulling pans out of the kitchen cupboards, pulling food out of the refrigerator and dumping it everywhere, dragging stuff across the floors, breaking windows and chair legs and dishes, ripping clothing, scratching and hitting each other, tearing the house apart. I couldn't walk two steps without stepping or slipping on something--including toys, pins, rotting cherries, and dried juice spills, and nothing I touched would be clean. The house would smell of diapers--lots of diapers--and diarrhea, throw up, unwashed clothing, mold, and trash. My hair would be unwashed and greasy, and I'd smell of sweat because I hadn't bathed in days, and everything would be turned over or upset. The phone would ring constantly (I hate phones!), with every call being a telemarketer (I hate telemarketers!) and I'd have seven televisions blaring in various rooms, stacks of ungraded papers for classes lying everywhere, gathering dust and food and little kid fingerprints. 

Okay, I got myself good and tense. Now I can return to the much more blissful life that is mine: My two kids and my husband are still sleeping, and the only others awake are my aunt and her son, and they are trying to be quiet until everyone else is up. My house doesn't smell at all, unless its the faint odor of Pine-Sol (one of my favorite smells), and the sink is even empty of dirty dishes. The floors are clean, the air is quiet, I am writing this blog without hurry, and we are planning a day in a cute town not an hour from here, a day of sunshine and shopping and ice cream cones and walking. I have no papers to grade--not one!--and none in the near future, since right now I am not teaching. Sunshine is pouring in through the windows, and the day promises to be beautiful--mid-70's. Tonight I look forward to an evening with a bunch of other ladies to discuss Beauty, one of my favorite books ever.

I feel better. I can feel the tension in my neck, which had been building over the last few days, dissipate slowly. Life is good. I only have two kids. My husband is fabulous (mostly). I'm a very lucky woman.

Now you try it. And if you say you don't have time, MAKE time, for you probably need it even more than I. And go back to the last blog and do that exercise, too. You deserve it, and together they shouldn't take more than ten minutes (surely you have ten minutes to spend on self-indulgence!).  

So go ahead... What's your nightmare?


  1. yours sounds pretty darn scary, actually!

  2. I don't think I can do this. See, my mind is super extremist and, if I really want to know the worst, I can think of it. Forgetting my baby in the car seat when I'm in a rush and having her spend all day in the Texas heat. My son pushing his way out the upper story window because he wants to swim in the pool. Getting a call from Steph's stepmother about what happened to her while she was riding in the car with my ex.

    If I think about them, I just shut down. I can imagine them too easily.

  3. Your mind really is extremist... goodness!

    I have nightmares like this, too, but that is NOT what I would choose to imagine. Remember, in my scenario, all ten of my children were actively tearing the place apart.