No One Can Steal Your Christmas Without Permission and Other Lessons From Moderate Stress

“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.” ― Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers

I realize it’s Labor Day weekend, but I’ve been thinking more about Christmas—or more specifically, where mine has gone.

It’s been nutty around here these past few days. Hours before my husband and I were to get the keys to our new home and start loading the moving truck, a goofy paperwork issue worked like a bat to a piñata on our plans. We’re still moving, but not for another week or more—which may not seem like a big deal, but the timing couldn’t have been much worse and the complexities have been fairly immense. I’ll spare you the specifics, but I will share some of the thoughts the ordeal has prompted.

I study my face when I'm in a bad mood, 'cuz I'm weird like that. And yes, I have chewed off my nails.

Here I am, pondering what the heck had just happened–blah, but aware that like the nails I had just chewed off, my joy would grow back. And probably faster. 😉

♦ Sudden stress can be paralyzing, even when it’s not life-or-death important—but we have to let ourselves feel. We’re healthy, still have a roof over our heads and will soon have a beautiful home of our own. All of the recent chaos could be so much worse. And yet, when we first learned of the changes, I dropped from the euphoria zone I’d been living in to somewhere between the South Pole and the center of the earth emotionally. Though I suddenly had more time to allot to prep for my NYC trip, articles I’d been writing and my radio show, tending to it all felt nearly impossible. So, I let myself work less and slowly, traded my workouts for short, meditative jogs at the park and baked some improvisational when-the-cookies-crumble cookies. As a dear friend reminded me, letting ourselves feel is so important, even if it requires a semi-standstill.

There's a reason STRESSED is DESSERT spelled backwards.

There’s a reason STRESSED is DESSERTS spelled backwards.

♦ Challenges focused on a loved one are easier and harder than moderate self-stress. What the heck do I mean? Good question. LOL When my bulldog, Zoe, was sick with cancer, love for her made the experience painful, but also beautiful and precious. Love for others gets us through tough times, even (or especially) when it’s they who are hurting. But what happens when the stress isn’t as serious or focused on another? It struck me the other day that love can get us through ANY stress, and self-love could be the most important kind of all. Not exactly a revolutionary thought, but, I feel, an important one. Caring for ourselves isn’t always as lovely or fun as a spa day, by the way. Sometimes it requires lying around like a sloth and watching creepy-ass movies for a few hours. 😉

Sometimes the creep-factor is oh-so-therapeutic. Watching "One Hour Photo" and counting my blessings.

Sometimes the creep-factor is oh-so-therapeutic. I highly recommend watching “One Hour Photo” and doodling your blessings.

♦ No one can steal your Christmas unless you let them. The only way I could describe the high I was flying on before the moving delay was Christmassy—full of hope, wonder and excitement. Admittedly, I was pretty pissed when those feelings vanished. I also felt a bit selfish and weak; “I should be stronger than this!” Then I reminded myself that I’m human, that feelings are good and if I want to change them, I can choose how to react and where to focus. My decision to feel my way to higher ground and regain vigor seems to be working. My groove is gradually returning. Having an adventure partner who’s willing to talk and feel through this all with me helps tremendously, too. I’m putting up a Christmas tree as soon as we’ve moved in and plan to have a blast in NYC and our move once it happens. (Take that, stress goblins!) I’m also planning a Random Act of Christmas housewarming party I’d love for you all to join—details coming soon. 🙂

My role model, Via, who maintains a perpetual state of Christmas.

My role model, Via, who maintains a perpetual state of Christmas—and knows precisely when extra love is needed.

We can choose to learn and grow from hardship or grumble our way through it. I don’t know about you, but grumbling seems a lot less fun or helpful. Now, to figure out what to wear at World Sexual Health Day, since my dress options from Stitch Fix appear to be floating around in the we-can’t-get-our-mail-o-sphere…. LOL The adventure continues! Wishing you a beautiful week.

To learn more about World Sexual Health Day, tune in to Girl Boner Radio. Today I’ll be interviewing actor, Jeffrey Solomon, who’ll be performing at this year’s celebration. To watch the free live-stream on Thursday night, RSVP on the Facebook event page. For tickets to the actual event in NYC, visit ConnectionsABC.com

What have stressful situations taught you? Any zany moving stories to share? I love hearing from you! ♥

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19 Comments

  1. I can so identify with this! Getting everything ready to go to Scotland had me in a state – in addition to travel plans, there were 3 articles and 4 blog posts to write, bill-payment-scheduling, get the guest room ready for the house-sitter, etc. I was also stressing about BEING in Scotland and driving on the other side of the road and not knowing the customs so I might commit some kind of faux pas, blah-blah-blah. As you can tell, a lot of this was just self-imposed, unimportant worry. What happened as a result? Three nights before we left, I had a pain in my chest so severe, I thought I was having a heart attack and had my hubby drive me to the ER.. What I had was an inflamed gallbladder. They wanted to do surgery but agreed not to since the anti-pain, anti-inflammatory meds made it all better.

    I’m now in Scotland, having a great time, and feeling no pain at all. I really think it was the stress that made my body say, “If you won’t take care of yourself, I’m throwing a hissy.”

    Listen to your body or pay the price.

    Reply
    • How stressful, Gayle! I’m so glad you’re feeling better and having a wonderful time in Scotland. Listening to our bodies is so key, and doing whatever we can to keep this in perspective. When the moving issue ball dropped, I wondered if I’d feel excited for NYC, or even feel prepared, but thankfully, I’m getting there — just took some TLC, rest and effort. :

      Reply
  2. I’ve read that selling a house and/or moving are in the top ten of stressful life events. I believe it. We’ve been in the process of selling our house since March of this year. Long story there. Mostly repairs and updates that needed doing to make our old, outdated house more sellable. I’m still not sure we did the right thing on the renovations, but I will say our house was only on the market 20 days before we accepted an offer.

    Now, we’re finally nearing the light at the end of tunnel. I am relieved and happy, but I’m also very aware any little thing can knock the needle off the record Additionally, we’ve not yet bought a house because we can’t find anything we love. Assuming the sale of our house goes through–and I hope it does–we’re going to be homeless in a matter of days. I do think being vagabonds for a month or two will be interesting–an experience I’ve never had. However, I am guilty of letting stress and worry about what is next consume me at times.

    I said all that to say this: In the grand scheme of what’s going on in the world, we both have small problems. Even so, these are big problems/conflicts in both of our lives. I applaud you for picking yourself up and focusing on the positive. Keep on rocking, August.

    Reply
    • I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had to deal with so much stress, Catie — but that parallels definitely make me feel less alone, and my negative feelings of late, more reasonable. Now that you mention the whole most-stressful-events thing, I sense lots of similarities between this recent stress and my divorce. Shelter is a primal need, after all, and I can only imagine how much selling a house adds to the ordeal.

      Our neighbor recently sold her house before she was able to find one worth buying, and had to move out prematurely. For what it’s worth, she’s doing really well now — stressful bumps along the way and all. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that your sale and transition into what’s next goes as smoothly as possible. Knowing that the needle can shift at any moment (GREAT analogy) seems important through all things. Very best of luck!

      Reply
  3. Something similar just happened to a friend of mine. Even after she finally did get moved, it has taken her awhile to recoop from the stress of it all. Good for you for (1) letting yourself acknowledge the feelings (that makes it so much easier to deal with them) and (2) taking good care of yourself. Can’t wait to watch the festivities on Thursday! And I’m really looking forward to pics of that Christmas tree!! What a cool way to celebrate the move.

    Reply
  4. Raani York

     /  September 1, 2014

    I know stress, August. I’m sorry you’ve got to go through this too now.
    I’ve got stress migraines for nearly a week now and it doesn’t seem to get any better…
    I hope you’ll recover and relax soon!! You do need to take care of yourself in times like this!! I know being this far might not help – but when I can do something for you, let me know!!!
    Hugs

    Reply
  5. I’m glad you’re not letting the mix-up steal your “Christmas” anymore. Lately my life has been a perpetual state of stress because my husband is back in school and a million other “small” trials. It seems like the best thing to do is to find a way to keep moving forward and also to treat yourself well. I’m terrible at doing something nice for myself and taking the time I need to relax when things aren’t going right, but those are the very things that can keep me from blowing the stresses out of proportion.

    Reply
  6. karenmcfarland

     /  September 1, 2014

    Moving is right up there with the stress of death and divorce, so I understand your frustration. Timing is everything. And when it’s off, things have a habit of falling apart. Big kudos August for keeping it together. It’s all about putting our priorities in their place. In the grand scheme of things, the positive note is that you are moving into your dream house. Hang in there girl. It will all work out. But why is it we seem to torment ourselves until we come to this conclusion? Crazy, huh? Yet, we all at one time or another do it. 🙂

    Reply
  7. lynnkelleyauthor

     /  September 1, 2014

    Buying a house is super stressful, especially when things go wrong. I’m sorry you’ve been subjected to such tremendous stress, August. I know exactly how you feel and felt. Sounds like you’re dealing with it beautifully now, and a Random Acts of Christmas house warming party sounds totally awesome! And so does your upcoming trip! So many wonderful things going on in your life. I love all your analogies. Great blog post!

    Reply
  8. Catherine Johnson

     /  September 2, 2014

    You handle stress beautifully August. You are an inspiration! Best wishes with the move.

    Reply
  9. When I left for my senior year of college, my parents and I put all of my stuff in the back of this giant old pick-up truck I drove. On my way out of town, I hit a bump and whoomp – just like that, the tailgate fell down and half of my stuff flew out all over the freeway. There was no way to retrieve any of it.

    The three-hour drive was full of stress – how would I get by without my STUFF? I got to my new house and found the previous tenant had left a cozy sweater in the closet. It fit! The only thing I was really needing was a blanket, so I bought one – and then proceeded to live for the next nine months not really missing anything that had so quickly been removed from my life.

    Lesson learned: you don’t need as much as you think you do.

    Reply
  10. Yet another of your posts to add to my favorites, August! Random Acts of Christmas is brilliant, and I am looking forward to it. Also am looking forward to Thursday evening and World Sexual Health Day and will listen online as long as I am able.

    There is such energy in all of this, as you note so beautifully. It is as if we are given a glimpse–a gift, really–of yet another way that our lives might look or be. It’s like, “Hey, have you considered this?”

    I know this is true for me as I am experiencing some issues with my neck that have limited me to reading rather than writing or being online. Yes, my reading has given me some ideas that I may never have considered–for my health as well as my writing–but perhaps most interesting of all, I was reminded of Qigong and in the process have found a licensed Chinese medicine practitioner whose office is right behind my apartment complex. On and off for the past two years, I have been looking for such a practitioner. I guess I wasn’t ready then but am now.

    All of this unknown is so charged with energy, and each day, I am stronger, physically, which is what rest will do, along with reading novels and watching crime dramas. It feels like a new chapter, August, and so far, its working title is “Some Awareness This Way Comes.”

    Have a great time in NY! We’ll want to hear all about it and the move. Oh, and the picture of Via, perfect as always!

    Karen

    Reply
  11. Oh no! I hope your stitch fix turns up soon!

    Sorry it’s been a stressful several days, but it sounds like you were using your self-awareness to take some you time, refocus, and charge ahead. Go get ’em, August!

    Reply
  12. BLARGH!!! Paperwork takes the fun out of everything. Focus on NYC and all the rest will be waiting for you when you get HOME. Home home home home home.

    Reply
  13. You are going to be such an awesome host of WSHD! Wish I could be there!

    Reply
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