I’ve got a new book, The Upside of Stress, by Kelly McGonigal. She conceives of stress as a source of energy that I can use to solve the problem that caused the stress. Instead of saying, “I’m too stressed to go online to get our airplane tickets”, I talk to myself. Do I want to go to Florida? Yes, I really do. And besides, my friend Mollie expects me to make the reservations for our trip.
So not only do I have a strong desire to get away from the bad weather in January, but my friend is expecting me to do it. So my values are involved. Not only does Florida have a high value for me in January, But so does my friendship. I can’t call her up and say, “I’m too scared to make these reservations.”
All of this, plus memories of past plane reservations I arranged for Bernie and me, got me to the computer and in a few moments I was was on familiar ground: the Southwest site for buying plane tickets. It was only a matter of minutes before I had to tickets. Fearlessly, I went ahead and rented a car. Whoopee! Now we were really going.
If people take time to write out their values, it alerts them the next time they are stressed. They remember their values and turn the stress into energy to solve their problem. Tend-and-befriend is another mindset that helps. If you put your worry aside to help others, your stress will disappear.
So the next time you feel stressed, and you will, turn it into pure energy and work out a way to solve your problem. Your body will thank you.
…I tried going to bed at 9. I couldn’t sleep. I tried meditation but it didn’t help. Then I suddenly realized I’d forgotten to take my pills, two of which help me to fall asleep and stay asleep.
I had been misled by two things. First, my eyes were bothering me. I have dry eyes and I need to put drops in them regularly, which I rarely do. So my dry, sleepy eyes convinced me I was tired and sleepy. Tired, yes, sleepy, no. After 45 minutes in bed, my eyes are no longer sleepy and neither was I.
Second, I’ve been falling asleep very quickly these past few nights. I assumed this was another such night. No, it wasn’t. That’s why I wrapped myself in my old, warm red bathrobe and sat in my chair in my cottage at Creamery Brook. I started watching, as I had before I went to bed, the headlights of a vehicle parked at the apartment building. They were slowly dimming as they have been on for over an hour.
Why would someone do that? If they have no headlights, they can’t drive home. I assume anybody with a vehicle wants to drive home or is asleep in their bed at Creamery Brook. But I sat and watched until I felt sleepy. Then I went to bed and to sleep.
Good luck to the owner of that truck.
P.S. The next morning…no truck or vehicle there. A mystery.
…helped me find my way home two weeks ago. I got lost on Route 91 from TE Greene Airport. I missed the turn onto Rt. 295 (I was driving too fast) which would have taken me to Rt. 6, to Connecticut. Instead, I found myself on the streets of Cranston. I now know that it wasn’t a sensible place to be. I ended up at a Mobil Station. I went inside, leaving Mollie alone in the car. She promptly locked the doors.
I started asking confused questions of a woman who said nothing but pointed to someone else, the one who turned out to be the smartest woman in Cranston. She understood my anxious questions. She said she could help and picked up her cell phone. She plotted out the directions and then took a 81/2 by 11 inch sheet of plain paper and printed the directions for me. My God! the only person in the U.S. who can print! Did you know that nobody can print anymore? Or write, either.
I took the directions gratefully and went out to the car. Molly unlocked the doors. I/we followed the directions and Bingo! I was on Rt. 295. I cautiously made my way to Rt 6 and happily bounced over the terrible road that Rt 6 is in in Rhode Island. Gad! What roads they have.
We made it home, to my house, I mean. Mollie put her bags in her car which we had left in my garage and gratefully took herself to her home.
I just wish I could thank that woman and her directions. It turned out we wanted Exit 2, not 12 as she had written on her direction s, but that wasn’t a problem. All I saw was Route 295, the gateway to the road home. Hallelujah.
P.S. I don’t want to focus on this woman too much. I can see her boss, after she’d told him how much she’d helped us. “Did she buy anything? Gas or something?” “Well, no. She…” “Well, hell, you coulda sold her some gas, or a pack of cigarettes. Is that too much to ask?” Surly boss leaves. Smartest woman wishes she’d never laid eyes on me.
I’ve been to Florida, I’m glad to say. As the trip came nearer, I thought–oh! is it worth all this preparation: remembering pills and swim suits and summer shorts (but hasn’t it been cold down there?), and a clock and some teabags, and so on.
Then there’s the plane trip. Trips: of course we changed planes in Baltimore, and then we had to pick up our rental car which I couldn’t figure out how to drive and so made Mollie, my traveling companion, drive to Ft. Myers Beach. Which took a full hour. How come?
At any rate we made it to our cottage. And then we needed dinner. Tequila Joe’s was down around the corner. Really awful. But we got enough food in us to fall into bed.
The next day was lovely but I wore my parka for our walk. I need to walk so I can stop using a cane. Every morning thereafter, I’d have my hot tea, write in my journal and then walk to the end of the street and back, about 25 minutes. Or less.
The weather was not always good, but we did fine. We seemed to be eating or talking about eating all the time. At four p.m. we’d join our landlord and his partner at happy hour under the breezeway. The outside bar had burned down due to overworked wiring. Our Tennessee friends, Tilly and Shirley, joined us too.
I never did swim in the pool or soak in the hot tub. But that’s okay. Florida didn’t look at all like Northeastern Connecticut and that was what mattered: a complete change of scene. Once I recovered from our drive home the day we came back–lost in Cranston, Rhode Island!–that is what I realized. Happy to be gone, happy to be home.
I just finished listening to CD’s by Frank Sinatra. In the past few years, I’ve developed a liking for and appreciation of his voice and musical know-how. I don’t like the early Sinatra voice. Compared to his glory years: 1950 to the seventies, his young voice lacks richness and resonance.
He recorded one of my favorite songs in the Spring of 1960, “Fools Rush In.” One day last year when Bernie hadn’t been in the nursing home very long, I was listening to it. When Sinatra came to the lyrics, “When we met, I felt my life begin…” I said to myself, Yes! that’s the way it was on that cold day in Kenosha, Wisconsin. That’s how I felt when I met Bernie.
The past was of no interest to me. I focused on the present and when I would see him again. If he was with me, I was totally in the present. Otherwise, I had our next meeting in my mind and lived life on a temporary basis. I felt lucky if he had an address I could write to. He was driving through the Midwest at the time.
I wrote him a note last year giving him the lyrics to the song and my reaction to them. I felt a little shy.
He read the the note carefully and smiled. I was happy.
Everyone groans over changing their clocks. You’ve heard them all. I instead decided I had no trouble with it at all. It didn’t confuse me or distract me. Just a little change in the darkness at dinner time. “We can expect it to be dark during dinner now.” “Yes, winter is here.”
So I didn’t get upset at first when, on Sunday the 5th my friend, Mollie, was late. She’d said she’d be here at 11ish. It grew to be 12 noon and I called her. No answer. I left a message. I worried that something might have happened to her.
She arrived about 12:20. I could see that she didn’t understand my concern over her lateness but I said nothing.
It was past noontime and I was getting hungry. I hinted and she agreed we could go out to eat then. We got in the car, arrived at Hanks and found it closed. On a Sunday?! No–we were early. It was 11:45 and it opened at noon.
I finally got a clue–I hadn’t changed my kitchen clock to Fall Back. I’d had the wrong time all along. I was embarrassed and apologized for nagging her. She said I had looked at her with disapproving, nasty eyes.
And so I’ve decided I’m a person who has a lot of trouble with Daylight Savings Time. Next March I must be aware of the traps I can fall into and keep myself humble in the company of my friends, particularly Mollie.
Bernie fell asleep while I was visiting him today . He’d had physical therapy and it tired him out. I tried to read sitting on my walker but it was too awkward. So I moved to a comfortable chair next to the other bed, next to the window.
I read my book till it was 11:40. I decided to leave. I went to Bernie and took his hand. He didn’t wake up. He usually does. I like to say goodbye to him.
So I didn’t shake him or do anything else to wake him up. He slept on. I left the room slowly, looking back at him.
I waited for the elevator, feeling slightly uneasy. It came and I left, feeling relieved. At the desk on the ground floor I signed out. The receptionist, Shannon, was dressed for Halloween. She was dressed as the principal of Mugwarts Hall. She was going to a party tonight.
I said, Have a good time, and pressed the control for the two sets of doors to open for me and my walker.
It was cold outside.