One cup of coffee too many yesterday evening taught me that I've reached that regrettable age of caffeine intolerance. Boo. Hence last night I tossed and turned, my mind filled with bizarre dreams and worries. I woke for good at 6:00 when I heard an intermittent chirp--that tell-tale sound that one of the detectors/monitors needs new batteries.
As the rising sun burned off a layer of fog, I sipped my coffee and read for classes today, pushing aside the worries and anxieties. They came crashing back once I laced my shoes up and set out for a brisk walk after a hearty breakfast of well-dressed steel cut oats.
A few weeks ago, I encouraged my students to do a pair of writing exercises: write down your current stresses, and then, after a break, write about your blessings. Linking these two writings helps reframe the brain, theoretically.
And so, though this blog is more about bliss than stress, this morning I'm going to take my own advice. It won't be polished or pretty because an 11:00 class awaits, but I need this more than anything this morning.
Concern about my family: my 92 year old Grandpa is recovering from a severe infection, and is currently at a "facility"--somewhere between the hospital and home--until he regains strength. This is making all of us a little more aware of mortality, the swift passage of time and how we spend it, and the kinds of connections we make with each other.
Concern about my job: how will the recent election results impact my standing as a (often vilified) state employee? I'm sure financial hits are coming, but I don't know to what extent. And, as I continue on the tenure track, I worry about choices I've made to redirect my career, namely to write more creatively and less scholarly, to stop working on projects that brought me little joy, and instead write in my voice, from my heart, to connect with the readers I most want.
Concern about the holidays: this year Gregg and I are merging our holidays, which is wonderfully exciting, but stressful, too, as we leave the comfort of our established rituals and enter into a new way of celebrating with each others' families. I feel nothing but love from and for Gregg's family, and am so blessed to have them in my life. Still, the holidays are, well, the holidays. Filled with tradition and memory and expectation--qualities that can be both positive and negative. Making new traditions and memories is a happy form of stress, as well as a kind of loss.
Missing my friends, both locally and scattered around the country. How did we all get so busy that reconnecting seems a chore more than a joy?
And the anxiety of body image, of worst-case scenarios, of generalized worry seems to be gaining strength. Yoga and walks and journaling and talking are effective ways to manage these troublesome thoughts and feelings, but at 2:00 in the morning they don't quite work.
A loving family, including a fabulous boyfriend/co-habitator/co-conspirator, parents, brother, two sets of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and G's family, who have taken me into theirs so warmly.
A diverse and wide circle of friends, including many kindred spirits.
A job I mostly love, with many non-material benefits.
A cozy home in a lakefront town.
An open heart, mind, and soul.
Access to healthy food and wellness centers and yoga studios.
Numerous writing outlets.
Hot tea and cafe au lait and soft sweaters and a cloud bed and a reliable car and a strong social network and chocolate and kindness and hugs and kisses and an amazing music collection and warm memories and...
(i feel better already. namaste, my friends.)