Now I'm breathing again but it was touch and go, wasn't it? We walk every morning at the ponds by the San Francisco Bay--lovely and calm start to the day! I looked at my phone on the way back from my walk yesterday morning and had to double check before I believed what I was seeing. "He's won," I yelled.
So during the last six months and especially during the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking of ways to stay calm. My son, the life coach and healer, advises me to try journaling. I’m supposed to write down three things I am worrying about and three things that I can do about them. Then let them go. Doesn’t work for me. I come up with a list longer than three and worry about them even more.
Years ago John bought me a fish tank and tropical fish—supposed to be so relaxing. They were beautiful. But then he bought me a book on fish diseases and parasites. Oh no—does that fish have Ick? Does it have fin rot? Why is it swimming in circles? Is that one resting or dead? Heart rate rising…
Recently I’ve been doing two things that have worked. I escape to a small beachfront area on the San Francisco Bay called China Camp (it’s where Chinese fishermen settled when they were driven out of the city). I sit on the sand, listen to the lap of waves, watch distant boats and sea birds. I’ve only just been able to return there as it became horribly popular all summer. Now the kids are back in school and I can reclaim my own territory!
The other thing I do is listen to sleep stories on the Calm App. Brilliant. I like the ones about train journeys best. The reader has a deep, soothing voice and he starts in the station, describing the interior of the sleeping car and then off we go into the night… and I’ve never yet managed to stay awake to the destination, be it the Orient Express, The Blue Train or the Trans Australia.
OH, and looking at my photos of past trips, reliving in my mind. I absolutely love the LIVE photos. Really feel that I am there again. Hooray for iPhone.
So what are your suggestions for staying calm?
JENN McKINLAY: I clean, obsessively. Oven, toilets, patio furniture, nothing is safe from me and my bucket and sponge! This doesn’t seem anywhere near as fun as your strolls on the beach or train stories on the Calm app, Rhys, but you could eat off my floors. Wait, I have three cats and two dogs. No, you can’t!
(Rhys: Jenn I'd have to be extremely stressed before I cleaned obsessively!)
HALLIE EPHRON: Jigsaw puzzles! Occupies the mind completely. Jerry and I are on #20. We just finished three vintage World War II puzzles--fighter pilots and blazing guns and handsome muscular soldiers. The pieces don’t lock together so very challenging--bump into the table and you might have to start over. Next we’ll start on a Paris street scene puzzle that anonymous friends left on our front steps. THANK YOU! I’m thinking of sponsoring a puzzle sharing derby on my front lawn. Leave one, take one… Up to three missing pieces are acceptable but it’s got to have its box. Doing a puzzle without a picture of the end game is above my pay grade.
LUCY BURDETTE: The puzzle sharing derby is a great idea Hallie! The pets are calming of course, unless puking in their travel carriers LOL. And I find reading about recipes very calming, particularly scrolling through the NY Times cooking app. And then baking works too--we’ve decided not to fret about a few pandemic pounds. Will wait on that until things get back to normal. And one more, dropping into the Danish world of the TV show BORGEN. I absolutely love this show, especially the main character, a woman who’s the Prime Minister of Denmark.
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Rhys, I had to laugh at your description of your stress journaling: “I come up with a list longer than three and worry about them even more.” This sounds like me. I’ve been listening to a great podcast by Brooke Castillo (hat tip to Jessica Ellicott, who got me started.) She runs the Life Coach School, and the podcast is all about managing your mind to create feelings that support the life you want to live, and about channeling your actions to get the results you want. Which I am all good with, until she talks about worry. “Worry is never a necessity. It can’t change anything.” Unfortunately, every time I try to “manage my thoughts” about worry, I just have MORE thoughts of things to worry about! My one sure-fire escape is reading. I’ve been digging into some extremely absorbing creepy/horror novels that for some reason are hitting me just right at this point in time. Maybe it’s the comfort that, sure, things are bad in the world right now, but at least malevolent spirits from beyond the grave aren’t trying to kill me?
Rhys: I have found it very hard to read. I've resorted to re-reading old favorites or books that I know will be comforting and end well. How about you?)
DEBORAH CROMBIE: For me, just trying to stick to the normal daily routine helps. Walking the dogs is a big one. It helps so much to get outside, to get exercise, and there's no space for worry when you are trying to keep two big dogs in line! I have been reading, too, but very distractedly. What has absolutely been my saving grace the last few months is my nightly bath just before bed. I listen to my audio book in the tub, and lately I've been setting the sleep timer and continuing the book once I get into bed. This is a big departure from lifelong bedtime reading for me, but I find I can't worry when I'm listening!
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Yes, Lucy, Borgen. Yay! We have to stop ourselves from watching it so it doesn’t run out. Relaxation, though. Ah. Not managing that at all. AT ALL. (I am on word 104, 312. YAY! Now I just have to figure out how it ends. La dee dah.) I have never been this busy, and my only relaxation is reading before I go to sleep, and the spelling bee puzzle in the Sunday NY Times. Well, sometimes I just walk up and down our driveway, and look at the flowers (now faded) and oh! Picking our tomatoes. SO great. We picked hundreds, and I am not exaggerating, before the snow . Now we have BOXES of green cherry tomatoes. We love them,
Rhys: Hank, I've found the views from our balcony very comforting. We have sat out there on warm evenings and listened to the sounds of the valley below us--laughter and music and the eight o'clock howl, honoring the doctors and nurses.
So, dear friends, what have you found comforting during these tough months?
#Pandemic #Journaling #Reading #Election #StayingCalm