Don't take yourself so seriously
On the first snow of the season, my growing up in Michigan gave me confidence in my ability to handle myself with the road conditions for North Carolina (that was in the midst of classic (;-) multi-city wide shut down. Literally, the Governor issued a state of emergency.) It also happened to be the first snow in my Kia Optima which had me hoping it would perform as well as my retired, 11yr old, trusty Saturn Ion and aside from one difference that I believe is just a preference, the car performed well.
What was exercised was self-mastery, self-control, mind control, boiling down to will I spiral into anxiety and anger. In this moment, on this journey of mine, I didn't simply want those things kept in check, or even at bay... I wanted more. I wanted BLISS. I more than just treading water, above neutrality, I wanted to savor, be grateful, experience joy in the midst of chaos.
What does that mean? You see, this evening started shaping up to be a real recipe for disaster. A disaster not just in logistics, but a disaster of the mind and subsequently my state of well being.
In this case, the recipe is circumstances+ thoughts = anxiety and anger, leading to psychological manifestations of physical stress for days after the initial episode or circumstance. You follow? If the "storm" is over, and you still feel like shit days after because you've depleted any and all energy you have this slow rise back to baseline- not even "happy" but neutral. Have you been there?
Halfway home I was in awe, there it was, the first hint of snow falling. I roll my window down to out my mitten-covered hand out to catch what snow was falling for my nose to sniff in the crisp clean air. My mind immediately heard and saw Lorelai Gilmore gazing up while inhaling deeply, "I smell snow." Snow, in January, in NC. <3
By the time I made it 3/4 the way home I had anticipated slight delays but felt like the timing was going well, considering the coverage of snow on the roads was more significant than I thought it would have been. I spoke to Neil (BF), where he had been stuck in traffic for nearly 3 hours on the other end of town. Rolling slowly through the crunchy snow and with the window back down, because now, with enough snow, the silence had fallen on the canvas of the night. I was tranquil until I realized the back up of cars was over a mile long and not budging. After realizing that the traffic wasn't moving at all I turned around, successfully, to go another way.
Concentration set in, admiration and intentions still balancing the potential freak out. Yes- I had to figure out how to get to the "kids" as soon as possible, safely. No - I didn't need to stress.
How do you not freak out when your 2 hours behind schedule? The foreseeable future is unpredictable and not just in regards to getting home, before that, you need to get to the home of my clients, 2 mastiffs that had been alone since that morning. (I happily dog sit for a few very special families.)
Many of the skills I work on were "tested." Button Pushing is a good term and the theme of a book I happened to begin reading 2 days after the snowfall. Prior to the day, between books and podcasts, I recalled the contentment of simple pleasures appreciated, such as the clothes on your back and eating oatmeal being a practice ancient philosophers like Seneca and new entrepreneurs participate in to remind themselves of a basic state of "is this what I so fear?" Wayne Dyer reminded me to "not take myself so god damn serious" such as when I am in line (or stuck in traffic) and begin to think my time is somehow more important than someone else, or feel that urgent urgency over something that is not an emergency.
These along with many other countless reminders and practice runs helped me on this day. Reason being, many years ago, things easily stress me, things that other people didn't find to be stressors, or even if they did, once they compiled for me, were not simple stressors- it was the building up of an attack/episode be it anxiety or depression. These "tiny" occurrences throughout my day would send my mind into overdrive, emotions spiraling, if I interacted with someone I would lash out if I kept to myself consider the downward spiral to be covered in soap because I was going down and going down fast.
Anger, regret, comparison, confusion, unappreciation, mind-boggling annoyance with other people's decisions. (In this case, choices made while driving in snow.) Wayne Dyer had a voicemail box that said: " I want to feel good, if your message isn't designed to do that, or help me achieve that, hang up now." This replayed in my head- Renee, what are you doing/thinking in this moment to feel good?
The options were calm/ tranquility, annoyance/ aggravation. Choices were made. Keeping my cortisol levels down, clear thinking at the peak. A graceful and grateful attitude leading my thoughts, emotions, and actions. These words and philosophies floating around in my head alone were part of the recipe for me not just keeping it together but enjoying my experience of life. It was no longer filled with "fuck, shit, damn, why in the world, I can't believe, ugh, what if..." My defaults are finally changing, and I was mindful enough to notice it.
Every day we have choices. Every day we are presented with opportunities to exercise those choices. For me, it is finding (because it has to be found in every different scenario and day) even if defaults are there, we all wake up on the wrong side of the bed, or button is pushed that the default is so scarred and deep, the negative is sure to arise. You have to choose to say no to the negative. Choose to say yes to the positive. Remind yourself of the ripple effects. Work toward that state of well being, and joy- not giving into, worsening or creating a state of misery and aches.