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Adventwreath

The holiday season seems to have snuck-up on me this year and I feel rushed.  Rushed to put-up decorations.  Rushed to shop for gifts.  Rushed to write and mail Christmas cards.  Rushed to get into the holiday spirit.  I lay in bed this morning, praying for an attitude adjustment.  That I might replace my shortness with my boy and girl with a loving, gentle disposition.  My boy and girl are just about to burst with anticipation while I snip and snap at them, trying to maintain some sort of control.  At our house, the normal childhood excitement mixed with autism and ADHD produces some pretty intense energy around here, usually in the form of fast, incessant talking,  impulsive little bodies, and an insatiable desire for attention and entertainment.

Needless to say, I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with all this unbridled energy, desperate to slow the pace down just a hair.  I need to slow-down for me.  I need to slow down for my family.  Since becoming a mama, I’ve always tried to make sure that the birth of Jesus stay right up there with the arrival of Santa. Surely, an uptight and irritable mama is not the best example of Love come down on Earth.  My boy and girl happily decorated our tree this afternoon (I didn’t move even one ornament!), I finished a batch of cards to be mailed and now that the majority of the gifts have arrived via USPS (Thank you, God, for online shopping!), I gratefully feel myself beginning to relax into the Season.

Each year, I find myself in this same conundrum – Part of me really does enjoy the hustle and bustle of the holidays.  And the other part of me, screams for quiet and calm.  Thankfully, the latter part usually gets to settle-in once the initial preparations are made.  Now that the advent wreath graces the dinner table’s center, I enjoy watching the flicker of the candle each evening as we follow Mary’s journey to Bethlehem.  And thanks to my friend Cheryl sharing her family’s tradition with me, we have started our very own “20 Books of Christmas.”  All of the holiday books collected throughout the years are now individually wrapped and lovingly sit in a basket near the hearth.  Instead of devouring all the books at once, as in the past, my boy and girl look forward to choosing one book to unwrap each evening when we can cuddle together on the couch and rediscover an old favorite or maybe even a new one.  Llama Llama, Holiday Drama was quite a hit yesterday evening!

I imagine that most of us mammas carry an extra load of stress around the holidays.  At the same time, if we can intentionally weave quiet moments amidst the busyness, we allow our hearts to truly prepare for the coming of our Savior.  So, go ahead and take that bubble bath, sit-down for a cup of tea, close your eyes for a few moments, and remember to breathe.  It’s all good.

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Oh, it’s been one of “those” days here at my household.  Tantrums and drama over homework time, a Pyrex dish shattering on the kitchen floor (Really, I did not throw-it; it slid off the pile of pots and pans drying on the counter!), bad day for the husband at work, and the clothes dryer deciding not make even the hint of warm air.  It now takes a whole day to dry a load of clothes.

Fortunately, the kids are now in bed, I sit with a mug of warm tea beside me and am writing “raw.”  I am so glad that days like these don’t last forever and that I managed to keep myself from coming totally unglued during this afternoons festivities.  Yes, I did yell a few times.  But I also remembered to stop and take breaths.  I prayed at the kitchen counter before going to discuss matters with my girl splayed across her bed upstairs.  And I remembered to apologize to my boy for yelling at him for obsessively asking if I was going to help him finish his homework in the middle of my girl’s melt-down.  Really, does it look like it’s a good time right now?!

It’s all about imperfect progress, right?  This fall, I have been participating in a weekly discussion with a group of wonderful and real ladies around Lysa Terkeurst’s book Unglued.  Oddly, for the first few weeks of this study, things at my house had been pretty “hunky dory,” almost utopia like.  I was gulping in the long periods of rich play between my boy and girl, noting how happy everyone seemed, all the while wondering when the other shoe was going to drop. ‘Cause you know weeks like these can’t last forever!

So, today the other shoe dropped.  Actually, it started the day before when my girl stayed-home sick.  How dare her mess-up my carefully planned week!  Now, I had to cram two days worth of chores and errands into one afternoon!

What I really want to say is that this messiness is real life and it can be hard sometimes.  Downright frustrating.  How nice it was for me to be able to sit in my Unglued book study reflecting on my own unglued moments as if they were a thing of the past.  It’s easy to show joy and calm when life is going along smoothly.  But what about the other times?  How do I find joy in the ugliness?

Well, I am still on the chapter in Unglued where I try to define what kind of “unglued” I am.  I think I tend to be an exploder at home and a stuffer everywhere else.  I haven’t gotten to the part where I learn what to do about my ungluedness; however, I have learned a few things over the past year or so, through the wisdom of my lovely friends and some insightful books.  One, I need to take care of myself, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  In general, this task has become easier now that my boy and girl are both in school, but it still can be a challenge.  While some can handle a lot of things on their plates, I recognize and honor my need for quiet and for room in my schedule to create.  Regular quiet-time spent with my Creator and intentional blocks set-aside for art and writing can go a long ways on the emotional and spiritual front.  Physically, I am learning the importance of taking care of my body through regular exercise.  I am not a gym person, but I do enjoy walking and can certainly pop-in a yoga or Pilates DVD on rainy or cold days.  A little endorphin release can definitely keep my mind from coming unglued so quickly.

I still have a way to go with this whole idea of not coming unglued.  Through it all, I want to extend my family the same grace that God shows me.  I am grateful for today.  No, I didn’t enjoy the downward spiral, but I was reminded of all that I have learned and am still learning.  Thank you, God, for granting us new mercies every day!

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