It Kind of Just Snuck Up On Me
In life, stress can sneak up on you and that’s what has happened, stress just kind of snuck up on me. But before I begin today’s whine, let me be perfectly clear in stating that I love my life.
As a general rule, I’m a fairly busy person. I work a regular job four days a week. I have a small but thriving home business. I’m a wife and mother and recently became a grandmother and I adore spending time with the new baby. Then there is the whole writing gig which tends to consume a lot of time. Add to all of this cat-sitting two cats in addition to my own two and the accompanying screech-fest fights. Just before Thanksgiving, I dropped my phone in the toilet and last week the hard-drive on my laptop crapped out. I was unaware of how much stress was building under my skin and how tightly wound I was becoming.
I don’t consider myself a particularly giving person and didn’t think that I was spending too much time away from my studio which is where I unwind. But in hind-sight it seems that was the case.
Lately, I’ve had this almost uncontrollable urge to purge the clutter from my life. We’re talking major reduction of personal items. Knick knacks, books, games, furniture, dishes, clothing, shoes the whole shooting match. I was even going to sell the piano that hasn’t been played for 15 years, and it was a gift from my Grandmother. I debated starting to purge things from my studio. It takes something radical to make me even consider cleaning the studio, let alone reducing the creative mess. I work best in a cluttered, rather untidy space. It inspires me.
Years ago I was told that the urge to purge or to re-arrange furniture (which I excel at) are signs of stress. When a person can’t control their lives, they try to control their environment. It makes sense to me. For the years I was basically living alone and raising our children while my man worked out of town, the furniture got shuffled a LOT. And I had the cleanest cupboards and closets in the Northern Hemisphere.
I had forgotten this fact until I was talking to my friend Linda about the urge to purge things. She immediately chalked it up to stress and the need to control what’s going on around me. It was a light-bulb moment, I kid you not. Another friend informed me that I need to get out more. I laughed at him, I was certain that I was getting out enough. Then he said that baby time and going to work doesn’t count as “out time.” Their voices echoed in my head and I resisted the urge to fill a dumpster with my possessions and tried to figure out how to de-stress. Frankly, I came up with nothing. So things continued on in the status quo.
This brings us to tonight; I needed to make a quick trip to Wal-Mart to print off some pictures to send to my folks and for my Gramma’s album of adorable shots of the new wee baby. Typically, I wouldn’t be caught dead shopping on the weekend, it is just too busy. But, I’ve been procrastinating printing the pictures and my man needed some cold meds, so off I trotted.
The evening was full of pleasant surprises. First, the snow brushed off the car easily with no ice to scrape. Second, the roads were wet, not slippery. Third, the Wal-Mart parking lot was empty and that NEVER happens. With each little victory, my shoulders relaxed and I felt myself unwind. I do love it when things go right!
I entered the store and it was dead. For the first time in years, the staff outnumbered the customers. Sweet! So I printed my pictures and had a lovely chat with the cutest five year old girl and the lady running the photo studio. Then I started my shopping. My plan for a quick in and out trip receded quickly. The isles were empty as I toured the store. I wandered up and down every single isle; I even visited automotive and sporting goods. I found the things I needed, grabbed myself a couple of cute skirts and some other un-needed things; things just for me!
By the time I got to the line-free register, I was grinning like a damned fool. I was happy! I hadn’t realized the extent of the stress that had crept up on me, or that it was starting to make me feel unhappy. I don’t know how to explain this, if you knew me, you would know that I HATE, DETEST and ABHORE shopping in all its many forms. Yet tonight, wandering around that deserted store with no place to be and nobody making demands on my time I found a strange peace. What should have been 40 minutes there and back turned into almost two and a half hours and I came home smiling and content.
I’m still going to do some purging, but perhaps without so much haste and a little more discretion. The creative items in my studio are safe for a while longer, although I still think the piano needs to go.
On reflection, it’s funny how the stress just kind of crept up on me, and then just slipped away when I took a little time for myself.
Once again, my life is good.