Four Strategies to Survive Holiday and Work Stress

definition_of_stressWe are over half way through the holiday season.  Thanksgiving and Christmas have passed; but football playoffs, the Superbowl, and New Year’s Eve and Day are waiting to pounce on us like Mardi Gras on an unsuspecting tourist.  The stress of having to watch all the bowl games, NFL playoffs, go to the many celebrations, and eat and drink beyond sanity is too much to bear for some.  Adding salt to a wound, many of our employers expect us to function at work as if nothing else was happening outside the grey walls of industrial servitude.  What are we to do?  Give up; stay inside and watch reruns? Buy a gross of antacids and hope for the best? No! Giving up is not in our DNA and hope is not a plan (unless you are in the Federal Government).  I have tested four strategies which will help you to survive the holiday season and escape to the doldrums of January physically unscathed and mentally neutral. 

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A Legacy Worth Remembering

fountain-pen-on-paperHave you noticed that the single most important driving force in some people’s life is to leave a legacy of “amazing” accomplishments for future generations to acknowledge or debate?  The need for recognition of a life well lived is not detrimental, it is, given the human need for acceptance and love, highly understandable.  However, if the preoccupation with shaping the future opinion of people whom you have never met overwhelms the responsibility of caring for those whom you should love today, then a review of your priorities is in order.

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Moving Day

moving-boxes-300x276Last week we helped move our daughter, her husband and their six month old daughter into a new apartment.  The entire move was accomplished in a single day with the help of a rental truck, dozens of boxes, and willing friends and family.  I’m not certain why it is so, but moving-in always seems easier than moving -out.   The new apartment was empty and clean; each appliance was new and shiny, the walls gleamed with fresh paint, and every bathroom tile was buffed to perfection.  By contrast, the old residence appeared cluttered and in need of a thorough cleaning, as is the state of most apartments on move-out day.  Yet at some stage in their mutual existence, the new and old apartments both were filled with furnishings the owner believed they needed, and later, just prior to a new occupancy, the rooms were emptied and cleaned.  Space must be made in the old before the new can be moved in.

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In_GOD_We_TrustAs a normal course of life, we are asked to routinely trust a diverse array of situational commands delivered by people we have never met, or machines we never wanted to.  Yet we accept these often life changing commands as routine because we trust the source.  More precisely, we choose to trust the source.

  •     “In an emergency, the bags will drop from the ceiling above your head.  Simply pull on the chord to start the flow of air.  The bag may not inflate, but (TRUST ME) air will be flowing.”  We are asked in an airplane emergency to trust that lifesaving air is actually in an empty bag.  I’ve never heard anyone ask, “I don’t trust you – prove it.
  •     You are driving your car towards a busy intersection, and the green light is shining in your direction.  Other cars are approaching in a perpendicular path, but they SHOULD have a red light.  You TRUST that the other cars will stop. We TRUST that the light is working properly and the other drivers see the light, know the law, and will obey it.  We bet our lives on that scenario every day.
  •       One more from the airlines.  “In case of an unplanned water landing, use your seat cushion as a water floatation device.”  My seat cushion is barely the size of my seat, and only two inches thick.  I believe it will float in the Pacific Ocean, but I am to TRUST that the cushion will float with me holding on to it.  Really?  Yet here I sit in aisle 4 during a flight back home, TRUSTING that the aircraft, crew, and the Laws of Physics that we will land safely.

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Two Trails

Frenchman_Mountain_trail_6Billy, Eddie and John were like most 14 year old boys: endlessly hungry and dirty in the same moment, exhibiting the attention span equivalent to a sub-atomic particle and in possession of the inquisitive nature of the scientist who discovered it.  They were ‘good boys’, a description often assigned by their mothers in the small Nebraska community where they lived.  When they were bad, they would say so as well.  Today, the three sat in Eddie’s garage throwing a tennis ball Billy had found in his sister’s gym bag.  Billy had a knack for finding things in obvious places. In this game, they threw the ball to one another as quickly as they could, but each had to catch the ball one handed.  Making the other guy’s hand hurt when he caught the tennis ball was always the ultimate goal of the game, but they only kept score by the number of times you missed a ball that should have been caught.  Arguments over whether a ball was catchable were often and loud, a secondary benefit of playing this particular game.  

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Other Places; Other Times

img_9008-old-leather-book-with-brass-clasps-q90-1409x877Gorda entered the Room of Past Knowledge from the south side of the complex, where the morning sun shone the brightest of the day. It was hot, passing 140 degrees as he turned the key to the massive iron and wooden door.  He moved through the threshold of gold, iron and cheesewood, meant to keep evil spirits from entering this room, into a much cooler, very ancient place.  Gorda wasn’t sure if evil spirits existed, or if their reported existence was a way for the old chemist to keep the townspeople afraid and behaved. He did know that evil was real; he had fought against it for decades, so he allowed the use of rare Cheesewood for a door frame. Besides, evil, in spirit or not, could not be allowed into this room. 

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Take The Next Turn

road-trip1The term “Road Trip” immediately injects a vision of excitement and fun into an undertaking that often morphs into a mundane act of getting from here to there.  When driving, we usually focus on where we were or where we are going.  In the morning while driving to work we think about the challenges of today or about the family we left at home.  When driving to Disneyland, we focus on Mickey Mouse and the Matterhorn; we are concerned with the destination (as we should be), the method to get there is generally unimportant.  Although a road trip must have a starting and ending point (often the same place), the reason we get excited is because of the journey; it is the “getting to” part, not the here or there that produces a broad smile, and unleashes our inner world-explorer self.  A road trip is about having fun with where we are at that moment in time, and less concerned about where we have been and where we will be.  Often on a road trip there is not an established timetable, or schedule; you float from place to place absent the worry of being late.  

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photo (2)She is perfect.  From the tip of her black hair covered head to the bottom of her finger sized feet, she is as flawless as the finest diamond ever cut by a master jeweler. Perfection is not limited to her beautiful, 7 pound, 14 ounce body, with skin so soft you scarcely feel it when you touch her. Every part of her human and spiritual existence is unblemished, perfectly made in love, without even the hint of sin.  In this moment, Renee only knows trust, love, and faith, no other worldly feeling or emotion has stained the brilliant white light that fills her tiny body. The strength in Renee’s hands when she grips my finger, just moments after she entered our world, unleashes love in me so powerful that I welcomed the tears that swelled in my eyes.  The last time I felt love so pure and strong was when each of my children was born.  Now I am beginning to understand how much God loves me, and what He sees when He looks at me. Continue reading

The Apple’s Seed

sprouting-seed-1The apple fell to earth as the couple ran from the garden, landing with a small bounce allowing a lone seed to loosen from its fleshy white home and touch the fertile soil.  Now free, the seed burrowed deep into the earth, past topsoil and roots which might compete for life giving nutrients, toward the safety of rock and clay.  Here, in the moist and cold darkness of life’s foundation, the seed waited for the renewal of light into its world.

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The Snake and the Mouse

gruffalo-snake-i1A mouse is a timid little creature, who under almost any circumstance when confronted with a dangerous situation will choose the option of flight over fight.  This is a very logical position, given the non-threatening physical characteristics bestowed on the Mouse: short legs, a round body covered in white hair, a small mouth with smaller teeth, and a roar that closely resembles air slowly leaking from a balloon.  A snake, on the other hand, seems content with fighting first and asking questions later.  In fact, a snake rarely asks questions at all, they just strike.   Also logical, because a snake’s body is designed for stealth, attack, and creating fear in an opponent or prey.  It is not a coincidence then, that many snakes eat mice, so choosing to run, as opposed to joining a snake for dinner, is another good choice for a mouse.  Sometimes though, running is not the first option.

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