Friday, May 12, 2006

Fire Ants, Hail, Strong Winds...

Do you ever have those days when you wonder what’s going to go wrong next? I mean, I love my house. I love the Austin area. I especially like the people here. And a lot is going right in my life now. I’m teaching a writing class that’s going really well and working on a manuscript and even doing a some (very) short term work for the census bureau right now.

But there are those days...

--I wake up and discover yet another fire ant mound in my yard and that an old one is coming back.
--I hear that a roof can be totaled and look just fine and it’s happened to EVERY HOUSE a few streets over from mine and now I'm wondering about mine--especially since a roofer left fliers on every door on MY street.
--The back gate I couldn’t afford to get fixed before now hangs by a thread and every time we have another thunderstorm with hail and high winds I worry I’m going to wake up and find it’s now in the middle of the street.
--I wonder if I can afford to keep paying a lawn service so I get a mower and discover halfway through mowing the front that I just can’t do this any more—especially not in the heat (plus hitting two fire ant mounds doesn’t help...).

It’s days like those that make me want to crawl back under the covers and just not get up for, oh, say a month! Mind you, I know that in the scheme of things none of this is really serious. I know there have been times in my life I’ve faced much greater challenges, so what’s the big deal? But hey, on some level I’m a wuss. A bunch of little things can sometimes feel overwhelming.

Why am I sharing this here? Because I figure that at least a few of you occasionally have your equivalent days, right? I figure that it might help to share some of what works for me when I have days like that. (Because, hey, I know from experience that crawling back under the covers does NOT solve anything, darn it!)

First thing is to reduce or get rid of the sense of panic that things are going to spin out of control and I’m not going to be able to handle them. Those of you who have been reading here awhile know that I encourage my coaching clients to make lists of all their successes, of everything they have managed to do right in the past. It’s days like this such a list matters because I can look at my list and remind myself that I have coped with challenges in the past and succeeded. I can do this.

Deep breathing helps, too. Especially if I pair that deep breathing with an image of a cool and quiet and SAFE place so that I can feel my body relaxing. And as I relax, my brain begins to function more efficiently. Which means that the odds go up that I will be able to figure out a solution to my problems/challenges.

I remind myself that I don’t have to handle everything at once, RIGHT NOW! I can choose one issue and focus on that or I can take small steps toward addressing each challenge and as I see a clear path, act on it.

I can picture it as part of a scene in a book. What would my character do? What would I want my character to do?

Life always throws challenges at us. We can’t control that. What we can do, each of us, is to figure out the strategy that works best for us. We can make the lists of past successes so that when we have moments of self-doubt, we can pull it out and remind ourselves that we have the ability to succeed. We can take the few minutes to do deep breathing and calm any sense of panic so that our brains can work better. We can take one step at a time knowing that eventually it will all be dealt with in the best way that we can. And when we do succeed in solving a problem, we can celebrate—celebrate that we were able to resolve it and then ADD IT TO OUR LIST OF SUCCESSES. That way, when the next challenge occurs, it’s one more bit of proof that yes, we CAN cope with whatever latest practical joke the universe plays on us.

Wishing you a better week than mine....