When stress incapacitates

I have headaches. I’ve had headaches since I was five. Migraines. Incessant pounding with every heartbeat. Excruciating pain that pulses through my head. They can last for days; often for more than a week.

I carry my stress in my back and neck. Painful muscular knots begin near my scapula and work their way upwards to the shoulders and neck making it difficult to move my head. Breathing hurts. Thinking is near impossible. Light hurts my eyes causing me to tense even more.

Heat. Cold. Rest. Medications — everything from Tylenol™, ibuprofen, or Excedrin™, to narcotics and muscle relaxers combined with nausea meds and allergy medications. Warm baths. Warm showers. Scalp massage. Body massage. Foot massage. Positioning. Heating pads. Cold packs. Soft music. Diffusing essential oils. Sleep. Walking. Salon Pas™ patches. Sitting on a massage cushion. Coffee. Chocolate (yuck!). Caffeinated soda.

There are days when nothing seems to help. And then. . .suddenly it’s gone. As quickly as it comes. . .just gone.

For those reading who have never experienced this phenomena, thank the stars above. When it occurs, I try to remember that it will not last forever. As the quote above shares, no turbulent waterfall stays constant to the open sea. A headache may be a sign of turbulence in my life, but it will get better.

Eat Like the Locals

“Food is the most primitive form of comfort.” ~ Sheilah Graham

One of the best and worst thing about being out of town is not knowing where to eat.

Chain restaurants

While chain restaurants are a safe choice, there’s no adventure to it. I got in late last night and ate at the Ruby Tuesday’s™ across the parking lot from my hotel. Not that it wasn’t good, but I can get the same thing at home. Applebee’s. Longhorn Steakhouse. And of course. . .the standard fast food crap.

Local recommendations

When you’re at a state-sponsored class, most of the instructors and many classmates aren’t from the area and haven’t got a clue where the sweet spots might be. And if you find someone who DOES live in the area, they usually play it safe and suggest places they think might not offend the sensitivities.

Google maps

I like the options here. The recommendations ride on the reviews given by people who have frequented the restaurants listed. So while my classmates got in their cars to go to the various locale, I walked to the one 4 minutes away and lucked upon the special of the day:

Reuben with homemade pastrami and fries – $8

Pappy’s Place has been in business since 1926. First as a cafe to serve families of patients in the local hospital then as a bar in 1933 when the owner purchased the first beer-by-the-drink license when Prohibition ended. The next owners took over in 1971 and gave it the current name.

The place seats about 30 people and the atmosphere exudes down-home goodness. I can see why it got a 4.4 star rating. The food is delicious, the staff welcoming, the music a blend of 80’s hits and the prices worth it. If you’re in the Springfield area, I highly recommend it.

The Dance

“Dancing is moving to the music without stepping on anyone’s toes, pretty much the same as life. ~ Robert Brault

Combining two families into one home is a tricky feat until you find a system that works . . .and works well. It may be even more difficult when one family is your adult daughter’s and you still have her younger siblings at home.

The first few months are difficult — shower schedules, work schedules, bedtime for kids, meals, shopping, bills. Expectations. Ways and methods of doing things. There can be misunderstandings, hurt feelings, resentment, anger and then. . .

There is the laughter. Watching your kids spend time together with their nephew and their sister. Seeing how your adult daughter has grown as a mother herself. Wondering if you’re really her mother at all some days.

Those comical conversations as you and your daughter’s significant other dance around the proverbial elephant in the room. “We weren’t too noisy were we?” With the reassuring, “No, and if you were, I wouldn’t say a word.”

I will admit I’m looking forward to being in my new home in relative peace and quiet. . . some days not soon enough. At the same time, I’m learning to relish this time as we learn the rhythm of dancing in harmony as a family.

Survival mode

Some days. . .

It’s easy to forget where I started and how hard I’ve worked to get where I am right now.

Other days. . .

The fears and insecurities and questions are circling around in my head and it seems the struggle will never end.

I didn’t work this hard with all the hours of studying, training, travel, being away from family, working nights, weekends and holidays to let anxiety and fear of the unknown take hold of me now. I am a person of action. I like to get things done. This waiting game of paperwork, emails, and process wears on me.

Today is mine, I gotta go get it!

Solitude

“I think it’s very healthy to spend time alone. You need to know how to be alone and not be defined by another person.” ~ Oscar Wilde

I’ve noticed that many people don’t like solitude. As if, by spending a few minutes or hours alone, they will be alone forever. Being alone is not the same thing as being lonely.

All man’s miseries,’ wrote Blaise Pascal, ‘derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone A French mathematician, Mr. Pascal probably did the statistics and was spot on. Even before technology. . .before smartphones. . .handheld gaming systems. . . and Google, the distaste for quietness reigned supreme.

Is it fear? Anxiety? Discomfort? Are our thoughts so scary that being left alone with them is a fate worth avoiding? Or is it a fear of feeling?

In my post, The Sensual Life, I wrote about how my senses come alive in the relative quiet of solitude. Once experienced, accepted and even welcomed, being alone is not lonely. It helps introverts such as myself to refuel.

Zaid Dahhaj summed it up quite nicely — “If you like yourself, you have no problem with being alone. When you accept yourself completely, you’ll enjoy having quiet time away from all the external noise. You’ll feel happy when alone and also when surrounded by other people.

My challenge to you in the first month of 2019 is to take a few moments, maybe 10 minutes each day, to spend time alone — with your thoughts, with your senses, without your smartphone. Thirty-one days — can you do it?