Life Is Wonderful… Assuming That I Survive!


Every day I read about what a killer stress is and about how we need to de-stress our lives if we expect to live as long as we could. This stresses me out.

It particularly stresses me out when I read, on the next page, about all the things that are bad for me. Invariably, they are all the things I like. In fact, the only time I have to read is usually at mealtime, when I’m holding the paper in one hand and a fork in the other. Imagine the stress I would lose if I could eat anything I wanted, whenever I wanted, even if I had already eaten five slices of pizza. If stress is bad, quit buggin’ us about what we eat!

Of course, there are other kinds of stress, too. Children, for all the joy they bring us, seem to offset that joy with stress. I recently pushed a shopping cart through Target while my grandson casually dangled a ceramic piggybank over the side. He was overtired, and it was his birthday, so I had to weigh in my mind the chances of him dropping it (extremely good) against the chances of him pitching a fit if I took it away (equally good). Stressful!

Therapists everywhere agree that the most highly stressful situations include a change of job, a change of residence and a change of family dynamics (adding or subtracting a family member). These situations can also bring about the most joy, but stress is the price you pay to get there.

There are several ways to defuse stress. For me, changing the way I view something is the most successful. I learned this from my brother-in-law Keith, who had the misfortune of picking up the phone when I called my sister wailing that my firstborn was taking a job in another state. “I’ll hardly ever see her!” I cried.

Casting about quickly for the only thing that he knew women like to do together, he said, “But think of the new stores you two can explore when you do!”

It was a longshot, but it did help me to try to see the good in the situation. That was key.

I’ve also changed jobs, and the good thing in that is twofold: a) more money, and b) the new people haven’t seen my wardrobe yet.

I change residences more than the average person. That’s what comes from marrying a builder. To his mind, you’re living in something that is no more than inventory. Fortunately, I like to decorate, and each new home is a new slate. Fun!

And, even with Skippy dangling that piggybank over the side, even while I’m dreading the crash, imagining the looks from the other shoppers, imagining having to pay for something that’s already quite dramatically broken, a wee little part of me is asking myself, “Will he do it? Will he actually drop that thing?” Another, more childish part of me, really wants to hear the crash.

So it’s all in how you look at things. I try to look up.