The Deadly Stress



There’s never a dull moment, never a down time in my life, it seems. We have been in Hilton Head, SC for about five weeks now, and as it often happens, my health takes a nosedive as soon as I stop to rest.

After a month of December with stressful events at my church I was left quite drained and unmotivated, depressed actually. I did manage to get my mojo going again a couple of days before all the family arrived for Christmas celebrations, and then I sped into high gear.

I don’t know why I still think I have to be supermom, the Christmas fairy and Martha Stewart all rolled into one, but that’s what I attempt when my grown children come home for Christmas. The food traditions, the stocking traditions, the drawing on the revered tablecloth, I did it all and barely lived to tell the tale. This, coupled with four 2 ½ hour round  trips back and forth from the airport in some intense weather, all on the heels of December’s earlier events became more than I could handle. I mean, I handled it on the outside and thought I was doing pretty well. But inside I was not handling it. Don’t get me wrong- I loved every moment with my family. I think I just need to tone things down a bit and be easier on myself.

I am 64, not 44 or 34, but I keep thinking I can do everything I always did. Was I in for a rude awakening!

We took the last bunch to the airport on December 29th and then rushed home to shut down the house, pack the suitcases and car, clean out the fridge, clean the bathrooms, change beds and in general, get ready to drive three days to Hilton Head Island for three months. At 5AM on December 30 we left, in sub zero temperatures.

Once we arrived and settled in to the condo that has become our second home, bought the first grocery order and let everyone know we had arrived safely, the two of us collapsed. And about a week later I got sick.

What do you know; I had these suspiciously familiar symptoms with accompanying rash that a trip to the doctor confirmed as shingles…again. I had shingles three years ago as a result of intense stress in my life, and I swore that it would never happen again.

Well it did.

Compounding the distress was another rash all over my body that was not shingles. Two trips to the doctor never did give me an explanation of what it was. Probably more evidence of my body just telling me to rest and stop taking on things that I’m not able to handle any more, and to stop taking myself so seriously. A series of Prednisone and cortisone cream helped to finally get things under control after several days.

This latest illness is a warning but also a signpost for me to take stock of my life and what’s left of it.

So when people ask me if Dave and I are enjoying our ‘vacation’ in South Carolina, I have to qualify that it is not a ‘vacation’. We are living in SC for three months. And then I have to say that I have been sick once again, kicking myself in the a$$ once again for letting it happen. I am finally learning that I have to pull back and say ‘no’ to things that drag me down, stress me and make me sick.



Music And The Mind

Positively No Negativity Challenge

Day 32 of 84

Consider this: Music can be stimulating, arousing, calming, relaxing, stressful, irritating, melancholy, melodious, uplifting and it can change your mood, feed your emotions and make you buy things you don’t need.

Don’t believe it?

-Think of the last time you were out shopping. This time of year the shops are filled with Christmas music, which puts people in a generous mood to buy more expensive and classy gifts. Or, like me, it can cause panic because it reminds me that time is running out to get it all done.

-When I am on the treadmill, the more lively the music I play, the better workout I get in. If the music stops or there is a slower song, the quality of my workout suffers.

-When people are stressed they often put on some music that will help take their mind off what is getting to them.

-What was it about Susan Boyle’s first performance of ‘I Dreamed a Dream” in Britain’s Got Talent that brought appreciative tears to your eyes in 2009?

When I was going through my divorce and needed something to fill the airspace besides my dark thoughts, I would sing along with Shania Twain’s “UP”, or Buddy Wassisname’s  “Is You ‘appy?” These songs never failed to make me laugh and change my focus while I belted them out at top volume.

And then there was someone I knew during that time who introduced me to a lot of music, and I wondered why the songs always made me cry. He was a depressed person, but I didn’t know it at the time. It was only some years later that I replayed that music and I realized that it was all depressing and about unrequited love, lost relationships and sadness in general. Some of those songs were:

Hurt – Johnny Cash

Sylvia’s Mother – Dr Hook

Alone again, naturally – Gilbert O’Sullivan

When My Ship Came Back To Shore – Alice Gerrard

Tonight I’ll Be Lonely – Allison Krause

Love Hurts – Gram Parsons

Crying – Roy Orbison

It’s A Heartache – Bonnie Tyler

No wonder I couldn’t ‘get over it’.

Nowadays I like to listen to a mix of classical music, oldies and a little jazz, but when I need a good laugh I always go back to Buddy Wassisname. It has the power to instantly change my mood and my perspective; and it makes me laugh my head off.

I dare you to listen to the whole song but especially the words. If it doesn’t make you laugh then you’re a tougher person than I.

Today I am happy and grateful for

1. The coffee that Dave prepares for me every evening so that in the morning I just have to push the button.

2. Safe trip to Antigonish yesterday

3. To have seen my son and give him a hug

4. For yet another great deal at Michael’s

5. An offer of help from an unexpected source.


Clutter and the Mind

Positively No Negativity Challenge

Day 31 of 84

 I’ve noticed that my environment affects my mood. When I go into the kitchen to do some cooking or baking, the very first thing I do is to clean up the workspace. I need clean counters, free of clutter and a clean sink, or I become catatonic and am not able to get started.

It’s the same thing with my office. That room becomes a gathering place for all things personal, like writing, gift giving, reading, paperwork, knitting and whatever else I have on the go. There are notes to self, photos, receipts and bank statements on my desk. It’s my personal space and I guess it becomes a reflection of my state of mind at any given time.

Just like the kitchen, its difficult to get much done when the place looks like a cyclone hit it. Very often my desk is piled with the week’s ‘stuff’ so much so that I have to sit in the easy chair to write. I’m trying to clean it up once a week. Sometimes it works, but often it gets a little out of control.

One glance at that desk crowded with bits of just about every aspect of my life is an incredible distraction to focusing on the task at hand.

desk*Unedited pic of my desk extremely recently

It’s depressing.

But when my desk is tidy, it is more conducive to getting some work done.

desk2See the difference?

Did you ever notice that when you visit people who are chronically depressed and negative, that often their home is  full of clutter? I listened to a woman speak at a conference many years ago about her debilitating depression and how it was ruining not only her own life but her family’s life as well. She told us of how she was counseled to clean up her home, and start to get rid of the clutter and disorderliness. She got to work, and it took a long time, but with the help of her family she was able to accomplish the task. Out went bags of things they weren’t using and spaces were tidied up. There had been a lot of garbage lying around, broken toys, clothing all over the place, and her cupboards were a disaster area.

When her house was cleaned up and she learned a method of maintaining the tidiness, she became a much more positive and happy person.

The depression lifted.


I am not saying that being cured of depression is as simplistic as cleaning up the house; what I am saying is that getting rid of the clutter is a great first step to a more positive mindset that can help to alleviate some symptoms of depression. I have noticed this in my own life time and again.

Today I am thankful

1. For the Knitting Ninnies

2. That no trees fell on our property during last evening’s windstorm

3. For my close friends

4. For an orderly living room that I love to sit in with Dave

5. For a good day of accomplishment yesterday