Thursday, October 3, 2019

A Lady Bug and Some Good Conversation

In the past two weeks, stresses on the day job and home front piled on. In the past two days, my ability to take things in stride fractured. Anxiety soared, and I felt like I was going to crack. I couldn't dislodge the boulder on my chest.

I have been in this territory MANY times, but I haven't been for a long time, and that felt like progress. I also knew that it was time to reach out to someone and seek some perspective. So I dialed a dear friend's number on the drive to work. When she picked up, words and sobs tumbled out. 

“I'm so stressed and I need a pep talk.” As I knew she would, this friend delivered. She reminded me of the things I usually am able to tell myself to steer clear of the melting effects of anxiety. I've historically been a crier, but for much of my adulthood, I've not had an easy time of initiating tears on my own,so I was grateful when her comforting words brought me to tears.

As the conversation ended, she told me she'd be the little bug on the wall thinking of me and cheering me on all day. As I settled into a difficult day at work, I took a moment to find lady bug clip art and printed it out as a physical reminder that this friend was present for me, even one thousand miles away. 

I tackled what needed to be wrestled and by the end of the day, I had a better handle on how to proceed. I had forgotten my migraine medicine that morning, and so a wicked headache plagued me all day. I was exhausted and spent, but had dinner plans with another friend to look forward to. We curled up under blankets on her sofa and talked about all the things that come to mind for two forty-somethings. I left her home feeling relieved and grateful for having carved out time in our schedules to connect over food and our longtime friendship. 

I fell asleep shortly after.

Today was another tiring day. I felt the exhaustion that leaves its imprint on me after the pain of a migraine recedes. But I had a productive day at work and had formulated my next few steps for modulating the pressing stresses. I left work and headed to the library where Brene Brown's latest title was waiting for me on the reserve shelf. 

I saw a library staff member I'd struck up conversations with in the past and made my way over to her. Her face lit up when I approached and reintroduced myself. She asked about my writing and I summarized the past year. I mentioned my new blog schedule and she said, “Tell me the name of your blog again. I forgot it, and I've been trying to find it.”

One of my favorite attributes is my ability to have meaningful conversation with nearly anyone I encounter. I have met the most wonderful people on planes, trains, and among library shelves. Reconnecting with this friend reminded me of the little connections that can make a big difference in my day. For the past week, I have allowed the stress to seem insurmountable, and that cycle is problematic.

Being open to the kindness of people around me fills me up. It's the reason I used to go to ALDI on lonely Sunday afternoons when the effects of my divorce were new, and I didn't quite know what to do with myself. I'd grocery shop and make eye contact with each shopper and cashier. It worked every time. Those brief connections filled me up and reminded me that whatever was making me sad was temporary or at least bearable.

The fourth quarter is always the most stressful for me at work, and each year there's something different that adds to the crush. I work hard to stay ahead of it, but sometimes it simply piles up. I've been wondering what I can do to unload the crushing weight. Standing at the library's information counter reminded me what works best for me. Seeking meaningful connections with people—strangers and beloveds alike.

I walked away from our conversation with a smile on my face and a bounce in my step. I checked out my book and thought, Oh yeah, this is what I've been missing. For the first time in days, I felt light and the weight of work stress shrunk to an appropriate size.

I don't like migraines or work stress, but I do appreciate the way they remind me just how good pain-free, low-stress days are and to not take them for granted. Each day I have the opportunity to leave the previous day in the past and to accept today with fresh perspective and a new attitude. Here's to a good Thursday. May you feel your own lady bug cheering you on!

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