I have, as of the last few years, found that I am not quite capable of handling the level of stress that my life seems to have started to consider… normal. Short version of the story is that I would burn the wick on one end of the candle pretty brightly while ignoring the other end which seemed to be burning just as brightly and slightly faster. End result was that I found myself having (self-diagnosed) panic or anxiety attacks, unable to cope in situations that I at one time found easy. At the same time, because I was unable to move, things that I had to do were becoming more difficult to accomplish or just downright overlooked and dropped.
So, I took to cutting things out of my life to simplify things. I don’t know that it was the right choice, but it was a choice. If it was causing me stress, it was on my chopping block, and slowly I started amputating parts of my life that I had built over the last 20 years or so. It was not easy, I still doubt whether I did the right thing in some cases, but my life is a bit more simple.
At the same time, I started adding things. Things that moved me forward. Like college. Ok, that’s not less stressful, but it has a forward momentum to it and it’s easy for me to keep most of that in its boxes. Plus, it’s new, so it’s a different kind of stress.
I know what you are thinking.. what’s the point in the picture? Well, that’s something I started doing. Yep, at 43 years of age, I started buying coloring books and crayons (I also own coloring pencils, cause the crayons nub too easy). That photo at the top is one I colored a few weeks back and took a photo of it. It now sits as my profile picture on Facebook (hence why it is the last photo in my list).
I have always loved Tigger, so much so that I even compared myself to him in days past. Jumping, bouncing, and just generally having a grand old-time at the wonder of life. I’m not so sure the comparison still holds true, but I’d like to think that someday I might get back there. Here’s to hoping, right?
There are people who think I’m strange because I do this. Then again, most of my life, people have thought I was strange, so this isn’t really something new to me. There are nights, when I just can’t get a thought straight in my head, I end up twirling inside my mind and can’t focus to even figure out what I want to do. The stress becomes this whirlwind (hence the twirling comment I just mentioned) that blows me all over the place and I can’t find my footing to save my life.
Those are the moments I get out my Tigger mug (a prized gift from my son and daughter-in-law), walk to the stove and start boiling a pot of water for my tea (another thing I have taken to doing in the last year), get comfortable on the couch after reaching over and getting out my coloring books and crayons (or pencils.. depending on how I am feeling) and flip open the book to start coloring.
Oddly, this simple childlike behavior tends to calm me down, or at least slows me down enough to stop most of the spinning. Whether it be because I have to concentrate to stay in the lines, put effort into making sure the strokes go in the same direction (Bob Ross would be proud), or simply because I get the sense of accomplishing something (even something so simple), the end result is after about 30 minutes the world just doesn’t seem so big.
And for that moment… I would take all the ridicule in the world someone would like to throw at me.
Because you can’t put a price on peace.
This is what the full picture looks like.