I recently found myself in need of some fool-proof and positive coping mechanisms in my life. Ways in which I could independently deal with the physical, emotional and spiritual after effects of an unexpected life event. I realized that I need to have more than one way of dealing with stress/sadness/loss/ or any other unwelcome negative feelings. Also, that I needed to do this myself. I may have amazing friends and family to lean on but I would have to carry the responsibility for my own recovery and wellness.
I didn’t cry even though I felt it would help me. I didn’t lash out because really there was no one and nothing to blame, sometimes life just does what it wants to do irrespective of your plans, thoughts and feelings. I was surely in denial for two whole days and acceptance came slowly but when it did I was ready with a plan to move on. Here are somethings that worked for me.
- Do a physical activity – the options are endless. Now would not be the time to try something new like learning to roller blade. Just do an activity you enjoy, something that feels normal.
- Reach out to friends and family – a phone call or a coffee with someone with whom you can be honest and vulnerable. A meetup with a friend or colleague not associated with your current situation who can help take your mind off matters and who makes you laugh.
- Do something creative – bring out that adult coloring book and pencils, bake bread, or cook chili, dance (even if it’s front of the mirror), bead or knit. Anything that connects you to your creative side. It’s all about taking the negative emotions and channeling them towards something positive.
- Pray – pray to whomever or whatever you believe in. And trust in the timing of your life.
- Allow yourself to lose control and indulge for one day – shop, watch TV, eat ice cream, open up a bottle of wine, read TMZ or People, spend hours on FB or Instagram. Know that all of these are most definitely going to make you sick in some way or another at the end of the day.
- Do small home projects – reorganize your wardrobe, clean out the storage closet, refresh bed linens, rearrange furniture. I like to take out all my pretty jewelry, reorganize it and admire my good taste.
- Make some plans for the near future – make a list of home improvements needed, imagine a future holiday, plan a dinner party or a movie night with friends, register for an online course at Udemy or edX, or Coursera. Take some form of action on long wished-for events – look up real estate if you have been wanting to move, browse job postings if you have been wanting to change jobs, look for ways to save for your retirement, or just plain find some hacks to save money.
This by no means an exhaustive list, just a few things that worked for me. Look out for the positive things that can help you deal with the uncertainty in life and the chaos it can bring.
As part of my 40th birthday celebrations I signed up for a PADI Open Water Diver course. I was inspired by several close friends who have been diving for many years. Also, I didn’t want a piece of jewellery, a watch or a handbag, I wanted a new experience. My reasons for taking up scuba diving, not exactly an easy or riskless activity, went beyond turning 40.
- I needed new hobbies. After years of work and parenting I finally did something for myself and it felt amazing!
- I wanted to invest in an activity that I can enjoy in my senior years. There is no upper age limit for diving, assuming one is in general good health and has a physically active lifestyle. Stan Waterman an avid diver and pioneer of underwater film and photography retired at age 90. Jacques Cousteau dove nearly every day until his death at age 87.
- It was time to push my physical and mental limits and do something that scared me. And trust me, jumping off into deep water strapped with weights, purposely descending deeper into water, and breathing through the mouth goes against every natural human instinct.
- Enjoy the incredible underwater sights – the coral wall, the school of sardines, the giant clam, the hidden octopus, and the numerous angel fish and butterfly fish going about their day.
- I love stories. When you are on bus or a boat trying to get to a dive site with a group of strangers, it is inevitable that stories will follow the introductions. In that brief period, you share a connection with people from different parts of the world, people you are most likely never to meet again.
- Set an example for the kids that they can learn and enjoy new things at any age. My kids joined me on the boat for one of my dives and when they saw me suited up, do a back roll into the water and then disappear under the water, I know it made an impression. Both the kids are intrepid snorkelers and I can’t wait to sign them up for the youth scuba diving course when they reach the appropriate age.
- My family loves beach vacations. Now I have a new way to enjoy the oceans, it makes the travel experience so much richer.
- Diving is an activity I can share with my best friend who got her diving certification many years ago. Now we routinely share information on liveaboards in Indonesia and Thailand, longing for the day when our kids are old enough for us to go off the grid for 7 to 10 days.
- Truly understand ocean conservation. Until I completed my first dive, “save the oceans” was just a phrase. Now I truly get the importance of educating myself and my family about changing our daily habits. Reduce, reuse and recycle!
- Feel one with the universe – forget about the issues and struggles of daily life and feel like you are part of something so much bigger than yourself.
Shit happens. On Tuesday night I was supposed to flying to Prague for a 6-day holiday with my two oldest and dearest friends. This plan, a celebration of our entrance into our 40s, had taken two years of planning and hoping. Instead of checking in for my flight, I was at the airline counter canceling my flight. My husband had to fly to Mumbai to attend to his hospitalized mother leaving no one to care for our kids, so I had to cancel my plans. As I said, shit happens.
I spent the next two days feeling out of place. It was unreal; I was supposed to be in Prague eating tredlnik and drinking pilsner beers and not packing school lunches and arguing with grumpy 7-year olds. As my friends posted pictures of their Prague experiences, I felt their restraint. My husband promised a holiday in Europe soon. But it is not the holiday or the city that is important, it is the time spent with friends. The time to make new memories and share experiences that keep decades-old friendships going. What I felt is a sense of loss. And this feeling of just plain sadness was a new experience and I needed to learn some coping mechanisms quickly. I guess this is what I have to look forward to in my 40s – acknowledging my emotions and finding healthy ways to deal with them.
Continue reading “Keep Calm and Keep Writing”
When you are of a certain age, with a certain number of years of marriage under your belt, with children of a certain age, it is inevitable that a certain auntieness will creep in.
Auntieness? Some of you ask me. Some of you know exactly what I mean. Continue reading “Embrace the Auntie”
I love lists. My life is oragnized in lists:
- Daily and weekly to-dos neatly categorized by topic
- Contacts (because who remembers phone numbers anymore?)
- FB friends
- Recipes that I have reviewed and want to cook
- Books I want read
- Playlists on Spotify
- “My List” on Netflix
- Travel bucket list
- Affirmations and intentions
- Wish lists
- The never-ending grocery lists
I also take great pleasure in reading a good list. I recently found a list, written by Dr. Watson describing Sherlock Holmes, that appeared in A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle. Can you see the essence of their entire relationship captured in this list? Continue reading “The Pleasure of a Good List”