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Reflecting On My Year Of Stress

Like many creatives, life experiences influence my work, in this case, my writing.  This year, the dominant emotion was stress (and adventure), which leached into my articles and drove some of the focus.

He wasn’t happy. More stress.

Then, the landlady decided not to renew our lease. Now, we didn’t have a choice: no going backward, no reneging. (Thank you, Anat; you did us a favor – silver linings to everything). But that also leveled more stress because we now had a deadline.

I packed up 12 years’ worth of accumulated detritus plus the stuff we had brought, thinking we’d never leave — in two months, found a place to live in the US near family, hired an international mover, paid the transport shipment, and prepared to leave.

Then I realized my passport had expired two weeks earlier.

I had begun researching stress a while back after the 32-year-old son-in-law of a dear friend suffered a severe stroke. Bright, hard-working, talented, healthy, super educated, Guy is a wonderful husband and dedicated father (of a 2-year-old and a newborn). Guy had been waiting to hear about a plum job he was interviewing for. He told me he was stressed. How anyone would not hire him, I couldn’t imagine.

Then Guy had his stroke.

Was it worry?  Fear of keeping the job? Imposter Syndrome? Could he have avoided it? No answers. Just that I learned that starting on stress medications is no guarantee you can get off them.  With my passport still elusive, I reconsidered the stress meds. Then, I reconsidered the literature.

After repeatedly besieging the embassy to issue an emergency passport and a fraught week crying to the Israelis guarding the US consulate in Tel Aviv– begging to even get inside the door — with no success, a brainstorm inspired me to call the office of my new US senator. A half-hour later, I had results. A few days later, we boarded the plane, found our new home and community to our great liking, and started to relax – or so we thought.

My blood pressure was still very high, I hadn’t lost any weight, and I had strained various body parts from lifting boxes- I hurt. We didn’t have a doctor (and no effective pain meds).

Then the shipper called; the dollar shekel ratio had soured, and he wanted more money – lots more.

I read more about stress. Breathing is good. Breathe? Who could breathe?  Even the best lawyer doesn’t argue when the shipper has two 40-foot containers of all your most precious possessions acquired over a lifetime squirreled away on a ship. So, we paid. I read and wrote about meditation as an antidote to stress and considered trying it.

Then, my husband decided to have a stroke.

Who could meditate looking at EKG monitors? Zone out, yes; meditate, no. I was depressed. Should I take ketamine? Wrote about that too. No, too risky, I thought.

I learned about cognitive disabilities in the elderly and supposed treatment. We still didn’t have a doctor. Nor did we have great insurance. But – there was an excellent hospital, and we had great advisors and wonderful friends. After a rocky start, eventually, we found the care we needed.

Norman recovered; I unpacked all 989 boxes (dumped in various places by the local movers who wanted still more money to finish the job). Life slowly took on a normalcy.  I lost lots of weight; my blood pressure reverted to near normal –I am sleeping and not taking any meds. Nope. None.

I did learn a lot about stress. And I’m not doing anything recommended in all that research.

What then? Maybe it’s the trees. Lots and lots of trees where we live.  All summer, we sat in our yard and admired the trees; I read about stress — and I looked at the trees. I don’t know if I breathed deeply and slowly, unconsciously – but the branches danced, and the birds sang; the rabbits hopped, the squirrels skittered up the trunks, and the wind drifted and hovered over the tree limbs…. hypnotizing me gently with its breezes.

And I thanked God for making the trees.

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Visit The American Institute of Stress