Monday, June 8, 2009

Patience / Less Stress

Many of us feel rushed to do more in a shorter amount of time. We deal with rush hour traffic or long lines at the grocery store but we feel the need to hurry to work or go pickup the kids from school. I think most of us feel rushed so that means that many of us are also impatient.

Since we've started building our cottage there have been multiple lay-offs at work, a close family member is waiting for 'The Call' that will come any day now to say that his organ transplant can take place, and we don’t yet positively have a spot to park our cottage once we get to Seattle. Employment, family health and a move; life is pretty stressful for me right now. Sure I'm doing what I can to help make our move to Seattle a smooth one, but in the other two areas, I can do absolutely nothing but wait.

It seems obvious not to even try to control things that can’t be, but it’s hard not to try sometimes because the effort makes me feel as if I’m working towards something better instead of simply waiting or giving up. It also seems obvious though, that if I think about what’s going on in a different light, that I can lead a calmer existence. I can adapt. If I can accept the fact that I have no control in some circumstances then I can drastically reduce my stress level. This requires patience.

A friend of ours and I discussed this subject by email not too long ago and his suggestions about how to be more patient have been really useful. His key points with my interpretations:

Life is not a race between Point A and Point B. Enjoy the moment. Slow down, look around and think. Stop trying to multi-task and get off of auto-pilot. Work at being more present (enjoying whatever you're working on, listening to what others are telling you instead of thinking about your to-do list, etc). Do things that are important to you, and that make you happy, every day and life will have purpose and satisfaction. Point B then won’t seem so important.

There is no 'right' answer. Don't worry about choosing the 'absolute right choice' because it really doesn't exist. Simply make a choice and feel lucky that you have that power. Some people don't get to choose... In deciding what we want the cottage to look like we sometimes go back and forth over a choice and it's been a bit confusing and frustrating for both Jeff and I. “I thought that we’d agreed on that already.” We need to finish making all building decisions quickly at this point because full-time construction begins this weekend. Nothing at this point will be so important that it could make or break the project. We feel very lucky to have been able to save the money, and to have the time, to build this cottage together. Everything else is frosting on the cake.

Acceptance. Acceptance of a situation or of ourselves. We each have many opportunities and challenges. We make choices and things progress. We can't control these things as much as we'd like to in some cases no matter how hard we try. The fact is that things will turn out how they turn out. Most of the time the results are pleasant but sometimes they won’t end up as we’d have liked them to be. All of this uncertainty makes life really quite interesting when we stop to think about it though...

Slow down, try to enjoy whatever happens as it unfolds and (even if you have no control) things will turn out fine. When you get an unexpected lemon, simply make lemonade. Be more patient and it really will lessen your stress.


  1. Great timing with your post Arlene!

    While I'm not envious of all the stress and anxiety inducing things you've got going on I am impressed with how little it has shown. I keep thinking I should be less worried about our housing situation (which is very dependent on where I choose to go to school). Anyways, I appreciate your thoughts on how to keep it all in perspective. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you'll have the least amount of craziness in these next few months.

  2. As I look back, I see that many of the things that once seemed very big, now only appear as little bumps in the road. Some days can be hard but the feeling is only temporary.

    (It sounds like whether you choose Waldorf training or regular teacher training that you'll end up being much happier at work. Good luck on your school choice and upcoming move!)

  3. Also it helps to remember that each of is to some degree insignificant.

  4. Anon: going to see the California Redwoods, the Pacific Ocean or the expansive rugged desert areas of California have always helped get perspective.

    Only, I don't feel insignificant exactly. Everything going on in my life feels far, far less significant and the moment, sitting there feeling the heat of the sun, or the breeze on my skin, seems both fleeting and expansive. Forever.

    Those are good moments.


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