There isn’t much that calms me down, which as I get older is becoming a problem. Stress tangles inside of me, festering in knots that I can’t find my way to untie. The furrows in my brow deepen, the acid pings and gurgles from my stomach grow to a roar. My worry launches itself from the laundry piles to the greens that are going bad in the crisper, to the jumble of ill-fitting and tired underwear in my dresser, to all the things I want to do with the girls but can’t get to because I have to be at a meeting and I still have to do a grocery shop, and for-the-love-of-all-that’s-good-why-is-time moving so fast?
“You just have to lower your stress, Amanda,” Sean will say. I completely agree, but knowing how to fix it and not feeling more stress at the thought of having to reduce stress is beyond me.
Exercise charges me and clears my mind, reading can distract me from my worries, swimming offers me quiet, but the hurdle of feeling like these things are selfish trips me up.
Do it for your health, which makes you stronger for the girls and more capable of managing the rest of your day.
Do it for yourself. Just do it.
Sometimes I do, but it doesn’t exactly make me feel calm. The only thing that really lowers my shoulders and soothes me is gardening. I love the ritual of watering, the unwrapping of the hose, feeling the water surge through in that first spray, and then guiding the arc of water from my hand to little plants. I revel in the sensation of my fingers in the soil, the gritty feel of the earth in my hands, even beneath my nails. The smell of the grass nearby or of the marigolds soldiers that keep the bugs at bay, it fills me with a sense of belonging and when the chives tickle at my legs or the cucumber leaves catch on my hands, I feel capable. I made those. I will nourish my family with these.
This week the first of three bulbs that I planted sometime earlier this year finally began to bloom. I couldn’t remember what color they had been, or even the kind of flower. The excitement of seeing that something actually grew and transformed from the odd, craggy lump, to a burgeoning creature made my heart race. I checked on it every day, until this morning when I tiptoed around the curving stone stairs and it finally revealed the full blossom to me. The payoff for my patience was intoxicating and the sight of the water droplets on the petals felt as if they were cleansing me too.
I hope something new opens for you, whether it’s a fresh start, an opportunity, or a wildflower on a walk. I hope you’ll come back and share what you discovered.