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There is a place on my head, above and back of my forehead, beyond my hairline, that tingles when I’m stressed out. That tingle is how I identify that I’m stressed out. It’s my whistling kettle, my beeping alarm clock, my fire alarm screech. It lets me know my mind and my body is too taught, humming with the very effort of being. I had the opportunity to rest and relax with family last weekend and I took it. Since I’ve returned the stress has built and built. I actually woke this morning stressed out. How does that even happen? How do you wake up stressed out?

Over the course of the day I’ve found a little comfort in the steady resolution of some issues in my life. Amicably resolving some problems, clearing the sources of my stress one by one. They’re not all gone, not yet. They’ll never really be fully gone but they can reach a manageable and reasonable level. That’s what I’m aiming for, that’s my ultimate goal.

I’ve been so stressed that I couldn’t write. I knew there wasn’t anything I could write that wouldn’t be stress related, that the stress wouldn’t burn through and taint with its presence. That left me tired, weary, achy. My typical stress relief methods aren’t available to me for the very reasons I’m stressed. What a pickle…

I found two quotes to help me through, to help me get past my stresses and my worries.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.” – Maya Angelou

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” – Winston Churchill

The first, from Maya Angelou, bolstered my hope. It gave me back the feeling that all is never quite lost. It gives me a feeling of being able to surpass my current troubles and continue on. The second, from Winston Churchill, makes me feel unstoppable. I know I haven’t given up, haven’t let the world take me over. It bolstered my resolve. Neither of these quotes removed the source of my stress or made anything go by faster. Rather, they gave my mind some relief, some hope, soothed my thoughts.

Stress wreaks havoc on our lives. It tears away at our health like water wearing away a rock. It’s not always perceptible that it’s happening, this slow process. It shrinks us layer by layer, working on us all the time. None of us can fully escape stress. There will always be the slow erosion by little things in our lives. What hurts us is the powerful currents of major stresses, unstoppable prime events that tax us and shove us with great force, sending us crashing through the darkness, turning us over and over until we don’t know which way is up any more.

All I can recommend is to weather the roll as best you can. Eventually the onslaught lets up. It won’t always be the way you like it. It won’t always leave you the way you started. There might be cracks and bumps you didn’t have before. Life is hard like that. But it won’t break you. It might break other, lesser mortals against harder surfaces, but not you. You’re special. You’re not a rock. You’re wood, capable of floating above those surfaces that threaten to tear you to pieces. You can bend with the force of the water, bounce off hard surfaces, turn and twist in the current, and find a way to dry land. For a little while. Remember that the river always flows. Hold on through the rapids and eventually it’ll become a babbling brook.


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