I’ve always been a voracious reader. I can polish off books faster than a contestant at a hot dog eating contest. But I’ve hit a block. Why can’t I concentrate on a book these days? I’ve been dragging around the same book for a while and can’t seem to get the motivation to sit and read. Instead I prefer games on my devices or flipping through magazines. And not useful magazines either. I’m talking about the cheesy tabloids with provocative headlines announcing a “Friends” reunion or a disastrous home town date on the Bachelor. (I watch neither of these shows).
I talked to my friend about this as we headed to our facial appointment yesterday. She advised that I give myself permission to take a break a from reading and my passion would return. Am I finding not enjoying reading stressful? Am I creating stress in my life because I miss it?
It made me start to think about drama and stress and how we might need a bit of both to prosper and even survive. We aren’t built to putter along in a flat line. Flat line = dead. No? Knowing we have a deadline or a conflict or a pressure point makes us respond or react in a certain way. Without those provocations we stagnate. I’m starting to see that maybe I make up stress in my mind to rekindle a sensation I’ve lost in retirement. Maybe I need a shrink.
For example yesterday. This ridiculous situation (I can say that now with perfect 20/20 hindsight ) caused me terrific stress on what should have been a relaxing and enjoyable experience at the salon getting pampered. Here’s the scenario:
After a houseful of guests we hired a cleaner to come and scour the entire place. We discussed a few options for date and time since we have to coordinate for someone to be home; we don’t know the cleaner well enough to provide the access code. Also we don’t want to leave Molly home; again it’s a familiarity concern. We need a three hour window to accommodate her service. However it turns out on the day of the cleaning we both have booked other appointments (Rudy booked a golf game last minute). My gut tells me to cancel my appointment. We discuss and decide Molly will be fine. I will let the cleaner in and Rudy will be home in time to let her out and pay her. My appointment (booked a few weeks ago) is 45 min away or more if there’s traffic. Rudy’s golf is 10 minutes away no matter the traffic. He should be home by the time the three hour window of cleaning is up. I can’t help myself; I ask Rudy repeatedly (neurotically) if he’s sure he can get home in 3 hours. He assured me (nicely at first) that it will be fine (after the seventh time I ask he’s not so nice).
The cleaner, as we’ve discovered, is later than earlier. If she says arrival between 9 and 10 it means 10:15. My appointment is for 11:15 so it can work. She arrives at 10:05. I leave a note with Rudy’s number telling her he’s up the road and she should text him when she’s 15 min from completion. She understands. I leave her and Molly in the house and leave. There’s a lump in my throat. When I arrive to my friends house to pick her up she notices my angst. I tell her I’ve just left my most precious commodity (Molly) with a virtual stranger. It will be fine my friend assured me.
Side note: when you’re working you somehow juggle a dozen balls; in retirement two is a challenge. It’s a strange phenomenon.
So driving, talking and worrying silently about the home front is giving me a headache. I keep glancing at my phone to see if there’s a text from the cleaner. A million unrealistic (and, frankly, downright stupid) possibilities runs through my brain. She runs to her car to get bleach and Molly runs out to the street. Molly is laying on the floor in her way and she clobbers Molly with the broom. Molly barks in her face so she sprays disinfectant at her.
I’m coming unglued.
We arrive at the salon. It’s 11:10 am. We are officially late. But they accommodate us (mire stress). There are no messages on my phone. I turn off the notifications as I try to prepare my mind for a 60 minute treatment. Luckily I’m able to dial my brain back. In fact I tumble into to a restful snooze while lotions and potions are massages into my face and then gently wiped off. The hour flies by.
Side note: when doing unpleasant or strenuous things (work out for example) an hour seems like forever; when doing something pleasurable time evaporates in a poof!
My treatment is over. It’s after 1. I have messages on my phone. The cleaner is done and she’s leaving the house. No Rudy. Pow!! I’m punched back into full on stress mode. My friend comes out of her treatment on a cloud of tranquility; she can tell by my face that somethings up. It’s all good I tell her ( not wanting to suck get into my stressful rabbit hole). My frantic texts to Rudy and the cleaner are answered. They have connected. Rudy is home (finally) Molly is ok the house is clean and the cleaner is returning to get paid. Whew.
I try to salvage my peace of mind. Too late. I have a pounding headache. I haven’t eaten at all and they served me sweetened tea at the salon. We drive home and there’s Friday afternoon traffic. My head is throbbing.
When I finally get home I’m done. Like dinner. Oh right. Dinner. I have to think about cooking something. Groan.
Walking in the door I’m greeted by my friendly Molly. Always happy. Rudy is at the table reading; he tells me there’s pizza. Oh good. I’m famished.
How was the spa Rudy asks?
It was great …. thanks for the pizza.
We settle in for a quiet night in our clean house. With our happy puppy. It’s all good.