When I was little and had a nightmare, Mom wouldn't let me tell her about it until after I had breakfast. Superstitious to the end, Mom would remind me that, "If you tell a dream before breakfast, it comes true."
Let me assure you, before you read this post, that I have already had breakfast.
Last night, I dreamt that I was taking a trip with Mom and we were running late for the plane. There was no way we were going to make it, and I couldn't find my shoes or my passport or something. The girls were trying to help, but they didn't know what to do. Tom had bought some special gift for me to take, and I didn't have time to look at it.
We only had 20 minutes to get to the gate at the airport, we hadn't left the house yet, we still needed to pick up Mom. There was no way we could get there in time, and yet ... I was still determined to try.
Earlier in the week, I dreamt that the current president had baked something, and it wasn't good. I was trying to fix it. I was pulling out all the baker tricks at my disposal, but nothing helped. The president was remarkably calm about my inability to fix his mistakes. And, suddenly it occurred to me that since I couldn't fix what I had, I needed to bake my grandmother's pumpkin bread. If I did that, everything would be OK.
There are more, but I'll spare you. And, yes. I know Freud would have a field day with all of this.
I also know that my dreams, my anxieties, aren't unique. Based on the conversations I've had with friends lately, tensions remain high. People are twitchy. The election is over but the political fighting continues, the pandemic numbers are climbing, winter is closing in, Thanksgiving will be different -- the reasons for our collective stress are real.
Here's what I want you to do: Breathe. Really breathe. Deep breaths, in and out, throughout the day. Your brain has enough going on without being oxygen deprived.
Once you're oxygenated, I want you to do a few more things:
- Back away from social media. "There's nothing to see here, folks. Nothing to see." Social media is a train wreck in motion, and it's hard to look away. Fortunately, you can do hard things. I'm not saying give it all up, simply back away. If you want to stay informed without being alarmed, I strongly suggest following Jessica Yellin on Instagram. Her #NewsNotNoise approach is insightful, factual, and reassuring. I've also become a fan of the Morning Briefing from the Associated Press.
- Look Up. Focus on the people right in front of you. I recently had coffee with a friend I hadn't seen since the pandemic started, and had to remind her that, "Facebook will still be here in 30 minutes. I won't be." Our obsession with the news of the moment is completely understandable, but this news cycle will pass. And, even with masks, we can make eye contact with the people right in front of us, we can give each other the stress-relieving gift of attention. We can talk about the colors of autumn or the power of poetry, rather than politics. We can give each other a much-needed break.
- Plan ahead for happiness. Thanksgiving is one of the best days of the year for our family -- it's the one time of the year we all gather together. I get up early to start cooking, and make the same recipes every year -- mashed potatoes, corn casserole, the Harness family dressing, Mom's Pepperidge Farm cornbread stuffing. (Stuffing goes in the bird, peeps. Dressing does not.) Canned cranberry sauce for me and my nephew Cary. Too much turkey. Too many desserts. Hot rolls.
This year, the family won't get together because we love each other and there's a freakin' pandemic underway. Yesterday, I moped about that. Today, I'm planning ahead for a happy Thanksgiving. And that's where you come in!
Raise Your (Turkey) Hand
Since my extended family won't be together at Thanksgiving -- and therefore won't be drawing on the traditional turkey hands -- I hope you'll play along! Trace your hand, cut it out, color it in, and send it to me! Tell me what you're thankful for, what makes you happy. Tell me how grateful you are for ... whatever.
Taking a moment to be creative, to proactively reset a few synapses, to share joy and gratitude, is a healthy step forward.
You've already helped, by reading this post. I'll sleep better tonight, imagining us holding (turkey) hands and moving forward, together.
|From Amber, 2017! Yep. I keep them. |