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Lessons in stress relief from an unlikely source

ImageI got the biggest kick out of a toddler in church yesterday. She was about 3, dressed in a beautiful ivory dress trimmed with satin ribbons and seed pearls, crinoline underneath so it stuck out just so. An ivory sweater and tights and shiny black Mary Janes completed the ensemble. Her mother had pulled the girl’s riot of dark curls back into a ponytail. That the tendrils were fighting to escape the elastic was my first clue that she was a little firecracker.

Throughout the service, she stood in the aisle, refusing with a firm shake of her head and crossed arms to return to the pew. She never made a sound, but was fascinated by all the sights, craning her neck to see past the icon screen to what was happening a the altar, following the altar boys’ movements very closely and tilting her head back as far as she could to view the icon of Christ on the ceiling. 

She danced while the chanters sang, leaned closer to hear Father Harry talk (apologies, Father, she was a blissful distraction). A few times, it looked as though she might make run for it — the carpet was a ready-made runway, after all — but she managed to stay put.

I got to thinking (I KNOW — I was supposed to be listening): This little angel is sending me a message. There she was, wrapped up in the moment, having the time of her life. And here I was, repeatedly tearing my mind off the ever-growing lists of tasks both professional and personal, trying not to use the hour’s quiet to make the grocery list, prioritize errands and decide what to do about a week’s worth of family dinners.

Truth is, I’ve hit a wall, stresswise. Spring has brought a new raft of things to do — many of them quite pleasant, some of them separate from my work life — but as usual, I’ve managed to suck the fun out of each and every one.

I always focus on the destination and forget to enjoy the journey. Consequently, I measure my success by how many “things” got done, and well, as you might imagine, I come up short just about every day.

It drives Basil and Catherine nuts, and I can’t say that I blame them. In fact last weekend, the two of them threatened to send me packing. 

In desperation to attack the “to-do” list, I’d considered skipping out on the service. Good thing I didn’t. That little girl’s sweet presence was the reminder I need in this fight for balance I keep finding myself on the losing end of.

And no, I don’t think the boss will look kindly on me dancing around the office, and I probably won’t be gaping up at the ceiling in my living room, but I’m going to try real hard to find some focus … real soon.

About Terri S. Vanech

Wife, mother, communications specialist, Jazzercise instructor and recently reunited adoptee. I'm living out loud -- and trying to make it all work -- in midlife. Having a sense of humor sure helps.


2 thoughts on “Lessons in stress relief from an unlikely source

  1. We need to hang out more together. I can perfectly happily stare at the ceiling — or doodle or any number of things to waste time.

    One thing came to mind is that you love dancing. By becoming an instructor, you have probably changed your attitude toward it — it’s now a “must do” not a “want to”. Now you have to learn the routines perfectly to teach them — and added more stress to your life. Just a thought …

    Hugs, karen

    Posted by Karen Waggoner | February 27, 2012, 11:36 pm
    • You never fail to make me smile, Karen! As for the Jazzercise, it’s the one must-do I never mind. Keeps me sane, and has a million other great rewards (including the ability to continue eating ice cream without worry!).

      Posted by terrisv15 | February 29, 2012, 7:50 am

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