Taking a moment to breathe…

First blog post… so much anticipation. High expectations. What do I write? What will interest people? Should I start out with my mundane list of foods I ate today?

Hmm… let me see, Greek yogurt (yum Chobani), a red pear, almonds… nope. No one wants to hear about that super exciting list.

Maybe about my crazy dream last night which included a polar bear, a blue Christmas tree and my old boss from Starbucks. Slightly more interesting, but way too bizarre of a post to start my entire blog with.

Ahh, the stress of trying to figure out what to write about is getting way too high at the moment. Perfect topic. Stress levels! Ok, wait. That sounds even more boring than talking about food and polar bear dreams. But it’s not. Most people in America (the country without siestas and limited vacation time at work) deal with a phenomenal amount of stress today than ever before. Money, family, societal pressures, traffic, work, student loans (please tell me that’s not just me!), health insurance and the list goes on and on. Did I mention traffic?

Living on the East Coast my entire life, I’ve never known anything but the hustle and bustle of metropolitan areas. I grew up right outside of Baltimore City, visited New York City a few times a year and am currently living right outside of Washington D.C. I honestly don’t know what life would be like without traffic, and tons of it. My roommate does though. The native Kansanite (??) that he is said he only remembers one traffic jam in his life. I jokingly asked if it was because of a cow. And he seriously replied that it was due to several cows…

I also don’t know how I would survive without the plethora of free entertainment that comes from living near major cities (hello, Smithsonian museums in D.C.  and Friday night movies in Fed Hill in Baltimore). Ok, so there are pros and cons to living near some of the biggest cities in the country. But let’s really focus on traffic. Whether it’s public transportation or trying to get to work from anywhere inside or outside the beltway, it’s usually slow-going, frustrating and miserable. I used to bang my head on the steering wheel. I used to yell in frustration. I used to honk and give people mean faces (hey, I couldn’t help it). But a few life changing things happened and I realized that the level of stress I experienced in traffic, and all parts of my life, was having an extremely negative impact on my life. My energy was focused on negativity and it was ugly. Not only that, I usually had a headache after severe stress moments like those in the car. And we all know headaches are not ok!

The fact of the matter is that traffic will be there. I had no power over anything. Except how I responded. Instead of yelling in frustration, I did some relaxation breathing in the car. I looked at the scenery around me (granted, not a whole lot on the beltway, but cars are scenery too!) and thought about it. I let my mind wander. I did some light stretching. Well, sort of light… at one point my foot was almost out of sunroof, but hey, it felt good! (WARNING: Do not attempt unless stuck in completely stopped traffic! Please!)

Zen. Say it with me- “Zen.” Feels good, right? We’ve all heard the term Zen. Images of calm will probably wash over your mind as you think about the word. And that is exactly what it means. The word Zen can be loosely translated as meaning “meditation.” It is a school within Buddhism (a religion AND philosophy I have recently taken great interest in). The idea behind Zen has to do with an enlightenment of your person. It is about living in the moment and quieting your internal chatter. This idea is relaxing and meditative, and something I am striving to do more of in my own life. Zen. It’s a beautiful word.

Stressors are always present. They will only impact your life in the way you allow them to impact your life. Stress causes health problems. It is bad for digestion. It causes blemishes. It makes people cranky. Instead of letting stress consume your life, have the power of Zen so you can control the stress. Easier said than done, of course, but it is a path I’m willing to spend a lot of time walking down. I’m willing to take my time and breathe.

For your viewing pleasure- Zen-like images:

               

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One thought on “Taking a moment to breathe…

  1. Liz your story is very touching! As a Kansanite who until moving here, was only stuck in one traffic jam due to cows is very lucky to have in my life. I couldn’t of asked for a better roommate, rock climbing partner, road trip crazy motel (Only you and Brett know what I mean), every day of the week having me try new food (again if you know me that never happens). But more important than any of those my friend. The unfortunate events that have changed your life I know were tuff. I hope I did everything I could to be there for you, and I know this won’t ever stop you from doing what you want to do.

    AKA
    Roommate

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