Wednesday, April 17, 2013
3 ways to calm a distressed mind
I go on an organizing binge
I've been de-cluttering for days, an organizing frenzy unseen in our house since my dad died two years ago. I started with the kitchen junk drawer, which has been a black hole since we moved into our house. I'm not sure why I've held on to 23 key chains and dozens of green twisty ties, but now they're gone. Then I moved on to our coat closet, where I unearthed a sweater Sabrina hadn't worn since she was 3 and one of Max's baby blankets. Last up: The towering pile in our attic of the kids' artwork. I saved a bunch of it. I (GASP) tossed some.
Organizing gives me a sense of control when life feels unsteady, as it has since Gavin passed and Monday's Boston Marathon bombing. The zen of focusing on putting things in their place is calming, the act of donating stuff or tossing it into the trash cathartic, the thrill of seeing a clean space hope-renewing. Being offline and quiet is also a time to process things. Weirdly, I rarely sit around and just think. Or maybe that's every mother.
I go for a drive
"Dave, I'm going out, keep an eye on the kids," I'll say. Without waiting for him to respond, I grab the car keys and flee. Car therapy first started after I had Max. He was a fussy baby, and sometimes the only way to lull him to sleep was to drive around. I'd wander through the roads of suburbia as he dozed and weep about what had happened to him, pulling over if I cried too hard. Today, cruising around still soothes me. I put on a jazz station and find a nice neighborhood to roam. And cry a bit. And try to avoid passing by the ice-cream store, but resistance is futile and I'll have one scoop in a sugar cone, please. Butter-pecan therapy works, too.
I call an old friend
I hardly ever have long phone conversations with friends anymore. Either I'm at work, I'm doing something with the kids or I'm zoning out on the couch, my brain capable only of watching Love It or List It. But last night, I longed for the comfort of an old friend. J is one of my freshman college roommates; we haven't connected since Superstorm Sandy, and even then it was by text, to make sure the other was OK. And so, I call. J's been following what happened to Gavin, and we speak some about that. We talk about her life as a speech therapist in a public school (yes, one of my bff's is an SLP), her boys, Max's progress, our husbands, a sleepover in June and blueberry picking. We talk for two hours. And when I hang up, I feel better.