My last column claimed that balance is possible in the face of chaos. I promised that we are all capable of maintaining inner peace no matter the environmental stressors—that work, play, challenge and rest are healthy integrative aspects of our lives. About the complaint of not feeling vacation-peace and bliss at home, I suggested that intention is everything.
Wehhhhhhhhl, I wrote that column from the window seat of my charming straw-roof cabana in the Yukatan Peninsula just steps from the ocean as a warm breeze kissed my hair. A little voice in my consciousness said, “Writing about stress management from an emotional and geographic location that represent the opposite of stress might not be believable.” Yes, mi pequeno internal voice doesn’t use commas, but it is very wise. And it is true that faith is much easier to write about when times are good.
So today I revisit my claim from the living center of chaos. I have been home for exactly 10 days, and I have weathered exactly 6 mini crisis since my return. 6! This might be a record.
How am I managing, solving, dealing, integrating, going with the flowing now, you ask?
I am leaning on ALL of my rebalancing support strategies. It’s a lot like the saying, “Don’t wait for the fire before buying the hose.” Turns out my impressive hose collection really is useful. And because of it, I think I’m managing with more grace than I used to—it’s clear I’m not going it alone.
One significant resource I relied on this week was prayer. I sat down in a beautiful location near my house where I could feel the vibrancy of nature all around me, and I asked God for help, a lot of it. I remember specifically not knowing what the help would look like for this and that issue, and especially for my daughter Abby, struggling with a problem so deeply that she’d lost her appetite for days, but I asked for the ability to recognize the help when it showed up.
Two days later when she finally felt hungry, Abby had me google the new Dominos in our Andover neighborhood. I dialed and we huddled together over the speaker-phone conveying our dreams of extra toppings. But when it came time for the phone number, pizza boy could not make sense of my cell number. Again and again we repeated it as he typed away on his Dominos Pizza computer, but politely he kept apologizing that there were too many digits.
After several minutes of this, puzzled and losing patience, we told him we’d call back. Was this some sort of joke? As I clicked “end” on my I-phone, the phone number I had dialed popped up on my screen before shutting off: +44 1264 363333.
Yes, it was a very good joke! I had accidentally tried to order a pizza from Dominos in Andover, in the United Kingdom!
We looked at each other and then at the phone, and then at each other. The swirling confusion around us dissolved into laughter, “Haahaah, the most expensive pizza on the planet, haha haha haha!”
Laughing harder, “After this phone call, we can’t afford pizza, hah hah hah hah hah!”
Stomach hurting and tears streaming, “I hope we’re still hungry next week when it gets here! Hahahahahahaha haahaahaa haaahaaahaahahahahahahahahaha!
We laughed at ourselves for about 10 minutes and then for 20 more as we called our family members to share what we had stupidly, hilariously tried to do.
Finally, with ribs and face hurting we slowed down, exhausted. Abby looked at me calmly and with a new light in her eyes, she said, “I feel so much better.”
Miraculously, what changed for my girl most in those minutes was her own sense of perspective. While the details of her week of struggle remained, suddenly her world felt much bigger than the confine of her problem—what better way to have the point illustrated than to order a pizza from overseas?
But what’s more, when 16 year-old Abby saw that her problem wasn’t her entire life, just merely a part of it, I knew that my prayer had been answered. God comes through every time, and has a most excellent sense of humor, because we want to laugh.
So yes, intention is everything. I whole heartedly feel that we control the tone and the color of our lives—we don’t control what happens, but we decide how to respond when things do.
For me and our family, laughter is really good medicine and has been a resource through many tough times. But when deep in the hole of personal pain, it’s really hard to remember that it actually helped before–that anything ever will.
That’s where friends, family, therapists, nature, and God come in. They all remember for you, and you just get to have the laughter when out of no where, it comes on
Then you recall that you always do get back up, dust off, look around and rebalance. Vacation is nice for a spell, but this is everything.
Postscript (from Abby Miller):
Today was a bad day. And when I left a grueling 2 1/2 hours of tennis practice, I was met with horrendous traffic because of a car accident. Going 1 mile per hour and cursing my luck, I thought it was the worst possible situation. But then I saw the car crash victim being loaded into the ambulance.
Perspective is everything.