The countdown begins

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“Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.”

~ H.H. The Dalai Lama

It never ceases to amaze me.  Human behavior, whether good or bad, has enough energy to directly affect our own sense of self.  I am a calm person.  I have always had a great sense of peace about me and am quick to find the good in situations and in people.  But my faith in human nature takes a strong nose-dive when tourist season begins.

When you grow up in a small town or a small community, there is a true sense of peace knowing your neighbors and being familiar with those around you.  You learn to expect a certain level of camaraderie and happiness.  The members of the community embrace you and are quick with a smile and a genuinely warm hello.

With the arrival of the Canada Day long weekend, that seems to have changed.  No longer will you find the locals out shopping at all hours of the day and carrying on conversations as if nothing were more important.  Now those locals are hidden behind the doors of their homes, emerging only in the early hours of the day to do their shopping to avoid the onslaught of tourists.  The freedom of being able to enjoy our tiny town has vanished.

crowd

(image credit: theinertia.com)

I ventured out too late this morning and became caught in the vortex of that familiar angst and cynicism that seems to travel North on Highway 400 and vacation here during the months of July and August.  Everyone is in a rush to get everywhere and tempers are short.  I arrived at my familiar grocery store, exited my vehicle and my eardrums were pierced with two unfamiliar voices arguing about the angled parking  job of one of the overwhelmingly expensive vehicles in the parking lot.  I guess the memo about relaxing while on vacation was never sent!

We, as a community, have 10 short weeks to ‘make hay while the sun shines’, as the old saying goes.  For as much as these tourists treat us as an inferior breed of humans, they are a grand part of our existence.  So we grin and bear it….and we begin the countdown to Labor Day Monday.

Like animals emerging from hibernation, we allow ourselves to come out of our homes and once again greet the land and our surroundings after that glorious September long weekend.  We take deep breaths of fresh air and greet our friends with a smile, having survived another two months of insanity.  The local pub patios are packed with locals happily waving at the cars as they make their way back to their concrete jungle.  On rare occasions, streakers have been known to hit the streets with signs, wishing the tourists a safe ride home.  (well, it may have been worded differently, but you get the idea).

Until that day comes, I will do my best not to let the stress of these visitors infect my happy disposition.  66 days to go….but who’s counting??

Stressing the “un’s”

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Life is a mixed bag. Stress is inevitable, but more than likely comes from things that begin with “un”. Things that are unpredictable, uncontrollable, unfamiliar or unseen cause us undue pressure.

We become very uncomfortable and somewhat unsettled forging ahead into the unknown feeling unprepared. We may lack the understanding needed to avoid feeling unsure.

Life can be unfair. Illness can be unforgiving and waiting can be unbearable. The “un’s” hover relentlessly and we are unable to regain a sense of control.

I am struggling to beat those “un’s” into submission, but they are unrelenting and refuse to allow the knots of their hold to be undone.

I, however, am unwilling to admit defeat. That is unacceptable.

She cannae take any more, Captain. She’s gonna blow!

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People handle stress in very different ways and each of us have varying extremes when it comes to our breaking point.  Some are lucky and are able to desensitize themselves to the perils that compound normal levels of stress, while others become weighed down and feel like they are shouldering the burdens of the world.  I am perched precariously in the middle.

I have a pretty high tolerance for stress.  I can quell the volcano of emotion that begins to rise by merely separating the things I can control from the things I cannot and putting out those smaller fires, one by one.   I don’t always win that battle but I do make a concerted effort to not let things bother me that are out of the grasp of my command.

But stress has a funny way of being able to continue a slow burn without any alarms going off.  It smolders behind walls and can ignite spontaneously when it recognizes the slightest bit of exhaustion or defeat.  Exhaled oxygen will spark the embers and the fire of stress breathes new life.  I didn’t feel the heat emanating but the flames got the best of me and, when the inferno had died down slightly, the fiery beast had etched its charcoal marks deep under my skin.

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(photo credit: earthtimes.org)

My tension is now stored neatly in large charred knots under my shoulder blades.  The volcano of stress is no longer spewing lava and lighting fires as it goes, but it is laying dormant under my muscles, reminding me that it has the power to erupt with the slightest sign of newly induced tension.  Any rupture in my otherwise calm facade will bring bubbling magma to the surface and give new life to that slow burn.  Time for some deep breathing and a calming glass of wine!

How does your stress affect you?  Is it an easily controlled burn, or does it rage out of control?