Thursday, April 25, 2013

When the Night Is Cloudy

Smokey, the comforter

The events of last week were harrowing for the people of Boston and West, Texas. Those of us following the news from the security of our homes or workplaces had nothing to complain about, but our stress levels jumped anyway.

When the news is ugly, work becomes solace. I hope you were able to put your head down and lose yourself in writing, laying tile, caring for patients, drawing up plans, whatever. What, though, do we do with the non-work hours we're tempted to pack with CNN? Even a news junkie like me needs a break.

The following gave me a breather and offered perspective--and hope: 

Pets – Dogs and cats across America are wondering what they did to deserve all the extra walks, cuddles, and treats they got last week. They kept us tethered to routine and, in the case of dogs, got us out of the house to watch the sun rise and see the night sky.

Children at play -- The family that moved in two doors to the right of me has two kids close in age to the little girl who lives on my left. Three children at play create a synergy that's irresistible to the brother and sister from the end of the block. Now, a fivesome gathers in the cul de sac in the early evening. Catch and kickball are still popular as are bike riding and teetering on skateboards. If I close my eyes once, I recall the sights and sounds of my own, now grown, kids at play. If I close them twice, I remember myself at that age. The continuum reminds us life goes on.

Romantic comedies and mysteries -- When the outside world is confusing and unpredictable, romantic comedies offer escape and the promise of a happy ending. I've got lots of go-to authors for tough times, but Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Kristen Higgins head the list. Mysteries, too, prove the ideal reads for stressful times because we know the truth will come out and wrong-doers will be punished. Looking for heart-warming, escapist, but thoughtful television? Try Call the Midwife, a series in its second season on PBS. It follows nurses who deliver babies in London's East End in the 1950's. The era is far enough removed that we can watch what unfolds with a little detachment. Plus babies! There are babies!

What helped you catch your breath and put things in perspective last week? Please share.


Coleen Patrick said...

Lighthearted TV for sure, and going for a walk around the neighborhood. Oh and as much as I am not a fan of housework, a good cleaning can be therapeutic. :)

Lynette M Burrows said...

Cuddling with my hubby and my dogs help bring down my stress levels. And focusing on the day job and writing. It doesn't make it go away, but it definitely reduces my stress.

Anonymous said...

I don't have any dogs but I always have a box of Milkbone dog biscuits in the house to feed all the pups in my neighborhood.

That's how I deal with stress.

Dogs are really cool animals (are you a cat person, Pat?) - they don't care what you look like or who you vote for or how much money you have - they just love you as you are (provided you treat them well, of course). And they always seem to forgive. They're always glad to see you too.

Did you see the therapeutic dogs that were visiting the hospitalized patients in Boston?

Really bit hit. Maybe I should get a therapeutic dog.

- Patrick

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Coleen,
Yes! When the outside world is confusing, housecleaning imposes order on chaos. (The chaos is my house. I'm sure yours never gets to that point.) Who doesn't like the collateral benefits of destroying germs and making surfaces shine? Your comment showed me why I cleaned earlier this week. Big dust bunnies don't intimidate me, but I needed a sense of control--and cleaning house provided it.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

You're right the stress doesn't go away, Lynette, and, of course, that's not the goal. We don't want to stick our heads in the sand, but we do want to reduce the stress. Your methods are winners. (And your day job is one most people consider anxiety-producing. You've developed your coping skills the hard way.)

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Patrick, when you're able to cut back the business travel, you MUST get a dog. You've got the Milkbone biscuits, and now you need a dog of your own. The neighborhood pets won't get slighted because you'll buy biscuits in bulk.

I did see TV footage of the therapy dogs in action in Boston, and it was moving.

Yes, I'm a cat person, but I like dogs. Yesterday, I stopped short on the walking trail because I saw two people darting in and out of the bushes, and my first thought was that they were planning to ambush someone. (Suspicious, aren't I?) Turns out the couple was playing hide and seek with their dog. While I don't think the animal was fooled once, the couple had a great time.

Let me know when you get your dog.

Jennette Marie Powell said...

I'd like to say I wrote a lot, but I mostly played computer games. I did get a lot done at my day job, though. The kitty in the box is so cute!

Lark Howard said...

The first season of SUITS, DJango on DVD and some episodes of FRINGE and WAREHOUSE 13 on Netflix. I was home recovering from surgery so without having TV, I didn't even know what was happening in the outside world.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Jennette,
I happen to know you finished making your daughter's prom dress last week and can't think of a more positive task to work on when the network news is tough to absorb. We don't know what's around the bend, but we can make the now memorable. You made your daughter's prom extra special.

Hope you defeated all the bad guys in the computer games.

Smokey the Cat isn't just good-looking. He's nice, too.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Lark! Sorry to hear about your surgery, but I'm glad you're on the mend. I envy you the days of not knowing what was happening in the outside world, but playing catch-up must have been hellish.

I'm taking what you watched as recommendations.

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