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I think we can all agree, stress is a huge part of our day to day lives right now. Whether you’re on Facebook or Twitter or wherever else, all anyone is talking about is politics.  And they aren’t just talking. They’re arguing and name call and bickering.  It’s a lot like being a gibbon near the chimpanzees that Lori wrote about in her post. You’re just hoping that you aren’t the one they decide to tear apart.  It is exhausting.

Or it can be.

This week a friend commented that I don’t seem quite as strung out as everyone else. “What are you doing?” she asked.

Honestly, it is a very legitimate question.  I am, to put it kindly, a wee bit high strung.  Being around people who are stressed out really puts me on edge. Even a calm crowd gets on my nerves. What’s my secret?

I’m disconnecting. I’m not going to go so far as to shut down my Facebook account or go off Twitter.  But I only check Twitter once each morning and again around noon.  That’s it.  It means I don’t see every tweet but that’s okay. I’m surebookshelf I’m missing some great knitting and book news but I can only take so much of the angst.
I’m nesting.  Not in the “I’m about to deliver sense” but that’s what my husband calls it when I clean out, reorganize and redecorate.  No redecorating yet but I’ve dug out a set of shelves in the basement and now I’m cleaning them off. I’m also sorting and recycling here in my office.  One entire shelf was cleaned off and I now have a place for my Star Wars chest (yes, I’m that geeky) and my library books (again, geeky but all is good).

norwichWith this extra time in this renewed space, I’m praying.  Granted I’m not praying as much as I should – 24/7 seems pretty reasonable all things considered – but I am praying.  In part, I’m doing that by focusing on a particular prayer.  This week my focus was a prayer from Julian of Norwich.

“All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”

When I pray this or any of my other favorites, it orients me toward God.  When I’m facing God, I’m not obsessing about what whoever said, what is and isn’t truth, and who may or may not be about to do what.  I’m focusing on God.

“All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”

Disconnect. “All shall be well…”

Nest. “. . . and all shall be well . . .”

Pray. “… and all manner of things shall be well.”

It may not be the right combination for everyone but it is the combination that’s working for me.

–SueBE

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createSummer is an exhausting time for me.  I’m a tried and true introvert.  I need my quiet time.  My quiet time keeps me sane.

But school is out and my son is a competitive swimmer.  Swim meets are not only full of people, but also full of sound – starting pistols or sirens and lots and lots of cheering.

Sometimes it is more than an introvert can stand.

My solution?  A new knitting project.  I’m making an A-line tank top with braided shoulders.  I’m not very far yet – at this point the shirt is less than two inches long.

While I can’t knit when I’m working a swim meet or interacting with my son’s friends, I make time every day to retreat into a world made up of bright green yarn and circular needles.  It enables me tighten my focus to just that point in front of me where needle crosses needle and pulls the yarn through.

As I focus, I let my mind wander.  Sometimes I consider the events of the day. Sometimes I pray.  Lately, I’ve been praying for my son’s swim mates as they leave the pool.  Other times I pray for family and friends.

Lately, I’ve been knitting while I wait for swim camp to let out.  I sit in the car for 5 minutes and create.  Just sitting and being with yarn and needles gives me the time and space to open myself up and hear. It gives me the room I need to breathe.  And by the time the kids come out of the pool, I am ready to greet them with a kind word and a smile.

If you are feeling stressed, find something to do with your hands.  One of my friends weeds her garden.  My mother got out her sewing machine.  Tighten your focus and let your mind go.  Listen and feel. When you are done, you may discover that He has planted a seed in your heart.

–SueBE

HobbyDo you consider your hobbies part of your prayer life?  Do you knit one, purl two prayerfully?  Or maybe you weed and mulch in a meditative way.  If you don’t think of your hobbies as part of your prayer life, perhaps you should.

You may think that I’m going to talk to you about living mindfully, considering God in your daily tasks.  That is a good thing to do, but that isn’t what I meant.

Prayer is how we communicate with God.  That means that we talk to Him as well as listen.  Through listening, we discern what God wants us to do. In my own experience, these tasks, even the wee small ones, take a certain amount of energy.

What happens when you take energy out, doing God’s work, but never recharge?  Eventually you burn out.  Soon you are, as Lori wrote, Hanging In, Hanging On.

To restore balance, you have to recharge even if you feel like you don’t have time.  In fact, this is often when you need most to reenergize.  Sometimes this means getting enough sleep or taking the time to fix yourself a good meal.  Those things recharge our bodies.  But we also need to recharge our spirits and that’s where our hobbies come in.

Our last pastor did wood working.  I know church ladies who sew, garden and knit as well as do puzzles, go to the theater and watch baseball.  One of the church men cooks.  Another restores cars. We all have things like this that make us happy and when we do them we recharge our batteries.

It may seem a bit decadent but it is 100% essential.  If you don’t take some time for yourself, you will eventually be an empty shell with nothing left to offer.  Avoid this by doing something that makes you happy. Scrapbook.  Pick up a new cross stitch project.  Write a poem.

When you are done and you once again have a smile on your face and spring in your step, God will still have something for you to do.  The difference is that now you’ll be more able to handle it.

–SueBE

Have a Mary Little Christmas

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