“Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…”

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By Anita Manley

Hi folks, I’ve been absent for a few weeks now, trying to manage my anxiety around some important issues that are beyond my control. I don’t know about you, but I’m really not good at this. My Mom always told me: “don’t worry about things that you cannot control”. I think of her words regularly and really give it the good ol’ college try, but if I have to do this for too long, I fail miserably. Everyone’s perception of ‘too long’ varies. Mine is about a month. After a month, I start to think of what if, then what, etc.

I’ve had two pretty important issues ‘up in the air’ for over a month, one I’m still waiting on. So, I had to do something to manage my anxiety. I talked to my support people and then I decided to keep busy doing things I love to do, in order to keep my mind from wandering down a potentially negative path. I decided to do more knitting during free moments (I’m now working on a baby blanket and bunny for my new grandbaby, expected in July), journaling and painting (acrylic on canvas). All of these activities help me to stay in the present moment and while doing them, I feel as though I lose track of time. I would even say they are ‘meditative’. It worked! I’m not exactly an expert at “not worrying”, but I have mostly managed to overcome the beast.

So, I’m just going to continue doing what I’m doing, and let the cards fall as they may. Whatever happens, happens! I know that I can deal with the outcome. I’m so much better at coping with the known, than the unknown. I’m a work in progress. In the meantime, I’m creating some wonderful knitted objects and beautiful art, and greatly enjoying it.

I just read a Peanuts posting that said, very fittingly, “Worrying won’t stop the bad stuff from happening, it just stops you from enjoying the good.”

I will continue to do my very best ‘not to worry’ about things beyond my control. Besides, Mother knows best. At least I know my Mom always did!

How do you cope with things beyond your control?

Journaling, knitting and painting have helped me stay focused, quelled my fears… and give me HOPE.

Practicing an Attitude of Gratitude

Just over a decade ago – due to mental illness – I lost everything that I held close to my heart: communication with my two teen aged daughters, my entire family, all of my friends, I lost my job, my cat, my housing and eventually all of my possessions, including my car. Some would say that it was as if aliens came in and took over my identity as well.

Prior to losing everything, as things were beginning to unravel, a good friend of mine advised me to write a gratitude journal – “list 3 things you are grateful for, every night before going to bed.” WOW! What a challenge, I thought. I could only write about one thing per day. I had a cup of tea, I entered into my journal. I had a long, hot bath, the next night. At that time, my two daughters were living with their Dad full-time and I could only see them while in the presence of a social worker with the Children’s Aid Society – once a week, for a couple of hours. I missed them terribly and I felt lost being unable to fulfill my Mom role. I was sad, angry and very lonely – dwelling upon my losses.

However, starting this practice of a gratitude journal set me up with a resiliency and positive frame of mind that has served me well ever since.

While living in a women’s shelter, I was tremendously grateful to have a roof above my head, thankful for the amazing meals they served every day, the fashionable clothes I received, the bed I laid in, the sewing machine to alter second hand clothes, the brand new shoes I was given, and the list goes on. While living in my car, I was grateful for my car! I appreciated The Well for providing me with a place to watch TV, shower and sleep during the day and for other women to socialize with.

I realized that no matter how much I was struggling, there was always someone else who was struggling even more. There was always something to be grateful for. And if you think of all of the little things, you will find that indeed there are always many things to be grateful for.

I still to this day practice and attitude of gratitude and I credit this practice for my happiness and feelings of abundance despite my many losses. By recognizing the numerous things we do have in life and not focusing on our setbacks or losses, we can feel more satisfied, fulfilled and happier!

Even among the greatest difficulties in life – you can always find things for which you are truly grateful.

Try it! Start writing a gratitude journal before going to bed – Jot down 3 different entries every night. It will grow on you!

Feeling extremely grateful for this gorgeous view that I have enjoyed for the past 7.5 years!