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Archive for the ‘Stressed’ Category

I was planning on writing a post about how hectic the month of April always is for me. Sadly, life has been so busy between travel, holidays, and work projects that I haven’t had time to pen anything. My sad lack of blogging should come to an end in May, but until then please bear with me (and Hannah) as we navigate exceptionally busy months.

And happy Passover to those celebrating!

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Early this fall, in a fit of energy, four friends and I set out on a mini road trip. Our first stop was Portland, Maine. There was a cold edge to the air, but the sun was shining, and we were thrilled to be adventuring. There was only one problem: one of our close friends and connector-extraordinaire, D., had just moved across the country. We felt her absence.

It was also clear that, if anything, this was going to be our last blast of summer. That the cold edge was quickly going to become an all-consuming freeze. And that soon enough, we’d be taking day trips to cross country ski, not eat and explore.

Over lunch, someone suggested we band together to throw a party. We could rent a space, invite friends, and convince D. to fly back for the celebration. But when? Our Google calendars were already crammed with back-to-the-grind fall events, then the holidays loomed. So we settled on the worst month of all, the month when everyone seems bored and slightly on edge: February.

Which leads me to this past weekend. Saturday night, it poured, but at the Four Winds, we took little notice—we were laughing and chattering and dancing. I (subtly) put my newly-acquired DDR moves to good use, which proved easy enough thanks to the infectious rhythms created by DJ Face. D. even hopped in a plane, flew 3,000 miles, and joined us for a night of sorely-needed good cheer.

People kept asking why or what we were celebrating. Our answer: excellent friends who make the bleakest of months seem sunny.

Weather: Blue skies and warm-ish. Hopefully the 38-degree temperature will melt the snow and prevent more roof collapses.

Moods:

Anna – 5 out of 10 on the “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale. Back to reality.

Hannah – 4.5 out of 10. Monday.

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As Hannah indicated, I’ve been traveling the world, or at least part of it, for the past couple of weeks. Stops included Prague, Vienna, Berlin, Thessalonike, Meteora, Athens, and Nafplion. That’s a lot of travel for only 15 nights.

Highlights included all imperial palaces, castles, summer estates, and massive Greek temples, particularly those elaborately decorated with delicate inlays and master carvings. Sort of like my apartment. Or not.

Just like home.

Despite adventuring, I realize that I’ve returned without any killer stories. There were no crazy encounters. No out of body experiences. No swashbuckling tales. But there were some tasty morsels of food, excellent birds-eye views, and more than a few masterpieces along the way.

I haven’t taken a two-week vacation from work for nearly three years. Last summer I had a week-long escape to Maine, prior to which I had had a terrible fever (which led doctors to mistakenly believe I had cat scratch fever). My body was recovering when I left, I didn’t feel up to snuff, and taking antibiotics every morning and evening of the trip did not spur relaxation. It was not ideal.

When I was a kid, my dad and brother and I would take long, leisurely vacations to tropical islands—the more remote, the better. About five or six days in, my father would declare he was finally starting to relax. A highly knowledgeable seven-year-old, I’d counsel my father to relax more quickly. Who could possibly need all that time (practically a year!) to adjust to frozen drinks and blossoming flowers?

But when I arrived in Vienna (Trip Day 5), I realized it had taken that long to stop thinking about work. Day 5 was followed by a week of actual relaxation, and also full of museum-hopping. It wasn’t until the Friday before I flew back to the States that thoughts of current and future projects again pushed their way to the surface. Fifteen nights left me with seven blissful, carefree days. And now I’m thinking that two-week sojourns may have to be here to stay.

Weather: Mountains of snow. And even when it’s not snowing, the wind whips the snow around, making it look like we’re being further buried.

Moods:

Anna – 5 out of 10 on the “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale. Still getting back in the swing of things.

Hannah – 4 out of 10. She’s had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Luckily, it’s a Friday.

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Good thing I didn’t actually decide to liveblog my Thanksgiving. It would have gone something like:

“Moseying across the street to buy coffee.”

“Time for a walk!”

“Reading.”

“Turkey and conversation!”

“Zzzzzz.”

That about sums up my Thanksgiving. The most eventful part of the day was when my father ordered “The Flintlock”—a supposedly-historic drink from the Colonial period. But what arrived at our table looked more tropical than classic. Who would expect that a drink called “The Flintlock” would be pink, or so tasty?

In any case, this is the first time that I’ve taken note of how my views toward the holiday have changed, and it’s made me appreciate how even powerful associations can be reframed. For me, the switch came after my family found ways to make the day less stressful for everyone. And, as one might expect, my acknowledgment of change only came after several years of pleasant Thanksgivings.

I suppose now is the time to start reframing other holidays I find stressful, but I actually think those are few and far between. And as of tomorrow night, I’ll have another celebratory holiday to enjoy. Chanukah falls early this year (find out why here), so the next eight days are full of outings, gatherings, and candle lightings!

To share some Chanukah cheer (and because The Office informs us that all Cornellians love a cappella), here’s a video to start off the celebrations:

Weather: Pleasant enough for the last day of November!

Moods:

Anna – 7 out of 10 on the “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale. I’m well rested.

Hannah – 7 out of 10. She worked from home today. In her pajamas.

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Well, Thanksgiving is almost here, and with it, the stress of one of the most highly charged family meals of the year.

I used to hate Thanksgiving. In fact, my freshman year of college I chose to stay in upstate New York and celebrate with a friend instead of making the 8-hour bus ride home. The dining halls all closed down, which we anticipated. What we hadn’t considered was that the buses would also stop running, nearly all the restaurants would close, and we would be stranded on an empty campus without proper sustenance. So, instead of turkey and cranberry sauce and stuffing, she and I raided the vending machine, watched Zoolander, and gave thanks for the man who delivered our emergency General Tso’s chicken. It actually turned out to be a pretty fun day.

Less fun, though, are the family negotiations that seem inevitable around the holidays. Who’s going where. Who’s hosting whom. Which relatives are escaping to remote islands (or secretly wishing they were) instead of joining the rest of the extended family for football and conversation.

These days, Thanksgiving is less stressful for me. Part of it is that I’m older and I can make my own plans. Part of it is that I’ve reframed the holiday and now think of it as a big family meal as opposed to a super-charged family fest. Gathering in small groups helps, as does eating out, which is a tradition that my father started several years ago. Last year, we went to a Greek restaurant anticipating ouzo, saganaki, and moussaka, only to find they were serving turkey! This year, we’ve embraced traditional American fare and have a reservation for four at a quaint New England inn.

Whether you hate, love, or are generally indifferent to Thanksgiving, take a deep breath and enjoy the food. Remember—if things get too stressful, you can always escape for a nap and blame it on the turkey.

Weather: Cloudy skies all day, but warmer than usual for late November.

Mood:

Anna – 7 out of 10 on the “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” to “jumping for joy” scale. She ate great cheese this weekend.

Hannah – 6 out of 10. She hates November.

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One glance at my mood rating over the past few posts, and it’s obvious that, perhaps, I’m (momentarily) regretting signing up for 3 committees, 2 subcommittees, and a myriad of other engagements this year!

It would be one thing if I were just going to meetings after work. That would be manageable. My plummeting mood, though, was not caused by meeting overload, but by the fact I had so many meetings while continuing to search for a new roommate. The joys of roommatehood and Craigslist…

So far, the search has lasted three weeks. The first batch of candidates seemed fun, friendly, and responsible, but alas, 75 percent of them weren’t even able to move this month! Terrible luck. During the second go-around, there were also some strong candidates, but nothing worked out. At some point, I realized the chances of getting someone in for a November 1 start were slim to none. And that’s when my stress peaked and I started to panic.

I thrive on a good dose of stress, but once I go over my personal stress threshold, I feel terrible. I still do what I need to do, but everything becomes a chore. I shed my optimistic tendencies and morph into a seemingly-eternal pessimist.

This past weekend, when I realized I would have to scrap my November 1 roommate timeline, I ventured out to run an errand and, of course!, got pelted with raindrops. Even the sky was gloomy!

During a separate super stressed out moment, I went for a walk and—instead of gray skies—witnessed the most vibrant sunset I’ve seen in months. My optimism increased, and I paused to think about how strongly my mood is tied to the weather.

For me, at least, the weather seems to impact my emotional state when I’m already experiencing a more extreme mood. If I’m closer to my default state of general contentedness, weather seems to influence it less. I’m not sure if this is typical, so I’d be curious to know, how do you think weather affects your mood?

Weather: Overcast with a strong breeze. Rain earlier in the day.

Mood:

Anna – 7 out of 10 on the “so miserable I can’t get out of bed” scale. Things are looking up since I accepted the fact a roommate by Nov. 1 is a pipe dream. Something about reframing…

Hannah – 7 out of 10. She’s lonely at the office. Does someone want to throw pebbles at her window and cheer her up?

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