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St James's Elephant

An Elephant Sat On It

Creative Commons LicensePhoto credit: markhillary
How do you regain your resilience when an elephant just sat on it?

Was it only a few weeks ago that I was jumping for joy?  Indeed.  But then a different kind of news came down the pike…

Every one of us is called upon, perhaps many times, to start a new life. A frightening diagnosis, a marriage, a move, loss of a job…

And onward full-tilt we go, pitched and wrecked and absurdly resolute, driven in spite of everything to make good on a new shore.

To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another – that is surely the basic instinct – Crying out: High tide – time to move out into the glorious debris!

Time to take this life for what it is.

— Barbara Kingsolver

When an elephant squishes our bright hopes, when the news ain’t good news, how do we process the information and soldier on?  Well, here’s my two cents on how to recover when bad news flattens your optimism and knocks your fighting spirit for a loop:

You distract yourself; you pray a lot; and you take each day as it comes, doing what you must, learning as you go…

Start with some much needed sleep:

The best bridge between despair and hope is a good night’s sleep.

— E. Joseph Cossman

A quiet, darkened room, forty deep breaths, a bedtime prayer… say goodnight, Gracie.  Or if worries are keeping you from dozing off then augment those deep breaths and prayers by heeding the saintly advice of Thomas:

Sorrow can be alleviated by good sleep, a bath and a glass of wine.

— St. Thomas Aquinas

Hmmmm – maybe add some bubbles to that bath, a few candles and some soothing music nearby?  I mean, why not – a thirty minute respite could work wonders!  Especially if you can mix in a good belly laugh or two!  One of our fellow bloggers, Jenni of ChronicBabe, recommends humor “to relieve stress, to ease pain, to take the edge off”…

During a physical therapy appointment yesterday, Melissa, my therapist, had me doing an exercise in which I clenched alternating buttcheeks. In the mirror across from the therapy table, I could see my cheeks rising and falling in a little ass dance. I started to laugh, and then she laughed, because it was hiilarious to see my tush rising and falling. Even though I was in pain, it felt really good to share a laugh with someone.

Jenni Propkopy

Take care of yourself – you’re going to need your strength as you face the challenges ahead.

Dance Away from the Edge

Walk to the edge. Listen hard. Practice wellness.
Play with abandon. Laugh. Choose with no regret.
Continue to learn. Appreciate your friends. Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is… Live with intention.

— Mary Anne Radmacher

When (not if) you’re about to topple into a deep funk… distract yourself from your troubles with whimsy. Sure, whimsy is only going to be a momentary respite but anything that saves us from taking Humpty Dumpty’s great fall, anything that leaves us cracking up instead of cracked up is a good resilience replenishment tool. Think of it as re-stocking your resources – it’ll keep you from running on empty.

In my world, everyone’s a pony and they all eat rainbows and poop butterflies!

— Dr. Seuss

But when there are no rainbows in sight it’s time to pick and choose from this list of…

13 Quick & Healthy Ways to Shift into a Positive State of Mind

1. Go for a walk – even if it’s just up and down the hallway.

2. Recall that kiddie poem, The Itsy Bitsy Spider Went Up the Water Spout… and then take a deep breath and SING it out accompanied by the appropriate gestures!  Too silly for an adult like you?  OK then let Bobby McFerrin cheer you up with his rendition – relax “as if” you’re actually at the concert.  Go especially GRAND on the “wiped the spider out” gesture!  Come on, you can do it!

3. Get movin’ to the groove of your favorite upbeat tunes – download them NOW into your iPod or MP3 – even if all you can move is your head and neck, feel the beat.

4. Finger paint some catsup on the sink counter and then wipe it away; or if you’re a neatnik substitute liquid dish soap.

5. Use one of your Lifelines – Call a friend.  What to say? How about: Got a minute? I’m up to my eyeballs in alligators – tell me some good news…

6. Clean the kitchen floor or vacuum the rug if that’s your “thing” – my mother-in-law LOVED to iron!

7. Grab twenty minutes for yourself and go for a drive with the radio on LOUD – again your favorite tunes NOT a talk show – unless of course you really need a safe-place to TALK BACK; if that’s the case, do it with gusto in the privacy of your solo drive time and SHOUT IT OUT!

8. Watch a silly movie that makes you laugh and/or cry at the same time – need some help finding a flick? Amazon’s Listmania has some recommendations: Movies That Make You Laugh and Cry.  Whether through guffaws or tears, get some relief from the stress – you’ll feel a little bit better afterwards.

9. Bookmark this link and whenever you need a quick hit of relief, let Carly Simon ease your pain with her Comin’ Around Again paired with a soothing version of The Itsy Bitsy Spider.  Give yourself the gift of the WHOLE 7 Minutes – LISTEN to the words… Yes, I know the lyrics are bitter sweet but right now, so are you; and let’s face it, sometimes too much South Pacific “Happy, Happy Talk” can be wearing… there’s nothing like the brief relief of a few tears and a little body English (Sway to the rhythm of the tale…).  Ahhhhhhhhh…
Ok, your 7 minutes are up… onward you go, back into the fray.

10. Or at the very least let Carly’s pink sneakers inspire you to get some of your own… maybe splurge on pink Hightops?  And every time you wear them, SMILE.

11. SWEAR! — Cheese and crackers got all muddy!!! Because, as I wrote in a previous post,  *$%!!-ing Relieves Pain!

12. Consider memorizing this lament from Dr. Seuss and using it as your mantra:

I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I’ve bought a big bat. I’m all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!

Why memorize it? Because, as PattiAnn pointed out, we can use know-it-by-rote verses to replace those “awfulizing” thoughts that have been monopolizing our psyches.

13. Or practice nonsense rhyming ala Seuss’ Fox in Socks:

When beetles fight these battles in a bottle with their paddles and the bottle’s on a poodle and the poodle’s eating noodles …they call this a muddle puddle tweetle poodle beetle noodle bottle paddle battle.

Pick any old word no matter how absurd, mutter and pudder your way with stutters and spudders!

Ok, enough… just remember, it’s important to your good health to find a way to energize yourself so you can dance around the edges of your troubles instead of slipping over the ledge.

You have within you the fuel to thrive and to flourish, and to leave this world in better shape than you found it. …Where is this fuel within you? …You tap into it whenever you feel playful, creative, or silly.  You tap into it whenever you feel your soul stirred by the sheer beauty of existence.  You tap into it whenever you feel connected to others and loved.  In short, you tap into it whenever positive emotions resonate within you.

— Dr. Barbara Fredrickson

And, Of Course, Do What You Must…

It doesn’t matter if you have a desperate heart when you have to sing about joy; it doesn’t matter if you’re scared to death when the lights go on.

— Mireille Mathieu

Desperate heart and all, carry on, sing out your own joyful noise into the universe: “Make way, comin’ through!”  (And, even if you’re as tone deaf as I am, sing as if no one is listening and then send your apologies to the folks out front.)

It doesn’t matter if the water is cold or warm if you’re going to have to wade through it anyway.

— Teilhard de Chardin

Yep.  Regardless of the nature of important news, simply wade in and do the best you can.  And somewhere along the way good things start happening.

Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.

— Maori Proverb

How do you regain your resilience when an elephant just sat on it – you tickle the elephant with whimsy and dance out from under…

P.S. This post was inspired by a whimsical web-article titled: What if an elephant sat on it? It’s really a science lesson for kids but I found it to be a good launch pad – I hope you concur!  Look for your own launch pads – they’re abundant in your life if you tap into the possibilities.

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