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The Best Way to Transform Your Worries

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photo: by David Marcu

My son had been fighting for days with a viral infection. Sleep had only come to us briefly and lightly between his bouts of high fever, vomiting, and coughing. For the third early morning in a row, I woke up in a fog. I examined my face in the mirror as I brushed my teeth. The bags under my eyes were puffier than usual. I shuffled to the kitchen and filled the coffee maker with freshly ground beans. The aroma filled the house and the first sip was like Novocain.

I turned away to ignore the dishes in the sink. I grabbed my journal and pen in my non-coffee bearing hand and headed for the door. I spilled a little as I slid on some slimy food my cat had coughed up. I cussed and paused to wipe my foot clean with a paper towel. As I continued toward the door, I stumbled over a pile of dirty clothes that lay near (but not quite in) the laundry room. Then I accidentally kicked over my son's paper sack full of fourth grade projects. But I was stubbornly set on not getting trapped by the crap. With a coffee cup now half full, I kept walking.

I thought about how exhausted I was from being a nurse-maid. I was overwhelmed by my messy house. I was anxious about work that wouldn't wait any longer. It made short-term sense to skip the journaling and get started on my to-do list. But I'd skipped this morning medicine too often lately. And the side effects (confusion, mood swings, restlessness, lack of energy, hopelessness, and irritability) were starting to weigh heavily on my family and me.

I stepped outside and set my coffee down along with my journal beside the chair I plopped into. I listened to all the birds telling each other, "good morning," and closed my eyes. I let my shoulder blades slide down by back so I could fill my lungs all the way up as I breathed in. I blew out each worry, one by one, and imagined them rising like smoke from a cigarette. It felt good to exhale the toxins. I took another drag off the fresh air. As I did so, space opened up in me that wasn't there before. The pressure lifted, and peace washed over me like warm bath water. I smiled and said, "thank you."

I opened my journal to express my gratitude on the page. As I wrote, I realized I was grateful for the things that were worries as well. I was grateful because each worry represented abundance in my life- comforts, clothes, food, family, property, pets, purposeful work, make-up, and more. And the gratefulness pouring from my pen woke me up to my complex and beautiful existence even more than the hot coffee. I wrote this down-

When we have a lot to worry about, it means we have a lot to live for.

My life is often cluttered and sometimes chaotic. If we were to sit down together for a mug of something hot (or a glass of something red), I bet I would learn that your life is like that too. We would share stories and laugh for sure and maybe vent a little and probably tell a tearful story or three. Then we would hug and tell each other, "It really will be okay."

I would tell you that because I've learned to trust the One who sees after it all. I would also tell you (if you asked me how I learned) that there is no substitute for structured stillness. Your soul longs for it.

If you are worried about many things today, may I invite you to stop and see why? In each worry, I believe you'll discover you are blessed with many lives, loves, and labors you care deeply for and about.

I raise my mug (or my glass depending on what time of day you are reading this) and say to you, "Congratulations! You have a lot to live for!"