Thursday, July 9, 2015


I've shared this thought before, but it came back into my mind recently. What if you live in an apartment on the ground floor and a new person moved in above you. Their bedroom is just above your's and each night they take off their shoes and throw them on the floor. The previous tenant did the same thing so you got used to it. You'd hear "clunk" and a few seconds later a second "clunk."

This new person, that you haven't met yet as your schedules are different makes only one clunk. You lay there awake each night waiting for the second sound. You toss and turn, shake your fist at the ceiling and begin to bite your nails. Determined to confront the person driving you crazy, you storm up the stairs, pound on their door and demand they start double clunking.

When they get to the door you happen to glance down and notice they have only one foot. DOH. They're NEVER going to double clunk. It's not part of who they are.

We look at other people all the time and make all kinds of assumptions about them, their habits and their value. It is human nature. Some of us have been so profoundly hurt that we go into the world with our emotional shields up and quickly evaluate those around us for at what level they can hurt us. This coping strategy may be useful in some situations and it may also be keeping us from being calm and finding friends.

Stress hormones can make us sick. Being sick can create stress hormones. This vicious cycle perpetuates when we put energy in at regular intervals. We can choose another way.

I start with awareness. It comforts me to have a leave the house ritual. I check for my house key, my paratransit card or money to pay for a new one, I grab my water on exercise days and lunch if I am going to work.

If I am going to make up what is going to happen in my world outside my house, I decided a while ago that my fantasy is going to be a positive experience. The truth is, none of us ever know what may happen. Mostly nothing. Life, for me at least, is a series of routines. There are four paratransit drivers, there are a handful of gals at my gym and there are work duties that tend to be the same or similar.

When there is a break from these routines, it tends to be a reasonable variation. Work recently had a seminar away from the office. I've been to seminars before so I just pictured what they were like in my mind before this one. I chose an open and curious mental state.

Maybe this all sounds oversimplified, some of us need to break it down like that. I suffer social anxiety, post traumatic stress and a tendency to want to avoid interacting with strangers. At the same time, I love new experiences and meeting new people.

I'm teaching myself to adjust to all that newness with an open heart. So what if the guy upstairs has only one foot. Maybe he's a great person and will teach you things you never even considered. At the very least, you will gain a new sleep routine.

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