Do you like bubbles? I do.
But they’re fragile little things, aren’t they? Tap them too hard and they pop. Usually. But sometimes one will land on something and instead of bursting, it will sit there, and you poke at it, and it wobbles but still sits there…and sits…and sits… A ticking time bomb. And then the breeze hits it just right, or you blow on it, or maybe you just go right out and smack it, or maybe…maybe you don’t do anything at all, and suddenly – pop! – it’s gone.
The last year or so, I’ve felt like a bubble. The kind that doesn’t pop but probably will any minute. I’ve been reluctant to talk about it much because nothing bad has happened. I know a lot of people who have really huge stressors in their lives right now, and I feel I have no right to complain. But you know what? I’m stressed. I’m really, really stressed. It’s the little stressors, you know? Just one thing after another. And they add up.
Most of it I bring upon myself. I have a penchant for freaking out over things that I don’t need to. And I’m a procrastinator – I’m easily overwhelmed and I deal with that by ignoring things until the last minute, and then OH MY GOD I HAVE TO DO THIS THING RIGHT NOW AND IT’S SO HARD AND I CAN’T EVEN THINK! WHAT AM I GOING TO DO?! This may be something as big as prepping for a vacation, or something as tiny as making a phone call. It doesn’t matter. I will have ALL the anxiety.
So here’s the thing about stress. When you’re stressed much of the time, it tends to put you in a bad mood. And when you’re in a bad mood much of the time, you tend to think of things in a negative light, which stresses you out, which puts you in a bad mood, which causes you to think negatively about things, and so on, and so on.
I used to be a super positive person. I always saw the glass as half full and I always felt that I was a very lucky person. I still feel like a very lucky person. Heck, I know I’m a very lucky person. I’ve just been forgetting to remember that lately.
This next bit is going to sound whiny, but bear with me:
Today was yet another day where it seemed like all the little things that could go wrong, did. I didn’t get enough sleep even though this time, I actually made it a point to go to bed at a decent hour. The kids were hyper-active and cranky. I was cranky. My husband was sick – still. The sky was gray, the cat puked, I forgot to throw wet clothes in the dryer last night, the three year old peed through several pairs of pants, we were out of spoons, etc, etc. Little things. Normal little things. But I woke up in a negative mindset and I kept at it all day, through tantrums and time-outs, and through finding that freaking spider in the laundry basket. Holy crap that spider.
And yet again, I forgot to plan dinner and was too tired and grouchy to cook anyway. So I told everyone I’d go pick up something delicious and asked what everyone wanted. We decided on Thai food for the adults and McDonalds for the kids because the two restaurants are right next to each other. Boom. Easy-peasy.
On the way to pick up food, I stopped to get gas. I put the nozzle in the gas tank, hit the button, and stood there for a few minutes before I realized no gas was actually being pumped, then hoped no one noticed I’d just been standing there looking stupid and tried again, this time with success. I got back on the road, and was about halfway to the restaurant when a pick-up truck crossed the center line on a very steep, very curvy bit of road that also happens to butt up against a cliff, and nearly hit me head-on. I was lucky – I happened to be at one of the few sections of road with room to swerve, and I did so while rattling off a string of profanities that would make a sailor blush.
In other words, my day was still not going well.
But then on the way back home, driving along, angry music blaring, I saw a bubble. That’s right, a bubble, just like the kind the kids make by blowing soapy water through a wand. It was floating along by itself, no houses or kids in sight. On either side of the road was forest, so the bubble must have traveled quite a ways, and all that time without popping.
It made me smile. And oddly, it made me feel calm. And for some reason that I really can’t explain, that one little thing, that small pocket of air trapped within a film of soap, made me rethink my attitude.
I was almost in a horrible car accident. Almost. But I wasn’t. I was lucky. I almost folded a spider into my seven year old’s pajamas, but I saw it at the last minute and relocated it outside. That was also lucky. My potty training three year old went through a few pairs of pants today, but he also made it to the bathroom several times as well. That’s progress. And all the chores I’ve been stressing out over? They’re in preparation for a visit from family members that we haven’t seen in over a year. That? That’s awesome.
And being in just the right place at just the right time to see that bubble in the middle of nowhere? That’s amazing.
More stuff happened. There was plastic in my food and a piece of blue chicken (yes you read that right) in my husband’s. The kids fought bedtime as usual. I didn’t get three-quarters of the things done that I wanted to do today. But I didn’t choke on the plastic, my husband didn’t eat the chicken (and the fresh rolls were delicious and had nothing strange or dangerous about them as far as I could tell), the kids calmed down and went to sleep, and I…well I still didn’t get stuff done, but I’m ok with it. I was reminded today that yes, I’m busy and I’m stressed, but I’m also very lucky and I need to make it a point to remind myself of that more often.
And you know what else? The forecast tomorrow calls for sun. I think I’ll go outside and blow some bubbles. Maybe one of mine will be carried off on the breeze and go on an adventure like the one I saw today. And maybe it in turn will make someone else’s day. I’d like to think so. Wouldn’t you?