“What soap is to the body, tears are for the soul.”
-an old Jewish saying…
Everyone needs a good cry once in a while. Crying is therapeutic. Emotional tears release stress hormones and endorphins similar to the chemical release of a good run. Interesting that when you cry from cutting onions you don’t get the same effects.
A friend of mine was going through some tough times and was at a loss for solutions, and in fact did not want to be fixed, simply needed more spiritual support or just something to help her gain some perspective. She decided one Thursday evening that she would go to a church-any church that was open.
Growing up, I remember being able to walk into any Catholic church to light a candle, pray quietly, or share your problems with Jesus or Mary or one of the other saints that were represented in statues around main sanctuary. Its different today. Churches are under lock and key for security reasons.
My friend, who by the way, is Jewish, found an open church. It was Methodist and they had an event going on that Thursday evening. She walked into the Church and noticed the sign for the “Crying Room.” “How nice” , she thought. “That’s just what I need.” She walked in and there were rocking chairs. As a therapist, she knew that rocking is very soothing for the body and soul. She also knew the benefits of therapeutic crying.
She had the room to herself, and made herself comfortable in one of the chairs. She began rocking and saw a pile of coverlets, which were to be used by nursing mothers, but my friend thought they were for warmth and security while rocking. Again she was impressed with how welcoming this room was and how it had everything to sit and have a good cry.
There was plenty of Kleenex and a few spiritual books and Bibles scattered around the room. She quietly rocked and let the tears flow. What a great idea! She had never seen a crying room but praised the church for having the insight to provide such a place.
She walked out of the church feeling lighter and later told her husband about the experience at the church.
He laughed and told her that a crying room was for parents with small children who might disrupt a service with their noise. And also this room provided a place for nursing mothers with babies. My friend was so embarrassed. She had never even thought of that. To her, a crying room meant a place to cry-a place to release the tears of suffering that we all experience from time to time.
She laughed and laughed about this experience gaining the benefits of a good laugh and good cry.
As I reflect on my life right now, I want to share an article I wrote that I am reminding myself to follow.
This year has been a very stressful, yet exciting year. We made a major move from a house of 31 years to a new home- very different, a connected "landominium", maintenance free living-quite a change. Between preparing the house for sale, decluttering, keeping it immaculate for the weekly showings for months, working with the builder on the plans for our new home, and the major task of moving in general, my body has taken a toll. You really do have to be mindful of a stress and the affect of pushing until your exhausted. We are now settled and loving it, but I reacted to something while unpacking and developed a major allergic dermatitis reaction. Now on steroids and drugs, it is important that I take time to heal the cells of my stressed out body, by reconnecting my mind and spirit.
I love to travel, but until my suitcase is packed, I have a hard time getting excited. So I have come up with a plan for packing that keeps the joy in the upcoming journey.
Make a List-I use a master list that I bought as a pad of packing sheets. This sheet guides me prior to packing and also stays in my suitcase when I am packing from my destination to go home. Here is an image.
At the top of my list I write where I am going, how long and the expected weather outlook. Knowing your destination climate is so important so that you pack clothes that will keep you comfortable. Also you can prepare for cold evenings or rainy days where you need an umbrella etc.
Give yourself lots of time. I begin packing at least a week ahead of time. Sometimes I have my suitcase open and ready for clothes two weeks ahead of time. That way I have time to change my mind about my vacation wardrobe.
Carry On – As much as possible avoid having to check a bag. There are many ways to keep the size of your packing to a minimum. For one thing, roll your clothes instead of folding. This allows you to fit clothes in corners of the suitcase and use every bit of room in your bag. You can take two bags. One can be your carry on size suitcase-be careful to keep it within the parameters designated by the airline. Make your other bag an expandable shopping bag. For women you can put your purse inside this bag. You can also put a brief case inside a larger shopping bag.
Soft Shoes-My favorite travel shoes are Mary Jane looking flats. I have both Keens and recently bought a pair of Campers flats. I can walk miles in these shoes and they pack without taking much room in your suitcase. You can wear a bulkier pair of comfy shoes or boots to the airport. Other comfy flexible shoes that pack well are Toms. I also pack a comfortable pear of walking sandals.
Color coordinate-pack light. Pick a color and coordinate around it so that you can mix and match outfits. I also pack with layers. Vests, skirts, and leggings take up little room but are very versatile wardrobe pieces that can help you interchange outfits.
Chargers and Electronics Accessories-If you are like most people, you will be taking your cell phone and possibly a camera. Chargers are very important. I keep a small accessory bag for electronic chargers and accessories. If you go to a country outside the United States you will need electric outlet adapters. We have a kit that has a variety of adapters for a variety of countries.
Download tourist books-We went to Paris this fall and I really wanted to take several tourist guides. Some of them were small books that could easily be packed, but one that I thought would be especially useful was Rick Steve’s Paris. This book is over 3000 pages. Not a practical pack on. I purchased the book on I-books and it was downloaded to my I-phone and I-Pad. Voila-Rick could go with us easily as we traversed the streets and museums of Paris.
Prepack toiletries- Have two of everything so you can have most of your toiletries in your suitcase ready to go. Travel size toothpaste, hair gel, and moisturizer, packed with a new toothbrush. That way you don’t have to throw in toiletries at the last minute.
Medication and Supplements are trickier. What I do is sort my vitamins and put enough in a container for the days I will be gone. If you take daily medication, do the same. Pack enough of your daily meds for the days you will be away. Also have a copy of your prescription, in case you run out of medication or lose some pills.
I take Metamucil every day and while I was on a vacation in Germany, I dropped my whole container of Metamucil on the bathroom floor of the bed and breakfast. Trying to find Metamucil or the equivalent in Germany was tough. Finally I did find psyllium powder in a German pharmacia, so my recommendation is to take extra.
Glasses. Make sure you have both your regular glasses and a pair of sunglasses.
Travel documents –make copies of all your important documents and leave a copy with someone back home. Pack a copy.
Plastic bags-Put extra bags in your suitcase. I pack both quart size and travel size zip lock bags. You can use these bags for snacks, packed liquids, and the bigger bags are good for shoes, and for smaller dirty items.
Umbrella-Always pack a compact size umbrella. This way the weather will not get in the way of your plans
Returning Home and Unpacking-Take your time
When the vacation is over, it can be depressing to unpack. Don’t rush. Give yourself time to unpack and wash and put away your clothes. If you plan to travel again soon, start thinking of what you need for your next trip and start your list.
I just finished my holiday cards so naturally rather than Happy Holidays, I wished everyone a “Happy New Year.” As I was saying it or writing it this year, I thought more about the words and wondered, what does that really mean?
Who can predict what a year will be. Does that mean there will be no sadness, no grief, and no loss? I know this past year was hard for many of our friends and acquaintances. One of our best friends had heart surgery. Another friend lost her husband only 6 weeks after being diagnosed with cancer and then her mother died just a week after her husband’s funeral. We know several people who lost their jobs and many who lost their health insurance. The government shut down didn’t help 2013 very much and although Obama had the best intentions, 2014 will still be a struggle for many.
So does that mean all those people did not have a Happy 2013? What does happiness mean anyway? Certainly we will all have something go wrong this year, but I bet a lot more will go right. So when I say Happy New Year, I remind myself to find the happy throughout the year. To me happy means being mindful of what I am feeling and experiencing. Even if it’s sad or anxiety provoking, I can still find peace by allowing myself the space to feel without judging it as unhappy or bad.
Thich Nhat Hanh says, “ You have 24 hours to live. Don’t waist your time.” He teaches that in 24 hours we breathe several times a minute, we notice all kinds of things; we experience our experiences if we are mindful.
For me I am happy when I take the time to practice meditation and mindfulness regardless of what is happening good or bad. If we get too excited about something good we will certainly be disappointed when things don’t turn out quite as we would like. If we get too down when things are bad, we may not notice all that we do have and how fortunate we are in so many ways.
So if I wish you a Happy New Year, take it to mean, notice every moment or as many moments as you can this year. Let go of judging and simply be in that experience. Take a deep breath. Be grateful for that breath and then watch what is going on around you and sit with it. Be curious about it. Smile and let it be. And if things are not going so well, remember tomorrow is another day so just wish yourself a Happy New Day.
What is your vision for the rest of the year? Before you know it, we will be celebrating a new year. Are you looking too forward without enjoying the days we have left? I know this is an overwhelming time-busy with Fall cleanup, preparing for Thanksgiving, Hanukah and Christmas, business deadlines, and for many struggling with a budget or health issues. But this can also be a very peaceful time if we savor the moments right in front of us.
Let’s stop a moment and see if we can put our activities in slow motion.