Shriek! How to stay calm when things go wrong?

For years, my mantra has been “Calm. Wise. Kind.” Not that I always achieve that! But at least I try.  Lately, my biggest challenge has been “calm.”

You see, we’ve moved. After nine years of living in one house, my husband and I moved to a condo in a nearby town. The move itself went remarkably smoothly. Only one small jade bowl was broken; we eventually found the lid to the wok (in a box with the porcelain Tang horses – why didn’t we look there first?); and after two weeks, we’ve unpacked all 50 boxes of books. We’re basically settled in.

But after the move, I fell apart. Why? Comcast.

First, they canceled our longtime phone number, with no forwarding message. Then, two days ago, with no notice, they abruptly canceled our e-mail account. Basically, no one can reach us at all, by phone or by e-mail. I’ve spent countless hours on the phone with Comcast, with no results so far. When they told me “maybe” they could fix it – but not for three days – I literally felt like vomiting. I reached for the TUMS.

That dwarfs my previous problem: Our Comcast internet modem signal isn’t strong enough to reach my husband’s office within our condo. In the last few days, I’ve wrestled with more wireless routers and co-axial cables and range extenders than I care to count. Do you know how hard it is to screw a co-axial cable in to the back of a modem that sits high on a shelf in a closet? Now our TV – which wasn’t working at all for the first 12 days – bounces back “on” every time we turn it “off.” At least the “mute” button works.

“Calm – Wise – Kind” has evaporated. Now it’s “Yikes! Freak! Shriek!”

“B R E A T H E” – a wise person tells me. Yesterday, after a long, frustrating phone call with Comcast, I was gripping the steering wheel of my car with fists like iron. I willed my muscles to relax. “C A L M,” I told myself. “Think of something else.” I distracted myself by making plans for my next blog post – on a topic I’ll probably never write. Then I got to my appointment, and my friend told me Comcast did the same thing to her, and she lost 800 business contacts. I had to take another TUMS.

My daughter tells me I should always provide a “takeaway” for readers – some solution to a problem. But today, I just can’t.

How do you deal with stress?

About dorijonesyang

As a former journalist in Hong Kong, I love writing books that bridge the gap of understanding between China and America. My new book, When the Red Gates Opened: A Memoir of China's Reawakening, will be published in September 2020.
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1 Response to Shriek! How to stay calm when things go wrong?

  1. Kath says:

    First, it’s amazing you wrote this post considering you’re needing to take TUMS on an as-needed basis, Dori! I hope all of this is worked out ASAP!

    When I’m highly stressed, it’s difficult to think at all, let alone think clearly. I’ve found something very simple that works for me and is easy to remember.

    I bring to mind a snapshot of a 90-year old attempting to blow out the candles on her cake with a big and very long gust. (That’s a lot of candles!) Then I think, “Breathe in like you’re inhaling the scent of the most wonderful rose ever. Breathe out like trying to get the flames on dozens of candles on a cake.”

    An author I worked with shared the idea with me and I added details to make it my own. She couldn’t remember where she’d heard it. Even starting to think about the image and the celebration surrounding a 90-year-old’s birthday party starts to nudge me out of stressed.

    Each of us will have our own way to deal with high-stress situations. And the way we dealt with them five or 10 years ago may be different than now. I recommend having an open mind to “de-stressing” ideas as much as possible: during calm, eustress and distress.


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