with equal parts compassion & hilarity

What are you not worrying about?

Narrow rainbow arched through dusty looking white clouds in a blue sky

There’s some worry in the world right now. 

Are you feeling it?

I am, too. 

It’s showing up in odd places like how my body feels physically sore and it is not because of a hard workout.  I’ve also been having a lot of dreams that are a little bit dark and seem to share the common thread of anxiety and worry and despair at not being in control.

I’ll admit that part of that is influenced by the fact that I’ve been reading Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series right before I shut off the bedside lamp every night. This morning, actually, I told John that I do thoroughly enjoy her books, but I think I need to stop reading them in the evening. It’s better for me to read her brilliant murder mystery books in daylight hours. 

As a side note, if you enjoy murder mysteries, I recommend French’s series. I’m accidentally reading them out of order (didn’t know about #1, never realized there was a #2, started with #3 on a whim, unknowingly skipped #4, am reading #5), but they’re still really good. You can read them in order, but it’s not an obligation.

So, yeah, part of the anxiety-ridden dreams is because I’m on page 283 of a 452-page murder mystery novel. Another part of it is simply that my mind is occupied with the normal worries I think most humans deal with. And, still, another part is related to the general topic of COVID-19 and how it seems to be the primary color of most conversations I’m having. 

Basically, I have a shortlist of things that are causing me to worry. Lame, not fun, causing me varying degrees of pain, discomfort, and grief.

It reminds me about running (as do most things in life). When I took a marathon training class in college, the coursework required that we learn various tactics for mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually preparing for and enduring the marathon.

We learned about focusing on one part of our body that isn’t hurting during a long run when our bodies are hurting in a big way. This approach encouraged us to notice and meditate on a part of our body that was functioning at peak performance. It’s really easy to overlook the parts of our bodies that don’t hurt and that aren’t causing us pain when we have a terrible side stitch or our legs feel like lead or our shin splints are acting up on mile 4 of a 16-mile long run. But, we were asked to try.

I quickly found that left pinky toe felt amazing, my right elbow was doing great, and that my thumbs felt really strong. Then, I would speak to myself:

“Wow, I don’t know if my left pinky toe has ever felt this good before. You’re right, Alexis—but check out your right elbow! The way it bends at a 90-degree angle to help propel you forward, forward, ever forward. That is something special. And, your thumbs are reliable, too. It’s obvious how they’re so sure of their place, content and confident in their role of gracefully holding your lightly fisted hands together, and patiently awaiting your quiet acknowledgment. Your body will get you to the finish.”

I mean, it was totally weird to think about and it doesn’t work for everyone, but I appreciated the practice. It disrupted the deep awareness of pain and helped introduce positive self-talk on a mostly negative run.

The best part is how that principle can be applied to other instances including the one we’re all currently living in because, and I’m just making an educated guess here, your worry baseline might be elevated slightly just like mine is. Maybe we’re worried about trying not to worry or we’re sick of people telling us to enjoy this time at home or we’re flailing aimlessly or we’re afraid we’re not doing quarantine right. However it looks, we’re all doing a type of enduring right now. 

And when we’re enduring, we need ways through it. I don’t want to be another noise on the internet telling you what to do, but I do want to share with you about two lists I have going in my brain these days. 

You already know that I have a shortlist of worries right now. But, I also have another list. I tried hard to create a shortlist of things that aren’t causing me worry right now, a list of things that aren’t hurting me right now:

  • I’m not worried about those elusive chin hairs that I occasionally find during social gatherings. Do they matter right now, when I pretty much don’t see anyone all week? Uhm, no.
  • I’m not worried about working out because, thanks to the internet, there are about a million different home workout plans. 
  • I’m not worried about there being less joy, love, or generosity around me. In the past week, three of my friends have gotten engaged! I read an article about a bride and groom having a living room wedding to comply with social distancing—a wedding nonetheless! I talked with a friend on Zoom last Saturday who shared that his boss gave him and his fellow coworkers $100 to spend on small businesses! Aren’t people so amazingly creative, resilient, and capable?
  • I’m not worried about God’s character or about Him forgetting us. My bible says He is good, He is always good. It says that He is faithful, He is always faithful. (Matthew 10:29-31, 1 Corinthians 1:9)

Much ado about self-talk

If you find yourself struggling with the worries even though you might logically recognize that they’re untrue or silly to worry about (who doesn’t?!), I created a resource to help with self-talk. The 60 Second Self-Talk Check-In is all yours when you subscribe to my email list

It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s a step-by-step guide designed to help you figure out if you’re lying to yourself or not. I don’t make you praise your thumbs or champion your left pinky toe, but it probably will still feel a bit disjointed at first. My hope is that you use this guide to pause for 60 seconds, hold captive your thoughts, and speak good truth to yourself.

What makes your “Not Worrying About” list?

(Note: I do have affiliate links in this post. It doesn’t cost you extra, I just get an itsy bitsy commission if you buy something I recommend. You clicking on these links actually helps keep this little blog running. So, thanks!)

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