Me… Stressed??

“Peace is the result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” ~ Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

This past Sunday we experienced what meteorologists call a “100 year rain event.” Put simply, it means we got slammed. I live in the desert and when rains of this magnitude fall, it is impossible for the arid land to absorb so much water in such a compressed period of time. It yields massive flooding and it literally sweeps away what you would never imagine being uprooted and moved.

It’s unnerving to watch portions of your property wash down an arroyo. It’s frustrating when years of manual labor and xeriscaping simply vanishes. It’s been a physically and emotionally draining week.

Wednesday evening, exhausted, I finally created time to put what had happened into perspective. I looked at Bailey and Logan (my canine companions) and started to laugh, at them and myself! After days of massive cleaning up, where neighbors slogged and rallied to support each other, I realized that it was just earth and rocks and trees and railroad ties. And how important are they? πŸ™‚

My focusΒ shifted to how fortunate we were. In the bigger global picture, I’m still abundantly blessed. There was no loss of life, the interior of the house was undamaged, electricity was eventually restored and life will go on. Me… stressed? Perhaps then. Me… grateful? Absolutely now.


Before. Peaceful. Prethreatened.

After. It's worse than it looks.

After. It’s worse than it looks.







Are there take-aways? Sure there are.

1) I found my way back to positive thinking which, in this case, meant that I approached unpleasantness in a positive and productive way. I changed my self-talk to align with the best is going to happen, not the worst. I (eventually) paused and chose to cope, thus mitigating the harmful effects of stress.

2) When I got around to laughing, I was focused on Bailey and Logan. Many are unaware of the physical and mental health benefits that accompany time shared with pets. They’re mood enhancers! Studies have shown that pets lower blood pressure in stressful situations and it doesn’t have to be a cat or a dog. Even watching fish in an aquarium can help reduce muscle tension.

3) I realized I still possessed what mattered; family, health and friends. Researchers from The Australian Longitudinal Study on Aging looked at 1,500 men and women for a full decade. Among their findings was that having good friends is more likely to increase health and longevity than even close relationships with other family members. The researchers speculate that the emotional support friends provide one another during difficult times, contributes stress reduction benefits as a result of feeling connected to other people.

89 thoughts on “Me… Stressed??

  1. Hi Eric,
    It seems you are trying to talk yourself out of stress – I appreciate that approach. Wisdom lies in accepting what cannot be changed and who can fight the fury of nature? I like your positivity, which is shining through your words, the pictures convey the opposite, though! I would repeat my oft quoted adage: count your blessings!

    Yes, emotional support of friends really keeps us going despite all the setbacks. What a lovely ending! You are so brave, Eric! All the best! Happy landscaping with new ideas.

    • It was interesting so observe my initial reaction, Balroop. I have worked to minimize the affects of stress n my life for many years yet this came out of the blue so there was no time or space to absorb the shock, if you will. Without doubt, I count my blessings. So many have suffered much worse fate. And now, a full week later, my life is pretty much where it was pre-strorm. Thanks for your very kind comments.

  2. Glad you are all safe and sound. Those arroyos can rage. 100 years…sounds like what happened in Colorado. Big floods in NY too this last week. El Nino is on the way, boon to farmers, flood and mud-threat for others.

  3. I was really touched by this post, Eric. And I though how it reminded me of the most famous line by Zorba the Greek: ” Hey boss, did you ever see a more splendiferous crash?” Kudos to you for your amazing attitude.

    • Love it, Monika… “…a more splendiferous crash.” That brought a wide smile to my face. πŸ™‚ Appreciate your acknowledging my attitude. Was there really any other way for me to process this? (Asked rhetorically.)

  4. What an interesting and insightful blog post. I am sorry that you and your neighbours went through all that flooding. Watching your work go down the drain is no fun.
    But I’m glad to see you working your way to positive acceptance and new insights on the situation. My best,

  5. We should live our lives more from a dog’s perspective. While we might be complaining about getting all that snow (in the video) the dog’s made the best of it. We recently had a dog adopt us (scroungy, skinny and worm infested) who shows his appreciation for us every day. I never thought a dog could express gratitude in such a way that touches our spirit. He brings joy to us in a major way because we don’t know what was in his past but yet he doesn’t let that bother him as he lives in the moment. They are mood enhancers for sure!!!

    • Having been a dog owner for decades, I am inclined to agree with you, Grace. The give so much, unconditionally. Some of us are genuinely indebted to them for all their love and understanding. Here’s to our finding ways to enhance their moods. πŸ™‚

  6. “Peace is not just absence of conflict, it is a positive phenomena inside of us.” Sri Sri Ravi Shankar

    Peace is about acknowledgement and positive engagement. Just as you have proven!!

  7. Great lesson!
    Family, health and friends… Love is the most important… Everything else is ‘ dust in the wind’…
    It was an earthquake of high magnitude that revealed this undeniable truth to me when I was very young. Experiences are mirrors… we learn who we really are.
    Strength and positiveness showed up in your mirror!

    • Beautiful, Camelia, your mirror analogy. And thanks for your kind words, as well. We are often reminded and warmed about how many of us reflect strength and positiveness in challenging situations. I know my neighbors mirrored that!

  8. Thank goodness for such an example of the power of attitude, Especially attitude as the result of will and not what might seem natural. This made me think of “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% your attitude in dealing with it.” Thanks for reminding us about this important life lesson! Best of luck to you and your neighbors dealing with the logistics of the aftermath. Prayers sent your way.

    • Thank you, AFspouse. I appreciate your timely reminder of the 10%/90% mix; it shows itself over and over. It is warming to know that the post resonated in a positive way with readers. That was the intent. Your prayers are welcome, too!

  9. I am sorry to see the mess that mother nature has left behind for you to clean up.

    Those dogs were just too cute! Thanks for the morning laugh. I needed that.

    I think friends are really important, too. I took a longevity self-quiz and the results showed a few years would be taken off of my life for lack of social connections. In the last year I’ve broaden my circle of friends and it has made all of the difference in me!

    • I can only imagine this is exactly how my dogs would behave if I lived in a snowy environment. Mine are as close to me as my human friends. For me (and I suspect many others) connections are critical, in good and not so good times. Kudos for choosing to broaden your circle of friends and reap the return. I can sense the joy it has brought you.

  10. Eric your resolve and attitude of mindfulness shows how you have put your experience into perspective.. And its using that awareness to retrain our minds in turning times of trauma into times of learning..
    I loved how you used the Dogs to illustrate this, and loved the short little video of the two dogs training themselves to slide in the snow..
    The Mop up operation I know will take more time if not several seasons to put back.. But Sometimes out of chaos we gain so much more..

    A few years ago we had such a heavy snow no one could go to work or get up or off our hill.. So everyone pulled together to clear the roads and everyone’s drives.. Some neighbours had never even spoken to each other before that day.. Out of that Event of Extreme weather New friend and lasting friendships were made.. Sometimes we need to laugh and be thankful for the things we are grateful for.. No home was swept away and no lives were lost… And I know in time all will be rebuilt in fact maybe even better than it was..

    You are certainly a great motivational speaker Eric.. and you live by your word…
    Good luck in your rebuild… and I hope no more bad floods head your way..
    Sending you my thoughts Eric..
    Blessings Sue

    • What a great story about making new friends and lasting relationships, Sue. Indeed, out of chaos we gain… Restoration will happen as and when its intended. At this moment, it’s not a priority. And a good thing as the forecast is calling for more, potentially severe weather through Thursday. I’ve already decided that whatever happens, I’m simply going to roll with it. Very thankful here and equally appreciative for this blogging community which offered awesome words of support. You included. πŸ™‚

  11. Nature periodically likes to remind us that nothing is permanent. When we are properly connected with nature and recognize our place in it, the “damage” becomes “change.” But you probably figured that out way before I did!

    I’m glad you are safe and sound!

    • Laughing more each day, ee. Nature, she is not one to mess with. Those foolish enough to test her, often learn lessons the hard way. Me, I’m okay with simply being humbled at and by her majesty.

  12. When a natural disaster hits, we realize what’s most important to us. Judy Garland grabbed her dog Toto when the tornado came. When my house burned, I grabbed my signed autograph of Judy Garland.

    • Seriously, Glenn? What about your kids? I’m with Judy, my dogs would be the first things ensured safety but at 80 pounds each, they wouldn’t be tucked under an arm. πŸ™‚ Isn’t is odd how it often takes a natural disaster for us to realize what’s important. One would think we’d be aware of this and thankful every day. Good of you to stop by and comment. Thanks.

  13. Glad to hear you’re ok, and that the inside of your home was spared; the outside will eventually get back to where it was (I’m sure with a lot of hard work). It’s so good that you took the positive approach through gratitude.

    • Well the outside will evolve into something, Angeline. I was thinking maybe a gigantic koi pond. Then I realized how crazy that would make Bailey and Logan. πŸ™‚ All will be fine here. Thanks much for you kind words.

  14. Glad you’re ok and refound your happiness and peace. Events like that do stress us, but they also make us aware of the smaller more important aspects of life in which we are grateful.

    • If we can’t circle back to our happiness and peace, Suzi, then what have we learned? It was the natural direction in which to move for me. Indeed, it is so often about being grateful, even for the small, unexpected things. Appreciate your stopping by. πŸ™‚

  15. You have a wonderful attitude in the face of such an event.
    I found that interesting, the part about good friends. I had a hunch that friends had a lot to do with me having a good day. Now it’s official. Best of luck with the clean up.

    • Thanks, Frankie. How I evolved in my thinking and responding took a surprising three days but where I chose to ‘go’ was probably never in doubt. I appreciate your acknowledging attitude in this; it’s so significant. And I’m equally pleased that your hunch has been validated.

    • Too bad you weren’t here, Brian, you could have reported on the conditions and aftermath, live! πŸ™‚ The damge and stress are/were fleeting. It’s time to rebound and move onward. There’s ‘stuff’ to do! Appreciate your supportive comment.

  16. I’m so glad you and your buddies are safe. I’m sorry about the damage, and look forward to what you create in it’s place. Sounds like you were given a clean slate. And a strong mental fortitude to heal and rebuild.

    • Well, a full assessment of the damage yields about a half clean slate. Some parts of the property are definitely salvageable. The healing pretty much happens naturally. The rebuilding is where the fortitude will come in handy. If I rebuild. πŸ™‚ Thanks for your “safe” remarks, Colleen; I’m warmed by them.

  17. Sorry you had to come to these great insights through all these trials. Happy you & yours are ok. I wish you all the best for the rebuilding effort.

    • I believe the insights have been and will continue to be ‘there.’ It’s just the unanticipated events that expose what we draw upon and how we deal with adversity. Thanks for the well wishes, Tiny. Rebuilding isn’t even on the radar screen right now. We’ll see how that opportunity unfolds…

      • I know these insights are there, meant to say reminder, silly me. I know the opportunities unfold as and when they are supposed to…warm regards.

    • Indeed. We can learn a lot from ourselves, too, if we simply pause, listen, and tap into our own strengths. I know you know this, Val; just typing out loud here. πŸ™‚ Thanks for your kind words!

  18. Terrific outlook, Eric. “How we relate to the issue IS the issue.”

    One of the BEST things that ever happened to us was a flood in the basement that caused us to rethink years of accumulation of STUFF that we no longer needed. We came out of that flood lighter and brighter and freer than ever before.

    Good luck with the clean up. And thanks for sharing that hysterical video. Go, Dog, Go!

    • It’s those decluttering and simplifying gods. They’re in cahoots with Nature. Oliver Stone ought to make a movie about this stuff. Appreciate your upbeat perspective and for sharing your valuable take-away, Nancy. Woofs all around for the dogs! What a life some of them are free to live. πŸ™‚

  19. We found the same thing last year when we had a succession of major earthquakes. It is stressful, its frightening at the time, it destroys aspects of your home you have lovingly created, it creates a lot of hard word and it leaves you vulnerable and frayed. Stress is normal and we suffer it at times like this. Then after a few days or weeks you start to realise everything is still ok, it didn’t touch what’s really important in the end πŸ™‚ Things can be fixed even if it is a pain in the behind to have to do it all.

  20. I’m so happy to hear that you, your family and friends are okay. Mother Nature can be indiscriminate when it comes to people and things. I’m grateful to hear that she only went after things this time. I know it’s difficult to rebuild but thank God you can. You are showing a good attitude about it and are inspiring to others.

    • Thank you, Linda. I am truly grateful that it was just ‘things.’ Your word “indiscriminate” is quite apt. She can be ruthless. But she also provides us with majestic beauty. We still have beautiful views even if the ground underneath has been reconfigured. πŸ™‚ Your comment is comforting.

  21. During Hurricane Sandy, we lost our family home. I was already gone from there for about 10 years, I think. And there was no loss of life but the building was gutted leaving almost nothing salvageable. Funny how different people reacted.

    • Thanks for sharing your family’s loss. My mother and many friends still live on the NJ coast so I know, almost first-hand, of the “Sandy” devastation. Glad in your case as well there was no loss of life. Everything else can be rebuilt, if so chosen. And indeed, funny how reactions vary.

  22. I am glad you shared your process here. THe turning point seemed to be laughing with your canine companions- they are often much wiser than we are πŸ™‚ And as you point out, we can benefit from their wisdom and trust in life.

    • The turning point *was* laughing at Bailey and Logan and myself. Laughter heals! They are indeed, wise, and some of us are incredibly blessed to have them as part of our lives. Your comment finds me smiling and appreciative — of you and my canine kids. πŸ™‚

  23. Wow Eric, look at you, walking the walk!!!! That is so awesome to see, I am so glad you shared a vulnerable post. Your situation immediately reminded me of one of my favorite Rumi poems, and the metaphor of the “house” seems so apropos here! As above so below…

    This being human is a guest house.
    Every morning a new arrival.

    A joy, a depression, a meanness,
    some momentary awareness comes
    As an unexpected visitor.

    Welcome and entertain them all!
    Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
    who violently sweep your house
    empty of its furniture,
    still treat each guest honorably.
    He may be clearing you out
    for some new delight.

    The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
    meet them at the door laughing,
    and invite them in.

    Be grateful for whoever comes,
    because each has been sent
    as a guide from beyond.

    You laughed at them for sure! I appreciate you sharing your process and showing how powerful attitude can really be. Here’s to a sacred clearing/cleansing for you and the pups….


    • Yes, that’s me, walking the walk. πŸ™‚ And it’s amusing to me that there seems to be as many counter-thinkers as there are encouragers; at least when it comes to processing Eric’s singular perspectives. Thank you for acknowledging my walking.

      I still remember reading my first Rumi poem in 1985. Ever since, I’ve rarely read or been made aware of a piece of his work that I didn’t like and that didn’t add meaning to my life views. From my heart, thank you for sharing this poem. We have so many guides and many don’t even realize this gift. Rumi’s words here are beautifully aligned with my experience. Your keen mind (and heart) so easily made the metaphorical connection. This is very thoughtful of you, Amanda.

      The sacred clearing/cleansing is ongoing. I just added another facet to the learning and appreciating. xo

  24. I liked that you showed your first emotion of stress. We have to admit that is what our first reaction to losing the terrain from rain, the upheaval and all the work you put into it to make it a pleasant place, washed away… But then, you showed us how to handle it, with humor and admitting that its not the worst of things to happen. Great and positive comments, with the dogs being a good reminder that they help ease stress and are good companions. Also, that friends may be even more supportive than family. How true! Smiles, Robin

    • To your observation, Robin, my first reaction did allow and elevate stress. And that was/is generally natural for many of us. It was only after intentional reflection that I chose to shift my response. πŸ™‚ And it would surprise few, I suspect, that it was humor and laughter that catalyzed the shift. Thank you for your kind comments and for echoing what many of us see as valuable and meaningful.

  25. I’m sorry you experienced such awful results of rain. Looking on the positive, you must certainly have super-hero skills. Wow, I would still be crying the blues. As you saw, though, you still have positives like family and health. It will get better. ❀ Great lesson for all of us.

  26. Thanks for following my blog.
    I survived one of those ‘once in a hundred year’ events that surprisingly paled into insignificance when two years later something truly bad happened πŸ™‚
    Ever since then (since the truly bad thing) I have tried to focus on those people and things (like good health) that matter that I still have left.
    You have a fantastic blog. Thanks for your inspiration.

    • Thank you, middle name Elisabeth. πŸ™‚ Your thoughtful comment is appreciated. It only took reading a couple of your recent posts to know your blog was/is worth following.

      I am sorry to read that you had a significant life event two years ago. I hope you have been able to experience some healing since. Your current focus is laudable and I sense, yielding new and positive perspectives.

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