Are you suffering at the hands of stress carriers? They create way more problems than they solve, so don’t march to their beat.


Are you a stress carrier or suffering at the hands of one? These are people who waltz around creating stress for other people. Frequently they’re bosses, life partners, supervisors. The ones who remind you over and over again about looming deadlines, point out miniscule and irrelevant flaws or mistakes in your work, and somehow make details they notice more important than anything you’ve observed.

They often aren’t instructing or improving themselves. By dumping on you, they transfer the concern off their own to-do list to an on-going nag list; so they can recite it to you over and over. The technique of one boss, whom I adored, was to make so many assignments with so many elements, that I constantly felt I was running a marathon. He’d simply run down his register weekly and ask for results. In this instance his approach bore fruit because I worked my butt off. When I finally left, I was replaced by three people.

Occasionally they’re friends or peers, not superiors. I heard of one stress carrier, a musician, who was able to have the entire band, including the director, jumping to her beat, by maintaining a litany of complaints about deadlines, whines over marketing efforts, disagreements about performance venues. She was disturbing the equilibrium of the whole organization.

Trouble is, the perspective of stress carriers sounds absolutely reasonable. Obtain bids for a printing job? A sensible request. Until the specifications, numbers, sizes and every other feature are amended over and over. A spouse who can’t decide on a vacation until you provide twenty options for lodging falls into this category. And in the wake of these demands, you’re sucked into negative feelings of doom, failure, helplessness, because emotions can be contagious.

I and a few others are currently working on an event with a stress carrier. Over the period of weeks, she asked us to develop a plan, critiqued each point, changed the parameters, talked to each of us independently, dwelt on particulars, told us why our suggestions wouldn’t work, then decided on something completely different. Each idea, every step was tweaked and re-tweaked until I couldn’t remember what, if anything, had been decided. Each of her reports seemed more dismal than the previous. Finally she ignored our advice and made her own decision. For which we were so grateful, we simply agreed with her.

I think I used to be a stress carrier myself. I remember making list after list, segueing into sub-lists, printed in different colors, with staggered and intersecting deadlines. These I’d distribute to others involved in a project, updated regularly. I now wonder if I caused more confusion and chaos than I resolved.

I feel so much better now that I finally realized I don’t have to do all the worrying of the world. Let loose and leave alone. I’ve learned to simply carry on carrying on. People usually can figure out what they need to do.

So if you’re dealing with a stress carrier, remember this. Nothing you do will relieve their anxiety or meet unreasonable standards, so stop trying to do the impossible.

Also remember this: “stressed” is “desserts” spelled backwards. If you can’t escape a stress carrier, treat yourself to something delish.


Procrastination-procrastination-263982_750_644With the approach of the year’s end and a new one beginning, many of us frantically compile lists of things to finish up or initiate. Mine include holiday gift-buying, card-sending, planning a family dinner, household chores to complete before the arrival of guests, places to go and people to meet, not to mention activities related to writing and marketing. It’s enough to make me long to immediately take a nap. Or, if I actually try to accomplish everything, by Christmas Eve at 2 a.m., I’m cranky, exhausted, and depleted of cheer.

However, a secret has been revealed to me, through my own neglect. If you wait long enough, many of those little notes to yourself are out of date and you can throw them away! This won’t work with responsibilities like filing your taxes, although you can even delay on that particular task from year to year. This is known as “procrastination.”

This certainly alleviates some of the stress we place on ourselves to achieve each and every item on our to-do lists. Example: I’ve had a stack of bricks in my backyard for about a year, pried out by a landscaper from where they’d slowly been inundated by mud. On my list went “move bricks” for quite some time. Never to be accomplished. Until my grandkids wanted some chores for which they could earn money. Presto! They did the work, and I crossed it off the list.

Another advantage: you’re able to ponder an action from multiple perspectives, gain the advice of others, maybe even outlast a trend. When I had a house I wanted to refinance, I delayed and delayed. Over the years, the interest rate plunged steadily downward to my benefit.

In terms of social interactions, I recently postponed for weeks contacting some friends I hadn’t see in a while. Finally, they reached out to me with invitations to their homes. What a great way to keep in touch without having to put forth effort or adding another bunch of chores to be completed.

Physical chores are especially suitable for procrastination, since I don’t enjoy doing them. Perhaps you, like me, have put off making a bed. By night time, it’s no longer needed. Ditto swiping out kitchen cupboards with any sort of regularity

This holiday season, try a little procrastination yourself. You may find you’re happier, and so are the folks around you.

Keeping My Balance, or the Strange Case of the Woman With a Toothbrush Lodged in Her Throat

Who’s the woman on the street corner lifting her leg to the front, side, back? Some urban looney? The victim of a new disease? No, I’m working to keep my balance.

I’m familiar with the hundreds, thousands, of experts and organizations who freely offer advice about achieving balance between work and family, mental and physical activities, spiritual and carnal desires. Stressed out? You need balance. Overweight or in poor condition? You need balance.

But another kind of balance is commanding attention in my life. It’s plain old body balance. Not falling down or over. Avoiding stumbles that send me tumbling to the floor. Being able to carry a tray of goodies without spilling.

Zumba dance class brought this concern front and center. Twenty years ago I could kick above my head without a thought, and a series of leg lifts like a Rockette was part of my routine. Then I realized that certain moves in Zumba routines are threatening me with disaster. These all relate to balance. Several quick thrusts alternating right and left limbs, even simply standing on one leg for a short period of time makes me shaky. Tremors run across my entire body, and my eyes cross as I try to remain vertical and stable. So I’m seeking ways to improve my balance.

Cars and pedestrians who pass me on my walks stare when they see me at a red light, for I’m exercising. Sometimes I practice when I’m stuck in line at the grocery store or post office. My latest effort, after reading advice from a 99year-old athlete, is to balance on one foot while I’m brushing my teeth. This is a true challenge, and I do worry my husband may find me one day with the electric toothbrush firmly lodged, but still vibrating, deep down my throat.

Another article with a trainer at the Y provided tips complete with photos in the Denver Post that I’ve tried to implement gradually. Start small with only a few inches of foot raising. Then add small weights or a ball to the routine. The pinnacle is perching on a stool or bar while holding barbells over your head.

I’ve been practicing semi-religiously for about three months with little improvement in sight. I’m getting so worried about losing my balance and injuring myself that it might be time to address the balances in my life concerning stress and worry. Once I do that, I’ll build up the courage to attempt the most challenging exercise: the half-ball, one-leg effort or Bosu ball. Just in case someday I have to traverse a road or hall with a surface constructed of globes, or I decide to join Cirque do Soleil.