August 23, 2020

The Easiest Way to Find Joy in Stressful Situations.


Have you ever had something on your calendar that filled you with dread?

I have recently, and my thoughts were, “Why did I agree to this? I did not expect that it would take up my whole afternoon! What did I get myself in for?”

These questions and a host of irritable thoughts tumbled around in my mind.

I was the family member who was to accompany my mother-in-law to her initial visit to the Cancer Clinic. I am a retired nurse, and I want the best care for Mary.

I love her and understand her need for support at such a critical time in her life. In fact, I was the one who offered to go with her so that we as a family could get the most complete picture possible of her medical situation.

Then why was I so resistant to the idea?

When I called the clinic for instructions, I was told to expect a minimum of two hours for the appointment. There would be many forms to complete and we were to wear masks and practice physical distancing, due to COVID-19 concerns.

My heart felt heavy as I focused on the problems and I started sinking into a mire of negativity. I imagined the struggle to communicate as I helped my mother-in-law fill out the medical forms. She is hard of hearing and I worried about her understanding me as I wore my mask. The technical terminology was sure to be a barrier to her understanding the questions. I felt tired just thinking about it.

Another worry came to mind. What if the doctor was running late and we didn’t get an explanation that was clear? What treatment plan was in place? Would we have any say in this, or would Mary be at the mercy of the system?

Even though I have 35 years of nursing experience, it has been a long time since I was a hospital nurse. I no longer recognize drug names and I am not familiar with the current treatment options. I felt anxious as I imagined the overwhelming amount of information I would be expected to take in and communicate to my mother-in-law at the appointment.

The night before the appointment, I was distracted and restless, feeling anxious and inadequate. I finally fell asleep, and woke up early. I was in that twilight zone of sleep eluding me and daylight slipping into my bedroom, when a loving voice whispered an idea into my soul. I recognized the voice as my intuition getting my attention. It asked me:

What might happen if you prepared for today by setting an intention?

I was instantly awake! Somehow, in the mess of negativity, I had not even considered this. In the past, I have experienced the positive impact of intention setting, and I got out of bed excited to look at the coming day with a fresh perspective.

I laced up my running shoes and grabbed my energy bar. Out I went into the wooded trails near my home. I took a deep breath and gazed at the early morning light. As the birds sang wildly, I opened my heart to what might be possible for me today.

What does it mean to set an intention?

Setting an intention means that I focus on how I want to experience the event or situation that I am facing. Rather than being a victim to circumstances, I remind myself that I am 100 percent responsible for my experience. Intention setting is specific and linked to the moment.

As I anticipated the upcoming appointment, I realized that I wanted to feel peaceful and calm, instead of flustered and anxious. I desired to be patient with possible unexpected delays. I also envisioned a kind and caring energy from the staff at the cancer clinic and clarity from the physician.

How do I go about creating an intention?

>> I get quiet. Walking alone in nature is a place where I am inspired to be open to new ways of being.

>> I breathe deeply and intentionally and focus on the peace I want to feel.

>> I acknowledge my fear. I remind fear that I am safe and capable and do not need it to accompany me on this visit.

>> I accept what I can’t control. The length of the visit and the fact that we must wear masks are a given. I surrender to these facts.

>> I reframe my offer to accompany my mother-in-law. Rather than looking at it as a duty, I see it as an act of service. I am privileged to support her, and my nursing experience is a gift I can bring with me. Even if I don’t know the answers, I am skilled at knowing what questions to ask, and I am able to explain things to her in “plain English.”

What was my intention?

I am open to magic and love, and I am willing to receive.

I am a sleuth for goodness and kindness today.

What happened as a result?

>> I was grounded and centred, and I felt calm and relaxed the whole time.

>> I filled out the forms based on the answers my mother-in-law gave. I honoured her pace and waited patiently as she slowly answered some challenging questions about her medical history.

>> The staff were friendly and kind.

>> The doctor was punctual and respectful. She explained issues clearly and was happy for me to interpret her comments to Mary.

>> The medical news was encouraging, and the treatment plan was set up with consideration for Mary’s age and physical needs.

>> My mother-in-law was at ease and told me that she was glad for my company. She and I have a deeper connection as a result of our time together.

As I reflect on this experience, I am encouraged and inspired by the powerful impact of me setting an intention. I saw “magic” in the smiles and kind words of the hospital staff. I experienced love from my mother-in-law as she accepted my help and thanked me for being with her. Goodness was all around us, right from the security person at the entrance who welcomed us, to the clerk who explained the procedure for follow-up visits. I am celebrating the joy I felt as I drove home and shared the good news with my family.

There are many events in life that are challenging and frightening. I am grateful that the practice of setting an intention is a way for me to experience hope and calm in the midst of it all. I know that the actual situation may not change. In my case, I still went to a lengthy medical appointment that took a lot of energy and time.

What does change, however, is my attitude. When I was on the lookout for love and kindness, that is what showed up. I have a choice and, in this way, I can create the type of experience I desire.

Where in your life might you benefit from setting an intention? It may be a challenging conversation with a co-worker, perhaps a dental visit that is looming, or a job interview.

I trust that my story will prompt you to consider the power that results from setting an intention and being open to what happens next.

My book, Saying Yes to Life: Embracing the Magic and Messiness of the Journey, describes how I came to listen to my inner wisdom, and trust that I can live a life filled with lightness and love. It is a resource for anyone who wants to embrace the messy path of adventure full of magical experiences.


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