Saturday, January 1, 2011

Emotional noise

It was a busy week. My parents were here to visit for four days, and that overlapped with a few stressful home visits from Big Guy. The machine that charges up my laundry card broke (we pay for the wash with a debit card of sorts), so we're knee-deep in piles of the to-be-washed. The pipe under the kitchen sink is leaking badly. Snuggler was crushed that she didn't get a part in Seussical, and required a great deal of extra love. I learned that there was a mis-typed lecture date in a newsletter I wrote, which was not entirely my fault, but the problem still needs a solution. We're hamster-sitting for a friend, and my eyes are itchy from rodent dander and my annual allergy to the drying Christmas tree. I've eaten too many cookies.

All this -- ranging from the mildly inconvenient to the rabidly stressful -- clamors for mental attention. Sanity has consisted of stapling a mental note to my brain that says

This moment only feels like forever: it isn't. 

Enough water has passed under the bridge of my life that sometimes I remember that many of today's woes will be gone tomorrow or Tuesday or a week from Sunday. This cacophony of needs and problems will be replaced with others, and life will go on.

My mom -- who has had an empty next for decades -- commented mildly while she was here that the general noise level at my house is higher than she is used to. She marveled that I can work or read a book when the kids are playing loudly nearby. I react as badly to excess noise as the next over-stimulated person -- when it's not of a type to which I'm accustomed. My ability to concentrate in the midst of family chaos is a survival skill: no one's going to give me peace and quiet, so I've have to find it within myself. I've learned to tune out some things in order to focus on others.

I wonder if there's an equivalent to that for emotional noise. Sometimes we feel every stress on the horizon, and many smaller stresses don't need the amount of attention we give them. Maybe there are ways to nourish peace in our hearts, even in the midst of life's emotional mayhem. 

Here's hoping the new year brings you insight and wisdom, and a life that is more focused on the things that matter most.


  1. I had a job once where we all sat in one room. I got so that I wouldn't respond to people talking to me unless they actually said my name. Otherwise? Tuned out.

    Happy new year, J.

  2. Excellent! Learn to tune out the emotional noise, too. I learned the practical skill when our four children were small. Now they are grown and have reproduced themselves beautifully. But all those new lives brings lots of extra emotional noise. We're starting chemo with one of our daughters this week, so I really need this lesson. Thanks so much.

  3. Julia, glad to have found your blog and am enjoying following you. I have read Daily Guideposts for years and have found the devotionals that you and your husband write very moving. Happy New Year with your family.

  4. Yes, I have learned to tune out noise, emotional and real, in order to get things done. My mom used to say (and me and my sister still say) this too shall pass. It's true. At the time, though, it seems all consuming. I have found that a lot of the less major stresses in my life tend to work themselves out on their own. The bigger ones, well, I have managed to work through them, too. I think the emotional noise is harder for me to tune out than the regular noise. I'm learning, though. Sure has take me a while, but I'm getting there.

  5. I am a mother of 6 kids aged 6-15. We have a "big gal" very much like your "big guy"--similar issues, similar timeline, similar decisions to be made this year. I have been a reader of Guideposts for years--my mother and I flip directly to your entries on Christmas Day every year to "catch up" on your family and how you have met ages and stages along the way. At the very least it is a comfort knowing there are other families out there meeting challenges in the endless loop that is adolescent services. A chat between you and I -- would be many cups of vanilla chai and we could probalby write 5 or 6 books on the subject! :)