Open During Renovations...

It was a crisp 22* F (-5* C) and the local Starbucks had a small walk –up window open for hot drinks and food. There were three baristas closely tucked inside with a space heater, coats, gloves, smiles, music and laughter. The milk and cream station was boldly out on the icy sidewalk. Renovation had started that day, complete with piles of material visible through the windows as I walked past with my latte. Aren’t we all “Open During Renovation”? I mean, it’s not like we get to stop when it’s hard to keep going, we just get to rest a little. But we persevere through and do the work and renovation as we go.

Staying open during the construction was a brilliant plan, I stopped there for coffee because of the perseverance and good cheer of the frozen baristas. Renovations are messy. They usually take longer and cost more than you think they will. And the end result often looks nothing like you planned. Eventually though, it’s over.

sandys brain picI imagined how it works inside us – construction happening in our own renovations as we try to stay cheerful and open. I had this picture of a brain with a little walk-up window, some scaffolding, and tiny baristas doing their best with bottles of cortisol, dopamine, serotonin, pro-inflammatory mediators “What are you ordering today?”

For me, I prefer an Extra Shot of Dopamine and Serotonin, usually getting those with an order of Hope and Possibility. Laughter is my favorite anti-inflammatory*. I’ll take a Grade Latte with a double shot of Resilience!

What if that’s really how it works? Physical Therapists like to tell people to keep moving. Moving sometime hurts, or you just can’t do it “one more time”. Rest a bit, take a couple of easy breaths** and give moving easily another chance. You are stronger than you feel. You are resilient, and resiliency gets better with practice (everything does, even feeling crappy). The flare-ups and dark-downs are not permanent, though they may feel like they are when you are in the midst of them.

The Frozen Baristas at the local Starbucks may have felt like they would be stuck in that little walk-up forever, the charm may have worn off as they lost feeling in their fingertips… but the newly polished store is once again fully open and shining!

What will you order today?

* Poetic license. It’s not quite that simple…

** Why Breathing? Persistent pain and challenges that go on too long can make it hard to feel or pay good attention to your body. You may have become accustomed to the tension and guarding you’ve used for so long that you don’t realize anymore that you are doing it. It’s become normal. Or maybe you’re not bracing or guarding anything at all – but to keep going through your own renovation you’ve stopped feeling or even being aware of a part of you, you’ve “put it somewhere else” so that you could keep going. Both of these are great short-term tools – but they aren’t supposed to be permanent! Breathing mindfully can help you take an imaginary walk to and through parts of yourself that need some kind awareness and timely attention.