It is the first blustery, snowy day of the winter in Connecticut with wet slush falling from the sky and covering the roads. My husband and I went out in the mini-van to buy the first gift of the holiday shopping season, and my husband noticed that the windshield wiper seemed to be broken. While we were stopped at a red light, he rolled down the driver’s side window to reach around to knock the ice off the wiper. He stretched himself out the open window and suddenly a big black pick-up truck in the lane next to him revved it’s engine and flew past us, spattering freezing wet slush clear across the inside of the car, covering him, me, the dashboard and the interior of the windshield in an icy shower.
I was sitting in the passenger seat and I panned my eyes from my window across the front console, both of which now had little rivers of water dripping down them. My face and jacket were wet too, and the cold was a shocking surprise. As I looked at my husband who had droplets of water dripping off his nose and chin and sinking into his jeans, I could see the anger beginning to boil up in him. Before he could erupt into full-blown road rage though, I started to laugh.
The laughter poured out of me, making my chest heave and my eyes start to water. The shock of the cold and the mess inside the car were such a surprise, and uncontrolled laughter was my response. I was chuckling and snorting and made a joke about getting a free car wash. My husband looked at me like I was nuts, but I could see that my laughter diffused his anger. He wanted to be angry, but my reaction would not allow his anger to build. Instead of a tense drive across town, we ended up joking about being caught in real life in a scene from a slapstick comedy.
Our first shopping trip of the season could have been the first step in a downward spiral of holiday “bah humbug.” It has become fashionable to focus on the frustrations that can accompany the hustle and bustle and family expectations of the holidays, but we can choose to view the coming month through lenses of our choosing.
A few weeks ago I went to a playshop held by my friend, Jenny Drescher, who is a life coach who specializes in showing people how to live in choice. The topic of the playshop was beating holiday stress. One of the exercises we did was to write the story of our typical holiday, with all of its stresses and family dysfunction. Next, we thought about the things that are important to us that we would like to experience this holiday season, and we got support from others in the group with ideas for how we could incorporate those priorities into practice. Finally, we rewrote the story to reflect the holidays as we want to celebrate them.
The foundations of the playshop were very similar to the basics of planning ahead to have mastery over maternity and to have a healthy, safe, positive birth experience. Knowledge, priorities, supportive community, clarity of needs and wants, and a vision to strive to create for oneself are components of creating a path of one’s choosing into the future. A key piece of the puzzle to personal fulfillment, whether it relates to the holidays, maternity, or anything else one encounters in life, is the element of choice in how we respond to our circumstances.
We don’t always have control over what happens to us. This is especially true when it comes to pregnancy and birth. Sometimes life throws a bucket of icy slush in your face. We can, however, choose how we react to life’s surprises and choose our outlook and attitude. I’m happy that on that day I chose to laugh.
Michal Klau-Stevens is The Birth Lady. She is the creator of the 11 Steps to Planning Ahead to “Have It All” Audio Class, an on-demand, downloadable program that helps 20-somethings design a life they love that includes career, family, learning, and self-fulfillment. She is a maternity consultant, pregnancy coach, consumer expert on maternity care issues, Past President of BirthNetwork National, Lamaze Certified Childbirth Educator, and mother. Her website is TheBirthLady.INFO. Find her on Facebook at The Birth Lady page!
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