Nov 17, 2008

Life, Writing and Then Some . . .

by Rene Allen

Almost ninety days have passed since the plane crash in southern Utah that took the lives of ten people, including those of my brother Lansing, and nephew, Dallin. I still cry now and then, particularly every Sunday on the way to church and on the way home. Why is that?

This morning I filled out an online health survey for our medical insurance. There were a lot of questions about stress including losses. Well, there have been five deaths in my family and my husband’s since April, not to mention a whole lot of other things that are extraordinary and hopefully, self-limited. When I finished the survey, there was a canned note that I need to manage my stress better. There was no place for replies although I thought of a few and was really stressed that I couldn't respond.

There is evidence that stress is a killer. Heart attacks happen when those worried coronaries spasm shut during stress. People are distracted when they’re stressed and have accidents. Affect changes. Anxiety and depression pal around with stress.

Hans Selye, a scientist from the 60’s wrote a book called the Stress of Life. He postulates that we are given a finite amount of energy to plow through this life and that some stress is actually good for us. Think about resistance training and body building – there the goal is to stress the muscles enough that there is some damage, and in repairing the damage the muscles bulk up and hypertrophy and become stronger.

Then there is the kind that isn’t so good. He discovered that the kind of stress that goes along with worry – with taking away choice and your ability to take care of yourself depletes a lot of that life energy.

So back to managing stress—here’s what I tell myself:
Rene, you’ve got to move your body. Sweat. Breathe. Propel yourself. Moving reminds you of your own power. Getting from here to there yourself is good for you.

Second: Food, beyond what you need for a day’s requirements, isn’t going to fix anything. It isn’t a drug. Stick with your plan. You’ll feel better at the end of the day.

Third: Don’t minimize what’s happening in your life. You miss your brother. These are scary times. We are in new territory as a government. On the other hand, remind yourself that every single day in your lifetime, the sun has come up in the morning and gone down at night. Not everything is changing.

Fourth: Keep the big picture – the one where Heavenly Father knows what’s going on and has made promises to His children who are obedient.

Fifth: Reciting the Serenity Prayer now and then is a good idea;
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Sixth: Keep writing. You can’t go wrong there, ever.


  1. Those are wise words with a great deal of power behind them. I often remind myself of the Psalmist who wrote..."Be still, and know that I am God." That helps me through stressful times. Funny, stress can also be long-term low-level and get to you.

  2. I needed the wisdom in this blog, Rene. Thank you. Your separation of types of stress is interesting & helpful: stress that propels us forward is one thing; stress that makes us feel cornered is another. And ditto on Terri's comment about long-term, low-level stress.

  3. Wonderful words of advice, Rene. Thank you! I particularly connected with the third one...not minimizing what's happening in your life. Sometimes I think I put those challenges in a compactor and squish them all together so they don't seem so big. Unfortunately, it looks like I have created a health issue because of it...complicated migraines that mimic seizures and TIA's...weird, huh! Yep...take care of yourself!

  4. Thank you for your words of wisdom, Rene. I hope you are hanging in there. Loss is part of living and it can be so very hard, but I think it can also make us stronger. I miss my son, my parents and my in-laws all the time, but I'm grateful for the tender mercies of the Lord that allow us to realize how close they really can be and how they are still connected to our lives. I recently commented on this very thing at my own blog when the anniversary of BJ's passing came this month and the flowers used at his funeral luncheon were taken home and planted by a friend... one who grows practically nothing and yet these bloom every November and she has brought me a bunch in a vase on November 8th ever since to remind me that BJ is still growing and so am I.

    Take care.


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