I was in the very long line at the Costco pharmacy. Again. My mind began to drift as it always does. I have heard that men can just stare into space and think about nothing. Nothing. Nothing at all. I wonder what that must be like. I have never experienced it. My mind is like a Jack Russell terrier with a tree’d squirrel: focused and unrelenting.
I have places my mind goes regularly when it wanders from my current situation. Sometimes it goes into planning mode, but it often goes into fantasy mode. There are a couple of games I frequent most often when my mind wanders.
“One Day When My Circumstances Are Different”
This game is about my current station in life and the activities I’m doing and IF they all pan out for the best, where that will lead me in a year or two or five. I think about what it will be like when my kids are in college and just home for the holidays. Sometimes I think about when the girls are married and how crazy it’s going to be when I’m a grandmother. I think about when my business picks up a little speed and money isn’t so tight. And yes, I think about the future with my beloved and how great that could be. These are always happy thoughts and they produce hope for me when times are rough.
“If I Won the Lottery”
I don’t play this one very often, but I used to play it from time to time in the car with the kids when they started getting grumpy. “Okay, so what would you do first if you won 10 million dollars in the lottery?” It was a fun question and got them out of the negative thoughts and bickering that were dragging us all down. We’d end up having a conversation about money management and making it last instead of flushing it all away on toys and stuff like that. Sometimes the dollar amount changes. Hey– there’s a big difference between winning 1 million and hitting the Powerball. The best part is that with the kids and with myself, it’s a great way to shift gears in my head from negative and sometimes self-loathing thoughts into thoughts that are hopeful and fun.
“If I Had a Free 2-Week Vacation Anywhere in the World”
This is a fun question to ask your partner on long road trips, too. It’s a great conversation starter and there are so many options. You can even get silly about things you’d do, like elephant polo in India. I imagine a trip and the kind of places I’d want to stay and the kind of activities I’d try. I’ve imagined staying in a castle in Scotland for a week (it was really cold) and horseback riding across Ireland (I could barely walk after that one). These are never things I’ve actually DONE, just things I think might be interesting. (No, that’s not REALLY me on the elephant)
Some people who know me think I never have rough times in my life. They see how well I get along with my ex-husband and they assume that we just “fell out of love” and went our separate ways with only slight irritation in the divorce. I put on a good show, of course, even making scathing jokes to others about my life falling apart. I have a nice home and people assume that I am far wealthier than I am; that I never stress about money.
NEWS FLASH: I have the same problems as everyone else, but I refuse to let these problems suck me down. When times get really hard, besides prayer, these silly mind games are what keep my head above water most days.
I’m sure there will be critics of my methods. I don’t care. It keeps me cheerful and generally much more pleasant to be around. I think my kids and closest friends appreciate that.
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