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1..2…3…Inhale. Exhale. Am I Bothering Me?

I had a cigarette today.


Took a nice long drag. Forgot what that inhaling of nicotine induced haziness felt like again until that cloud of smoke surmounted my lungs, and I coughed. Damn these things got stronger since I last took a puff three+ years ago. I have been literally dreaming of one lately. Seen myself kicking back in some sort of chair, preferably leaning and having my feet up. Smoking a long menthol cigarette an easing away all the pain that brings all this stress into my life. Don't know where I got the idea that I could be left alone even for one moment of solitude, one moment of peace where quiet breezes hit my face easy and subduing.


I guess I can't even have a cigarette in peace.


You know the funny thing about stress? It has the avalanche effect of a big ball of crap that instinctively creates more crap until you (the crapee) is in so much crap that you stink to high Heaven of negativity.

Need I say more?


Stress. Something that we all face and try to avoid, yet keep permanently placed in our lives. We would rather live with someone that is giving us hell than be alone because cotton sheets are too cold at night. We would rather have our friends influence decisions and paths that we lead in life, when their life isn't even prioritized themselves. We would rather do and over-do things to seek perfection in things when nobody is hardly perfect an life is a big ball of Playdough to mess up-and then form the masterpiece. We would rather seek comfort in material items of great magnitude such as houses, cars and clothing-that can easily be repossessed, burned in a fire, or lost to thieves.


Do we stress ourselves?


My grandmother, God Rest her soul said something that I will continuously hear in my brain as a mantra: "Beverly, you are your own worst enemy." I knew that today when I broke a three year quitting smoking habit, and I know that when I look at myself in the mirror. I over-challenge myself to seek perfection when perfection is being aligned in spirituality with God. I over-analyze my body and my fitness level, pushing myself to shed baby incurred pounds and be upset when I cannot fit in pre-baby jeans. I over-exert myself with needless tasks, to-do lists and errands to seek satisfaction that I too have a job even though I am a stay at home mother. I have forgotten my self worth and seek satisfaction from other's approval through mindless conversation, fair weather friends and unreliable material things in my life.


Though my acknowledgement, I find peace. Some sort of weird calm that shouldn't be happening in utter chaos. This would be to an onlooker seeing a bull run straight ahead; however I am there in all red, not making an inch.


I find this calm and run with it. Tomorrow, who knows what will happen? Maybe after a good night's rest and a lot of prayer to God, I will be in a peace so holy that even Buddha will get a kick out of it. Maybe. But until then, the power of now is the power of me. I control my destiny, my future, my actions and feelings. No one else has the dominance to control how or when I laugh. No one controls my anger or my reaction to negativity-for when I hand over that control, I am left powerless and at the foothold of my enemy.


Does this mean that I will not yell out, scream, or punch a pillow if I get angry?


No. This just means that stress does not control me, and I control the amount of stress I receive.


Right now, the only stress I want is to decide what episode of Seinfeld I will watch uninterrupted tonight. Right now, that is enough for me.


Beverly R. Rivera


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