I got the brilliant idea to take up yoga after my mother casually commented during our weekly grocery shopping trip that I seemed a little tense.
"What do you mean?" I asked, stopping my cart so I could turn and look at her.
She jabbed a thumb over her shoulder at the aisle behind us and the people in various stages of picking themselves up after I'd mowed them down, bumper-cart style. "You just seem a little...wound up," she said.
In the checkout line, I suggested to the woman behind us, in the kindest possible terms, that if she continued to allow her child to attempt to ram her cart up my backside I would be forced to shove said child inside one of the game machines in front of the store, and she could collect him when she left. If she had the two quarters necessary to activate the claw, of course.
Maybe my mother had a point.
When I got home, I checked out stress relief techniques online, and decided that I needed to simplify and reorganize my life, beginning with my house. Now, as anyone who knows me will be all too delighted to tell you, I'm not much of a homemaker. My house has a lived-in yard-sale motif that I've grown fond of, but which reminds visitors that schizophrenia is a real and devastating illness. I have also inherited the Pack Rat Gene from my father, which prevents me from getting rid of anything, including junk mail and the boxes that 12-packs of soda come in. Don't judge me - those boxes and heaps of credit card and auto warranty offers might come in handy someday, should we decide to host a bonfire big enough to be seen from the international space station.
I discovered two things when I tried to simplify my living space: first, that simplifying is not as simple as it looks, and second, that I'm no good at interior decorating. I was loath to spend money on new furniture when that money could be so much better spent on important things like movies and new toys for my dog. My "decorating" involved pushing the couch into a different position and laying out wallpapering tools in the foolish hope that I'd ever actually feel like wallpapering. So instead of simplifying, I'd added to the general chaos. So much for stress relief method number one.
Next came meditation, which on paper sounded promising. It involved sitting quietly in one place, which appealed to my lazy nature, and it also sounded like an excellent way of putting off cleaning up the mess caused by the Great Decorating Debacle. Unfortunately, it turned out that while sitting still I was supposed to focus on my innermost thoughts. I lasted roughly thirty seconds before focusing on a chocolate craving that would not be placated by any number of mantras. Ten pounds later, I gave up on meditation.
Yoga came next, but my chiropractor politely suggested that I stop after he had to straighten my spine out of its epic Twister position for the third time.
These stress-relief practices were more effective at causing stress than reducing it, and by the next week's shopping trip I was wound tighter than a fiddle string. My knuckles turned white on the cart handle as I started playing chicken with the stockboys' moving dollies.
My mother didn't comment until we reached the checkout aisle. By this time my knuckles were no longer white, and I felt better than I had all week. As we stacked our items on the conveyor, Mom looked up at me and smiled.
"You seem calm now. Almost serene."
I paused with a package of lunchmeat in one hand and glanced back the way we'd come, but most of the carnage was hidden by a greeting card display. I smiled anyway and turned back to her.
"Maybe we should start shopping twice a week."