A little stress is okay. I used to get a good gulp of stress juice every second Monday morning when I wrote my biweekly CR column. Now, however, I sit at my desk for up to eight hours a day, five days a week, reading or writing the Saddest Church News in the World, risking the loss of at least a dozen Facebook friends, and feeling mighty stressed. And sometimes, like today, I get yet another UK tax bill and am reminded that, Tax Treaty or no, I'm still being taxed by two countries, and I don't know how to stop it.*
Now, I fear tax forms the way some people fear cats, others fear spiders, and still others the number 13. Anything having to do with taxes leaves me a screaming, crying, irrational mess. I hope I am not as loud as the baby next door, but I fear I may be. A local accountancy firm handles my considerable UK taxes and deductions, but they don't know how to deal with Revenue Canada. When I first consulted them, B.A. was very, very sick, and either I didn't ask the right questions or I didn't draw the most logical conclusions.
Anyway, I've been doing many things to try to eliminate excessive stress or minimise its damage. I've been going to exercise class. I've been breaking up my eight hours with bouts of housework. I study languages, of course. I teach writing to children twice a month. I have a weekly Italian class and a biweekly Polish chat. Two mornings this week (including this morning when I was a mental, double-taxed, wreck), I did some fierce weeding in the garden. I pray the Rosary. I try to meditate on the word "Peace." (This is definitely a work in progress.) I avoid starchy vegetables and prepared foods. I look at Scottish puppies for sale online. I go to bed early and get up at about 7 AM every day. I roll a Pilates ball under my feet while on the computer so at least part of me is moving. I'm even being more careful about flossing.
Yesterday was a very good day for stress-reduction. After Barre class, I realised how good Barre class was for my muscles. After Italian class, I realised that my favourite 1990s Italian pop song (cheerfully despised by my teacher) is full of examples of the condizionale, and began to memorise it. I went home and got a lot of work done. I hung a load of laundry out in the sun, and I rolled the ball around under my feet. Dinner was full of vegetables, and I was in bed at 11.
Today was---not so good. Yes, I got in some Polish study and some Italian study, too. I walked B.A. to work, and went home planning to put in two hours of gardening before work. But then the post came with another horrid brown envelope and ... Well, an hour or so later I got some weeding done. Death to dandelions.
After work, while making myself stop straying back to the upsetting subject of double-taxation, I suggest to B.A. that we go for a walk to the ice-cream parlour. Sugar is not great if you are trying to cut back on stress, but the ice-cream parlour is locally famous, the vanilla ice-cream (at very least) is all-natural, and the route is along the river.
The river is populated with swans, geese and ducks and, as I noticed yesterday, goslings and ducklings. I haven't seen any cygnets yet. The ducklings are wee, but the goslings are super-fluffy and so even cuter than the former. On our way back across the river bridge, I espied ducklings but not yesterday's goslings, so I was a bit worried. There are presumably many wild birds and beasts around gunning for goslings. However, soon I spotted not one but two families of Canada geese composed of 2 parents and 5 babies each. I found this greatly cheering.
Also cheering was the memory of various Italian towns and cities where old married couples and families walk through the streets of their neighbourhoods, arm in arm. It's a lovely custom, especially in summer, and would be a lovely custom on summer nights here, too, as the sun doesn't set until after 9 PM.
"Facciamo una passeggiata," I said to B.A., who agreed.
*Yes, I did take some action, including speaking to a very rude Revenue Canada agent, who felt I should know that it's "my responsibility" to stop them from taxing me. Yes, I know. Where do I get the forms?