Face of the day

mirror-on-faceYou are today’s face of the day and so am I.

I read an article today  about a reporter facing her fears of parachuting by doing a tandem jump with an instructor.

Their main parachute failed to open but the backup one did and they landed safety.

I think we all have had times in our lives when our ‘main chute’ failed to open. You think everything is fine and that you are safe and secure in some way and then wham, something bad happens and you don’t know if you are going to make it through or not.

I experienced that feeling again today. Out of the blue. I had a strong stress reaction which made me feel nauseous and stopped me eating my evening meal. I know what I have to do. I am deploying my backup chute. I have been for a walk. I have focussed on my breathing. I am having a cup of tea. I hugged my daughter, I talked about it and later I will have self indulgent little cry. I haven’t landed safety yet but I will. The chute is there I just have to pull the right strings.

Have you experienced that feeling? What is your reserve parachute?



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  • Cadwallader

    One of the Davies brothers (Ray or Dave) from the Kinks wrote memoirs and entitled it “Always Trust Your Paranoia.” Works for me as far as anticipating difficulties. Not 100% reliable though.

  • sarahmw

    I know you will find the right strings or they will find you. With me it felt like a concrete wall had slammed down. And wanting to just run till I could not stop. But one of those strings grabs me,settles me. Crying releases stress. Music helps me, closing my eyes and just listening. Peace be with you SB.

    • spanishbride

      I really relate to your wanting to run feeling Sarahmw. That has always been my natural physical reaction. Funnily enough my mental nature is to stand and fight even as my body tells me to get out! It is that conflict between the two that causes the feelings :)

      • sarahmw

        Body and mind in conflict yes and I like to think my mind and it’s stubbornness will prevail in the end. Usually does.

  • Hughesy

    Yep. Had a similar reaction last night after work. Got in an argument with a local nutter on Takapuna beach because I felt stressed and freaked out. Luckily I was with my big family group so was able to laugh and be reminded of the good stuff. Talked through what had stressed me with my partner.

    Have now had a good nights sleep, have walked the dog, had a coffee, done Qi Gong (similar to Tai Chi). Now feel relaxed and that I have a plan for my day.

    You’re not alone (in many ways) SB.

  • 1951

    Life can really throw some rotten things at us when we least expect it. I have to take myself away from others and just rest amongst Nature until my head can deal with it. I am lucky I am surrounded by things natural, the birds, the ferns, the trees and of course I cannot go anywhere without my 4 legged family dressed in fur & hair. It seems for me at times that I have been on that reserve shute way longer than intended but I have enough trust in myself to guide it safely to where I need to get it. We here know you will too SB.

  • Sally

    I turn to mother nature. Like Ferdinand the Bull – just sit and smell the flowers.

  • intelligentes candida diva

    I had it, a situation took months before I was vindicated. To assist me clarify in my own head and to ease that nausea feeling I wrote it down, writing the event and feelings helps me to leave it alone for a time

    The type of scenarios when the main chute doesn’t work can leave me feeling claustrophobic so a walk on the beach

    Yup and a cry might not alter much but it does something positive

    I hope you feel better today :-)

    • spanishbride

      I do feel better today thanks. My favourite English teacher taught me about catharsis, which explained why we enjoy a movie that makes us cry. My stomach was in a tight hard ball but now the physical tension is gone. The final aspects to tackle are 1. Sleep, as Saggy mentioned and 2. To control my thoughts so that I do not dwell on the issues and literally make myself sick worrying. It is true that as we get older we can get better at dealing with this kind of thing. It is comforting knowing that I have had a 100% success rate dealing with this kind of stress in the past like 40 Something’s quote so there is nothing to worry about :)

  • Aucky

    Yes SB it happened to me in Singapore of all places and it came out of nowhere. Three months of constant international travelling and massive business pressures caused it. Woke up in the middle of the night feeling totally alone and quite hopeless. I had the wherewithal to cancel the rest of my appointments and hop on the first flight home to my reserve parachute – my wife and kids. It worked a treat.

    Take care.

  • GoingRight

    I have often wondered how you de stress especially with what you and your family have had too put up with in this past year in particularly but you have staunchly continued to not be put off course and well done to you all. Even strong people get days when all around them seems to be crumbling. I believe we the WO family have huge respect for what you do and how your beliefs will not be pushed to one side. We get so much enjoyment out of all that you write (and Cams and the team) so feel supported by us as we are your “friends of WO”

  • owl

    mine is exercise but the main parachute fails everytime when people just talk nonsense.
    I dont know what it is but I have this trigger point when people (politicians I guess or people with agendas) just talk absolutely drivel and try and manipulate situatons. I am blessed with a really logical brain = so logically it is almost a handicap that when someone says something instantly I can tell whether it is a lie or a manipulation of the truth – it just grates me away until I need to find the answer. Once I do – I get all down about human nature.
    I break it down like this – everyone knows John Key is about fame and fortune and he wears its on his sleeves – but you see it, touch and feel it. Then you decide whether you like it or not.
    Andrew Little on the other hand – says he walk with the trodden down – but picks up the big salary and uses the lowly paid (his words) subscriptions to fight the evil cause (whatever that is?). If he wore t-shirt and jandals then he earns my trust.
    so where this is going? Human nature is my first parachute – when that fails – exercise which gets me back to my point – if the first chute fails – you have to put your body on the line and and take some hurt to get back up.
    Then when all done and dusted – laugh and giggle.
    I heard a quote once which I think is important – “everyone gets depression, just that we all get different levels of depression”.
    For me my bouts are generally short and sweet – for others they are long days, weeks and years – if you know how to break the cycle you are on to a winner. I got lucky – exercise was my circuit breaker

  • 40something

    Something to remember…

  • Sally

    Also I found burying myself in a good novel. I can forget about what’s happening all around.

  • Cadwallader

    Visiting this site with its information and humour must be therapeutic for the regulars.

  • Felicity Flutterby

    Deployed my emergency chute last year. As I have aged, gracefully I hope, it happens less. Writing, exercise and reading are my escape. I have huge respect for Whale Oil. You are my daily ‘fix’. Good luck SB, the truly rewarding things in life are not easy.

  • Saggy

    Walking in the bush, watching the sea and sunsets/rises all work for me. And getting enough sleep.

  • Lord Evans

    In the most stressful moments of my life it’s faith in God that’s ultimately provided the strength to keep on trucking. It’s sometimes the smallest thing – a smile from a friend or kind word from a stranger; the words of a Psalm, the refrain from a song, the still small voice… that brings peace. God knows our pain and he sure knows how to comfort us. The Lord bless you SB, I trust today you will learn just how special you are.

  • KGB

    I cry.
    When we save tears for what really matters, it works. Good old self-pitying wailing should be kept for these rare occasions. When I see people cry over very little, I wonder what they do when it matters.

  • Bluemanning

    When my work ‘superiors’ after 25 years decided I was being paid too much and more to the point they could hire someone half my age at half my salary package to do the same job, they wanted rid of me and a certain independent experienced culture that I bought to the mix. I was pretty low at 58 living in another country and because of losing the job feeling more than a bit sorry for myself. Mrs Blue maneuvered us to the movies to see In Pursuit of Happiness Will Smith about a guy and his son, an unemployed struggling salesman sleeping in bathrooms being homeless with his son striving to get his dream job based on Chris Gardner’s experience. I thought in the cinema ‘help I want outa here’! At the end I felt a little better in that I knew I had choices, and how lucky that I was not alone, but at the same time thinking that if I was alone what had happened wouldn’t have mattered as much, I was glad not to be alone. The happiness tipping points for me were predominately my lovely gorgeous wife who in her younger days walked with the black dog, returning home to NZ to live enjoying our NZ friends and long long solitary walks allowing deep thinking and contemplation to emerge out of the moments of the dark hole. I still have dark moments grey ones not black not about that incident either, but I have learned that such times with the ‘black dog’ or even the grey one make one stronger with expanded understanding of life and the people around us. When I think about those times I smile with a chuckle or three, feeling glad and grateful about my life now. So I have more than one parachute and perhaps new different shapes can appear ‘out of the blue’.

  • 40something

    In the last few days we have had a realisation about some close friends who have completely thrown us under the bus with an issue regarding our property. Gutted is not even the word to describe the breach of trust that has happened. I’m at a loss as to how to move forward, deeply sad and the implications are wide reaching. Why do people cause harm to others? We now look back and realise that there was no true friendship, we were merely useful to them. It cuts to the heart of what matters, I personally did not see it coming and feel very churned up. Whatever happens we have each other and we know we have acted with decency, kindness and respect. Your post has helped me today – thanks SB.

    • spanishbride

      I am so glad. It is funny how sharing problems can halve them as well as sharing solutions of course. Yes, hold on to the fact that the problem is theirs. You are not at fault. This may not solve the issue but knowing that it is not about you but about them can help.

    • sarahmw

      A feeling of grief and betrayal? Yes and it comes so suddenly without warning , not believing it happened. But move forward you will even if it is one slow step at a time or just taking that deep breath and leaving that past behind. It hurts I know. Remember Karma will happen. You will move forward and be the better person.

    • kaykaybee

      Dealing with betrayal is one of life’s most difficult lessons 40something and the processing of a trust breach is exhausting. Be nice to get to strong without the suffer bit but strong is where you’ll end up. :) Best wishes on your journey.

    • dragonfly

      A similar thing happened to us about 14 years ago with my husband’s business partner and her husband. I have never entirely gotten over it (that’s because the effects of it have been long term I think – financial and so on). I learnt a lot from it though – looking back you will see that there were some signs. One member of the couple seemed really nice (in actions) but I found I could never truly like her although I tried to – however I dismissed those feelings and felt bad about them. She had a blankness about her, as if there was something missing. Now I know that what was missing was empathy – she was in fact a full-on predatory psychopath whose life mission was/is to hurt people. Her husband came across as genuinely likeable (I’ve since realised that he is actually a real dick though), and to this day I don’t understand the dynamics of their relationship. He seemed to serve the function of being her useful idiot. She was 4 years older than him and exceptionally physically unattractive. Also entirely lacking personal charm. I don’t know how someone can live with a person like that for decades and appear not to know what they are. My guess is that a lot of energy goes into keeping that information away from the conscious mind.

      It’s very painful, but it is productive to (eventually, in time) look at yourself and see what made you vulnerable to these people. I suspect that at least part of the answer lies in your statement that you “have acted with decency, kindness and respect”. You probably gave these people the benefit of the doubt and were forgiving and empathetic. Any bad feelings you had you probably dismissed, seeing them as a failing on your part. The following may not apply to you, but some kinds of childhoods can leave people without a sense of self and with a feeling that they have no value and so they end up lacking that protective shield that the average person has. Combine that with high natural levels of empathy and you become the perfect target for the psychopath, who senses all this of course. I think the key, really, is to learn to recognise these people, to the extent that it is possible. Listen to your feelings – allow for the possibility that the feelings might be wrong, but do not just dismiss them. I in fact did not want my husband to go into business with this woman, even though I did not have any idea of what a malevolent, evil person she was (unfortunately, the only way you can learn that about someone is from observing their actual actions).

      Curiously (given that you mention property), this woman and her husband told us that they had made a killing on some land they sold. There was vague mention of someone else being involved (a co-owner or tenant?). They left the idyllic place they were living for reasons that never made sense. My suspicion is that they victimised and exploited someone and this is how they made their money and is also why they had to leave.

      It is unlikely that you are the first victims of these people who have caused you such great harm, and nor will you be the last. What is likely is that they are now portraying themselves as victims of you.

      In those terrible times writing helped me a lot – I rediscovered a creativity that had lain dormant since childhood. I can’t say it was all worth it though – it has done permanent damage to our lives.

      • 40something

        Really appreciate your reply. It is a similar story in some ways
        (the couple dynamic is exact) and I’ve had the signs as you say but dismissed them – regardless I still did not see this bombshell about to drop. I’m not a person with lots of friends and I’m quite choosy about who I trust so feel our time and generosity as been abused. That I can deal with, but now that it is threatening the assets of my family, a line has been crossed. In this case we have discovered we are dealing with the legacy of their shonky land deals and it is going to be a costly thing to correct. But correct it we will and move on. They do have history of broken relationships with family and friends and I had thought – silly me, that they were misunderstood. Penny has dropped and I see it for what it is – a pattern of behaviour that won’t change. Being naturally suspicious I am angry with myself for being so trusting in this case. You live and learn. I’m in the process of re adjusting my scepticism levels and it is a bit of a painful process.

        • dragonfly

          Yes, we thought this woman was misunderstood too, and that people were just prejudiced against her in a mean kind of way. So dumb! But that’s where empathy and fair-mindedness can lead you astray. All the best, anyway.

  • LesleyNZ

    One of my favourite quotes I think of in times of worry is:”Remember today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday”

    I often remember a Sunday School song in times of worry:
    Why worry when you can pray
    Trust Jesus He’ll be your stay
    Don’t be a doubting Thomas
    Rest fully on His promise
    Why worry worry worry worry
    When you can pray

    I think having the love and support of loved ones and friends gets you through the seemingly at the time never ending tunnel of worry and stress.

  • Eiselmann

    For me it was the absence of stress, in the wake of my fathers death having watched him battle for four years (he was never given more than six months to live by doctors) against a host of conditions including cancer, in which I was the sole caregiver-living in a crime ridden neighbourhood while working at WINZ, then suddenly I had time to think…… it took time and some good friends who listened as I finally offloaded .

  • Gaynor

    I have been using this breathing technique lately …seems to take the edge of everything, slow the heart, and calm me down. I was hesitant to try it for ages but when I did ..it worked,Good luck SB it’s a horrible feeling but it will pass,

    The 4-7-8 (or Relaxing Breath) Exercise
    This exercise is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise. Place the tip of your tongue against the ridge of tissue just behind your upper front teeth, and keep it there through the entire exercise. You will be exhaling through your mouth around your tongue; try pursing your lips slightly if this seems awkward.

    Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.

    Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.

    Hold your breath for a count of seven.

    Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.

    This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.

    Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.

    This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.

  • Cowgirl

    Have had a few ups and downs lately –
    feeling a bit isolated from my NZ social network, and getting used to things being harder as you get used to a new country. Also feeling a bit trapped as I don’t know my way around very well and have no money to fall back on, and my own (and husbands) lack of work situation, but I manage by keeping busy, having a good vent occasionally, and sometimes a good cry.

  • Mrs_R

    There are certain events that should they happen to me in my life I know I would be brought to my knees and I’m not certain I will ever be able to get back up. To lose one of my children is my greatest fear. I’m a worrier by nature and have learnt to cope by grading my worst ‘what if’s’ into my top 3. If something negative happens and it’s not in my top 3 then I have learnt to cope by comparing it to what could be. The fact remains though one day I may well have to face something in my top 3, and for that all I can do is pray for courage. You are a strong woman SB and I don’t see courage as something you lack :)

  • la la land

    when times are bad or overwhelming I like to sit in our most comfy chair in the sun and read my book – a good dose of escapism really helps. I learnt this from a friend who suffered a lot from depression – just stop for a day and take care of yourself.

  • Mags

    Reading this post and comments reminds me of this song. http://youtu.be/W4ga_M5Zdn4
    Hope I’ve posted it right.
    Turn, Turn, Turn by The Bryrds. It’s beautiful.
    Edit: It reminds me that we all suffer from the human condition and I’m not immune to it.

  • Reaper

    A good cry can be physically beneficial. From an article about tears:

    “Tears that arise from a good cry have a different composition than tears that normally lubricate the eye. Emotionally induced tears contain the hormones of prolactin, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and the natural opiate (pain reliever) leucine enkephalin. … ACTH is a stresshormone and a precursor to cortisol. This means that good crying releases and flushes toxic stress hormones from the body, calms and soothes, and creates fellow feelings…”


    • spanishbride

      That is fascinating, thanks for sharing. I knew that breastfeeding sent positive hormones into my bloodstream which was why I found it relaxing and enjoyed feeding my children. I didn’t know that tears had positive goodies too. That explains a lot. Aren’t our bodies amazing.

  • jude

    I actually started reading this blog at a time of stress in my life.I found a lot of comfort being able to talk on different issues on this site and get feedback from other commenters.
    It has been said by many but I will agree too, the exercise is an enormous help.I have found a brisk trot on the cross trainer while getting the negative things out of my head very helpful.
    My biggest support comes from my husband and children.
    The girls are young adults and are very good listeners.My eldest is wise and has been a great comfort to me :)
    All the best SB, there is a lot of support out here for you and the Whale oil team.

  • pak

    My adored husband died of a brain tumour aged 31. It was a protracted and agonising death which I, as a young woman, struggled to cope with especially as we were living overseas and had no family close by. I read somewhere God doesn’t give us any greater challenges in life than we can cope with, but I still I ask, did I really need that experience? Over the many years since I have learned that challenges of greater and less degree continue to come up in life, but it is how we choose to react to them that ultimately matters. For me being in nature, listening to music, meditating are great soothers of the soul. But there are definitely times when you think “enough already” and I don’t think it is at all “self-indulgent” to have a little, or even big cry! Best wishes to you SB.

  • Forrest Ranger

    Thanks for posting this SB; and thanks to all the contributors to this post especially with your honesty about your own bad experiences and and how you overcome them.
    Last year was one of the worst for me. I was betrayed by a friend and business partner and found myself out of a job and owed a lot of money. It has made for a difficult year in the Forrest household.
    I still find it hard to believe how breathtakingly dishonest some people can be and how ruthlessly they use people to get what they want. It is the complete opposite of my values and how I live my life.
    Through this experience I found that I am far more resilient than I though I was which is a good thing. Mrs Forrest is also resilient and has been a rock in support.
    I still get sad and frustrated with what happened but I get through it by keeping a sense of humour, keeping busy, doing more voluneer work and of course my regular visits to WO.
    So thanks SB – your post got me thinking and I am thinking things are not all that bad.

  • This has been an amazing post and thank you SB for starting it off. When I have felt the black dog life is like walking through treacle. I retreated into myself and didn’t tell people how I felt as I believed they wouldn’t understand or care. One very wise friend said to me words that resonated with me then and have kept me in touch since.

    The simple mantra is that those who mind, don’t matter and those that matter don’t mind.

    This thought has give me huge strength and courage when the pressure is on and I think of Cam, SB and the team when they are being vilified. The ones who matter (and that is 200 thousand plus of us oilers), family, friends really don’t mind what is said -we and they are there for you. Those who seek to demean you, well frankly they don’t matter and can be treated with the contempt they deserve.
    I also realize that however bad things are right now, in six months time I will look back on this time as a hiccup in life. But I will be there to look back, learn, grow and move on.

  • steve and monique

    I met my wife( Monique) doing a noise control job on her place, so have to agree she likes the music loud.