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A message from The Amazon (is somebody trying to tell me something?)

I mentioned a few weeks ago that this spring and summer have been hugely stressful. The stressors aren’t bad things; no problems. Nothing to worry about. It’s just that since late April I’ve felt as if I’m running back and forth on a high wire with no net and an armload of bicycle parts that keep falling out of my arms, unbalancing me.

One more demand on my time, one more responsibility, one more dollar that has to come out of my pocket and I fear I’ll plunge to the ground and shatter.

Okay, that’s a little melodramatic. There are days I handle everything just fine, filled with confidence. Other times, I awake in the night headachy and anxious, have dreams of being lost, then get up in the morning groggy, grouchy, unready, and put-upon. Last night was one of those nights. This morning was one of those mornings.

I thought, “I just need a day — an afternoon — a few hours — where I don’t have to think about anything, don’t have to coordinate anything, don’t have to worry about anybody letting me down, don’t have to pay any attention to the TO DO list.”

Then after taking the dogs for their walk, I stopped at the post office where I found these waiting for me:


Seems somebody anticipated my desperation to just sit down, quit freeting, and quietly de-stress. (And yes, I like sudoku, though I’m only mediocre at it.)

The Will Shortz book has puzzles at all levels, for days when my brain is functioning and days it objects to functioning. Mastering Sudoku may help my brain get over its objections.

Along with the sudoku books, there was a preparedness book by a nice Utah lady: Cookin’ With Beans and Rice.


Seems somebody knows what the money situation has been — and has a sense of humor about it. Or maybe was just adding enough to get super-saver shipping. (Good for somebody; my kind of person.)

In any case, I got a laugh and will get good use out of all three books. Think I’ll take the afternoon off — after clearing just a few more items off the Infamous TO DO list — and lose myself in sudoku.


  1. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau July 24, 2013 11:07 am

    Turn your TO DO list into a MIGHT WANT TO DO list. πŸ™‚

  2. Claire
    Claire July 24, 2013 11:25 am

    LOL, nice theory, Paul …

  3. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty July 24, 2013 11:46 am

    Don’t make many lists anymore. A grocery list if I’m going to the city or have more than a few things to pick up for a recipe. I make a list of stuff to pack if I’m going camping, but I seldom look at it once it’s finished. The things that MUST be done are pretty self evident, and if I forget to “do” something less vital, it’s probably not going to harm me.

    I used to live tied to lists, day-timers, appointment books, staff meetings, employee interviews, ringing phones and annoying pagers, stacks of telephone messages to return, reports and budgets and memos… stacks of things I “must” read, but knew I’d never have time for unless I took it home to read on my time “off”… and on and on – so anxious that I’d forget something or fail to do what was expected of me. I came close to a nervous breakdown more than once. And that was before email and cell phones and the internet made everything SO immediate and in your face. I couldn’t begin to cope with that pressure now.

    Not everyone can retire, and not everyone can function without lists, of course. Just remember that they are like fire… a useful servant, but a terrible master.

    Enjoy your books, Claire. πŸ™‚

  4. Claire
    Claire July 24, 2013 12:16 pm

    I hear ya, MamaLiberty. I lived like that in my 20s and have been gradually winding down ever since. I’m still far too bound by my sense of urgency and obligation, but I’m getting better. Maybe by the time I die I’ll actually have learned to relax!

    I must note that what’s going on this summer is an “isolated incident.” With a few crossed fingers and a little knocking on wood, this should be over by fall.

  5. winston
    winston July 24, 2013 11:32 pm

    Damn how do people find sudoku relaxing? “Oh rough day today, I think I’ll do a math crossword puzzle”. Yeah…no. I tried that once and it dawned on me again like a ton of bricks that I abandoned school and chose a life of physical pain because I seem to grow another chromosome when I get some numbers on a piece of paper in front of me. I usually go for a more plebeian activity like breaking something.

  6. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty July 25, 2013 6:28 am

    I hadn’t heard of sudoku, so looked it up. Math puzzles? Yikes! It’s often amazing to me what people find relaxing. But, of course, I love loud, controlled explosions with serious projectile impacts on targets at the gun range, so I have no stones to throw. πŸ™‚

    And Winston, had to laugh out loud. You sound like my youngest son. Nothing in the world he loves more than taking things apart, the smaller the pieces the better. An old hammer was his favorite tool. Thankfully, when he was about ten years old (he’s 45 now), he began to enjoy putting things together as well and wound up in the construction trade. But he would have loved a job using a wrecking ball on tall buildings. πŸ™‚

  7. Claire
    Claire July 25, 2013 6:55 am

    LOL! Okay, guys. Points taken. I do find sudoku hugely relaxing, but I also understand the virtue of “breaking something.” (I have messy deconstruction project that needs doing this year and I’m finding guys vyying for the privilege of doing it just because, “I like tearing things down!”) Sometimes, swinging a sledgehammer is the best thing for a bad mood. And big booms with firearms? Close second. Absolutely.

    That said, sudoku is not a type of math puzzle. Not at all. If it were I’d be totally with winston and MamaLiberty. Sudoku is a logic game. The numbers act only as symbols. You could substitute stars, moons, and squares; or colors, or unicorns for that matter. You simply figure out which symbol goes in which space. In more advanced puzzles that involves intuition and spatial/pattern recognition, as well as logic. But never (oh thank gods!) math.

  8. just waiting
    just waiting July 25, 2013 6:56 am

    Is there anyway we Commentariat can assist is easing your burdens?

  9. Claire
    Claire July 25, 2013 7:04 am

    Awwww, thank you, jw. Let me reiterate that my burdens, such as they are, are all welcome ones.

    I spent last winter in dark depression. Then one of my best friends died in April (&^%$ing cancer). But shortly after that, good things began happening. They’re just good things that, right now, are keeping me stressed.

    I did consider setting up a small mid-summer fundraiser. But then several other bloggers in this general vicinity needed to raise funds for much more serious things. So I decided to put that off.

    So just hang out here and send good cheer. πŸ™‚

  10. just waiting
    just waiting July 25, 2013 9:46 am

    Ok, I’ll send good cheer, but I’m also sending a bottle of this year’s honey

  11. Kendra
    Kendra July 25, 2013 10:25 am

    Off topic, but here’s something I’ve struggled with that I know you have as well. Cruelty to animals.

    The article is on the Animal Liberation Front website, which depending on your viewpoint they could be considered “terrorists”, but I think the author makes a good point about the Zero-Aggression Principle would apply to animals, when you take into account “Marginal Cases” for humans.

    I’d love to know you thoughts. Sorryfor the long link:'s%20'Why%20Animal%20Rights%20Don't%20Exist‘.htm

  12. Claire
    Claire July 25, 2013 10:49 am

    Kendra — I’m interested in seeing that. But I couldn’t make the link work and couldn’t find the article on their site. Can you try making a tinyurl out of it?

  13. Ellendra
    Ellendra July 25, 2013 12:00 pm

    For some people, there’s a part of the brain that needs a problem to work on, or it spins out of control. Stuff like sudoku gives the “problem-solving” part of the brain something to chew on, so the rest of the brain can breathe.

  14. Claire
    Claire July 25, 2013 1:23 pm

    Ellendra — Yeah! Exactly. I was trying to think how to explain why sudoku is so relaxing. I couldn’t. You just did.

    When I’m slinging a hammer doing other physical work, my mind is still often dwelling on things that “need” my attention. I’ve been told all my life I “think too much” — and alas there’s some truth to that.

    When I do sudoku, my brain is so well occupied that the rest of me automatically relaxes. All worries and all “to dos” slip away. Thanks for putting it into better words than I could.

  15. Pat
    Pat July 25, 2013 4:46 pm

    Or – you could always _play_, Claire. With a friend… with your dogs… with a neighborhood kid (he or she might even be willing to do some work for you if they get to know you)… or with whomever you can find.

    I saw this article today, and thought of your mental dilemma.

  16. Claire
    Claire July 25, 2013 6:09 pm

    Play? Play? Why, that doesn’t sound like any fun at all. πŸ˜‰

    Seriously (yes, seriously), I’ve never liked much of what other people define as play. Even when I take a vacation I prefer to have some sort of goal. And I know for sure that if I attempted anything like play right now all I’d do is think about things I should be doing instead. πŸ™

    Nice thought, though. Just not my thing.

    ADDED: Oh, I do play with my dogs. But I confess it’s sometimes more for their sake than mine. Another “to do.” Hmph. Maybe I’m just no fun.

  17. Claire
    Claire July 25, 2013 6:15 pm

    Kendra — That worked, thanks. That and the original Tibor M. piece made an interesting pair. And hurt my brain.

    I still don’t know how I’d define my position on that issue. I don’t like the doctrinaire “animals have no rights” position (and long ago un-subscribed from Reason when they took that position). But I don’t think it follows from that that animals do have human-type rights.

    It may not be philosophically pure, but my own middle-ground position is that humans ought not cause unnecessary suffering to other animals, but no animal (including the human animal) is exempt from being eaten by another species.

    I’d throw this question open to a Friday Freedom discussion, but that would bring out the “animals are just property and I can do anything I want to them” crowd. And nobody gets my goat faster than that robotic bunch.

  18. Christine
    Christine July 26, 2013 5:42 am

    I’m naturally wired to be stressed out – recently I’ve taken up a fun and very creative pasttime – Zentangle. Google it, I think you will like it. I’m not what I would normally consider artistic, I can’t sketch worth a damn, but Zentangle is the art of taking small designs and creating bigger works of art within them. It’s hard to explain, but I refer to it as “doodling with a purpose.”

    The kicker? I took my “works of art” to show off to a librarian at a local library I teach gardening and cooking classes at and she immediately signed me up to teach a class on the technique in late fall or early 2014. So it has paid for itself!

  19. Shel
    Shel July 28, 2013 10:19 am

    Ellendra’s explanation is totally consistent with Jung’s Typology (popularized by the Myers-Briggs test). There are four “functions” and two “attitudes.” How we acquire information is by either sensing or intuition; how we evaluate information is by thinking or feeling. The attitudes are introversion and extroversion. Each of us has some of all of these characteristics, just in different degrees. By doing sudoku one uses the thinking function and generally ignores the feeling function. It eases mental discomfort to me as well. I used to play sudoku to a near pathological degree, now I manage to satisfy myself with a 6×6 puzzle where the main diagonals also have to be considered. If interested, see

    For a very in-depth analysis of Jung’s typology, see

    For an excellent introduction to Jungian psychology, consider Robert Johnson’s Inner Work. Looking to the unconscious isn’t really an escape, but it’s definitely revealing.

    Another one I think you would like, in all modesty, is Goddesses In Everywoman

  20. Kyle Rearden
    Kyle Rearden July 28, 2013 1:27 pm

    Might I suggest meditation? It has helped me mellow out quite a bit and not act as frantic whenever I do get stressed. Besides, it’s about as cheap as breathing, which is what you’re naturally doing all the time anyways!

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