We are blessed to have a baker in the family. Our daughter loves to make “sinfully” delicious and highly caloric sweet treats. Before COVID, she was accustomed to baking on a Saturday night so she could take these treats to the church on Sunday for fellowship. Of course, we laid in a store for ourselves before she walked out of the house with them! We had learned the hard way that there were never any of her desserts leftover after fellowship.
Since COVID, with only the four of us in the house to eat all the goodies, we’ve reluctantly agreed to let her bake occasionally. Because none of us NEEDS to eat extra calories, we’re always excited when we all agree it’s baking time! Last Saturday, we decided it was time for brownies. Sure enough, on the kitchen counter when I awoke early for church, there it was – a beautiful 9” x 11” pan of brownies topped with chocolate frosting. No one had yet marred the perfection of the presentation. No one had dared cut into it because sometimes there are rules in our house about how we share dessert. This is necessary because there are one or two “sweet-aholics” in our family. Usually, we let the baker decide if it’s a free-for-all or if we each take one-fourth of it to eat at our leisure.
I returned home from church in the early afternoon. By then, it was evident that this was one of those free-for-all times. Knowing that the brownies wouldn’t last long, I carved out two brownies, plus a little extra just to even up the row. These I set aside for my mom and me. Before I went to bed on Sunday night, I gave Mom her brownie. I left mine in a container on the counter. It’s customary for my family to understand that if I put something on the counter to the right of the stove, it’s mine. The communal goodies stay on the left side of the stove. I can take a week to eat the same amount of sweets that certain family members devour in minutes. They have found out the hard way that I don’t take kindly to not getting my fair share! Which is why my jaw dropped and my mouth gaped open less than nineteen hours later when I went to fix coffee Monday morning, and my brownie container was missing! The only thing left on the counter was the lid.
My heart raced, my blood boiled, and my eyes opened in disbelief! Who in the world had violated the “right side of the counter” rule? I was aghast, offended, hurt. Instantly I knew who the thief was and I was furious! A flood of angry words raced through my mind. I wanted to wake up the thief right then and there and vent. But I also didn’t want to start my day that way. Justice could wait until later when I could serve it ice cold!
Continuing my morning routine, I went into my mom’s kitchenette, looking for the cup I use to dispense her morning pills. Imagine my shock when I saw the container that had held MY brownie in her sink. I felt betrayed. Hadn’t I brought her brownie to her last night? Why had she sided with the “sweet-aholics” and taken another one for herself? I was in utter disbelief as I walked back out to our living room.
Sitting there sipping my coffee, I calmed myself down. One part of my brain knew that it was a little crazy to let myself get so upset over a brownie. Still, I couldn’t understand why my mom had come out to our kitchen and taken the last one? That just didn’t seem like something she would do. Back I went to her bedroom. On the rolling table near her lounge chair was the brownie I had left for her the night before, still in its plastic bag. She had remembered that I’d told her I’d saved one last brownie for her, but obviously, she’d forgotten I’d left it in the bedroom for her. Relieved that I could once again trust my family, I took that last brownie from Mom’s bedroom and packed it away for my lunch.
How many battles have I fought inside my own head over a non-existent injury done to me? I cannot even begin to count them. These battles have raged for hours, days, weeks, even years. I don’t know about you, but they are exhausting.
In the first book by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey, she shared the remarkable results of some of her research. She timed the body’s reaction to stress by tracing the time it took for the body to complete the stress response that sends cortisol racing through our bodies. From the time the body recognizes a stressor, releases cortisol, and then flushes it entirely from the body, only 90 seconds have elapsed. Unless you start the cycle over again, it’s done!
Can you believe that? Unless we keep thinking hurt or angry thoughts, our bodies are finished with the reaction in 90 seconds. This is powerful knowledge to have. We have the power to choose our responses after that first 90 second period. Without even having this knowledge, I was able to calm myself after discovering the container in my mom’s sink. I can only imagine how quickly I will stop the racing armies inside my head now that I know the 90-second rule.
If your goal is to BE a presence of peace in the world, what better place to start than in your own head and home? Be good to yourself. Stop going to war. Try the 90-second rule. Let me know how it works for you.