Bubbles and Balloons

Good afternoon!

I need to begin this post with a big, enthusiastic “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” shout out to my little sister, Corey. She is turning 22 today, and so happy and proud of the beautiful and exceptional person she’s become.

Happy Birthday CB! I love you!

Yes, you might be thinking that I’m the one that’s two years younger…but alas, I will accept my permanently-16-years-old look and let Corey be the tall and lovely birthday girl.

Today’s post was inspired, in fact, by an idea that Corey introduced me too about handling stress and alleviating worries.

My life is a bit of a jumble right now, and stress has been getting the better of me. Everything that’s going on is definitely exciting, but with multiple layers of things to get done, people to see, and life to live, I’ve been feeling the wear and tear of chronic “go! go! go!” mode. Last night, particularly, I was having one of those, “Every single thought that ever existed is in my head right now and I must think through them ALL!” kind of brain warp, and sleep was out of the question. I couldn’t turn my brain off (you know how that goes) and as soon as I realized I was in this sleepless mode, I started to panic—which in turn jumbles my nerves into a frenzy even more. I am sure you all can relate to this feeling when you’re trying to fall asleep, and it really sucks. You somehow talk yourself out of sleeping, and the later it gets the more worried you become about the 145,972,239 consequences of your insomnia.

{Note: Aside from some small under-eye bags and a slight tired feeling, the consequences are never as bad as we expect.}

So, there was this not-so-awesome party in my head, and in order to turn away from all these random stressful thoughts, I tried an exercise that Corey taught me a while ago.

You see, Corey has a much more upfront and practical relationship with her feelings than I do, and it’s always been a strength for her. So, while I get hysterical and let the tiniest little things get me all riled up and crazy, Corey remains calm (which yes, drove me crazy growing up……and might still) and rationalizes everything down in a cool, collected manner.

So, as stated previously, she taught me about something she does when things aren’t going swimmingly—no matter if it’s an issue with a friend, school, boyfriend, job, etc. She goes into her room, allows herself to really be with and think about the things/person that’s bothering her for approximately 5 minutes. She doesn’t hide from the stress, she invites it in the door and sits with it the same way you would an awkward ex at a coffee shop or a creepy cousin at a family reunion. Once she’s addressed the stressor, she figuratively puts whatever the source is in a “bubble” from which it can’t escape, and she lets it be. For her, this process allows the stress to be acknowledged, but not overwhelm her schedule or mood.

I myself prefer writing, running, and screaming, but since none of these were readily available in my comforter cocoon of restlessness last night, I decided to take on the bubble approach. I thought very specifically about the things that were stressing me out, in detail, and I imagined them floating off in their own individual bubbles. I got about 4 bubbles out of me, and I don’t remember anything after that—because I immediately fell asleep.

Bubble success! Until….cue morning.

I woke up before my alarm in a tizzy of stressful thoughts. “I have this and this and this to do and these people to email and OMG I have to run right now but I’m not rested enough so it’s gonna suck and blah blah blah blah.” Does this happen to you? It’s not a pleasant way to wake up, and I sort of scorned the bubble process. It felt as if instead of creating boyant, airy bubbles that would float my stress away into the universe, I had actually created balloons; and not the fun birthday balloons, but the sunken, slightly deflated monster-big balloons that stick around for months no matter how long you wait them out.

If you are wondering, by the way, if my balloon from Valentine’s Day(which I LOVE, BF!) is still afloat in our dining room, yes it is. It’s time for it to go, but it won’t die.

So there I was, jolted awake by the rustle of big, floppy, stress-filled balloons that were planning on hanging around as long as possible. “Hey Robyn, we want to hang out with you forever!” is what it felt like they were saying, and although I was irritated at my inability to rid myself of all my thoughts—I did have another weapon, running.

So, despite my late night and early morning, I geared up, ate my handful of cereal, and set off on my run—with each and every stress balloon tied to my arms and wrists.

If you can’t beat it, run with it. And that’s what I did. I got through approximately 1 minute and 20 seconds of a song when I hurriedly removed my headphones and ran in the stillness and quiet. I needed to be with my thoughts, my balloons, and not drown them out with the crooning of T-Swift and Glee.

So I ran, clad in balloons, and with each exhale and footstep, I was able to speak directly to each of the things that were bothering me. My form of power, the thing that makes me feel that I can overcome obstacles, is my running—and today it let me exercise that power. Without too much effort or frustration, I was able to slowly rationalize and work through all the things that my brain had so tightly jumbled. It was similar to unraveling a giant lump of tangled necklaces; looping my way through each tangle and kink until I could release each individual string.

The string, in this case, not being necklaces—but balloons. Balloons that were full of various stresses that individually, were manageable, but together created a cyclone of burden. Running allowed the best way to calm that cyclone by sorting through each stressor individually until they slowly, one by one, began to relinquish their grips on my wrists and float off into the morning air. The balloons still existed, and I could see them all floating around me, but their load had been lessened and I could run free knowing that I still had power over them.


So, while Corey’s bubble approach may be the higher level of this stress-capturing metaphor, it definitely was applicable toward my own current state of being. Although my bubbles were in the shape of balloons, and they took a bit longer to take flight, I certainly felt that by carrying the balloons on my run with me, instead of leaving them at home for me to come back to, I was able to simulate the feeling of letting go. Running is magical in this regard, and I think when we can take our problems on the road with us instead of pretending they’ll somehow go away, we gain a much greater appreciation for our own control and power.

So, maybe someday I’ll be able to create big, air-thin bubbles that make my stresses float off into the abyss. But for now, the balloons will do. And so long as I can muster the extra energy to bring them along with me on my runs—I’m thinking there’s no way they’ll be able to stay tied on too tightly. And after all, nothing hangs on too long to sweat-covered arms.

Tell me about your beat-the-stress running techniques. Do you let the huffing and puffing and loud music detoxify your clutter-filled brain, or do you run in silence with your stress balloons, releasing them one-by-one?




1 thought on “Bubbles and Balloons

  1. Pingback: 1 Year Old! | Run Birdie Run

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s