Doing those government things builds up a lot of STRESS

I am about to embark upon two endeavors that require bureaucratic tramites. If you think that word is related to traumatic, you are right, especially when you add government to them. And I have to renew my American passport and get a new Costa Rican cédula. Two governments!

With a deadline of July 2!

I should have begun the process of renewing my passport weeks ago, but I only recently noticed that it is about to expire. I have been in denial for the past couple of weeks regarding my stolen cédula. However, I heard the mayor of Chicago say recently “Denial is not a long-term strategy.”

I started, with the help of a friend, my making an appointment with Immigration on July 2. I have learned since that I need an affidavit from a lawyer who will verify that the cédula, my identity card, was stolen. Of course, he wasn’t there, but he is a lawyer. I remember years ago when Bill White told me that to complete a business transaction he needed a lawyer to verify that he was Bill White. Then, I think he said, the lawyer needed another lawyer to verify his identity and so on and so on. I don’t want to think about that right now.

I did call the American Embassy and was told I needed to make my appointment via the Internet. I have a poor record with the Internet and suggested that since I lived nearby could I just come in and make the appointment? The operator was sorry, but I couldn’t. After I asked (rather snippily) what people without Internet did, I decided to hang up as soon as possible or I would never get an appointment. Then I tried the Web site address she had given me and got some surprising connections to sub Web sites. I then called back and realized I had clicked .com instead of .gov.

The Internet can be dangerous for hapless people like me.

Making an appointment was a frustrating experience. There was no way to simply renew my passport. I had to click one of a choice of conditions, none of which applied to me. I finally did, hoping I had not committed perjury. Then a friend, Carol, told me she had faced the same dilemma when she recently renewed her passport and still managed to get it without being questioned about the fictional member of her family. As a matter of fact, she said that the Embassy people were cordial and helpful.

It is so nice to talk to friends about problems because they may have valuable experience to share. However, then Carol told me that it is going to take two weeks to get my new passport, which means that I won’t have it in time for my cédula appointment at immigration, and I am not sure if I need it. (One memorable time when I made yet another visit to immigration I had a royal case of the hysterics.)

I was watching an interview with two Hollywood psychotherapists who have a seemingly unique approach to helping people with their psychic aches. Everyone, including movie stars, gets depressed, is insecure or stressed. In the psychotherapists’ opinions, positive thinking does not help one who is stressed out about something. Instead (according to my understanding of what they were saying), it is gratitude that works.

When you think your life can’t get any worse or you are facing something you dread more than finding a spider in your bed, it helps if you instead concentrate on all of the things you can be grateful for, the things outside of your immediate problem. So I am trying that.

I am able to go on my balcony and feel the sun on a beautiful morning that has followed the chill of the rainy days. I am grateful for my friends, who seem happy to see me. And I am even grateful for the interesting dish of quinoa, a healthy grain I just discovered that I enjoyed preparing more than I did eating. And mostly, I find that if I project myself to that mythical time when I have renewed my passport and have a new cédula, a feeling of pure gratitude does make me smile and takes away the stress I AM FEELING AT THE MOMENT!

This entry was posted in Friday Column. Bookmark the permalink.