Today is the last day of school. All kinds of chaos is going to descend upon my house in a few hours, when moms and kids come over for cocoa and cookies…and then the chaos will just continue for the next few weeks!
I hit a moment of total overwhelm the other day; it was all. just. too. effing. much.
You see, in addition to the holidays, and frosting all these cookies, and wrapping up my business for the year, I’m going to…
In a few WEEKS!!!!
This is glad and joyous tidings indeed, and I could not be more thrilled. (And yes, there is a magical story about how it all came about that I will absolutely tell you, as soon as I make it through this cookie party and get tattered portions of my mind back. I will crochet you a little tale with them.)
But this suddenly impending move just put me right over the edge in terms of the number of things, projects, tasks, and details that are begging for my attention.
And the other day I hit my saturation point. I could feel it coming on– heart pounding, exhaustion making my limbs heavy, brain foggy and paralyzed– and for once, instead of going right into the vortex, I didn’t panic. This is such a big deal that I’m going to say it again– I hit the swirl of overwhelm and I DID NOT PANIC!!!
This is not my usual way, darlings.
And so as I pulled myself right back from the brink of Total Mommy Meltdown, one part of me was taking deep breaths and pouring myself a cool glass of water and another part of me was busily taking notes about what was different in our darling little mental patient.
Here are my best clinical observations on what helps me stay sane when it all feels like waaaaay too much:
Acknowledge what is happening. Whoah, I’m feeling overwhelmed. Boy I just got triggered. Wow, my brain just stopped functioning. Oof, I’m suddenly feeling exhausted. This sounds stupid basic, but simply telling the truth about what is happening is the MOST powerful thing you can do. In the old days, I would have used feelings of exhaustion, fogginess, or anxiety to fuel an EVEN MORE FRANTIC race against time. This never ended well for me; in fact, it often ended with me huddled on the floor, clutching tinsel and weeping.
STOP whatever you’re doing. Step away. Breathe. Pour yourself a glass of water. Walk around. Call a friend. It helps a LOT to disrupt the looping of whatever activity or series of thoughts knocked you into the spin cycle.
Get it all on paper. When you have don’t forget the sprinkles jostling around with launch sequences your brain short-circuits. And if you add year-end reports and blue satin ribbon for the EFBA boxes and should I hire movers? I should definitely hire movers... then it’s CRUCIAL to get all that stuff out of your head. If you’re in my Queen Sweep, I’ll say it again– MAKE A COMPASS. If you have no idea what that is, simply do a brain dump of Every Single Thing on your mind. Pick out the 3 MOST important mission-critical things, 3 also-important things, and decide to let 3 things go. Put those 6 things on a post-it note and carry it around. You’ll be amazed at how much clarity it’ll give you.
Do a 5,000-feet check-in. Check your bank balances. Look at your to-do list. Glance through your calendars. Skim through your email inbox to see if there are any ticking bombs in there about to go off. Ask your spouse how they’re doing. Walk around the office. You will absolutely feel like you do NOT have time to do any of those things. When you feel that way, it’s even more crucial that you get out of the weeds and look around so you can make sure you’re taking in the whole picture.
Make your self-care non-negotiable. Here too, you will feel like you most definitely do NOT have time to get a pedicure or meditate or take a walk or polish your miniature elk collection or whatever little indulgence is soothing and nurturing. Hear ye, hear ye: if you do not take some time out to take care of yourself, you WILL spend at least triple that time wrapping presents with your eyes glazed over watching manic snowmen chase Rudolph on TV and you will put the wrong names on the gift tags and you’ll have to do it all over again anyway. Think of it as an investment in everyone’s health.
Here’s the deal. Whatever we fill ourselves up with, that’s what we’ll spill out into the world and onto the people around us. So the more you can fill yourself up with quiet moments, gentle pats on the shoulder, and lots of deep breaths, the nicer it will be for all of us.
P.S. Last week’s Rich Juicy Starry Beauty was kind of a biggie– it had magical galvanizing powers and it’s part of what kicked my move into gear! If you haven’t yet declared a theme and symbol for 2015, you might want to read it right here.