So last week I told you how life had gotten a little cray cray around here. Since then, things have calmed down and we’re sailing ahead toward a peaceful move and a joyous family holiday with effortless productivity, emanating ease and grace, checking things off our lists with gratitude and joy.
It started with the kid apparition in our bedroom. 1:30am. I swam up from the depths of sleep to hear those dreaded words:
“Mommy, Daddy, I don’t feel good.”
You parents, you know what followed. Avert your eyes. Hours and hours of plague and pestilence, the bad kind, the kind where you’re holding a wastepaper basket while your kid repeatedly- well- I won’t go into graphic details for all you childless folks out there. (Incidentally, to the person who wrote me saying that she’d really prefer it if I didn’t tell so many personal stories because she really doesn’t want to hear about my kids: this is the part where I bat my eyelashes and say, whoopsie!)
It was bad, you guys. The kind of bad that requires lots and lots of Lysol wipes, even if you’re more of a tea-tree-oil-and-lavender kind of gal like me.
All told, it was three nights of not much sleep. By the end, 5 out of the 7 members of my family had been struck down. (Knock on wood for the two of us still standing.)
Everyone’s better now, and we’re all past the incubation period so don’t worry if you’re local, but needless to say it took all my glorious plans for this week and put them through the paper shredder.
(Incidentally, if I wrote you and told you I’d have something for you by the end of the week, well- guess what- it’s going to be next week instead. Because LIFE, folks.)
It just made me laugh, because in last week’s missive I wrote that EFBAs thrive on a challenge, and apparently the universe was like HAHAHAHAHAHAH OH YEAH????
I don’t think that’s how the universe works.
Although… on top of packing boxes and borrowing camping gear and having sick kids at home, the next round of immigration paperwork DID suddenly come through, necessitating another frantic round of scanning, signing, going to consulates, and digging up paperwork from 20 years ago. So HMMM UNIVERSE, I AM GETTING SUSPICIOUS.
All righty then. This week let’s dive into how to handle the craziness of life MOMENT TO MOMENT. Not just the big picture stuff we talked about last week, but breath to breath, which is all most of us can handle anyway even on our best of days.
Highly Evolved Spiritual Ways To Cope With Grace & Ease Or Let’s Be Real, At Least Without So Much Crying
1. Clean up the immediate area around you.
One of the lovely side effects of the world turning upside down is a whole lot more clutter. The kitchen island holds stacks of important papers along with bubble wrap and the breakfast dishes. Boxes are everywhere. Streams of sleeping bags are snaking across the floor.
In the midst of all the Very Important Things you have to do, it will seem insane to stop and clean it all up- and what’s the point, when it will just get messy again and besides things are supposed to be crazy when life is busy, right? WRONG.
The visual clutter is hijacking your brain. Instead of answering important questions like “What is the quickest way to ship myself to Thailand?” your brain will be going, “Oh yeah we need more packing tape and hmmmm why is gluten-free bread so disgusting and I wonder if we should leave these coat hooks for the next people who move in and oh yeah I need to print that thing to take to the consulate printer ink squid ink dinner sushi wasabi soy sauce” and then four hours have gone by and nothing has gotten done. Hypothetical example, of course.
That’s why one of the most productive things you can do is stop and take five or ten minutes to create a clear working space for yourself. Yes, even if there are boxes still stacked around that space. Yes, even if more waves of tents and lanterns are on their way. ESPECIALLY THEN. Having a clear command center will help you be more clear, more focused, and let you think ABOUT things instead of just thinking OF them.
This morning Nick and I were both feeling beleaguered and foggy, so we stopped and just cleaned up: we loaded and ran the dishwasher, stacked papers, taped more lists up on the wall, and did a quick vacuum. Immediately we both breathed easier. If you’re drowning in overwhelm, here are some more quick & easy things that will help right away.
2. Get everything out of your head and onto paper.
This is like the mental equivalent of cleaning up your space. When your brain is jumbled up trying to remember all the millions of tiny but crucial details, you can’t think intelligently about any of them. It’s like you have a million red blinking lights in your brain all flashing red alarms at you, screaming, “Me me don’t forget about meeeee” and with all the cacophony you can’t even tell the difference between the truly important (like being somewhere at a particular time and place to sign important documents) from the less-important (like buying more Sharpie markers).
When you’re in the thick of it, you’re almost certainly suffering from decision fatigue, because you’ve had to make 47 judgment calls in the last 12 minutes and it’s still only 8:12am. This is a state of brain fog similar to new parenthood where you’re so sleep deprived you want to die. There is nothing to joke about when it comes to sleep deprivation, as it could have some damaging consequences to your health if you don’t get the recommended amount of sleep. A good nights sleep can improve your everyday life more than you think and you’ll find that it is easier to focus on making those important life decisions.
The last time I moved house, I literally turned to the wonderful friend who was helping me pack and said, “Please, I beg you, please order the pizza, because deciding how many we need and what toppings to get on them is just going to break me and I will start bawling my eyes out.” She nodded sagely, good friend that she is.
So grab a piece of paper and just start writing down EVERYthing that is on your mind, from the terrible political situation to that pesky email you keep forgetting about to the yogurt drinks you need to add to your shopping list to the fetching new bathing suit you want to buy yourself as well as the stomach crunches you’ve been meaning to start doing immediately because bathing suit. Some of it will be silly, some of it will be stunningly important, and seeing the minutiae sitting right next to the truly crucial will help you draw big red circles around those big things and get them onto a list.
Which, if you are wise, you might want to stick to your forehead.
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3. Break things into MICRO-STEPS.
Like teeny. Tiny. Ridiculously, embarrassingly puny single tasks. Make sure each task begins with a clear and specific action word. For example, “Pack One Box Of Books “is good. So is “Print out today’s compass.”
Don’t give yourself steps like “Pack the house” or even “Pack kitchen.” Definitely don’t give yourself steps like “create new class” or “switch over to new system” because when you do that your poor brain gets overloaded and confused and overwhelmed and runs around in circles looking for bags of Doritos.
The more overwhelmed you are, and the more projects you have going on at once, the more you will be tempted to just lump whole projects under one line in your to-do list. RESIST THAT TEMPTATION.
You want to break things down into steps so easy, so eminently do-able, that you can do that even at 11pm after you’ve cried because there are no more donuts in the house. “Pack the little bin of vitamins?” you want to say. “Oh yes! Oh yes I CAN do that!!!” Because then you will, and then you’ll cross it off your list, and then you’ll feel better and stronger and you can go find more donuts.
4. Stop and do something blissful.
You will not in any way shape or form have time to do this. Everyone will agree that you absolutely cannot possibly step away from the maelstrom of All The Things long enough to pause and enjoy something.
This is when it is more important than ever that you do that exact thing.
Take a nap. Book a mani-pedi. Go grab dinner with a friend. Take your glass of wine out into the garden. Bonus sparkle points if you can find a pleasurable thing that requires you to be separated from your phone, that relentless harbinger of doom and panic. Go to a yoga class. Book a massage. Go see a movie in an actual movie theater.
If all those seem impossible, then at least watch a really great TV show while you fold the laundry.
And last but quite possibly most helpful of all:
5. Join me next Tuesday for my new class, The Resilient EFBA: How to get back up when the world knocks you down!
No kidding! It’s going to be fun, quick, and supercallifragilistically helpful. I’m going to dive into the very best things I’ve learned about how to get through when you’re right in the thick of it. Grab your spot right here.
True story: This is not the first time I’ve ever been in the thick of it.
In fact, when I think back, I’ve been in waaaaay tougher spots before, and I’ve always made it through them. This is partly what’s helping me not panic even in the midst of my current life-a-la-tornado.
I’m going to show you the things that have helped me keep going even when things seemed hopeless, try again when I’d had my heart broken, and keep persisting at the things that really mattered to me. You’ll walk away remembering that you’re a strong fierce badass with a great sense of humor and you can totally handle this shit. (I made you a little video about why I created this class; you can watch it here.)
Class is live on Wednesday 8/9 at 10am/1pm. You can join me in real time or watch it later. Hint: this would be the perfect thing to listen to when you’re folding that laundry. EVEN BETTER THAN SCANDAL.
This is going to be fun, motivating, and galvanizing, so be sure to grab your spot- I’ll see you then!