I woke up with a cool breeze in our apartment after a week of hot, bright sunshine that felt like too much sometimes. It was all sun, all the time for the last 7 days.
Too. Freakin’. Much.
Kind of like how my life feels sometimes — even though it’s so full of good, it can still feel overwhelming.
I manage a lot of the details of our family:
The kids homeschooling, health, social, and who needs new sneakers (again) this week because they’re growing leaps and bounds.
I work as a certified Integrated Wellness Coach, speaker, author, Italian retreat leader, and professional musician – just to keep that renaissance life going.
Within that coaching work, I’m creating a special program that will be launched later this Fall that is taking hours a week to create.
In addition to that, I manage my health, the home and the family growth dynamics, along with the holidays, birthdays, special events and vision planning for the coming years.
AND, because I had a really exciting dream to celebrate my 50th in Italy after my October retreat, I am planning 5 weeks of life, Italian style, so that my family can join me for a wonderful experience abroad in a country we all love so much.
This all does not include grocery shopping, cooking, renewing licenses, smog checks, yoga classes, research, e-mails, texts, phone calls, driving to LA 8 hours a week for the boys’ classes, and trying to stay on top of my completely messy bedroom that is begging for some attention.
I’m so grateful to have a husband who loves me and an assistant a few hours a week, but seriously — sometimes I need a wife.
I need a me, for me.
None of it is bad. All of it is good. It’s just a lot.
And you have to know this: I have zero interest in glorifying the busy in my life. I used to. I used to feel PROUD to be a whirling dervish who worked 70-80 hours a week.
Those days are gone!
Now, when I look at the schedule and see how much I have to do or how much I’ve done, I feel GRATEFUL that my health and brain are in a place that can manage so many details for so many people, places, and things.
It’s not like this all the time, but there are seasons.
And right now, I’m in one of them.
I thought, maybe if you’re in that ‘feeling overwhelmed’ time, too that I could share a few things I do when I get to this point:
1. Stream of Consciousness Journaling — Thank God for Julia Cameron, author of “The Artist’s Way” for introducing this to me 25 years ago: Writing three pages a day in the morning of whatever’s on my mind:
I woke up overwhelmed again today. Holy crap, when am I going to lose these last 25 pounds, the kitchen is a mess, I’m so grateful for my kids. The birds are awfully loud this morning, It’s kind of aggravating. Michelle was such a bitch yesterday, what was that about? I think I have to poop…
That’s what my journal is like. Three pages of that. And I’ve had three pages of “I don’t want to write three pages today” too. All of that is within bounds.
Stream of Consciousness journaling empties your brain and gives your thoughts a place to rest with honor. I make some of my greatest to-do lists and have had some of my greatest breakthroughs through SOCJ. It’s the cheapest form of therapy I know.
2. To-Do Lists — When I have so much in my head, I have to write a list of everything. I know, I know, sometimes I lose my list, but eventually I write another one, sometimes on a big poster board in magic marker and I put it on my fridge so EVERYONE can see the amount of ridiculousness I have to do. Sometimes I put a list of categories:
And under each category I put all of what needs to be done for that.
I know to-do lists seem obvious, but honestly — they do more than put it in front of me, they help my brain to sort and simplify and work stuff out.
3. Surrender the List — Okay, I just told you to write a list but here’s my story of why you need to let it go.
15 years ago, we moved the boys to Upstate NY for a two-year work assignment we had. I had a 1 and 3 year-old who were climbing in boxes, climbing out of boxes, pooping in boxes — we all had pneumonia and I was trying to raise money for our non-profit, work, nurse both of my children, say good-bye to family and friends, and move an entire family 3000 miles away.
My to-do list was the size of War and Peace.
It was a bit much.
And then, as I was having palpitations and praying one night because of all of the ridiculous FREAKIN’ STRESS, I heard the Beautiful Spirit inside of me say, “Surrender the List.”
Oh my lord, nononononononononono! There was no way.
No. Way. In. Hell.
But through a little more prayer, I heard it again. “Surrender the List.”
And I let go.
I looked at each item on my list and I had to release it to God and release myself from making the list my God and what I thought I should be doing.
In my surrender, I had the most amazing, magical, surprise-filled, wonder-filled, peaceful three weeks. Everything got done and I still had hair left on my head.
So, yes, we need to make the list — and at some point, we may need to pry our little, Type-A, controlling fingers OFF of the list and surrender.
4. Walk and Talk — I know it sounds simple, but grabbing my phone to call a friend or my husband’s hand and walking down by the beach is a total game-changer for me when I’m overwhelmed. I let the person know right up front, “I have about 16 hairs left on my head and they’re all standing up straight. Everyone’s safe, no one is in danger but I really need to talk.”
And then, I just throw it all out there in the most random fashion because it’s like SOCJ only with words flying out of my mouth instead of my pen. And you know what I get in return? Love. Support. Feedback. And sometimes a friend who can either give me thoughts on how to make it simpler or a friend who is willing to take something off of my list.
And all of the above feels like being known, understood, and it totally feels like relief. Even though my list didn’t change, it doesn’t feel like it’s all weighing on the shoulders of my mind and that feels, whew… so. much. mo’. bettah.
5. Meditation — I know I should have probably put this first but here’s the thing about meditation: No matter where you place it in your day, it always works.
I don’t worry about clearing my mind (ain’t gonna happen my friend.) I just focus on the breath or a mantra like “all is well” or “everything is working together for my good.” or a guided meditation on peace from youtube. If my thoughts comes into my head, I don’t judge them, I just notice them floating by like fish in an aquarium.
“Oh wow… look at that clown fish. Funny colors. He looks silly.”
And then, it goes by.
Meditation doesn’t have to be done perfectly — for me it’s the woo-woo version of smoking a cigar. People who smoke cigars are pretty relaxed because the act of lighting one up forces you to breathe. Just like meditation, but without the carcinogens. In a world that’s breathlessly running through life, it’s a moment to sit down and breathe.
All good stuff.
So, there you go friends. I do lots of other things too, but this will get you started and feeling like a cool breeze in your life instead of the oppressive heat of non-stop sunshine.
Blessings on you and your life.
Blessings on your to-do lists
And blessings on letting them go.
Enjoy the season you’re in and remember, you (and I) have the power to change our script ANY time we want to, so if life feels chronically too full (instead of seasonally stuffed to the gills) and you want to lighten it up, you have the power to do that at any point.
Just open up your new Stream of Consciousness Journal and start that conversation with the Divine, wise, loving soul that lives in YOU!
Sending love and cool breezes on hot days,