It is one of those times. Chaos all around. Life is too busy. Work, home, family, friends: I have lists and lists of lists piling up around me, all waiting to be tended to. The fact is, the inbox will never be empty, and life will never be much more calm than it is now. Truthfully, I feel lucky to have such a richly packed full life, and probably wouldn't have it any other way. The challenge is, how to thrive off of the busyness and let it nourish you instead of wearing you down? There are so many ways to keep the stress in check, but it is just as easy to let it swallow you whole. Lately, I've been caught up in the moment, and forgetting some of my favorite ways to keep calm. I could use a bit more:
1) Yoga Now is a time when I'd love to be a regular at a nice, sweaty Bikram class, or a rigorous Ashtanga class with a good, long savasana. However, 90-minute consecutive blocks of free time aren't really part of my life right now, at least not during hours where yoga studios are open. The fact is, you don't need to attend a full, formal class to reap the benefits of a bit of yoga practice. Stretching and breathing for 15 minutes in the living room can do almost as good a job of bringing things back down to earth. A series of Sun Salutations, a bit of breathing, and your perspective is refreshed, and those clenched, stressed muscles are a bit warmer and looser. I need to remember this.
2) Walking Again, it is so easy to think that if there is no time for an hour-long power walk, than why bother. I need to be better about just spinning the block with Baby J, and not waiting for the opportunity to get all the way over to the trail system for us to get out and move. At the office, it is so easy to get caught up in a work day, and never leave my desk chair between 8:30 and 5. My girlfriends at work are really good about taking a lunchtime walk, and I just need to be better about putting whatever it is that is making me feel too busy to go with them aside, and make a point of joining them to stretch my legs. A little movement and fresh air can go a long way.
3) Lists Staying hyper-organized at times like this can make the difference between succeeding at the juggling act, or letting everything come crashing to the floor. I have recently implemented a new system for keeping organized at work which involves a date book with a color-coded tab system, and separate lists for each event or project I am working on. Anyone who sees it has a good giggle, but so far it is making a difference in the keeping of my sanity. For all things personal life, I keep daily, weekly, and monthly lists going in my planner, and on a series of post-its and a nifty magnetic organizer from the Real Simple collection at Target (love). The thing of it is to allow these lists to make me feel more and not less sane. Keeping them current, getting satisfaction out of crossing things off, and knowing when to laugh at the sheer number of them are all helpful. There is a fine line between brilliant and batty in all of this Type A-ness, and I need to tread it lightly and with humor.
4) Dinner Yes, my friends, the evening meal. How better to cap off a busy day and transition into an evening that will allow you to calm down and get a good night's sleep, than to sit at the table like a human being and nourish yourself? When life gets hectic, it is tempting to want to inhale pizza in front of the tube, and then move onto the next thing on your list. But eventually this type of behavior will only snowball the stress of your situation until you find yourself buried in an avalanche. Instead, why not exhale, prepare some simple but nutritious grub, and sit down and look your honey/roomie/dog in the eyes, and talk out the day? Last night, I came home feeling like a human tornado. As I walked in the door, I wasn't sure I'd be able to take it down a notch at all. But, as I rounded the corner into the kitchen, I saw the husband had the table set, something yummy on the grill, and a large glass of wine with my name it (thanks, B!). Immediately, I smiled, which caused me to breathe, which allowed me to take in the beauty of the situation, hug my husband and son, pet my dog, and start to feel human again. We put the baby on the table in his bouncy chair, and enjoyed eachother's company and a good meal. Afterwards, I felt calm and cool, and I slept like a log. Lesson learned. There is ALWAYS time for dinner, and you've got to eat, so make meals sacred and replenishing.
Perspective No matter the situation, there is nothing worth getting so stressed over that you become blind to your love ones and all of your blessings. The little man has been amazing at helping me keep life in perspective in this way. No matter how rushed things get, when I sit down to feed him, time stops. He looks in my eyes and taps his hands on mine, and nothing else really matters. All the to do lists and issues are dwarfed by the overwhelming love that exists in that moment. Even in the middle of the night, the little guy has a way of making anything else that is going on seem trivial, and this is perhaps the greatest gift he has given me. Suddenly, your priorities are perfectly in place, if you just listen to your heart. The trick is to hold on to this sense of perspective even when you are zooming down the highway, or you picked the wrong line at the grocery store, or are on hold again waiting for information on pediatric flu shots. None of it really matters. And with that, you can exhale and feel thankful, keep calm, and carry on.