when things get overwhelming

I sent my sister a text yesterday morning with this picture of me …

oh boy

I was feeling stressed.  Overwhelmed.  And it was making me feel blue.  Can you tell?

My to-do list had piled up on me, filled with everything from mundane (but let’s face it, necessary) tasks like laundry (I call it the “Hofheimer Fluff n’ Fold” — aaaalways doing laundry around here) and dishes, to paying bills to work projects and MORE.  Finding the time and space to focus and recharge just felt impossible to me.  There was so much to do that I felt paralyzed and it was depressing me.  All I really WANTED to do was curl up in a ball and take a nap.  But that wasn’t happening.

Two of my kids were sick earlier this week and as a result I’ve had a longer-than-normal string of sleepless nights.  It was catching up to me and affecting me in more ways than one.  I was tired.

Jodi responded to my text and told me that the only thing I really have to do is BREATHE.  She assured me it will all be okay.  It’s not so bad, after all.  She is the best.  Truly.

So I did what she said.  I took a few deep breaths and I closed my eyes and sat in the parked car for a few minutes.  I tried to silence the busy and negative voice in my head that told me I had to go go go – I reminded myself that none of the things on my list are earth shattering.  It will all get done.  I do not need to worry.  One thing at a time.  One step at a time.

All that really matters, all the things that I hold most dear in my heart and in my life — my children, my husband, my family and my friends — all those things are doing just fine.  We are all healthy and happy and safe.  I don’t need to get caught up in the details.  Sometimes the little details that nag at me, they can take me elsewhere.  Out of the present moment.  They cause me to lose sight of the bigger picture, of what’s most important.  I do not function well when this happens.  I’m sort of a mess when I step outside of the moment.  It’s not pretty.  It’s not fun to be me or to be around me.  I try every day to remind myself of this – to stay in the moment and not dwell on what was or what could be – because I am a much happier, much more relaxed, much more open person when I live my life that way.

My sister lives one street away from me.  After getting us each a coffee (because caffeine is my friend on days like that), I drove to her house with baby Gus and we visited for a little while.  It wasn’t long before she had me laughing and enjoying the moment.  Time with my sister is healing for me.  Pretty much always.

laughter – Jodi took this picture yesterday after maybe 40 minutes of us being together

After a little while there it was time to go home for Baby G’s afternoon nap.  I knew I would have about 1 hour of kid-less time for the day and that this would be my one chance to get things done without also keeping an eye on one, two or three little ones.  During the baby’s morning nap I have Mr. Will around and we usually play together just the two of us – I want to be present for him, not distracted by chores.  So in the afternoon when both big kids are at school and the baby sleeps I try to take advantage of that time and get things done.

But yesterday, I made a different choice.  Though my list was so long and overwhelming, I found myself instead holding my baby after he fell asleep in my arms.  I just wanted to stare at him.  His beautiful little body.  His peaceful, relaxed face.  I snuggled up next to his head and felt the warmth of his skin and the softness of his breath.  What a miracle.  This is all that matters.  I cherish these quiet moments with my children.  They reign me in and remind me to appreciate all of life’s blessings.

When Baby Gus is awake he is exploring the world with full force, curious and excited about every single thing around him.  He is moving so fast and growing so quickly.  I don’t want to miss a thing.

My list is still long and it will never disappear.  There is always more laundry to fold, more bills to pay, more phone calls to make.  It’s a great feeling to cross something off my list (I *love* that feeling), but I know that the minute I do, there will be more to add.  I can’t let this bring me down, or cause me to lose sight of all the wonderful things that are happening each and every day.  I do not want to take these things for granted.

This morning I woke up for a 12 mile run (it was awesome).  I came downstairs early to get ready, while everyone else was still asleep in their beds.  On the kitchen counter there was a note for me, from my husband.  I was confused.  Why did Robert leave me a note?   Am I missing something?  I opened it up and this is what I found:

Who thinks of this!?  My husband, that’s who.  The man I love for more reasons than I can tell you.

We have been married for 500 weeks today.  500 glorious, adventurous, sometimes crazy but never dull, weeks.  500!  That’s 3,500 days.  In that time we have grown as individuals and we have become a family.  Our life is way more wonderful than I ever dreamed it would be or could be.

There are so many blessings right under my nose.  So many things to celebrate each and every day.  Without Robert bringing this to my attention, I am sure that this little milestone would have gone unnoticed by me.  It makes me wonder – what else am I missing that I could be celebrating today and every day?   Probably so many things.  This is why I want to be present and aware, so that I do not miss even the simplest of joys in life.  So that when I am feeling down, I will be able to pick myself up and remember to breathe and be thankful.  So I can teach my children this as well.  I want them to be happy.  To know they are loved.  To know that they matter.

Today, I am truly grateful.  The smile that Robert’s note put on my face this morning has literally not moved from my face.  My cheeks are hurting a little.

Today, I’m making a promise to myself and to my family – I will be mindful and aware of all the goodness that abounds in my life on this beautiful day.  I will get done what I can, but I won’t take myself too seriously.  I won’t let the pile of tasks overtake the simple pleasures.

And if I find that it gets to be too much, I will take a second to BREATHE.  And maybe call my sister.

7 thoughts on “when things get overwhelming

  1. There are SO many things to stay on top of all the time and I often find myself in your position. It sounds like you have a very good support system there and you have your priorities in order.

    What a very thoughtful husband you have! Congrats on 500 weeks! May you have MANY, MANY more!! 🙂

  2. I love this…your husband is awesome for sure 🙂

    Getting down is so commonplace…I'm so sorry you found yourself there. Chores can definitely wait. Best time spent is cuddling a sweet babe…they grow too fast…but you already know that. I love your sentence…”I won't let the pile of tasks overtake the simple pleasures.” How perfectly put.

    Love the pic of you laughing 🙂

  3. There are so many things I like about this post.
    1. That you and your sis live 1 block away. My older sis and I are moving about 1/2 mile from each other – which is super close when you are in the southern part of SI – everything is spread out. I know we've chatted about our sisters before, but I always love reading about the sisterly bond that I can relate to.
    2. I had a similar moment with AJ on Fri as I was putting him down for his nap. I want to freeze time so badly right now – I love every moment with him and feel like I'm going to blink and he's going to be packing up to go away to college or to get married.
    3. Your hubby is one in a million. Seriously sweet. He gets huge points from me!
    4. You seem to do an amazing job of realizing what you have – I love reading your blog posts and love that despite working hard and training hard, it is obvious how important family is to you.

    Take that breathe, but just know that there are so many of us who admire you for everything you are doing. xoxo

  4. What a wonderful post! How sweet of your husband to remember a milestone like that. You are right, there's always going to be something else on the to do list but there are only so many moments that are as precious as holding your little one while he's sleeping!

  5. This is a lovely post. You are so lucky to have your sister so close. I live on the other side of the world to mine (NYC and Australia), but try to be in contact as much as possible.

    You are right- family and friends are the most important things and even though can seem overwhelming at times, taking time to step back and breathe like you said is so important. Smell the roses and relax. Hope you feel less stressed soon 🙂

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