Just Say No

Good, great and beautiful Sunday morning! I love mornings in general, but Sunday mornings? There is just something about those precious few peaceful hours that makes all the world right.

Life continues to be absolutely crazy. A week ago, I finished my fifth MBA course marking my half way point in the program. Then Monday, I rolled right into my sixth class with Computer Information Systems…no rest for the wicked they say. I’ve taken on some new professional challenges, determined to continue growing and move forward with my skill set and work experience. 

We’ve had golf camp, art camp, VBS, baseball and Cub Scouts. After a sedentary year of adjusting to being back in school, I’ve started running again with my sister (see the photo below…I made her run in the rain and then take a makeup free picture ūüė≤…she thinks I’m trying to kill her but she’ll thank me later!). And finally, I’ve started reading again (for fun!). I’ve decided to go back through the classics that I “cliff noted” my way through in high school and to try to actually appreciate them this time. I just finished Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (absolutely fantastic) and am now reading To Kill a Mockingbird.


I feel a shift within myself. There are no more hours in the day today than there were a year ago. But today I feel more productive and happier and thankful for the energy to do all of the things I’m passionate for. This change, these happy moments with my children, with my husband, in my career, in my schoolwork, they haven’t been without a cost.

I have learned little by little to start saying no. Let me clue you in to the fact that I hate saying no. I want to do it all. Be involved, support all good causes, be a strong leader in my community, church and work… But in order to be happy, in order to be content, in order to be the Christian, wife, and mom that I am designed to be, I have learned that I have to pick and choose where I am spending my time very wisely. 

Sometimes the no’s are obvious and sometimes they’re painfully difficult. Some of my no’s were easier than I imagined. I say no to TV today. I say no to social media. The truth is that I  have better places to spend my time, and when I’m focused on television or social media, I losing time on something I find more precious. You may be reading this blog via a Facebook link thinking “what a hypocrite, ” but let me tell you that these are not hard no’s. If my day is done, and my husband has settled into bed to watch a good murder mystery, you better believe I am by his side. If my child has done something adorable (as children often do), I will make a post on Facebook to share with my friends and family. But gone are the days of spending an afternoon on a Netflix binge or blindly scrolling through a Facebook feed while sitting with my family. I’ve turned off all notifications to my cell phone and try to leave my phone put away any time that I know my focus should be on my family, work and/or school. So of all my no’s, this was an easy one. This no has brought me many moments of great joy and peace.

However, there have been other no’s that hurt my heart. I had to resign from some volunteer work; volunteer work that I know is important, that is vital even. But I saw myself swimming…drowning in commitments that I could not follow through. My joy in life was slipping. I was missing out on too many tuck-ins with my kids, too many opportunities to grow mentally, emotionally and/or physically. Right now, at this point in my life, I have to make difficult choices. I am happier today for the no’s I’ve forced myself to say. I am a better wife and mom. I can feel God’s joy in my heart because I am taking moments to just sit in his peace. I can share that joy with my family and friends. That is my number one responsibility in this life. 


When was the last time you had a moment to sit in God’s peace and love? Are you making quiet time to just be? It’s difficult. It’s one of the hardest things in life for me. I also believe it’s one of the most important. Saying no isn’t always easy, but the rewards are exponential. Make today a joyous day. Say no to the things that aren’t on your priority list (and if you don’t have a priority list, make one). Say yes instead, to the things that bring you peace and joy. Here is a list of my “insteads” since I’ve started to say no: a walk with my kids, a bike ride, a run, planting a garden, reading a great book, listening to my favorite podcast, dancing with my children, coloring a page with my daughter, washing my dishes, sitting on the front porch with my husband…the list will continue to grow. I am so thankful. I’m wishing you the best of days over this holiday weekend. Happy 4th of July from my family to yours! 

MIA Thanks to an MBA

I’m not sure what I thought getting my MBA would be like. Whatever I thought, I’m certain in this moment that the reality of working toward my graduate degree, while working full time and being a mom and wife, Cub Scout leader and Sunday school teacher…is actually much, MUCH worse than I imagined.

I wore Betty Boop Christmas socks to work today. In public. Sure did. My son wore the same pair of pants to school two days this week, unwashed. (Don’t tell him…he doesn’t know.) I’m fairly certain I hear my son coughing down the hall right now, but I would have no idea if he’s sick because I literally haven’t seen him in four days. There are dirty dishes on my counter. 

Today I worked 9 hours. I studied and did my homework for an hour while on my lunch break. I studied for two and a half hours after work….and then took a three hour quiz. I came home with everyone asleep, ate dinner alone, took a shower and now I lie here, exhausted but entirely unable to sleep. My mind is still racing, thinking about alpha and standard deviations and variances. Ugh. 


And this is an ordinary day these days. 

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Five more weeks of Statistics 601 and then one summer session and then…finally, a summer break. I’m thinking baseball, beaches and camping. Sun on my skin. My children’s voices in my ear and their hands in mine. I’m thinking of my husband’s handsome face and seeing him with his eyes open and conscious…that’ll be nice. 

I don’t share to complain. This is my choice, my privilege. My hope is that this work will benefit my family. That my children will learn what grit and determination look like. That I will grow in knowledge and capabilities. That I will learn exactly what I’m made of. This journey is difficult and I truly couldn’t be doing it on my own. My husband, parents, in-laws…without them, an MBA would be impossible for me. 

So tonight, rather than complaining that my house is chaos, my laundry is undone, that I’m utterly drained….I will be thankful. Thankful for my family who are helping me to achieve my goals, thankful for my friends who encourage me every single day, thankful for the capacity and drive to learn. Thankful for technology and education. Thankful that tomorrow is a rare occasion that I get to curl up with my family and relax for our weekly Hafele Family Movie Night. Thankful for another day in this crazy world living this crazy life.

By the way, I’m down to only my fuzzy, penguin striped socks…so when you see me wearing them tomorrow, don’t judge me. 

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Enjoy the time you have with those that mean the most and don’t take a moment for granted!

Blessings in Disguise???

Wait…what?  It’s only Tuesday???

This has already been the longest week…ever. I was coming off the high of a wonderful, fun-with-my-kiddos, relaxing, house-in-order, everything-right-with-the-world kind of weekend on Sunday evening.  It was about 10:30 (which came too soon with this wicked ‘spring forward’ time change).  I realized that my husband had never returned my keys when he had moved my car into the garage that afternoon.  Trying to be sure I would be ready for the rush to the door on Monday morning, I decided to check with him, “Where did you put my keys?”  He had thought he had set them on the kitchen counter.  He was wrong.

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An intense search ensued; we looked for my keys until midnight.  We never found them.  This shouldn’t have been a big deal, right?  I mean, I can always pull out my spare set, right?  WRONG!  My spare stopped working about six months ago (darn computerized cars) and I never got it fixed.  Ugh.  Hind sight really is 20/20.

That was Sunday and it is now Tuesday.  Still no keys.  Still no car.  My car has been towed to the  mechanic’s.  It’s been there since Monday around 3:00.  I have realized a lot of things over the last two days while not having a car.  a) It’s stressful…planning for dropping my kids at school and childcare…getting to work…coordinating car seats with those who are kindly willing to help you out.  It takes a lot of planning.  b) You never want to go anywhere until you can’t. c) I’m glad I live two blocks from my work.  d) You are really happy when it’s sunny out when you don’t have a car!

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I also woke up late on Monday (most likely due to the late night search party Sunday night and time change) and I missed my workout entirely.  Tuesday I also woke up late and only got in half of my work out.  Things are super crazy at work and I’m working as hard as I can from the moment I walk in the door to the moment I leave.

These things…these little things are what have made me feel undone this week.  These are the moments I said to myself “You have got to be KIDDING me!!!”  And now I sit back and gain some perspective and I realize they are nothing.

You see, my son has to be at the hospital tomorrow at 9:30 to register for his first surgery.  He is having a tonsillectomy.  I fought having this done for a while but after six separate strep infections over the last year, I gave in to seeing an ENT.  When the specialist shared with me that the real danger of strep is that the infection can pass to a heart valve and it can then be deadly, my heart skipped a beat.  I shared with the doctor that Jace actually has a heart valve defect and he responded that Jace’s defect is all the more reason to move forward with this surgery.  So here we are, three weeks later and tomorrow is THE DAY.

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As I spent this evening with my son, I let him play a little longer outside before making him come in.  When he asked to go for a bike ride, I didn’t hesitate to say yes.  I brought him to the movie store and let him pick out all of the movies and games he wanted (these should come in handy during his recovery).  I surprised him with a walk to the ice cream shop and I listened intently as he jabbered to my husband and me all the way home.  And now at this moment, up past his bedtime, he’s playing a video game and I can’t muster the courage to make him go to bed.  I know I don’t want him to lie in bed and think of tomorrow the way I will when the lights go out.  So I’ll just let the bedtime thing go for tonight.

I know Jace will be fine tomorrow.  There are risks anytime someone is put under for a surgery and I don’t take that lightly.  Jace’s heart defect and the fact that we have to have a letter from his cardiologist before the ENT will perform surgery on him, makes me uneasy.  But honestly, if Jace’s heart was perfectly formed, I would still be nervous.  No one wants to see their baby in pain.  I’m nervous and my heart hurts just thinking that he will have to endure the fear of the unknown and the pain that I know will follow (I had my tonsils removed when I was seven…I know!).

As I reflect on my stressful week, on all of the moments I wanted to pull my hair out and didn’t, as I think about all of the quirky things that have happened this week to keep me distracted, I am starting to think that this chaos was a gift.  I didn’t have time to think about Jace’s surgery, about tomorrow.  I didn’t have time to focus on my troubles.  I was kept on my toes by one twist in my week and then the next.  Have you ever thought that?  That maybe the adversity you’re facing is a blessing in disguise…that maybe without the misfortune you wouldn’t make it through something even more challenging?

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In the moment, I didn’t think that my week could get much worse.  And then, just like that, I was strolling down the sidewalk with my son, ice cream in our bellies, and my heart was so full that I couldn’t even recall what I had been stressed about before.  I’m so thankful for my son.  He is my first born.  He’s so different than I ever expected him to be when I became a mother…he’s so much better, more beautiful, more amazing.  Tomorrow we will go through another new and, most likely, unpleasant experience together.  There are no words to express how I wish I could shield him from this…but I can’t.  So instead, I will be there for him.  I will hold his hand.  I will pray for him and anxiously wait for the doctors to return him to me safe and sound.  The past two days were challenging, but none of that matters.  If you have your health and the health of your family, you have everything to be grateful for…tonight, even with no car, even with slacking on my workout routine, even with getting a little behind on my housework, I am the luckiest woman in the world because I have this sweet little boy by my side ready to watch a movie with me.  Looks like we’ll be missing bedtime by quite a bit tonight!

 

 

 

Get it, Girl…A Guide to My Get It Done Weekend

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I’m not naturally the most tidy person. ¬†My husband would back me up on this. ¬†When we were first married, I would marvel at his compulsion to straighten every rug in his vicinity or to wipe out the bathroom sink each and every time he brushed his teeth. ¬†These types of things did not even occur to me. ¬†But as I’ve gotten older (sigh), as I expend more time and energy picking up, wiping up, and scrubbing after these tiny little human beings I call my children….as I take more pride in my home and my belongings that I work so hard for…I’m finding I have changed. ¬†The little things bother me now and unfortunately, with working full time and having two small children, the small things tend to accumulate into big things very quickly.

I wish I could say I have it all together, that I do a load of laundry every day, that there aren’t dishes in my sink, that my tub is clean…but that would be a big FAT lie. ¬†Although my home isn’t a pig’s sty, it also isn’t immaculate. ¬†I visit the houses of others and find their homes spotless and smelling fresh and clean and I’m jealous…and confused. ¬†How do they do it????

I set out with a mission this weekend to get my house in order. ¬†This was the first weekend that wasn’t loaded down with activities and I decided I was going to make the most of it. ¬†I’m a visual person so I worked up two visual aids to keep me accountable and on point. ¬†First I made a time table of my day. ¬†See below.

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Please note that I do NOT typically wake up a 6:00 a.m. on a Saturday but I had a lot of ground to cover. ¬†A girls gotta do what a girls gotta do! ¬†When calculating my time, I tried to account for the day-to-day stuff like working out…eating…blah, blah. ¬†It sounds ridiculous but when I get focused in a cleaning frenzy, I can go without meals. ¬†So it’s important to plan these things into my day. ¬†My blocks of time ranged from one to two hours and consisted of the following:

  • Start laundry and workout
  • Change laundry and make breakfast
  • Change laundry and clean dishes and kitchen
  • Change laundry and clean bathrooms
  • Change laundry, pull sheets and comforters for washing and clean bedrooms
  • Lunch time! Clean up kitchen
  • Change laundry. Jera’s nap time. Clean living room
  • Change laundry. Floors, floors, floors!
  • Shower. Live life.

Now to make sure I stayed on focus, I made a second, complimentary list that broke down the chores within each room (with a nice little check box that I could mark as I accomplished each task…see, told you I was a visual person). ¬†See below:

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This is how it went. ¬†My dream list. ¬†If I could accomplish everything within the given room, this is what I would accomplish…

Kitchen

  1. Collect dishes from around the house and wash, dry AND PUT AWAY
  2. Organize the Tupperware (would it be wrong to say God-forsaken Tupperware???) cabinet.  Throw away Tupperware with no matching lids!
  3. Wipe down counter tops, table and dust the hutch
  4. Clean out the refrigerator
  5. Make shopping list
  6. Clean out closet and pantry

Bathrooms

  1. Clean bathtub, sinks, toilets and counter tops
  2. Clean mirror
  3. Review closet organization

Bedrooms

  1. Remove and replace sheet, blankets and pillowcases
  2. Put away and organize toys
  3. Polish furniture and clean TVs
  4. Organize shoes in closet (this is becoming a REAL PROBLEM AREA)

Living Room

  1. Pick up toys and misc.
  2. Dust furniture and fireplace
  3. Clean TV and other glass
  4. Clean and organize basket, trunk and closet

Floors

  1. Vacuum living room and bedrooms
  2. Sweep and mop bathrooms
  3. Sweep and mop kitchen and hallways

I made it through my day and found my lists SOOOOO helpful. ¬†I didn’t complete every task (I got through roughly half) but I found the error of my past ways. ¬†Being on a time schedule, I was forced to leave a room before I finished up my “task list”. ¬†I have found that typically when I clean, I get distracted very easily. ¬†I have good intentions of making ¬†my way through the whole house but what happens is that I start in one room and I will come across something that is driving me nuts. ¬†For example, I was full-force ready to dive into our closets in the kitchen and start to organize and de-clutter when I found that my hour was up and it was time to move to the bathrooms. ¬†Without my time schedule, I would have started on my closet, which would have led to me cleaning my hutch too and I would have HAD¬†to wipe down the cabinets.

I tend to need each room to be perfect before I move on to the next room. ¬†And because of this…I NEVER MAKE IT TO THE NEXT ROOM!!! ¬†This is so unbelievably true. ¬†This is why I feel like my house is never clean. ¬†I can never make it through the whole house. ¬†I get one room really, sparkling, smell-good, eat off the floor clean and the rest of the house is still a mess and I’m out of time. ¬†By the time I make it to the next room (days later), the first room is dirty again. ¬†So this weekend, thanks to my time schedule, I got the dishes washed, dried and put away, I got the counter tops washed down and I made my shopping list. ¬†And the rest of my kitchen (even the horror of a Tupperware cabinet) all stayed the same.

The good news, no, the great news, is that I made it through my whole house!!!  Yay!  And yes, I did celebrate with a big, delicious steak on Saturday night.  I pay myself in copious amounts of protein.

Okay, back to the matter at hand, I need to start doing something different. ¬†I’ve been turned-on to a website called flylady.com. ¬†It’s all about keeping your house tidy and taking care of yourself at the same time. ¬†I’m only on day two of this big, glorious plan laid out on the website but I’m starting by believing it’s a possibility. ¬†I’m believing that it is possible to work, to be a great wife and mom, to not be overwhelmed, to do a little every day and not allow things to pile up, to not feel like I’m constantly behind…cue the music…“Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer. Not a trace, of doubt in my mind. I’m in love, and I’m a believer. I couldn’t leave her if I tried.” (Yes, I’m bobbing my head while I type.)

I will update at a later time as I move forward on this clean house journey. ¬†Fingers crossed. ¬†By the way, after this weekend of cleaning and getting my right foot forward, I’m feeling great about starting this upcoming week. ¬†I hope you are too. ¬†Let’s have a week of getting up on time every day, being high energy, full of faith and putting positive energy into the world. ¬†Let’s have a week that pushes us forward to the people we are made to be. ¬†Ready,set, GO!

Chew Like Crazy

I’ve always heard people say “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” This phrase creeps into my mind on weeks like this week…weeks of pure panic and stress. I’m a young mother of two who works full time and loves to be involved…so of course my life is INSANE. I knew this month would be a rough ride and it hasn’t disappointed.

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My week thus far has gone something like this:

 


Every Day:

5:00 a.m. –¬†Workout

6:00 – 8:00 a.m. –¬†Shower, hair, makeup, dress the kids, morning chores, drop daughter to ¬†the sitter, drop son to school and get to work praying not only that I’m not late, but also that I’m early enough to get a decent parking space.

8:00 a.m.- 5:20 p.m. –¬†WORK.

5:20 – 9:00 p.m. –¬†Dinner, Homework, Piano Homework, Bath time, Bed time stories, Laundry, Dishes….Husband

Monday

5:45 – 6:45 p.m. –¬†Daughter to gymnastics

6:00 – 7:00 p.m. –¬†Son to batting practice

Tuesday

6:30 – 7:00 p.m. –¬†Tiger Cub Den Meeting

Wednesday

6:00 – 8:00 –¬†Church duties for Lenten Season

Thursday

5:45 – 6:15 p.m. –¬†Son’s piano lessons

6:00 – 7:00 p.m. –¬†Scout Committee Meeting

For better or worse, this is a typical week in the Hafele House. ¬†We live full throttle and most days I love it. ¬†But this week has been a mess. ¬†Last weekend was even crazier than usual, jam-packed with activities and I didn’t get to prep for the upcoming week. ¬†My prep time is vital to surviving this modern day lifestyle. ¬†Prep is¬†essential to “having it all”. ¬†So by Thursday morning when I discovered my husband was down to his last pair of underpants, my kids had no matching socks, we were out of fresh bath towels, there were dirty dishes by the sink and loads of laundry sitting in baskets staring at me…I knew that all of this chaos was a direct result of not prepping properly for my week to come. ¬†Someday I will learn that above all other important things, I must make time to prepare myself.¬†

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I thought it would be fun to share a few of my pointers with my readers.  These are the little things that save me from weeks like the one I just had.

Here goes…these are my rules for biting off more than I can chew:

  • How are you spending your time? ¬†Are your activities ones that center around your interests and those of your family/children/friends? ¬†If you find yourself devoting a lot of time and energy toward something that just isn’t something you love, don’t feel guilty for moving on. ¬†The fact is that we’re all busy and our time is limited, so my advice is to be selective with where you spend it. ¬†Today I do not volunteer for any organization unless it is related directly to my family and/or my children. ¬†It’s a win/win when I get to volunteer and spend extra time with my little loves!
  • Plan ahead. ¬†This is one of the biggest factors for ¬†determining the kind of week I’m going to have. ¬†I can expect to not come directly home any night of the week. ¬†I can expect to be spending my lunch hour running my preschooler back and forth to school or planning for our next scout den meeting or Sunday school class. ¬†So on Sunday, I take the time to plan and prep as much as possible for the upcoming week, starting with my meals for the work week. ¬†I have a meal plan which my husband is aware of and can step in and help out with depending on who makes it home first. ¬†I prepare as much food as possible ahead of time to make week nights just a little easier. I also prepare and package all of my lunches for the week. ¬†In addition to being handy, this keeps me healthy and eating right even when I’m stressed for time.
  • Plan ahead – Part Deux. ¬†I set out my workout clothes the evening before in my bathroom. ¬†It’s harder to skip a workout when you know your clothes will be taunting you after you’ve slept in and decided to be lazy. ¬†I also hang my outfit for the next workday in the bathroom so it’s ready to hop into directly after my post-workout shower. And I’m less likely to crawl into my frumpy, old, go-to outfit when I plan ahead. ¬†I mean who really feels like wearing a pencil skirt at 6:00 in the morning. ¬†Not me! ¬†But at 10 p.m. it always feels like a good idea for the next day.
  • Buy a planner (a paper planner) and use it. ¬†Yes, an old fashioned, pen and paper, prehistoric, like the kind your grandma uses, type of planner and write everything down in it. ¬†I wouldn’t know if I was coming or going (seriously) without mine.
  • Ask for help. ¬†Yes, when I need help, I ask for it. ¬†If that means asking my mom to watch the kids for an extra 20 minutes or asking the husband to pick up an extra chore or household duty, I ask for what I need. ¬†I’ve found I have to be direct about what I need. ¬†Shocker…but no one can read my mind. ¬†It took me a while to figure that one out.
  • Sit out when you need to. Tonight was that night for me. ¬†I had to cancel out of my Thursday night Scout Committee Meeting…I hate to not make it to a meeting, but when my household has exploded around me, I always try to remember to put first thing first. ¬†And my family and my home always come first. Always.
  • Lastly, CHEW. ¬†Yes, I said CHEW. ¬†Chew like hell. ¬†I say bite off more that you can chew, have your drink nearby just in case you need help washing it down, have a good friend on hand that knows the heimlich maneuver (you know, just in case), AND CHEW, CHEW, CHEW. ¬†A full, busy life is a happy life for me. ¬†Sometimes it is overwhelming but it is also rewarding. ¬†So I choose to chew.

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So these simple things are what help me survive being a working, volunteering, crazy mom. ¬†What are your secret weapons of survival? ¬†Share them with the women in your life…goodness knows, we all need the ¬†help. ¬†You never know what will work for you, so be flexible. ¬†I will be back on the ball this weekend, prepping and planning and hopefully having a smoother week next week. ¬†But all’s well that ends well, and I survived!

 

 

Stress Mess

I’m heading out of the office for the day…I must make it down two flights of stairs, through three sets of doors (one which I need to enter a passcode to open) and across the parking lot to my car all while carrying :

  1. my planner (aka “my life in a little leather book”)
  2. a few emails I have printed so I don’t forget to do task a, b and c later in the evening…or week….or month…or whenever I get to them
  3. a carton of cookies I will be delivering to my mom
  4. my lunch bag still filled with lunch (since I forgot to grab it from the fridge as I headed out of the office on break)
  5. a ziplock bag with two hard boiled eggs (don’t ask about my odd eating habits…I’m currently eating “clean” or something like that).
  6. 2 lbs of raw ground beef that I picked up from the grocery market over my lunch break (taco night…woot woot)
  7. hanging awkwardly from my shoulder is my purse… with my shaker cup hanging dangerously out of the top
  8. hoisted against my shoulder and leaning on my forearm is a box filled with summer sausage, cheese and crackers.

This is me. This mess, this crazy amount of chaos, this balancing act is me…all the time…every day. Did I mention I’m wearing 3″ heels???

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So I rush to my moms to pick up my kiddos and I’m down one box of cookies, but I’ve been raised one backpack and 3- and 7-year old bodies of pure energy. We pull in at home and it’s unloading EVERYTHING from the car, making supper, practicing piano, homework, stories, bedtime and I. AM. BEAT.

I’m thinking of my coming week and I know I have a Sunday School class to prep for, a Boy Scout meeting to plan, a holiday party, a wedding, my son’s first day of bowling…and I’m feeling overwhelmed. Sound familiar? You can relate, right?

As I was leaving work today, hands full, looking like a hot (hopefully at least halfway decent ūüėČ) mess, a friend of mine followed me out of the building. She just eyed my struggle and smiled…she’s been there. I shared with her that I feel like I’m constantly feeling like I’m swimming in chaos. I see these other people go to and from here or there and they’re hands are empty. They look relaxed. How do they do that??? My friend looked at me and said “You wouldn’t have it any other way.” Whether I like it or not, I know she’s right.

I tend to walk a very fine line between blissfully active and anxiously overwhelmed. ¬†At times I’ve slipped right off the edge and landed square on my rear. These are the times that I start to count my burdens, my worries, my anxieties. I start to count and recount, I begin to list, I can’t sleep and I can’t move forward and somehow I can’t seem to get a single thing accomplished. Stress is like a thick fog. If you let it surround you, you can’t move in any direction with confidence. You’re stuck. The good news is I’ve learned something along the way. I’ve learned a new way to carry my load. A way to turn bricks to feathers and it all begins with gratitude.

Today I’m overwhelmed.

So I begin to think of what I have to be thankful for. I’m so thankful to be healthy today, for the ability to move and be active, to not be limited in my energy and capabilities. Sometimes being grateful starts very simply. The more stress I feel, the simpler my gratitude list needs to start. Sometimes it’s the air in my lungs, my feet on the floor. When I start with the simplest things that I normally take for granted, I can gently roll into the bigger, more obvious things in my life. That small bit of gratitude can grow into a warm, glowing, large sense of thankfulness for my children, my husband, my family and home. The realization comes to me that all of these blessings come with responsibility. That feeling I was previously interpreting as stress, I can now see as my privilege. How fortunate am I that these are my problems?

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Gratitude is an amazing gift. Developing an attitude of gratitude is like removing a blindfold and seeing the sun for the first time. When I am focused on the stress and the to-do list, I’m wandering in the dark. But when I start to focus on gratitude, I am able to not only handle the stress…I am able to be thankful for it. Because after all, these things are not stress, they are my greatest blessings…my children and their activities, my church and my growth in and with God, my home and my household, my career and my professional goals. It is truly a matter of perspective. And I have decided I will be thankful.

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What do you have to be thankful for? Consider what is stressing you right now. Can you look at those stressors from a perspective of gratitude? Can you transform your brick into a feather? I encourage you to give it a try. Trust me when I say it takes some practice. But once you get it, the first time you remove the blindfold, you’ll gain a true understanding of the power of gratitude.