How to Deal with Too Many Things All at Once
By Jacey Eckhart
Have you ever had a time when too many major life changes were happening all at once? This happens to me every couple of years. I’ll have a period of relative calm followed by a year piled with moves and graduations and weddings and funerals and broken bones and new jobs and baby dragons dropped down the chimney and general acts of God all over the place. The sh*t does not stop flying.
I do not take this as a bad omen. I take it as a sign to buckle into my raincoat, put on my goggles, and step up to be the Boss of Me. Well, not right away. First I snuffle and complain a lot, and then I step up to be the Boss of Me.
I’m going through one of those times right now. My husband got promoted (which is so nice!) and, of course, he got orders to go back to DC. So we are moving all our stuff up there (lifetime move #19). Then our teenager and I will move into an apartment down here during the week so he can finish his senior year of high school (lifetime move #20). Then my parents, bless them, finally found a condo they liked, so we are moving them out of the house they have lived in for 41 years and I gotta be their little helper on that, too.
Three household moves in 30 days means that there are not enough raincoats in the world to withstand all the feelings everyone is going to be having all at the same time. I am stressed out already and nothing has happened yet.
Not a surprise. Stress is what happens when you perceive the ridiculous demands placed upon you exceed your actual ability to cope with them.
Fortunately, I just reminded myself I can be the Boss of Me and make lists. ‘Cause lists are good. For times where everything is happening at the same time I only need two lists:
1) I need to list what needs to be done.
2) I need to list what does NOT need to be done.
What needs to be done is not a problem for me. I’ve already moved 18 times. I know how to move well. I have my strategies. I keep my notebooks. I control the movers the way the gravity of the moon controls the tides. I’m magical that way.
The list of what does NOT need to be done kicks me in the pants every time. Despite a complete lack of evidence, I truly believe I should be able to do every single thing I always do despite the lack of hours in the day. This is why I snuffle and complain a lot.
Some things simply do not need to be done in a time of too much stuff happening at the same time. Some of the things on my NOT to-do list are easy—I am not going to cook as much. I am not fertilizing this grass. Some of the NOT to dos are harder, like putting off a really pressing and important work project. Some of the NOT to dos are nearly impossible, like not counting up the mistakes I make and not combing through every comment for negativity and not eating all my feelings disguised as Fritos.
I need help with the second list. During a year where everything happens at once, I usually lose some of my stamina and falter. Brad says hugs are good for releasing Oxytocin. Tony Bennet helps me keep from sinning against the talent. The Lebron James method helps me do the things I absolutely must do.
Most of all, my daughter and my mom and my girlfriends are all good about catching me in my negativity and turning me back around to face the storm. They know me well enough to remind me that during a time of everything happening at once, my to do starts with one thing:
Be the kind of person who can face the storm. I can do that. Every time.