I’ve noticed a trend in my life.

When things are really good more good things happen. It’s like goodness just multiples.

But when bad things happen, they just keep on happening.

Then there are those great days when everything is just smooth sailing, nothing too amazing or nothing too terrible.

Usually, my life is pretty well put together. My house is in order. My budget is in order. My schedule is planned out with enough flexibility to make room for spontaneous outdoor adventure. My marriage is pretty awesome, my kids are pretty awesome. I work hard at all of those things because they are important to me. For the most part, it’s a good life.

But there are a few things that cause me a lot of stress. When the annoying part-time job that I absolutely hate sometimes turns into a full-time job, and the fact that I take on too much work and overextend myself.

The past week has been an endless streak of bad luck.

  • I lost my wedding ring.
  • I caught a cold.
  • I almost failed a class I was taking.
  • My babysitter told me that she’s moving.
  • I made a bad business decision which cost me about 60 hours of work.
  • I tried to take my children hiking because I needed a day on the trails, but they ended up having a major meltdown and we headed home early.
  • The Hike Like A Woman t-shirts that I ordered were misprinted and dirty (don’t ever order t-shirts ooShirts), if I already sent you a shirt before I noticed the mistake I’m sending you a refund.

And…I was feeling some serious stress to meet a deadline for an organization that had hired me to do some work for them.

By Wednesday afternoon, I was just a big mess of stress. I was snappy with my children and my husband. I was avoiding friends so I could work and overwhelmed to the point where I couldn’t even focus on one task at a time.

But then something happened. It started to snow outside and my children wanted to go build a snow fort in the yard. So, I bundled them up and watched from my office window as they played in the yard.

I was happy to have a few kid-free minutes to try to work.

I should have known better.

After just a few minutes, they were at the door.

“Mom, will you come play with us?”

“I’ll be out there soon, I just need to finish this email.”

Five minutes later they returned to the door.

“Mom, it’s been a few minutes will you come outside now?”

“No, I can’t boys. I really need to finish this up, I’ll be out in a minute.”

A few minutes later they were back at the door.

“Mom, will you come play with us now?”

“I’m sorry, I just can’t.”

“But Mom, please?”

How could I say “no” to two tenacious and adorable little boys? Two little boys who might not always want me to come outside and play with them. Two little boys who will soon spend their winter days inside of a classroom instead of outside in the yard playing. Two little boys who love me, even when I’m stressed and cranky.

I couldn’t do it, even though my deadlines were keeping me inside my heart knew that I needed to be outside.

So, I put on my coat and my hat and my mittens and I headed out the door with my children.

i choose to (5)

We laughed and we played. We built a snow fort. We threw snowballs and we made snow angels.

I’d like to say that a few hours in the snow changed my perspective on life, but it didn’t.

It didn’t stop my inbox from filling up with email. It didn’t change the fact that I was hopelessly behind on several projects. Playing with my kids put me further and further behind on everything work related. But being outside in the snow for just a few minutes helped me feel just a little bit better about myself.

When my husband got home from school  that night we had a talk about all of the stress that I was feeling. He told me to drop the big project that I was working on. He told me that the money I’d earn from it (more than enough to cover all of our holiday gifts, travels, and other expenses) wasn’t worth the stress it was causing me.

He was right. I asked for an extension for the project and then broke it up into bite-sized pieces with deadlines that I can handle without freaking out, exactly what I should have done when I first decided to take on the project.

The thing is I think we can all relate to moments in our lives when we’ve been so overwhelmed that we just want to sit down and cry.  We can also relate to moments when everything has just been so good that good things just keep on coming our way. I think that’s just life. It’s part of being human.

Yesterday when I was searching for some clarity I heard a quote that went something like this:

“End the day thinking about what you accomplished, not what you didn’t accomplish.”

So I did.

Because sometimes, for me, putting dinner on the table, responding to a few comments on our amazingly fun Facebook page, writing a blog post, playing outside with my children and cuddling up to my husband after a long day of work is an accomplishment. I need to remind myself of that daily.

Here’s my challenge to you.

With the insanity that is the holiday season take a few minutes to take care of yourself.

Take a walk, take a day off of work to relax, buy cookies from the store for the office party, say “no” to things and people that suck your precious time and energy.

The only thing that matters is taking a few minutes to celebrate our victories, not dwell on our defeats.

(p.s. As I was trying to sort through all of these things I ran across these articles, The Disease of Being Busy, and The day I stopped saying “hurry up”  both are amazing!)  

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What do you to do handle and manage stress? Any tips for the community as we go into the holiday season?

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