Stop. Rest. Breathe.

These were the words I whispered to myself on a recent cloudy afternoon when I felt overwhelmed by a myriad of “things” on my plate that needed attention.

I had to step away from my phone, my computer – even my home office – to take a moment to regroup. I walked across the hall, sat on the edge of the bed and stared out at the green oasis that is our backyard. The view itself was calming.

I don’t know where the three words came from, but I was grateful for them in that moment. If I hadn’t stopped to rest for a few minutes, I might not have been able to breathe.

More words followed, notes to myself: You can’t do it all. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just do your best.

Have you ever had one of those days (weeks, months, years?) when everything in your life just seems to crash into everything else? The “things” aren’t necessarily bad, but when they all converge at the same time, none of them want to yield – maybe they don’t have room – and they get scrambled in a ginormous metaphysical blob. They get stuck in your head, your inbox, at your door, in your car.

Consider the following as kinds of scenarios that might have occurred in your own life:

You overslept, the kids are late for day camp, one of them is crying, you have yet to pack their lunch, your spouse took your car, and the keys to the other car are nowhere to be found. Once you finally got the kids in the car and down the road, you discovered there’s been a wreck on the highway – again – so traffic is at a standstill and the AC isn’t working but you can’t put the windows down because it’s raining. And none of the kids brought their snacks and someone has to potty.

Or this:

Your spouse was out of town for a few days, so you have the house to yourself, and you cleaned out the kitchen cabinet and a junk drawer and packed a box of thrift store items, but your car is already full of stuff to be delivered so you have to pile it all by the door. You rearranged the living room, accepted five Amazon deliveries, made dinner from leftovers, and slept on both sides of the bed.

While the house was quiet, you looked for that juicy summer novel you wanted to read but found instead a notice that you must file a tax form that had been overlooked, so you email the accountant, remembering at the same time that you haven’t renewed the flood insurance and there’s a storm coming and surely this house will fall down around you if the wind blows one more gust.

Or this:

It’s deadline week and you have one more day to finish your prep work. You grab your morning coffee, realizing you have two stories to finish writing, a Zoom call to transcribe, 10 more articles to edit, a dozen photos to resize, and a story budget to prepare, but the phone continues to ring and emails keep coming with story ideas and events that are happening, and did you know about the baseball team that’s going to the championship, and sorry my article is late but I’ve been busy, and I know the photo is fuzzy and yes, that’s what he said but I’m not sure it’s correct and I don’t think the name of the restaurant matters.

See what I mean?

Not all of the above happened to me on this particular day, but some of it did. How did I cope? When I returned to my office, 10 steps down the hall, I immediately converted my angst to words.

Thank you for reading them. I feel much better now. I hope you do too.