The morning started like most mornings for me. I stumbled up the stairs to the kitchen to prepare my first cup of coffee. I could already feel the day’s activities weighing on my mind. The next hour would require some fast typing due to a looming deadline and I had overslept. Great. While mulling over the madness that can be a writer’s life, I didn’t realize I had already prepared the coffeepot machine and was absentmindedly pouring a second pot of water into the tank and had water pouring over the sides, down the counter and splashing onto my slippers.
I quickly grabbed multiple towels to mop up the mess and realized I needed a fresh mug from the dishwasher. As I pulled the lower rack of the dishwasher out to retrieve a cup, it didn’t move. Still foggy in the brain from details of deadlines and lack of coffee, I jerked hard on the rack not noticing the rubber spatula that had cemented itself to the drying element that was keeping everything locked into place. I pulled on the rack with greater force, the spatula broke loose and I was left with the whole rack sliding out of the dishwasher, running along the lowered door and off onto the floor releasing its contents of plates, cups and silverware en route. After spending 20minutes retrieving scattered flatware, broken plates and chipped coffee mugs, I took a deep breath to start over and make some bacon for the family breakfast. As the griddle heated to 400 degrees I placed a pound of bacon onto the electric device. The sound of sizzling soon greeted my ears as the bacon popped and snapped a reassuring song. I reached across the kitchen for tongs to flip the bacon as my foot hit a puddle of grease that I didn’t notice was dripping from the griddle. I found myself hurtling toward the floor as my youngest son came around the corner to see me curled up on the floor, wet, gooey and clutching a pair of tongs. After gathering myself off the floor, putting my son to work flipping bacon and donning fresh clothing, I realized it was time to stop and collect myself.
I wish I could say this was the first time I had experienced such a wild morning, but no. Believe it or not, this happens to me enough I’ve created a system for myself to regroup when all Hades breaks loose! When it is only 5:30am and I’ve already had 3 major accidents happen, it is time to STOP!
This is the system I’ve created for such situations, may you find it helpful as well:
1. Breathe-when you need to recalibrate your mind and body because things are just “happening” to you in the form of these little accidents; it is time to bring yourself into a more harmonic state. When I get too many things going on in my mind, this sort of stuff occurs to me so I have to stop, breathe and reconnect. I do this by breathing in through my nose in a long, slow breath while tensing my body. Then I breathe out through my mouth in a huh-huh sound while relaxing my body’s muscles.
2. Slow Down– My multiple accidents in 30 minutes lets me know that I was trying to do too much too quick. My need for efficiency will get ahead of my practicality. I need to slow down my thinking and focus on what is in front of me. As a writer, mother of four and a businesswoman, I often seem to have more on my “to-do” list then time to get it all done. During days of intense deadlines and multiple children to transport “to” and “from” locations, I can get lost in a morass of details. Sound familiar?
3. Re-evaluate priorities – After I physically slow down the movements of my body through the next few minutes, I understand that I need to reorder my day and change the way I am viewing it. This is the point where I start to rethink how I can do things and I spend a few moments standing in place before engaging into the next activity. I do this to literally “put” space in my day so that I’m not physically moving from place-to-place-to-place like a humming bird. I will actually force myself to “pause” before the next event or activity. Yes, I have to do this for myself.
4. Live in the Now, not the Future –I then watch my thoughts and will observe how I was thinking so far into the future (even if that future was only 30 minutes ahead) that I had lost touch of my here-and-now. By doing steps 1 thru 3, I reconnect with the present moment and it allows me to move onto step 5.
5. Reschedule-As much as I don’t like to admit it to myself, there are times that I am just trying to do too much in too short of a time. I have studied and operated time management my entire adult life. I like the fact that I can accomplish so much. I enjoy being efficient with my time. However, I have to face the fact that with multiple accidents occurring, I need to reschedule. Ugh! That’s almost like admitting failure to me, but I do it. Then, everyone benefits.
When your life seems to have all Hades breaking loose, remember it is time to reconnect with what you are trying to accomplish with your larger goals: staying-in-one-piece. Sometimes are lives become so full of details and duties, that we loose sight of our large picture of what we are trying to accomplish. Take a moment and get back to the basics of life: deep breathing and deliberate movement.