How I handle when life gets overwhelming
Tsh Oxenreider, who runs the Simple podcast, regularly runs these features on what’s saving her life – the small things that are bringing joy into her life every day. I’ve done one of these in the newsletter before, but I think it was high time I shared one of these lists on the blog.
Life is Full On right now. I finished the launch of my author mentoring programme last week and started phone calls with the authors I’m working with, I’m still writing the content for final weeks of the course, I’m taking a course of my own to help me as I shift the content on this blog, I’m trying hard to balance our budget every month as we’re on a sole income right now AND I’m single parenting for the next few weeks. Oh, and did I mention I’m on a maternity contract that ends early next year? That’s not even a full list of what’s going on right now.
I mean. It’s a lot. A lot is hard in a good, challenging way. Some is just hard. Sometimes, I have all the energy and feel like a super woman, sometimes I feel like I have an impossible task in front of me. Generally, though, when life feels a bit overwhelming, taking a step back to focus on the positive is the best possible thing you can do. Hence the list.
1. Our au pair.
We do have a spare room, but we’d automatically dismissed the idea of an au pair because we felt like we should keep it for family visitors. But then our circumstances changed, and we looked into it seriously. Now we have a wonderful young woman staying with us, and it is the best thing we’ve done in recent months. She is so lovely, the kids are having a great time with her, it’s great having her around and it’s massively reduced our childcare costs. An all around win.
2. Incredible books (Part 1)
During my commute, I’m reading Polly Clark’s Tiger, which is out next year. It is so powerful, every time I pick it up it’s like the rest of the world falls away and I’m in the Russian forest with a huge tigress and her cub. Incredible.
3. Incredible books (Part 2)
And at night I’m reading Brene Brown’s Braving the Wilderness. As usual, the first few chapters had me thinking ‘this is too cheesy to read’, until something switches and I find myself thinking ‘this woman is a genius’. I just love her and think she’s amazing. The advice in Rising Strong was a huge part in helping me become friends with my self-doubt to actually be able to launch my mentoring programme, so thanks forever go to her and to my friend Marie for lending it to me!
4. Being less restrictive about food.
I was (pretty much) fully vegan for one year, and I am so glad I did it. But having to consider everything I ate and read the ingredients of every cereal box looking for honey (it’s in almost all of them, by the way) and having to cook separate meals most nights – it was just taking up too much brain power. On one level, it feels awful, because I really believe in the vegan movement. But right now, I just can’t think about it – there’s too much in my brain right now. I’m still mostly vegan, so I haven’t gone back to full-on carnivore as I was before, but if I want a cookie, and there are no vegan cookies, I’m buying a goddamn cookie.
The soundtrack to my childhood, and now, the soundtrack to my every evening.
6. Temple Gardens.
I feel so lucky to work near this beautiful space. Every day the sun shines, and many when it doesn’t, I’ll head there at some point during the day to get a blast of fresh air. It’s absolutely lovely and so perfectly manicured, but still with a bit of a ‘wild English garden’ feel about it. Plus, there are lots of little gardens in the Temple complex as well, which I love getting lost in and discovering new parts of.
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7. Working Fridays.
Last week was my first working Friday since I left on Theo’s maternity leave nearly four years ago. But this was a working Friday with a difference, because I was working for myself. It was wonderful. I went for a coffee, and worked through this week’s exercise in Jen’s course. Then I went to the library, where I worked for two solid hours (against a ticking clock – two hours is the maximum amount of time you can spend there!). Then I did my shopping, picked up some lunch and headed home, where Theo was already at school and Beatrice was having her nap. After some lunch, I was able to start work again until it was time for her to wake up and us to pick Theo up together. It was brilliant. If I can make every Friday work like today, I’ll be a very happy camper.
8. Having clients to work with.
I am so unbelievably delighted to be starting my author mentoring programme. I wrote a post about my target audience earlier this year, and all four of the clients that I’ll be working with pretty much fall smack into that description. They are all incredible women with bright writing careers ahead of them.
9. My gratitude list.
I started the practice of writing down one thing I felt grateful for almost two years ago. I stopped for a little while, and then was reintroduced to it by the Science of Wellbeing course I did. Now I write 5 things down every evening and it really helps focus the mind of the positive things happening right now. Because there is always something. Whether it’s just my health and the health of my children, or my parents having such a wonderful relationship with my kids, or having an incredible boss right now or… whatever it might be – there is ALWAYS something to add to that list. It’s just really heartening and makes focusing on the positive a pretty easy thing to do (most of the time!).
So that’s my list. What’s been saving your life lately?
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