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Demands Happen, but Stress is Optional


My cute little Yogi parter

I am pretty sure April was the busiest month of my life this far.

It was all full of fun and exciting things. Changes, visits, plans coming to fruition. But I’ll be straight with you….when I looked at it from the top of the month, I had some immediate thoughts.

“I am never going to get all of this done.”

“This is going to put me into relapse.”

“I don’t want to give anything up.”

I stayed there for approximately 3 ½ hours, spinning in my head with the worst-case scenarios. And then my power partner called.

I’ve never mentioned my power partner, but she is a girl that I account to. She has mentoring experience so she can recognize when I am having an issue that I’m not recognizing. And I do the same for her. Every day we check in with the things we are working on, our commitment level, successes, and a statement for the day. I recommend one for everyone.

Sometimes we are too close to our own problems to see what they really are. I could sit there spinning about time management, crunching numbers and prioritizing for days, but that wasn’t my issue. My issue was the thought running through my mind that I couldn’t do it.

You may have noticed the theme for April was about getting things done. That’s because I am often bringing you on my journey with me as I coach myself. Sometimes I actually get excited when I have a particular challenge come up because I know, without a doubt, that someone is coming my way that just really needs the lesson I am getting ready to learn. It’s just happened too many times to deny.

My power partner, that I’ve seen 3 times in my life, but talked to every weekday for 10 months straight, reminded me that everything was going to be exactly as it should be. It was going to go seamlessly. I immediately felt a shift happen in my mind. I stopped focusing on what was going to happen…to how it was going to happen. My energy and attention became laser-focused.

In the month of April I spent a week on spring break with my family, held my coaching appointments, celebrated my son’s birthday, attended his track meets, helped another son move to Texas, received an offer on our house and had 16 days to move through the inspection, repairs, and appraisal process before we closed, re-carpeted our home ourselves, coordinated a community event that I had planned (which happened to be on the day we needed to move), packed up our house, found a new place to live, began the building process for our new home, held a two-day community event, moved, began group bike riding again, tested for my blue belt in karate, watched my 4 nieces and nephew who are 2 to 10 years old for three days, had Easter, track meets, and a visit from family members from Washington. Phew.

Through the whole process, I remember choosing to experience stress for about 5 minutes when three of the four littles were crying and my husband looked at me like I was crazy for my plans for "Aunt Jenn Weekend" two days after we moved.

When the dust cleared, I didn’t feel the need to flop on the couch or sleep for days or even go get some Luna and Larry’s Chocolate Walnut Brownie Coconut Bliss. I learned that stress was optional. When I believed that it was going to happen, I didn’t waste another moment of my energy worrying about it.

The demands are always there, and we can choose to take them or we can choose to say no. The three main techniques I used to get my mind through the month of April were these:

· I did not do anything I did not want to do.

Obligation and being a victim is exhausting and gives my power away. I kept my power by choosing to only do the things I legitimately wanted to do. “I can’t believe I have to do this” would have been the heaviest thought I could have carried with me. Was I in love with scrubbing kitchen floors? No. But I did legitimately want the next owners to have a beautiful first meal, so I wanted to scrub floors. And the thought ended there.

· I maintained some non-negotiable self-care practices.

Yoga, meditation, activity, naps, early bedtime, gratitude journal, prayer, daily planning, joy. No matter how busy, these were my first priorities. It was so tempting to let some go to make some more time, but I would have run out of gas before the finish line.

· I stayed present.

Since each of the things that I was doing were things I really wanted to do, I allowed myself to enjoy each moment and not get caught up in the upcoming tasks and events. I hugged my giant oak tree good-bye. I sat on the new carpet with my sister and brother-in-law laughing and sharing stories. I read McDuff stories with an early-morning riser in firetruck pajamas in my bed while everyone else slept. I cheered with some of my best friends while we froze at a track meet, watching our high jumpers sweep districts.

It was amazing. It was an amazing month full of learning and joy. It could have been something completely different.

If you are wondering if you could benefit from a mindset change, if this fits into your life, ask yourself this question: What keeps you from feeling peace? If it is anything outside of yourself, something external…you have given your power away. You have given your responsibility to feel how you want to feel to someone or something else.

You are strong enough, you are good enough, you are smart enough to feel exactly how you want to feel and stressed does not HAVE to be one of those ways.

So bring it, May.

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