Sunday, November 08, 2009


I got some good advice from a friend recently. We were discussing the difference between having really good coping mechanisms for stress and actually reducing stress. She tackled the problem in her own life by developing a mission statement for herself...then evaluating everything that came up in her life against that mission statement. If it fit within the parameters of the mission, it merited her attention. If not, she let it go. She claims it's still a work in progress, but I can already see that it works. She is definitely one of the most at-ease, centered people I know.

My life has kicked into overdrive lately. I was accepted into a Leadership Development Program at work, which is a tremendous honor. I'm one of only two people at my level to ever be chosen for the program. The trade-off, of course, is that it comes with additional work (we have to do a class project for the Command). As planned, I took over a new branch at work about a month ago -- a good move for me developmentally, but it comes with a steep learning curve that I'm working to tackle. Not four days into the new job, I got word that I was accepted into the Master's program that I didn't get into over the summer. The news was excellent, but it came entirely out of the blue...and only three weeks before I had to be in California for orientation. Then, last Monday was the Monkey's parent-teacher conference. As expected, the Monkey is extremely academically talented...but his underdeveloped fine motor skills, inability to control his body, and dearth of focus renders him "unbalanced." She recommended a pediatric evaluation and an occupational therapy program as soon as possible so that the issues can be corrected before he starts third grade. My first big grad school paper was due four days later.

If anyone needs a poster child for a stress-reduction awareness campaign, let me know. I photograph well.

So I took my friend's advice to heart and put together two little philosophies for my own life, both of which will work together to (I hope) help me deal with the landslide:

I want a healthy life: physically, mentally and emotionally.

Enacting this one is as simple as asking what choice I can make to contribute to my health. Will eating the Halloween candy make me healthy? No. So I've skipped it. (ok, most of it) Will wondering about why I've been stood up twice in the last week contribute to my emotional health?'s not in my control, and thinking about it won't change anything. Let it go. Is spending 20 minutes tidying up the house more important than getting to bed 20 minutes earlier? Yes, actually...I'll sleep better and feel calmer when I wake up if it's not a mess. Ok, then...get busy. Almost every moment presents a choice...and consciously taking charge of those choices makes a huge difference in how I feel.

Focus on the process....not the outcome.

I think I've always been an outcome-based person. Did I get an "A" on the paper? Good, then I did well. Did the date turn into a relationship? No, so there must be something wrong with me. The problem is that an outcome-based evaluation of my life and the things in it just doesn't work. I can't really do anything about the outcome...I can only impact the way that I get there. So that's where my energy belongs -- on the road, not the destination. I can't control whether or not the Monkey will improve his handwriting...but I can help him practice every night. I have no say in what grade my professor assigns to my paper...but I can learn how to approach my next paper from the way that I went about writing this one. The outcome is out of my hands...and worrying about it won't make it any more in my control, so it doesn't merit -- or get -- my energy.

My commute to work is only about 15 minutes, so the fact that I heard two versions of "Landslide" on the radio in the same week was significant. With the Monkey growing up and changes happening in my life faster than I can catalog, I'm definitely feeling every one of the landslide moments. But maybe if I take my friend's advice...if I restructure the way that I look at my life and where I put my energy...maybe the landslide won't bring me down.

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