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Category Archives: stress

The Weight of Unresolved Issues

Does this sound familiar? I have found myself remarkably overwhelmed of late. Stress and worry have consumed me at times to the point where I just shut down. It’s not like me. I mean, like anyone, I stress over things and worry. But not to the extent that I have been lately. You would think that after continually finding ways to make it all work, a person would learn to trust the cosmos a little more. But that’s hard, especially when you envision scenarios where it all goes wrong and everything comes crashing down.

Recently, while mulling over it in my head, I began to notice a pattern. While my life as a divorced dad and all that it entails; ie. juggling joint custody with three kids, maintaining a home that once required dual income, a full time job, freelance projects, schedules, groceries, dinners, lunches, laundry, etc., can be overwhelming; there’s one constant I began to notice. I seem to stress the most when I stop for too long and don’t take action on outstanding issues. I then focus so much on my outstanding negatives, I just lie there and stop dreaming, stop planning and stop acting.

I’ve continually written about the need to stop once in a while and breathe. To get rest when your body tells you it needs it. To give yourself a break once in a while. And I maintain that all of that is an essential part of maintaining your sanity. But like everything else, it’s about balance. It’s about giving yourself a break and then getting back up on your feet and moving again.

Where I’ve found my stress and anxiety becomes unbearable is when I’m not tackling issues. When I leave too many things hanging over my head. Those times when I simply stop checking 2012-12-22 13.47.03things off the list and become one with the couch for way too long. Unfinished business that needs to be finished begins to pile up and it all gets messy and complicated and if I go too long without attacking the issues, they can tend to get bigger than I can handle. And it’s simple stuff like when I put off paying a doctor bill to ensure I’ll have enough for groceries. When I let the house get too out of sorts. When I allow the “to do list” to get too long. When I start sitting waiting for life to happen, at some point my calm river becomes a series of rapids and I start to lose control of the boat.

That’s when I panic.

The problem is, it’s true; a body at rest tends to stay at rest. Getting up and taking off that first bite of the elephant can be excruciatingly difficult. But that’s really the only way to get going. Get up and start with one simple task. Then another. And another. And another.

I tend to do well when I’ve got momentum. Once I get going I almost hate to stop because I know how difficult it is to get going again once you sit down. The feeling of “gettin’ it done” is so empowering. But at some point I need to stop to recharge. Then I can’t get going again. It’s a never ending cycle. One that takes practice, faith, effort and a continued belief in your ability to keep it rockin’.

So if you’re lying there with thoughts about projects, finances, kids, schedules; all causing you to freeze up and shut down; pick yourself up and maybe go for a quick walk. Get a cup of coffee. Make the bed. Pay a small bill that has been sitting there for a while but won’t break the bank. Meet your challenges head on, but start slow and give yourself a chance to pick up steam again.

Life will continue to pile it on. It just works that way. And at times it will appear as though you can’t pick it up as fast as it’s puttin’ it down. It can be exhausting. And that’s OK. There will come times when you’re knee deep, times where you’re struggling to keep your head above water and yet other times where you’ll feel completely on top of it all. It’s never the same game twice. The secret is finding the balance and recognizing that no trend is absolute. Bad weeks will come and go as will the good ones.

Each issue in our life carries some weight. Combined it can cripple you and force you to your knees. When it gets too heavy, just start with the little items and work your way up. Eventually you’ll find yourself tackling the bigger items with more confidence and strength. But never, and this is the important part, NEVER stop dreaming.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I’m going to go on Zillow and look for a 75 acre farm with horses, a pond, and a 4 bedroom house . Then I think I’ll start another load of laundry.

Peace!

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2015 in full schedule, Staying Positive, stress

 

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Divorced Dad OS 48.1.15

Lately I’ve been feeling more and more like the harddrive on my iMac.

There was a time when it was the coolest, trendiest model. It had all the latest gadgets and way more capacity than any computer before it. Older models had a hard time keeping up with its lightning fast processing capabilities and it could withstand hours and hours of non-stop processing without crashing.

Now, a few years and several thousand projects later, it’s running slower. Takes forever to get going. It runs out of memory way too often and requires constant rebooting, even after the simplest of tasks. It has trouble running multiple applications at the same time,aboutthisdivorceddad
especially some of the newer ones that require more memory. Updating its system helped but also created incompatibilities with some of the older installed programs causing it to freeze up from time to time.

The worst part is that its once spacious drive is now constantly near capacity. There are files I know I should just get rid of, as they’re just clutter that tends to slow down the entire system. But sometimes it’s hard to just ‘delete’ them because some hold special memories and you never know when you may need to access them again. So I’m constantly moving files around in a never ending attempt to clean up the damn thing.

Then just about the time I have it looking more organized and running smoothly, the kids get on it and start downloading things, leaving things on the desktop and the next thing you know it’s all cluttered again and nothing is where I put it and I can’t function … I mean “IT” can’t function properly and needs another reboot.

Maybe it’s time to seriously go in, back up some essential files and images I don’t wanna lose, erase the whole thing and start over. I could add some new memory and install new system software. As hard as it would be, getting rid of a lot of the old files I never access any more would give me room to add some newer, more current, apps, maybe upload some new images and start building new projects. Would probably help it run faster and smoother without all the fragmentation.

Would mean shutting the system down for maintenance which may be inconvenient to some, but it’ll probably be better for everyone in the long run. So if you’ll excuse me I think I’m going to do a “save” and shut it down for a bit.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2015 in Divorce, stress

 

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Presence Not Presents

Perhaps one of the most stressful things about the holidays is the pressure that the world around us puts on buying gifts. Between the catalogues, TV commercials, billboards, e-mail blasts and Web ads, someone is in your face every thirty seconds offering you 20% off, 50% off, 80% off, buy one get one free, free shipping and every other incentive you can think of to spend your money. And of course it’s all so you can show someone how much you love them. As if money = love.

Let’s get real for a moment shall we?

Don’t feel guilted into buying your kids Christmas. Yes they have wish lists. Yes Christmas morning is a magical moment for them. There’s2014-12-08 21.24.44no question about that. But having been through three or four Christmas’ as a divorced dad I can tell you this. What they’ll remember more than anything are the moments. What they’ll appreciate most, is time together with no arguing, fighting or yelling between adults.
Keep in mind, I’m not saying don’t buy them anything. Just don’t feel like buying them a bunch of stuff because you feel guilty about the divorce is the answer. If you’re like me, you still have to be smart about how much you’re spending. It helps to put boundaries on purchases and to have a plan.

One thing I started doing that helped was I gave myself a budget per kid. What I knew I could afford. Some years it’s been more than others and yes, I typically go over it, but starting with a visual financial guide really helps. I’m fortunate to be able to communicate with my ex regarding the big picture and we establish what the kids are going to get. But even if you’re not that lucky, make a list of what you want to get them and give yourself limits. This will help you avoid all of the extras we typically purchase on a whim when we really have no idea what we want to get them.

But the most valuable things you can give them are laughter, family, fond memories and you. They’re already stressed out about the holidays whether you’re divorced or not. What they need and want most is to know they matter. What they really need is your presence not your presents.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2014 in Divorce, holidays, stress, Talking To Kids

 

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But What If?

Last night I was at my daughter’s softball game. It was a late start so by the time the first pitch was thrown the sun had already set. Off in the distance was a spectacular lightning display as storms were raging to the south of us. I overheard a child ask their dad, “What if it starts raining?” The dad reassured her that the storms were very far away and not an immediate threat and to enjoy the game. I took the guy’s advice and just sat back and enjoyed watching my daughter play what was probably one of the best games of the season. I put all other thoughts to the back of my mind and focused on the joy of watching my kid steal third base.

How often do we get wrapped up in worrying about the “what ifs” in our lives? So much so that we completely miss the opportunity to enjoy the here and now. I’m guilty of it. Quite frankly, I’m guilty of it right now. Worried about two weeks from now to the point of not focusing on2012-10-17 21.21.03
how amazing today is and how hard I’ve worked to get to this point.

You can easily cloud your head with what ifs. They’re so easy to create as there are countless scenarios as to how things might turn out. The problem is, we typically make “what ifs” a negative thing. What if it rains? What if she breaks her ankle? What if the car breaks down? What if the check doesn’t show up on time? What if my ex gets a boyfriend/girlfriend? What if I’m unable to support my family? What if it turns out Godzilla is real and he terrorizes my town forcing us to live underground and live on beetles? Sound familiar? I believe there’s a fine line between preparing yourself for the future and worrying about the things we have absolutely no control over. Or, as I’m well versed in, creating unrealistic scenarios, many of which would make for a great Lifetime movie of the week.

Some things we simply can’t tackle until they happen. Think back to all of the what ifs you worried about during the past year. How many of them actually came to being? I’m willing to bet it was less than 10%. We cloud our heads so much worrying about things that never actually happen. We really do. Yes, bad things are going to happen and there are going to be bad days. They’re going to happen. But they don’t need to consume us before they happen.

If it’s absolutely necessary for you to worry about the future, give yourself a time each day to do so. Then acknowledge and move on. Go watch your kid play softball. Or let them teach you how to play Minecraft or demonstrate to you the value of making a list as my middle child often does. Focus on those things that you can control in the here and now. Consider the what ifs for sure, at the same time acknowledging you can only manage “What is.”

 

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Your Loss Is Your Gain

Thought I’d stop and check in on you. How’s your holiday been so far? It can be a tough time for a lot of people and divorced parents are no exception. There’s something about the season that can make us focus on what we’ve lost rather than what we may have gained. Whether or not you have a good relationship with your ex, the
griefholidays have a way of reminding you of the un-whole aspect of your family and then unceremoniously throwing it in your face. It may be because you’re not with your kids during the holiday. It may be because you are. It may be because you’re all together but in a very different dynamic than you were a few years ago. It may even be a very positive and happy time. But it’s still a reminder of what used to be and that things may be patched, but in some ways they’re still broken.

Believe me I get it. The hard part is that there really is no “fix.” As with the loss of a loved one, all you can do is that which fate allows, which is to acknowledge and move on. Be strong. Lick your wounds, stand up straight and use your experience to your advantage. In many ways the hurt strengthens us. There’s a grit to it that allows us to know we’ve been there and made it through. It doesn’t erase the negative or fill the emptiness, but there’s something about having lived through adversity that humbles us and reminds us that we’re human.

Look, I could sit here and do my best to pump you up with words of encouragement; telling you not to focus on the pain. But honestly, I think sometimes we need to morn our losses. We need to give our souls a chance to heal. To ignore the pain is no more healthy than it is to dwell on it. If you’re sad, that’s OK. Give yourself an opportunity to grieve. It’s a part of who you are and to ignore it would be to ignore an important element of the whole “you.” So embrace it. Accept it. Carry it with you. Hold it dear rather than bury it deep where it can do
the-only-cure-for-grief-is-actionmore damage. I believe that in each of our defeats there is a victory. In every mistake a lesson to be learned. The new year represents a new dawn and an opportunity to take the sum of our experiences and build on them. To create new goals and new aspirations. To find renewed determination to make it better. And in order to do that we need to remember the hurt as much as the pleasure. Let it inspire you. Let it motivate you.

Recognize that life is a mixed bag. Too much sugar isn’t healthy for the body. We need a proper balance of emotions to feel complete. So shed a tear for the losses, share a smile for the gains and look to tomorrow for new opportunities to sore higher than you’ve ever flown. And use these moments of emptiness to remind you of where you’ve been and how amazing it will feel to be full again. Then when you’ve given yourself a chance to take it all in and come to terms with it, it’ll be time to take action and put it all behind you.

Take advantage of this time to reflect on the past year, both good and bad. A new year is right around the corner and anxious to take you on new adventures. Let’s be ready to go and see where we end up!

 

 

 

 

 

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