Do you ever have a day when you just feel totally overwhelmed; like you can’t come up for air? Today was one of those days for me.
Yesterday in the late afternoon my daughter started having what seemed like an allergic reaction to something. Her mouth, feet, knees and fingers began swelling. Her mouth became so swollen the inside of her lip was on the outside of her mouth. I didn’t panic (exactly) but I did call my mom. I was thinking benadryl, and she suggested hydrogen peroxide because it seemed centralized in her mouth and we thought maybe if there was an allergen we could clean in out. Then I watched my daughter like a hawk all night long. The swelling went down, but not away. This morning, she was still quite puffy.
She has a complicated medical history. When she was four she was diagnosed with systemic onset juvenile idiopathic arthritis. At the time, we believed a case of strep throat triggered it. Then after a couple of years of treatment, and only one real flare up, it was gone and she went into remission. When something unusal happens to her, especially if there is any swelling involved, I have to admit I get a little worried. Ok, anxious, I get very anxious. But the reason is very simple, with systemic onset JIA it exists in the body, dormant until something in the body turns it on. It could be strep, it could be a fever, it could be a fall – anything could really turn it on. I have prayed, forever, that nothing would ever turn it back on.
So that was rolling around my head as I dropped the kids at school and headed to work. I went to work, got about half of the day in, and then the nurse called. Grace was miserable. She’d been texting me a bit throughout the morning so I knew she wasn’t feeling well. I called the pediatrician, took my lunch break and we went to the doctor.
My problem today has been a lack of FOCUS. I have tasks I need to accomplish: work, laundry, groceries, pediatrician, workout, dinner. The same tasks I need to accomplish all the time, but when I have a heavy heart, my focus goes out the window. It feels like I can’t move forward because I don’t know what to do next. Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?
This brings me to tonight’s episode on MaverickRx titled, “Mom Topic Monday: What’s Important Now.” I recently read an incredible book to help me be more intentional. Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown is a book that helps us discern between the “trivial many and the vital few”. According to McKeown, essentialism is the art of doing less, but better.
The art of essentialism truly hit home for me. I am a dreamer, I think big, I go all in. I like action and I don’t sit well on the sidelines; I prefer to be on the field. But while this trait can be totally awesome, it can also create an incredibly long to-do list. Which leads to anxiety. Which leads to underperforming. Which leads to increased anxiety. The book essentialism taught be a few truly actionable skills to apply to my entire life. My biggest take away was from Chapter 19: Focus, What’s Important Now (WIN).
The chapter opens with a brief description of an undefeated high school rugby coach who attributes his succes to WIN. Not the act of winning, the acronym – What’s Important Now (WIN). He teaches his players to apply the acronym to every aspect of the game on and off the field. Rather than focusing on the play that just went poorly, the team focuses on “what’s important now” – to move the ball down the field. Rather than focusing on how the other team is playing, they focus on “what’s important now” in their own play. McKeown goes on to share a hectic night of his own during a conference away from home. He got back to his room at the end of a very long day and his mind was spinning. The following day would be full. He remembered the coach, and he thought “what’s important now.” He realized that by asking that one question he could turn off the noise of the trivial many, and focus on the vital few. He took the steps he needed to settle down and get to bed: he called his wife and kids, he prepared his clothes for the next morning, called for a wake up call and ordered his breakfast to arrive in the morning. He was intentional and so he could perform better.
This concept applies to every single one of us – ESPECIALLY PARENTS. What’s Important Now has been a game changer in my life. Today, for instance, when I was bolting to the school to pick up my daughter, she was my WIN. While I spoke to the doctor, he was my WIN. When we left his office, the pharmacy was my WIN. Getting her home and giving her medicine and making sure she was comfortable was important. Then I was able to work. When I sat down at my computer, and looked at my lists, I applied WIN to determine which item to do first. When that was done, I did it again. I repeat this cycle all.day.long.
The hardest part thing to grasp about WIN is that something DOES NOT GET DONE. Today, for me, it was the phone and exercise. I couldn’t take calls, engage in texts, or stay up to the minute on notifications. I couldn’t make it to the gym to take my very favorite fitness class because, sadly, today it was one of the trivial few. Some days WIN expects that of me. I have to let things that are important to me go so that I can focus on NOW. The fact is NOW is all there is.
I hit the ground running with WIN. First fiber, second coffee, third meditation and prayer, fourth social checks, and fifth the kids. Being intentional with how I use my time has allowed me to be more present in each of the places I need to show up. Getting the day started for my kids, creating a video at work, designing a social media giveaway – when I am focused on the vital few I am more productive, focused and less stressed.
It is NOT EASY TO DO. There are times, like today, when I have to lean in and pray hard to God for help focusing and letting go of worry. I ask for strength to get through each step of the day. Some days that are so very hard. We expect a crazy amount from ourselves and often need to cut ourselves some slack. The trouble is, the list does need to get done. The book helped me cope with my anxiety by giving me some tools to discern between what’s important and what can wait.
Subscribe to MaverickRx on YouTube for more Mom Topic Mondays that will help you live your life out loud on your own terms.
Much Love to You,