When Life Gets Overwhelming | Overstuffed Overstuffed

Thursday, March 27, 2014

When Life Gets Overwhelming

I knew this semester wasn't going to be easy. I knew it was going to be insane. I knew I was going to have to be strong and stick it out. I knew I would struggle. Because I knew all of this, I asked my husband to give me a Priesthood Blessing at the beginning of the semester for guidance.

In his blessing, he mentioned six things, and I've kept them close to my heart--along with my 2014 One Word (PEACE)--and they've become a touchstone of sorts when things have gotten really hard.

When Life Gets Overwhelming

I just "finished" one of the more difficult weeks of the semester, and I'm so exhausted I just want to cry. On Tuesday night, I didn't have rehearsal and I was so looking forward to just catching up on the dishes that night. Instead my teenager dropped a regional science fair in my lap and sent me running around to help her get set up for that. After the two hours it took to get her all squared away, I ended up sitting in the parking lot of McDonald's for about 45 minutes just so I could have some alone time. (And a Shamrock Shake, because that's the only real reason to bother going to McDonald's.) Consequently, the dishes didn't get done, and I felt defeated.

The next day--yesterday--was a 14 hour marathon which included 6 hours at work, Girl Scouts, Bria's orchestra concert, and opera rehearsal. I was home for a whopping 3 minutes during that time in which I got to use the bathroom, say hello to my dog, and grab a snack before dashing right back out.

Today was somewhat better, but I was so tired during rehearsal that I lacked any sort of energy, made all sorts of stupid mistakes that I don't usually make, and may or may not have fallen asleep during the director's notes at the end.

It's been a hard week. One of the hardest. And while I have been trying really hard to notice little blessings and happinesses throughout my days, I just felt super downtrodden this week. It's time to think more thoroughly about these six little words that were given to me in the blessing I received. Time to understand how they will really help me get through the next 34 days.


I suppose this one is really obvious, and is the principle that should guide my decisions in the other five areas, as well. I think I haven't been very wise in my food choices lately. I don't know why, but it is really difficult for me to eat right when I have a lot on my plate (heh). I feel like making wise food choices can be a full time job for me, and when I am otherwise occupied, I live on junk. Shamrock Shakes, anyone?


When you have so many things to choose from, there is simply no way to do them all. I often make a list of the things I need to do and then feel so completely overwhelmed that I'm almost paralyzed. I've been trying to be better about choosing my priorities wisely. Family is first. I have to go to work and fulfill other similar commitments. My health is important. Most of the things on my list--like the dishes--just have to wait. Let's just say I'll have a long list of stuff to keep me busy once the semester is over. And, no, I won't leave the dishes quite that long!

Other priorities? Prayer, scripture study, marriage. So many things are more important than the dishes--which do eventually get done.


Together with Wisdom and Priorities, it reminds me a bit of the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

I guess just being able to wisely discern what is important in my life. Sometimes that means figuring out if I should get to work on my long list, or if I should just sit and talk to one of my daughters. Sometimes it means knowing that I need to take a nap before I attempt to do anything else. Sometimes it means not giving in to the temptation to go buy a Shamrock Shake.


This semester is just a small part of my life. Yes, I bit off more than I could chew, but I am so blessed. As I was teaching today, I kept thinking about how lucky I am to have a job I love. I mean, it really doesn't get much better than getting paid to make music all day, does it? My job does bring me joy. My children bring me GREAT joy. My husband is amazing and is so understanding and helpful. And hello? I'm singing the lead in a Menotti opera. I adore Menotti, I adore opera, and I adore performing. I'm having a wonderful time. Yes, I have a lot going on, but I really do have an incredible life.

Also, the winter will end. Part of my gloominess of late is just the snow. And the more snow. And the cold. But winter always ends. Before I know it, I will have to actually shave my legs and I won't have to wear boots everywhere I go.


I think this is one of the most difficult things for me. I am so very hard on myself. You didn't do the dishes? What a terrible homemaker. You didn't know about Bria's Science Fair? Terrible mother! You ate another Shamrock Shake? What is wrong with you? You're going to gain 100 pounds!

This is not okay. I would never think anyone else was a terrible person for not doing the dishes. I have a lot more mercy for others than I do for myself. I actually sat down the other day and calculated how many hours I am working, rehearsing, driving, sleeping, etc. I didn't really have many hours leftover to get much else done--and most of those hours were going to be at midnight anyway. Only SuperWoman could do all the things I want to do each day. And, alas, I have no superpowers.

Go easy on yourself--especially when life is overwhelming you.


Some people actually don't need this advice. But I do. I'm exhausted right now, and instead of sleeping, I am typing. I am a night owl to the core and I have been in the terrible habit of staying up well past 2:00 am and then having to get up at 6:00.

I'm pleased to say that I started to do much better with my sleeping this semester. Until Daylight Savings time rolled around, that is. I was getting to bed around 11 or 12 each night, but now that's been pushed back. But I'm working on it. And I'm not letting myself feel guilty if I need to lie down and take a power nap after work some afternoons. How can I possibly expect to be the mother that my children need when I am completely drained? I can't. Sleeping is necessary!

Sleep! Mercy! Priorities! Discernment! Wisdom! Perspective!

This next week is the beginning of Tech rehearsals for the opera, and the week after that we open. I need to not be overwhelmed. I need to enjoy the wonderful gifts I have been given. Life is wonderful--hard, yes, but truly wonderful.

(And now I will really go to bed.)

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  1. Thank you! This has been a very overwhelming period for me too, and it's so easy to get discouraged and beat yourself up. I think I'll go reread my patriarchal blessing now. :)

    And I hope you don't see this until tomorrow, and that instead, you're already in dreamland!

  2. Ok, the sleep. Totally that. Curse daylight savings time. It should be renamed "daylight insanity inducing time".

  3. Um, this post was written for me. I can SO relate to all of this right now! Between school, kiddo activities, and hubby gone for work I am spent! I also stay up way too late and live on junk. I need to refocus and prioritize, too!

  4. cariwritesforyouFri Mar 28, 11:55:00 AM

    This too shall pass. It will get easier soon :)

  5. Thank you and your husband Lara! Such wise words and an inspiration for all of to remember. Sometimes the biggest bully we face is ourselves :-) Wonderful post!

  6. cariwritesforyouFri Mar 28, 11:57:00 AM

    We've had to sit outside to sell cookies. The unions won't even let the little girls inside. We finally set up an EZ Up with tarps on the side to try to stay warm. It didn't help, and we were both sick by Sunday. I'm so glad cookie booths are over!

  7. That's a good idea. I need to go back and read mine as well. Thankfully today was my first day off in a while, and I've spent it doing almost nothing. But I'd better actually get to those dishes before they take over the kitchen. Hope things get less overwhelming for you, too, Annette!

  8. Yep! Just when I was getting into a good rhythm I'm up into the wee hours again. Oh well...the bright side (literally) is that it's lighter in the evenings, and I do enjoy that.

  9. It's tough. And while I'm always saying I need to say no to more things, even when I do my life ends up a bit crazy. 33 more days...and then I'm becoming a beach bum for the summer. If the snow decides to melt, that is!

    Good luck in your refocusing and prioritizing!

  10. You're right, it will. I'm hanging on to that. Thanks for coming by!

  11. Isn't it true? I really think that being merciful to ourselves is one of the hardest things we are asked to do. It's good to work towards perfection and being better, but we're still human and we all deserve a little mercy.

  12. Yes, some of the places we've had booths won't let us inside. I was thankful this store sort of did, even if it was only the foyer! It was negative five degrees that day. I'm glad your cookie booths are over--we've still got a few to go. Hopefully they'll be a bit warmer!

  13. I adore you, love this post, and completely identify. Moving, 7+ months pregnant, husband never home, a perfect recipe for disaster. I've been teetering on the edge all week. Thanks for the reminders, and good luck the rest of the semester!

  14. Our Family Inspired HomeFri Mar 28, 02:37:00 PM

    Goodness! You, certainly, have a full plate! I need to do better at all of these, too. Great reminder and great post!

  15. Good luck to you, too, Stacy. Moving is the worst! I always feel like you're a bit of a soul mate in understanding the crazy life I lead since yours is just as crazy, if not more. Especially since you went and added pregnancy to the mix! I'm thinking of you!

  16. I love this list Lara! Especially perspective and sleep. I find if I get enough of those I can handle things better than when I'm short on either. Thanks for sharing! I love the name of your blog too :)

  17. Lara, I thoroughly enjoyed this and can see a lot of myself in it.... especially the mercy part. Why is that so hard - I have been working on the self talk for a few months now and it is very difficult to change it during hectic and stressful times in our lives. Thank you for reminding me that I am not the only one. Cathy

  18. Thank you! I think we all have a lot on our plates, really. Life these days is (unfortunately) fast-paced for everyone.

  19. It's true. I'm a wreck when I don't get enough sleep, yet I forget so easily when I think I can knock out just one more thing on my list before I head to bed. I'm working on it. And yes, as per the name of my blog, this is not a new problem. :)

  20. You're right, Cathy. I don't know why it's so hard to be kind to ourselves! Good for you for working on it, I am also trying to change it to something positive when I notice that I am not being kind to myself. But I don't always notice, either. Especially, as you said, when things are more hectic.

  21. Motoristin MutsiSat Mar 29, 05:49:00 AM

    Hope you had very good night sleep!

  22. Thank you! It's always nice when I can sleep in guilt-free.

  23. I love you, that is all. Ok -- why did you change to this comment thing? Do I need to do that? I'm staying home from church.

  24. I am also staying home from church--Sophia has been throwing up all night.

    I changed so I can reply more easily to people. Too many no-reply bloggers out there.

  25. We use an alarm clock to get up in the morning. Have you used one to go to bed at night? only one snooze allowed and do not put it on loud. My cell phone is best as I can set the volume low and add vibrate. God bless and sleep tight.

  26. This is actually a really excellent idea! I will have to try it. I am SUCH a night owl and always catch a second wind if I don't get myself in bed early enough.

  27. Thank you so much for this. I have felt like crying all day because I am so overwhelmed and reading this has made me feel like I can handle life again. And not to be so hard on myself. God bless you!

  28. I'm just happy that this post somehow helped. I completely relate
    about wanting to cry from feeling overwhelmed. Do what you can and know
    you did your best, and YES be merciful to yourself.

    God bless you, too. :)

  29. Happened upon this today, perfect timing. Looks like we all have way too much going on. Need to start taking better care of ourselves. Thanks for sharing

  30. It's almost a requirement of today, isn't it? I'm working on learning to say no to things more easily and take better care of me and my family. Thanks for your comment. :)