House Beautiful


This is totally how I feel this week.  And I know it’s how Karrie feels too, because we had a mid-week text exchange about how we had both been reduced to tears at our desks out of utter frustration and massive overload…  we must be bi-coastal cycling together or something.  And I know EVERYONE has their own set of stuff they’re dealing with, so it’s not just us.  But in the throes of the worst and most mind-bendingly stressful week of work I’ve had in my entire professional career, I’m trying to find some balance, and a way out of this horrible head space. And how to manage my life in a positive way when it comes to times like these when it’s not just raining, or pouring, but freaking monsoon-ing.

Here is all I have come up with…  and consider this an open forum, because I would LOVE to hear how you amazing ladies (and gents) cope with sh*tstorms.  Especially you Moms…  If I had this level of work stress + a screaming baby in the background, I think I might need to be committed.

1.  Make a List, and tackle 1 thing at a time. Cuz getting it out on paper helps transfer the load, right?  I also read recently that you’ll sleep better at night if you do this before bed…  that way you’re not lying there with your mind racing, thinking about the mental list of the umpteen things you have to get done tomorrow.  I also read something genius recently…  and it sounds like an 8th grade school project, but: grab a stack of index cards, and label each of them with something that’s weighing on your mind that you need to take care of.  Then line them up in order of which is most important, and it’ll help you decide what you need to tackle first.  It’s the same concept as the triage in the emergency room…  most critical items (patients) get attention first.  If it’s a paper cut, it can wait.

2.  Put on some lipstick and keep going. It sounds stupid, but I swear it’s a confidence booster…  even if no one else sees you.  I did this yesterday and got whistled at in the Kroger parking lot by a redneck in a truck that I’m pretty sure was only moving because he was pedaling it through a hole in the floor.  Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeey.

3.  Learn to say “no.” Cuz when you say yes to some things, you’re saying no at the same time to others…  e.g., saying yes and overcommitting yourself means saying no to other things that might be more valuable to you – like time to yourself to decompress, or time with your family.  Or your DVR, whatever.

Also, nobody can do it all…  and trying to do too much is like trying to ride 5 horses with one ass.

4.  Keep things in perspective. Yesterday, whilst I was having a meltdown, I saw on Facebook that one of my girlfriends from college’s little boy had just died.  He was about to turn 1, and had spent the majority of the past 12 months in the NICU, with his parents at his side.  Every single day.  THAT is devastating beyond comprehension.  The trivial facts of my work life are not.  Life is so, so precious.  Go hug somebody.  Right now.  Seriously.

5.  Remember to be grateful. Where your thoughts go, your intentions follow.  So if you’re thinking awful, dismal things…  well, you get the idea.  Whereas if – amidst chaos – you can manage to remember a few things each day you’re grateful for, however small, I swear it changes your perspective.

6.  Do something kind for someone else for no reason, and without expecting something in return. Because focusing on helping others snaps you right out of being self-absorbed, and lets your mind shift to the task at hand. One tip is to find a white sands rehab near you to get the right healing and feeling healthy. Make your neighbor cookies, write thank you letters, send someone a care package, or better yet – go volunteer.  Paint the old lady at the nursing room’s fingernails.

That’s all I got.  If anyone needs me today, I’ll be working on taking my own advice. What tricks do you guys have for managing stress / maintaining a good work-life balance?


29 Responses to “Pause.”

  • So poetic! I cope with this almost every week. And it’s funny, this was one of those weeks for me too … deadlines at work colliding with a big project at home, and oh, of course my husband is going to need to be traveling almost constantly for the next few weeks (making me a pseudo-single working mom of 3). When it rains it pours.

    Anyway, I think you touched on all the important stuff. I’ll bookmark it. Wise words indeed.

    • Thanks Laura! And, you are one-such-mom I was talking about. I don’t know how y’all do it!

      • We do it the same way as you do … your list will come in handy someday. Although you will have the smell of babies’ heads and their hugs to add to your coping mechanisms. I personally rotate between either a) decaf constant comment tea and a calming lavender bath (calming option), or b) a dose of mindless reality TV w/ a saucer full of chocolate and pretzels (uplifting option) as other post-kids-bedtime rituals.

  • This too shall pass.
    That is my motto this past year. For the bad, to remind myself I will get through tough times but much more so for the good. We tend to forget how good we have things at certain time periods of our lives so I try to stop and give attention to the positive aspects/people in my life because I know as life keeps going forward things change.
    Few other musts include: no major decision making with out a good nights sleep, spending time with people who make you laugh and most importantly wine and girlfriend time 🙂

  • Sara – I love that line. Just saying it comforts me! Steph – I’ve been working on some breathing exercises Belisa (Melissa’s good friend) taught me. I’ll show ya when we see each other in NY in two weeks! And I need to say no more to people; I just have a constant case of FOMO.
    Thanks for writing this post. It was much needed. xoxo, Karrie

  • This is such a great post. One funny thing with our son… when he’s crying or whining about something we started saying.. let’s be happy now! and last time i was scolding him about something… he turned to me and said – “mommy are you happy now?” and it melted away my frustration and I could have cried. sometimes it’s about making the choice to move past something. 🙂 be happy now! 🙂

  • Same with me. This week was up there with the most brutal. My husband did small things like draw me a bath and order from our favorite Thai place and I tried to hug my dogs extra tightly every evening. Somehow those things made me able to face the next day.

    • Emily – the hugging of the pups is key. I’ve squeezed Gus’ little neck more than a few times this week… it does always make things better! Also, your hubby is very very sweet 🙂

  • Remind myself that my limitations are what magnifies God’s intentions and abilities in my life. We have had a heck of a last year (…and it continues), but the reminder that there are bigger, stronger, more capable hands holding me up, carries us through.

    Life is messy for everyone and as they say “no one gets out alive”. As I keep moving **slightly** deeper into my thirties, I have lost a bit of the invincible mindset that I had in my twenties. This one time around is worth my best efforts and the people that I have been blessed to call mine are worth my best as well. I can slump with the best of them, but sometimes just looking up puts things back into perspective for me.

    xoxo Ms. Stephanie. I love your voice!

    • J-Coat! I know you’ve had a rough go girl… DANG. I so admire your strength and I totallllly know what you’re saying about this time around being worth the best efforts 🙂 xoxo miss you

  • Couldn’t have more perfect timing. Thank you for this, Steph. During my most stressful days- all I need is a hug from my mom. Her presence in my life is all the comfort I need. xoxo

  • I came across your Blog – Love it.
    So sad about your friend baby passing… A tiny Angel.
    Life is so very precious, we have to live and be grateful for everyday. I like your thought process = help someone.
    Have a great weekend.

  • You are a mind reader. Honestly this blog post could have come at a better time. I’m having one of those weeks as well. Here’s what I do…

    1. Girlfriends, girlfriends, girlfriends – seriously, girlfriends to vent to, to laugh with, and to cry with keep me sane
    2. Run it out. Pound some pave, if you will.
    3. Yoga can work just as well 🙂
    4. Remind myself that I can get through it. Nothing worth doing in this life is easy and if it were easy we would be bored. Direct quote from a co-worker of yours Steph (I’ll let you guess who) – but it’s true.


  • BREATHE.CENTER YOURSELF.BE AWARE OF THE POOR SOULS OUT THERE,THERE ARE MANY. The more you do for others the better you will feel. Appreciate the simple things that you have. Realize no matter how bad a day is it will pass and you start fresh the next day!Be humble and be kind.

  • ahhhhhhhh deep sigh. needed to read this. thanks darling girl.

  • Great post. What was it about last week that shot me down the meno-manic spiral? Mushhead Cry-Baby from Hell! You really touched on all the important points. My dad always said: Everybody has at least one good reason why they can’t get out of bed, and probably another that keeps them from leaving the driveway. Tolerance and perspective. James Taylor. A good bellylaugh w/a good pal. When a stranger’s baby smiles at me. My nephews’ voices. Put on your fav lipgloss, walk down your Main St., and breathe.

  • Oh, I forgot to second your suggestion to volunteer in your community. It’s the best present you can give yourself and others get a small piece of you with a bow on top.

  • Steph,
    You’re an absolutely genius here. I love all of these and I too live by my lists. Who knew taking a hot minute to write some stuff down on a post it note could compare to the “calming” affect of drowning a glass of scotch? Not kidding you…the other day I took your lipstick advice and felt like a rockstar walking into Marsh to grab some bananas. All I could think was, “Yeah…I’ve got the monthly breakout of the century all over my face right now…but this Bobby Brown lipgloss is a total boss right now!”

    I think you nailed some of the best tips here. Another necessity when life gets to be a bit too much…sleep. Sleep is SO important and as we’ve hit our thirties it becomes more and more obvious (and I suspect that will only continue). Sometimes it’s like the “chicken or the egg concept” though…hard to sleep when you’re stressed…hard to not be stressed when you don’t have enough sleep. Constant battle.

    You girls rock and I can’t get enough of covetliving.


    • MEL! You are the sweetest, ever. Thanks so much for reading / commenting / for your unsolicited promoting 🙂 You are totes right about sleep… I can’t function without it. I think it makes it easier to manage everything when – once you have your lipstick / big girl pants on – you bust your ass and do the best you can every day, then call it at a certain time. E.g., 7pm. Or when you think you might fall down. And then turn it off, have a glass of scotch 🙂 – or workout or whatever – and then make your to-do list for the next day and putcherself to bed. I think a lot of my stress / everyone’s stress maybe comes from the fact that we’re NEH-VER unplugged. Ye know? LIke, I can’t delineate b/w work time and home time anymore, cuz we’re all so connected and when you know you CAN work from home and when you know people know that you can see the emails they send at 10pm, you feel obligated to, well, work. It’s terrible I tell ya 😉 Matt and I just made a rule that cell phones go down after about 7:30 at our house…

      And I kinda love it already.


  • alternate nostril breathing. swear by it…

Leave a Reply