Tips for Times When Life Isn't Simple

Life has not been simple this past month. It hasn't been bad, but it has been different and at times, messy. As we rolled into Summer, I was very happy with the way we had tried to simplify our lives and have time on our side. Lately though, I feel like I am lost in the clouds.

I'm sure everyone feels this way at certain points in their life. Time doesn't stand still and with its movement come changes. Some are small adjustments, others are large challenges. Either way, they require us to adapt and weather them out. 

Our children, who graduated from high school and college, are now working full time and living at home. They are a blessing, but having a full house again has required some adjustments on our part. Added in were unexpected repairs to the cars and the house, which proved to be a little stressful (water backing up in the basement) and somewhat costly. My work has been extra busy requiring at least one night until 9pm, right after a weekend I spent out of town. Upgrades to our land meant last minute, unplanned trips there by my husband. 

I'm sure you can add to this list - sickness in the family (even something as benign as the flu) can tilt your world upside down. Job changes and layoffs, major expenses to fix cars and homes, the start of the school year, the end of the school year, etc. There are just times when life is not simple. 

Despite the fact that at times our lives may seem chaotic, difficult, stressful, or just plain hard; if you have already started on the path to a simple life, you have tools on your side that can help you. Here are a few tips that I am trying to keep in mind:

1. Continue the habits you have started

Hopefully, you have some habits that help simplify your life. Making all my lunches on Sunday is one of mine. It is especially important during times of upset to stick with these habits. It might seem hard, but the habits will help you save time, keep you on track and probably improve your mental outlook. Additionally, not doing some of the habits may add extra work. On the weekend I was gone, preceding the week I had to work late, I was unable to make my lunches on Sunday. Boy, did that add an extra layer of stress to the week. Fit in some exercise, take a few moments to decompress or meditate, and rely on the good habits to help sustain you.

2. Know these complications are probably temporary

Look back at your life and you will realize that the majority of stressors were temporary and have faded into our memories. It may not seem like it at the time, but yes, the bumps in the road are temporary. They will either go away completely, or you will adjust your life and accept them as normal; thus no longer being a bump in the road. At times like these, I need to just breathe and slow down (see #4 below), focus on the big picture, and not get too stressed by the temporary bumps. 

3. Ride the wave and enjoy the moment

I am a control freak and I always want to know how something will turn out. When life gets messy, that doesn't work.(Actually, it doesn't work very often!) Instead, I need to get into a surfer mentality and ride the wave, enjoying the moments for what they are. Surfing would be pretty boring if the water was always flat and safe. It's the large waves that provide the adrenaline rush and thrill. Not that I want a lot of nerve wracking excitement, but I could use a little exhilaration and also learn to loosen up and look for enjoyable moments in the wave. 

4. Slow down

Rushing through life seems to be the norm these days. Trying to live a simple life has taught me that I need to slow down. It is especially important to slow down when you are facing new challenges in your life. By cutting out extra activities and obligations, and taking my time to focus on what needs to be done (like making dinner) lessens my stress. Slowing down also gives you a better perspective on what is happening; allowing you to realize it is just temporary, and there might be some good moments intertwined. 

We are finding a new normal in our house, and this past weekend allowed me time for periods of simplicity. I have seen the sun through the clouds!