I Before It

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Photo courtesy of Samantha Hammack

I was moody. I could feel it. I wasn’t exactly sure as to why. I was easily irritated and I cleared shelved my “Make space for grace” mantra.  While I managed to keep my moodiness to myself, I knew it was a matter of one more request or one more “My bad, I’m sorry” and I was going to have an academy award nominee worthy explosion.


As I walked the two blocks home I kept asking myself what happened that had me very left of center. I replayed the day and the previous days in my mind to search for any dots that needed connecting.  There wasn’t anything that stuck out. In fact, the few things that I had to do over the past couple of days went much smoother than I anticipated. The night before I caught up with an old colleague over drinks and then had an amazing dinner with my mentor at this new Thai restaurant in Kenmore. Delish!  I slept soundly and woke up refreshed and checking things off of my to do list.  Yet and still any interruption and my eyes were rolling, I was sighing, hand resting on my hip, and lots of “are you kidding me?” “Oh this is how we gonna do?” or “Yeah, so no. I’m not in the mood” one liners took up residence in my mind.  Finally, as I turned up Hoyer Street I announced to myself and the squirrels “I think I’m stressed.” I laughed and texted my friend my epiphany who responded “um yeah.”

Processing trauma, moving, job searching/applying/interviewing/not a god fitting/overqualified-ing, claim and benefits filing while sistering, aunting, daughtering, friending, recovering and self caring is A LOT. Like A LOT. Like A LOT.  I will stop with the A Lots, because, you get my drift. But just know, you could take that last A LOT and add an exponent  of 1000  to it and then, well then you’d probably respond to my I think I’m stressed text the same way my friend did. It’s taken me about six weeks of all of that (and we’re talking repeated exposure to and engagement in traumatic situations for three years now, most in professional settings but some personal as well) to say I think I’m stressed. Not it’s  stressful, but me, all 5 feet 4 inches  a little over 150 pounds, wild blonde and brown curls, and a serious love for that which sparkles, devout tea drinking, huge fan of fresh flowers, hopeless romantic on the low (don’t mind my chill), me. I was stressed.  And quite a few other things too if I was honest. Overwhelmed, angry, annoyed, afraid, anxious, insecure, exhausted (physically, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually- Lord that whole don’t get weary well doing and forgiving 70 times 7 and loving your enemy etc. was wearing on me). I was tired of striving and struggling to enjoy the present because usually something would remind me of just how unstable my present is from moment to moment as well as my future.


Photo courtesy of Madame Figaro

After the laughter subsided, there was a goofy grin plastered across my face and then a few deep breaths as I walked into the house and was warmly greeted by Tucker who was sniffing me out for food.  “I am stressed,”  I repeated to myself. Not in that affirmation type of way but that welcome to your reality type of way. Because let’s be serious, it’s hard to become less stressed or stress free if we’re in denial. It’s hard to create change period if we are not dealing with our reality no matter how much we don’t like it or want to believe it.

It helped that my friend was able to validate my being stressed. But even if she had not, I had new knowledge about myself and was already in a better position to address it, if I chose. Knowledge is power, power to act in ways that help us to live well. Knowing I was stressed (not the situation or people stressing me out, but me, real live me) helped me to then delve into what I need to decrease me stress. I spent time thinking about ways I’ve dealt positively with stress in the past and which were going to be suitable options currently. It wasn’t long before I was back out the door and strolling to the coffee shop to take advantage of the quiet, the regulars I’d miss seeing over the past few weeks, and my favorite seat with a great window view to write and draw my way through plausible coping methods to begin alleviating my stress.

Now, if you’re looking for me to say that I am writing this post stress free then keep looking, cause I’m not. I am however significantly less stressed than before I was willing to pause and tend to me and own the reality of my stress.  Applying for jobs and interviewing is stressful. Being honest about how many interviews I can manage in a week and scheduling accordingly is helping decrease the stress. Hanging out with my super cool nephew is reenergizing, but the hour plus trek to my sister’s place each way is not, so I see him less but I still see him and spend time with him. Coffee shops are a huge help to me in getting focused and getting things done, but the ones in the city are too noisy, so I’ve been going to the ones in the suburbs just outside the city and it’s been wonderful.  Socializing, even for this introvert, is fun, especially with people I care about, but packing my schedule with lunches and happy hours (even if it’s their treat) still leaves me more tired than I’d like, so I’ve been saying “Unfortunately, that won’t work, perhaps another time. I’ll keep you posted.”  Being engaged with Negative Natalie’s who often complain about situations they are pretty capable of changing but won’t because it may mean a pay cut, or a longer commute, etc.- I’ve been creating some distance. Their negativity is not helpful.  Not to mention, but at some point my constant availability for a “vent session” enables them to keep complaining and perceive themselves powerless in their ability to create the change they desire.


Photo courtesy of Brian Bowen Smith

This week I’m just getting reacquainted with me and my reality- the messy and the beautiful parts.  I’m drawing closer to I instead of dispensing lots of it’s. I’m tuning into what I need, want, am capable of being and doing. I’m sifting through what is me, what was me, both what is temporarily me and what is core to who I am.  I’m making decisions that are rooted in I and not it, that, , they, him, her, etc.

This week I’m inviting you to do the same.  I’m inviting you this week to put I before It. Instead of It was a good day, I had a good day. Instead of It was a hard conversation, I had a hard conversation. Instead of It’s been stressful these days, I’ve been stressed. Instead of It was celebratory event, I celebrated at the event.  Because here’s the thing, when you say I, you will in that moment check in with yourself about your reality and how you’re living. If the event was celebratory but you didn’t celebrate, why not? If the ordeal was stressful but you weren’t stressed (sweet!) what kept you at ease? If the day was good but you don’t  feel good , what’s going on with you and what may need some adjusting?  I’m inviting you to see you, own you, and check in with – all of you. “It” can wait this week, I (you)  however, cannot. Remember, I before It especially when life is throwing around a lot of _____________xxoo


Photo courtesy of Levo League.com



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