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Chatterbox: The calm after the storm


We all have days when everything just seems to go wrong, right? I used to call them my ‘drop it, spill it, break it days.’ It, somehow, makes us less frustrated if we just resign ourselves to expect the worst on those days when our timing is off and our luck betrays us.

We won’t accomplish anything we planned, and the phone only interrupts once, but it’s while we’re in the shower with shampoo on our hair. It’s best to let the frustration go, be prepared for the worst, expect the unexpected, and remember that we all have these days. Keeping this in mind will make them easier to deal with.

As we travel through life, the demands on us and our time will decrease. The number of these off-days will decline because we just aren’t juggling as much, spinning as many plates as we are when we’re working, raising dependent children, keeping abreast of their schedules, and are very socially involved. Oh, we’ll still have them, for sure, but they’ll become, more likely, days when the damage is less, both emotional and actual.

Last week, one of these chaotic days dropped itself at my doorstep, and I was caught unaware. Back when I was still in ‘drop it day’ shape, I would whine, maybe even throw something, but then I just got back on the horse. As we get older and adjust to the slower pace, the water doesn’t roll off our back so easily. I was unable to do much about it, having lost most of my tolerance to it all. We all manage, of course, but it shows more.

I once devised a wonderful flowchart for dealing with such frustration, which I still use to organize and handle problems, and keep them in perspective. It helps a lot and I shared it here at Chatterbox. Coping mechanisms don’t have to be printed in best-selling, self-help books by psychologists to work. If we conjure it and it works, it’s a keeper, no matter how silly. I still use my chart, but on drop-it, spill-it, break-it days, we need more.

Last week, as usual, I reviewed that catastrophe of a day from my pillow that night. Nothing could have changed it. There was a constant waterfall of factors that came without pity, including a bad headache, kids home from school, several major interruptions, dinner plans that went off the rails, and unexpected guests. It all left me without the time I needed to do the time sensitive necessities I’d planned. Then, reflecting more deeply, I found gratitude; it could have been much worse.

As we hush ourselves every night and clarify our day, putting all things into perspective is truly our salvation. I was blessed that no one I love was in peril; we all had sustenance, shelter, loving and supporting family, and much more; accompanying the bad breaks of the day were all the good things that cannot be overlooked or underestimated, which are so much more important. In these best, quiet moments, we realize that tomorrow is another day and another chance to accomplish what needs to be done, especially if that comes with the added blessing of being in good health to do what needs to be done.

I climbed out of bed and made notes to write a children’s book all about my realizations. I was going to call it, “The Terrible, Wonderful Day.” I quietly dictated my ideas into my phone as my skill of deciphering notes written in the dark has long proven risky, and awoke refreshed.

I shared my idea and scratch notes with my daughter (she’s so patient).

“Hmm,” she said, pausing, and trying to be gentle, “I think there’s already a book very much like that, with a similar title.”

A fast Google proved her right; I deleted my title but kept my notes. So, I was facing Day 2. Even though it wasn’t Wednesday, it was another Mickey Mouse Club “Anything Can Happen Day.”

I chuckled; it’s important to remember that if we are reflective, everything finds its equilibrium. Most days are good, even when they are chaotic, less than productive, or don’t go as we had planned.

Sure, it’s hard to remain pleasant, upbeat and optimistic when an already tight and specific schedule spirals completely out of control but, at the end of the day, we usually have some big blessings to count.