I'm in the middle of my stress cycle right now.
My cycle starts out with me thinking I've got a pretty good handle on my life. I'm like one of those jugglers with six or seven balls that I'm juggling--work, church, friends, family, home, personal. When I think things are going well then the balls are going around nicely and at a pace that feels doable and sustainable.
Then the pressure starts to build and either more balls get thrown in the rotation or I have to increase the speed that I throw the balls in order to get everything done. Then it starts to get ugly. I start dropping balls everywhere, throwing them wildly, and looking like a crazy person as I try to keep things under control until eventually I can't track any of the balls or the direction they are flying and I put my hands down in defeat and drop everything.
Then I curl up in a corner and wish I could die.
Somehow, some way after lying in the fetal position for a time and sucking my thumb, something shifts. A stillness will settle in. My head will clear. And I will uncurl myself, sit up, and look around me. Balls (they all look like yellow, fuzzy tennis balls to me) will be scattered everywhere amid broken glass, scattered bits of paper, and general ruin.
I will sigh at the disaster in front of me. Then a ball will roll right up to me and bump me gently. I get up just enough nerve to reach out and touch it. I like its fuzzy yellow exterior. It feels soft and pliable to me and easy to handle. It isn't threatening or overwhelming. It's just a little fuzzy ball. So, I pick it up. I stand up, brush myself off, take a shower and get some clean clothes on, and sweep up the mess. Then I start tossing that ball.
Within hours, I've made some crucial decisions. Some of the balls must go. Some of the balls must stay in the rotation. Which ones stay and which ones go may change each day, but the crucial lesson always is: there is only so much of me and only so many things I can handle. Choose what to let in and what to let go. The hard part is remembering that.
So, excuse me while I go and curl up in my favorite corner and wish I could die. I've got some decisions to make and they ain't easy.
And those fuzzy, yellow balls? They will be here tomorrow. And some of them will have to go.