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Stress of the Season Acts to Motivate

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Through all the stress of the season, I’m finding a light, or lightness. I am finding that my stress can be a motivator to get things done. As I headed into this past weekend, I felt edgy and panicked—from the list of things in my head I felt needed to get done with Christmas just two weeks away.

The presents needed to be bought, and wrapped. And for the out-of-town family, the gifts needed to be wrapped, packaged, and shipped. As of last week, we still had Thanksgiving decorations in our house, and not one light in the front yard except for the one on the porch. I seriously considered calling one of the numbers I saw posted on neighbor front lawns advertising holiday light installation service. We aren't heavy on tradition with our young family, but we do usually decorate for Christmas.

On top of the holiday duties, work still had to be done, and household chores waited. The size-4T clothes we inherited from a dear friend over Thanksgiving for my oldest son had to be organized (any Mom knows what a task it is filtering their clothes to ensure everything in the dresser and closet fits).

I woke up just before dawn Saturday (again, thanks to my sons), but with a sense of purpose. My head was spinning with everything that needed to be done. I didn’t know where to begin. I started to work on chipping away at the laundry and dishes. While out on our traditional weekend morning Starbucks pilgrimage, we bought a couple gift items at Toys R Us to give our nieces. I found myself getting increasingly irritable as the morning went on, so I made a list. Then I attempted to take a nap thinking it would help clear my head.

I couldn’t stop coughing from a persistent tickle in my throat, and couldn’t sleep. I got more frustrated lying, and kept thinking of more things I wanted to get done. The relaxation pose I learned in yoga class didn't work either, so I gave up after half an hour, and walked downstairs to the questioning look on my husband’s face, “I thought you were going to rest?”

“It wasn’t very restful,” I said through clenched teeth. My wonderful husband tried to soothe me by giving me a hug and telling me how much he loves me and appreciates all I do—I wasn’t in the frame of mind to reciprocate, and instead went into a near-sobbing account of why I was acting like I had a black cloud over my head.

So we then set ourselves to attack the list. By the time we had both boys in bed that night, we had moved the dining room furniture, replaced it with the Christmas tree and decorated it, finished adding lighted garland to the banister, and there were presents in my home office that had been wrapped, and were in boxes ready to be shipped to three different locations around the U.S. The dishes were all done, and the laundry was mostly done. I felt monumentally better.

It amazes me that I write these pieces about stress and how to deal with it, and I’m the first one to fall into the throes of it all the time. I can't blame hormones all the time. A friend wrote that all she has to do to feel the magic of the season is to look at her children’s faces. I am in a never-ending battle between what I have to do and what I want to do. But it’s important I take more time to see what my children see, and make sure they see me enjoying them. More on that Wednesday, when I will consider the spirituality of Christmas.

Christine Jeffries is a writer/editor for work and at heart, and lives in a home of testosterone with her husband and two sons. She started a women’s group, The Wo-Hoo! Society, in the interests of friendship, networking, and philanthropy. The group meets separately on a monthly basis in the Phoenix and Kansas City areas. Christine is interested in women’s health and promoting strong women.

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