"I have value. I am responsible for my life." Have you had one of those weeks when every time you start out the door, you can't find your car keys? You are starting to make lists to keep up with the lists you made earlier in the week? You are losing your train of thought in mid-sentence. You feel exhausted and can't wait to get into bed, only to find that when you do get into bed, you are suddenly wide-awake and you lie there thinking... Not calmly thinking, but rather, beginning to fret about details you can't control and events several days away and you lie there... and you lie there... when the alarm sounds, you aren't really sure if you slept or not?? Sometimes my To-Do List takes on a life all of its own. Weeks like this seem to come one after the other without any reprieve. Sometimes, I can anticipate these weeks because I can see from my calendar, I have over-scheduled my time or certain times of year include many extra activities. These busier times of year may be the holidays and May-June with graduations, end of school year activities, weddings and etc... And then, sometimes these weeks completely blind-side me and I don't know what has hit me! I wish for 30-hour days in order to be able to get it all done. I am completely frazzled, feeling drained, ready to cry and am running on empty. Have you ever felt like this?? Then what...??? It seems there are no plausible options... can't ignore the kids calls and texts, can't call-in sick, can't go without sleep for days at a time, can't eat another piece of chocolate, bite of ice-cream, or potato chips, can't find a place to hide, can't find much, if anything to be grateful for... What can we do when we have weeks like this?? As Christian women, sometimes we are uncomfortable saying "No" or are concerned that if we don't serve on this committee or volunteer for that project or contribute financially to a specific cause, we aren't behaving in a way that fulfills our Christian responsibilities. When I find myself drowning in my pool of commitment, I look for my lifeline, my life preserver, something to grab onto. I begin to search deep within myself to find, "For what in my life, am I grateful?" At first, it's hard to find much beyond the obvious... my family, my health... It's important to realize these overwhelming weeks happen to many of us, maybe even to all of us at some time or another. When you see your reflection in the mirror during an over-scheduled, over-whelming week and you are running on empty; remember you will see the same reflection when you look in the mirror when you are relaxed and on vacation. You are the same loving person. It is your perception of you that is different. For myself, I have learned that when I am feeling overwhelmed and over-committed, I am actually very disengaged. One would think that by virtue of being busy and overcommitted, one would be very involved and engaged. On the contrary, it's the opposite... I am not really focused, not really engaged, and am not fully present in my life. I am going through the necessary motions. I am too busy to pay attention, to take time to be present and to be relational to the people in my life. With this realization, the process has to change in order for me to become more engaged and fully present in my life. I'm going to share an exercise that works for me. I hope when you are feeling overwhelmed and over-committed, you will remember to give this exercise a try for yourself. Take a moment, and take a few slow deep breaths. A series of slow deep breaths cause a positive physiological change in our heart rate and blood pressure. You will feel yourself begin to slow down. Calmly and slowly breathe in and slowly exhale, while you are slowly affirming to yourself "I have value" and "I am responsible for my life." Taking one more deep breath in and hold for a count of five, and then, slowly exhale for a count of five, continuing to repeat your affirmations, try saying these affirmations aloud in order to make sure you are clearly hearing each of the individual words, "I have value." And "I am responsible for my life." Try repeating the affirmations and placing emphasis on the words that are resonating for you. You may have to repeat this exercise several times before you really begin to feel the words and appreciate the meaning of the words at your core, "Yes, I do have value." And "Yes, I am responsible for my life." Your intentional repetition of these two affirmations will cause a positive shift in your core beliefs about yourself. You will begin to believe you have value. You will begin to believe you are completely responsible for your own life. The requests to serve on this committee, or to volunteer for that project, or to contribute financially to a specific cause haven't changed, the To-Do List remains, family, friends and others are continuing to tug at you; however, now YOU ARE DIFFERENT. You have fully and intentionally accepted the responsibility for your life and you value yourself. This awareness of the realization that YOU have value, impacts the way you interact with others and within the world. No longer are you at the mercy of your schedule and commitments; you have accepted responsibility of your life. You have changed your core beliefs about yourself. Rather, than being a long for the roller coaster ride, you have taken intentional steps to be fully present in your life. Now, as you approach the tasks at hand, your perspective has shifted. The little voice inside of you believes and is repeating what you have taught the little inner voice to say. No longer is the little inner voice saying, "I don't have time." "I can't do that." "I don't know why I agreed to do this." "I'm not good at doing that." Now, the little inner voice is repeating what it believes to be true, "I have value." And "I am responsible for my life." Repeat these affirmations often, many times during your day as a reminder to yourself that you have value and you are fully responsible for your life. Don't these two affirmations seem too simple to be true? These two simple affirmations, "I have value." And "I am responsible for my life" create a change in the way you perceive yourself. This change in your perspective will be the seeds for producing a positive shift, and deeper transformation within you. Consequently, you will be able to more clearly prioritize your To-Do list, set healthy boundaries because you believe you have value and are responsible for your life. The way, in which you approach your day, will be different. The sense of urgency you felt previously will be replaced by a sense of calm. The feeling of not having enough time will be replaced by a sense of having enough time. The feeling of being overwhelmed and a victim of your calendar will be replaced by new beliefs of having value and being responsible for your life. You will no longer be going through the motions of being busy; you will be more fully engaged, and more fully present in your life. You will be more selective about making your commitments as a result of the value you believe you have and the total responsibility you have for living your life. As you ask yourself, "For what in my life, am I grateful?" there will be many things to follow on your list after you state the obvious... You may notice a new sense of calm, gratitude and peace. "I have value. I am responsible for my life."