Is anyone else starting to feel the holiday stress? I am. And today began like that book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I overslept. Manatee took the P90x dvd I needed for today’s workout that I was actually dressed and ready to do, schedules were shuffled, and re-shuffled. I looked at my to-do list from yesterday and realized I only accomplished three things (out of twelve). I was feeling completely overwhelmed.

When I feel overwhelmed, I have a tendency to focus on everything I am not doing. Yes, I am writing a cookbook, but I’m not writing queries and therefore not writing magazine articles. When I am answering emails, I am not typing up notes that need to be typed up. When I am writing blog posts, I am not transcribing interviews. When I am sleeping, I am not exercising. The NOT gets me every time. And don’t even get me started on the holidays! Christmas cards, presents, Christmas cards, parties, Christmas cards. Can you tell where the major stressor is right now?

I had a brief respite when I talked to a fellow food writer, but then it was back to mayhem. As I was rushing around and trying to multi-task, I threw my english muffin on the toaster, beans on the stovetop, and then ran back to the office to knock something else off my to-do list. I rushed out of the office and into the hallway where I saw billowing smoke.

My heart stopped.

All I could think was, “Manatee is out of town and I am burning down the house.”

And then, “He’s going to kill me.”

As I ran into the kitchen, I saw the source for the smoke was our microwave splatter guard melting. I had left the guard on a burner and turned on the wrong dial.

I picked up the hot, smoking, melting lump of plastic and threw it into the sink.

Then realized I had hot, melting plastic on my fingers. Oops. And on the hardwood floors. And on the cupboards. And there were strings of hot plastic stretching from the oven to the sink.

Was I upset?

Was I angry?

Did I want to crawl back into bed and wait for tomorrow to come around?

Initially, but then relief swept over me.

I was relieved that it wasn’t a fire and was containable. I was relieved that I wasn’t injured (except for some burned fingertips). And most of all, I was relieved that I hadn’t actually burned down the house.

So, as you are rushing around and feeling overwhelmed, try to erase the NOTs from your mind. Don’t think about what you could or should be doing, just focus on what you are doing and try to enjoy it. Live in the moment.

And if all else fails, just remember:

At least you didn’t burn down the house today.

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