How I'm Managing Stress One Day at a Time

Managing Daily Stress, One Step at a Time

I can't tackle it all at once, but I can take it slowly but surely. Maybe then, I'll win the race.

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I come from a family of worrywarts. We stress over every little thing, from where to go to dinner that night to how to hold an important conversation. We break even the simplest concept down to the granular level and analyze it under a too-intense microscope. It's in our veins and the only way that we truly know how to move forward with even a little bit of confidence.

For the most part, I've learned to manage this kind of impending anxiety. When I feel it creep in and threaten to sink into the very cracks of my foundation, I take action. I ramp up my quiet time, where I fortify my faith. I spend more time outdoors, surrounded by the pecan trees, blueberry bushes and muscadine vines that flank our property. I put down my phone and embrace my children more, looking them in the eyes and reminding them that I love them and it's all going to be OK.

This usually works. This kind of proactive, preventative activity helps quell major concerns and keep them at bay. Yet, there are seasons of life that are generally, as a rule, more stressful than others. I am currently living in one and finding daily peace has become a bit more challenging.

You see, we're in the process of selling our home and preparing to move into my in-laws' property while we renovate a family home nearby. The major, too-expensive construction project notwithstanding, the steps to even get the ball rolling seem insurmountable. First, we have to meet with our real estate agent to get our current home listed on the market. Then, we have to wait for someone to fall in love with it as much as we have and land somewhere near our asking price. Next, we have to move everything in our possession into a temporary storage pod, only taking out enough to fill the dressers and drawers at my husband's parents' house.

Yet, all of that aside, it's the daily minuta that's really complicated. We cannot sign our oldest up for kindergarten until we have officially completed the move, as it will change her school district. We have to come up with a final price at which we will buy the family property in limbo. We have to tell our neighbors that we're leaving and negotiate the sale of the back field that we currently share with them. We have to get our house show-ready with two toddlers under five underfoot.

Then, we have major issues with the new family property that must be addressed before we can start the massive renovation. The house needs a new roof. It isn't heated or cooled because the system is kaput. It hasn't been lived in for almost five years and is a state of disrepair. Before we can knock down walls and replace the drywall, we have to take care of those kinds of issues first, all of which will cut into our already razor-thin budget.

So, if I look at the challenges that await before me, I can grow weary almost instantly. I can see these mountains and feel as though they're insurmountable. In many ways, they are. If I tried to scale all of them at once and on my own, I'd surely stumble and not make it more than a few steps. That's why I've found strength in my community and my family members. I've learned how to ask for help when I need it and find resources that can carry me through when I feel like giving up.

I've learned that delegating bathtime duties to my husband while I soak myself in a tub full of bubbles doesn't make me weak. It attests nothing to my character if I retire at 8:00 p.m. as soon as the children go to bed. Sure, I need more than my usual amount of coffee to propel me through the day these days. I need one-on-one time with my husband to speak to an actual grown-up and share my concerns with someone who can listen.

Most importantly, I need quiet time for reflection and restoration. If I try to take on the year's stress all at once, I know I'd fall short of the task. Yet, when I take a look at the steps I need to take each day, then focus my energy on those alone, I feel more equipped and capable. Will it all get done? Eventually, but not today. For now, I'm only responsible for making sure the tasks that lie before me are accomplished and that the people I love feel my adoration. The rest will fall into place, I'm sure of it.

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Dear Taylor Swift, Christians Are Not Homophobic Bigots, Sincerely, The Majority Of Christians

Taylor, you need to calm down when talking about how most Christians act.

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When Taylor Swift released her newest single "You Need to Calm Down" last Friday, I didn't agree with the entire message of the song, mainly because of its heavy political overtones. But as the great Dick Clark once said, "It's got a good beat, and you can dance to it." So, for what it is, it's really easy to dance to this song, and I can see it becoming a pretty big hit.

But then the video came out, and I saw something that really bothered me.

In the music video for "You Need to Calm Down", Taylor is seen partying and hanging out with multiple LGBT+ icons in honor of Pride Month, such as the hosts of Queer Eye, RuPaul, and Ellen Degeneres. There's also a moment with Taylor, dressed as French fries, renewing her friendship with Katy Perry, who's dressed as a hamburger, which is as amazing as it sounds.

However, there's another cast of characters which acts as a foil to the happiness and colorful joy which is taking place in the video. There's a group of protesters surrounding the trailer park where Taylor and all her friends live. They're all dirty, buck-toothed, and dressed like your typical redneck stereotypes. They're also holding up protest signs while screaming at everyone in the trailer park. I saw one of the signs said something about Adam and Eve, and I realized most of the protesters were most likely meant to represent Christians.

And that...didn't sit well with me at all.

I know that these people never explicitly said they were Christians in the video, none of them even wore a cross. But, whenever someone sees anyone protesting rallies and organizations such as Pride, I can guarantee you that most of the time, the first thing people think is that they're from the Westboro Baptist Church, which is notorious for its protests. And I won't lie, there are some Christians who act that way.

But if you haven't heard this yet, let me be the first to tell you that not all Christians act like that. In fact, most of them don't act that way.

Christians don't agree with the LGBT+ lifestyle because of what the apostle Paul wrote in the book of 1 Corinthians (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). However, Jesus never once taught that just because you don't agree with a person doesn't mean they're automatically your enemy (Matthew 5:44). Christians are supposed to represent the love of the Savior of the world, which encompasses every and all aspects of humanity. This definitely includes people whose lifestyles we don't agree with. By not showing love to certain types of people, we are directly going against one of Jesus's greatest commandments.

Not agreeing with people is one of the cornerstones of humanity. It's a divisive world out there to be sure, but that doesn't mean people from any side of the debate need to perpetuate the division. Grouping all Christians into one group of hateful bigots is no different than Christians grouping all the members of the LGBT+ community into one group of evil people. One of the key elements of Christianity is showing people who have different beliefs from us the same love Jesus would show to anyone. And I know I'm not the only Christian who wants to show love to people of all walks of life. I may be the only Jesus they ever see in their lives, and we all wish to express the same love to others.

So Taylor, it looks like you're the one who needs to calm down on this issue.

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Different But The Same: Navigating My Life as One of Three Siblings

I couldn't be more different than my two siblings, but on some levels we're more alike than I thought.

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I am the oldest of three lively, loving and faithful siblings. My sister is seven years younger than me and my brother is nine. Two of us shared a room growing up, and the other lived just down the hall. In a lineup, we're unmistakably related. We share the same nose from our grandfather, the thin hair of our great-grandmother and the thick Italian eyebrows of our mother.

Deep down, we're all cut from the same cloth. Our moral compass, foundation and background are the same. We'd answer alike if you were to ask us our favorite childhood memory, how an elder should be treated, what to say and do at the dinner table and what is essentially right and wrong. All three of us are driven academically, hunger professionally and seek to mine the most good out of every day. Yet, on paper, we couldn't be more different.

Take my sister, for instance. She's the librarian at our local elementary school. We can't go to the local diner, the swimming pool or even walking down the road without scores of children recognizing her, running up to her and giving her a bear hug. There are entire circles of people who only know me for who I am in relation to her. I'll admit, when she first got that position, I went the entire summer long feeling as though I were walking in her shadow, though I eclipse her by half a decade of experience. There's a reason she's so well-known and loved, though. My sister is unfailingly kind, generous with her time and attention and genuinely invested in the young people she serves. She devours books, classic television shows and the family homeplace she shares with her high school sweetheart turned husband.

Then, there's my brother. He was in middle school when I got married, so our time together as adolescents was shorter, but we're more alike than it may seem. It's from him that I got my love of folk music, thrifting and antiques. He's an avid environmentalist and programs coordinator for our local arts council. In a world obsessed with smartphones and tiny screens, he takes walks with his fiance with a dictionary in hand, discovering new words and worlds as they travel. They hike every weekend, hole up and work on crosswords at their tiny cottage in the woods and spend all the time they can in their favorite mountains. In fact, they will likely relocate there or to the west coast when they tie the knot this September. He's outdoorsy, worldly and hyper-aware of how every decision he makes affects the world.

That bring us to me. Though I'm older than both of them in age, I feel as though I fall right in the middle of my brother and sister in terms of our interests and ideals. Like my brother, I love being outside and spend as much time in nature as possible. Yet, as the mother of two, I depend on disposable diapers and eat off paper plates to save time and money. Like my sister, I love nothing more than curling up with a great book, but as a technical writer and proposal manager, my life has me behind a screen more often than not. I read on my laptop into the wee hours of the morning, though like her, I spend many hours reading board books to children myself, though it's in the comfort of my home and not the local library.

At our core, we're wildly unique but I love the common thread woven between all of us. I love that our parents treated us all the same and made sure that what they did for one, they did for another. We all grew up feeling cherished, protected and loved beyond measure and for that, I'm eternally grateful. As we grow older together, we're learning from each other, exploring each other's interests and cultivating our own personalities in the process. It's a beautiful thing, doing life with these two. Thankfully, we all live within three miles of each other, so we get to unfold daily mysteries together on a regular basis. I couldn't imagine a better way or place to live.

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