Today, it is an honor to have Stephanie Quilao as our guest writer.  Stephanie is the voice behind Back In Skinny Jeans, the wildly popular blog all about wellness on many different levels – with an emphasis on emotional wellness as a route toward a healthier body.  She is a ray of sunshine and a voice of reason in our world.   What she writes is entertaining, lively, and always thought-provoking.  Check out one of her most recent articles:  You Almighty: What Would Your Life Look Like “Wound-Free?”.

For regular updates, subscribe to her blog here, and and check her out over on Twitter as well!

Jump off the treadmill of life for a few minutes, grab a glass of water, and enjoy…

Getting The Helm Back When You’re Overwhelmed

“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” ~ Louisa May Alcott


We all have days where we feel overwhelmed. You may even feel like you’re a captain who’s lost the helm of his/her ship?  And with all this economic instability we’re going through, that overwhelmed feeling can easily grow pretty quickly with everything we have to juggle and keep up with.

However, despite this worrisome sensation, an upside is that the overwhelm feeling we’re feeling takes place in our head.  That feeling of overwhelm originated in our minds usually because of thoughts of lack. At some level, if we can create this catastrophe-like “story,” that means we can also create a new story where we get the helm back and calm the waters.  Okay, good!  So how do we do that?  Here are five ways to start:

  • The moment you are conscious of your lack thoughts, start to reason with your mind and say, “Okay, now that we have made a list of everything we don’t have or could lose, let’s take equal time to make a list of what we do have and could gain”.  It’s only fair.  Why should the lack thoughts get all the limelight?  The abundance thoughts should get equal time as well, yes?  Starting off with the lack thoughts will put you in a bad mood, but ending with the “what I have” thoughts will bring you back up so you end feeling on an up note.
  • It’s okay to say no.  That overwhelm feeling is easier to keep at bay when you set boundaries with others and take on only what you can handle at one time.  Now I know some of you have a really hard time saying no because you can’t stand to see people disappointed or you want to feel like you can always be there for your loved ones, but think about this.  If you are saying yes to others way more than to yourself, how much can you really be present for anyone (including yourself) if you are spreading yourself too thin?
  • So, you want to say no but don’t know how?  Here’s a very simple way to say no, use the economic crisis excuse.  “Oh sorry, wish I could but ya know with the economic crisis and all I’m just trying to stay afloat. Maybe next time.”.   Or “Because times are a bit tough, I have to cut back on things like…”.  The economic crisis might as well be useful for something, yes?  And besides, how can anyone argue the economic crisis card? Because of the economic crisis, everyone is pinching, cutting back, and saying no, so this gives you an easier segue to say no as well.
  • Prioritize and tackle three things at a time. Take a moment to write down everything you need to take care and then number them from 1 to the end # in order of what is most hot or pressing.  Then focus on the top 3 until completion, and then move onto the next 3 on the list. One big list can be very scary and daunting but when you break it into small chunks of 3, the list starts to look way smaller and less threatening.  Plus, as you plow through the groups of 3, you start feeling more immediate feelings of accomplishment which helps to boost your confidence.
  • Slow down!  In our instant gratification culture, it’s easy to feel like you have to have everything done right now at this very instant.  But really, does it?  All that pressure is just causing you stress.  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  So why are you putting so much pressure on yourself to get everything done at lightning speed.  Take care of the things that do need immediate attention, but if there are things that can go slower, take that time.  Runners learn the art of pacing themselves because they know if you don’t you can injure themselves or burn out of their energy supplies much sooner than expected.  So, pacing yourself is good.  The “slow down plan” can make life much more manageable.

There we have five things you can do to help you alleviate when you start to feel overwhelmed. What others things have you tried that worked for you when you started feeling overwhelmed?


by Lance Ekum on February 24, 2009 · 59 comments

Creative Commons License photo credit: kaibara87

“If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six hours sharpening my ax” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Prepare: to make ready beforehand for some purpose, use, or activity

Athletes do it.  Sports teams do it.  Airline pilots do it.  Professional speakers do it. Musicians do it.  Event planners do it.

Successful people do it.


It’s not always fun.  In fact, sometimes the hours may seem long.  And it might not feel like you’re making any progress.  Yet, success comes from preparation.  The hours you spend preparing make for more positive, more uplifting, more successful hours in the time when it counts.

Plan for Success

Part of the preparation phase is  planning for success.  This is about getting yourself into a state of belief.  Belief in yourself, and that you can accomplish the task before you.  To take this one step further, beyond a belief in yourself, it’s also believing you can be excellence.  Jennifer addresses this point very well in her post, What Reality Have You Created?, highlighted by the fact that we see exactly what we tell ourselves is real.

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe, the mind can achieve.” ~ Napoleon Hill


During your preparation, it’s important to focus.  Focus on what’s important to know and do.  Just as Mark discusses in Preparing For Your First Triathlon, focus on those things that you’ll need to do to be successful.  Work on them until you feel good about where you are.  Here, the focus is on what needs to be done.  And no matter what it is you’re preparing for, look at both the mental and physical realms that will need your focus.


Understand what you are preparing for.  Ask yourself the question “Do I know what it is I’m trying to accomplish?”.  Answer it honestly.  If your answer doesn’t make sense, or if it seems out of alignment with what you see the end result is, then focus more on understanding the scope of what you’re tackling.  Sometimes tasks/projects/games can be ambiguous.  When you encounter ambiguity, take the time to understand.  Understanding will then lead back to the focus you need to continue on.

Pace Yourself

Preparation isn’t all about seeing how fast you can get it all done.  It’s more important to focus on doing it right.    Prepare for success by pacing yourself.  This might mean going over one particular area many times, in an effort to get it “right”.  That’s okay.  Prep time is exactly for that – for smoothing out the rough edges.


If you do all the steps above, you are ready for the big “game”.  Success will be waiting for you there.  Remember also that at “game” time, as much as you’ve prepared, you may still be faced with something you hadn’t thought of.  That’s okay.  You do the best you can given what you know.  Will you succeed?  That’s a question only you can answer.  Success is waiting.  As Rupal discusses in Finding Success is a Journey, this is a journey we’re on.  And one worth keeping at.

Through it all, remember why it is you’re doing these things you’re doing.  Whatever it is, it should be something you want to do.  Evita, in her article, Human Doings versus Human Beings, says it so well – about focusing on being instead of just doing.

Be Great!

Your moment is now!  Find those things in life that have meaning to you.  And as you’re getting ready to do these things, prepare.  Prepare and put it all out there on the table.  No regrets!  This is your life.  Be great!

Creative Commons License photo credit: Alanah

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man;
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup;
And he learned too late when the night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out –
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit –
It’s when things seem worst that you must not quit.

~ Unknown

Breaking the ice
Creative Commons License photo credit: marcelgermain

“Don’t be afraid of opposition. Remember, a kite rises against, not with the wind.” ~ Hamilton Wright Mabie

Have you ever felt like things just aren’t going your way?  Sometimes just moments.  Other times, maybe days.

And you have to somehow deal with these moments before your life can move on.

This too, shall pass.

Today, I’ll share a story from this past weekend.

A busy weekend, I knew it would be.  My first year as the director of the  basketball tournament for our girls basketball program.  A great team of people had been assembled to bring this all together.  And together, it had come.  After several months of preparation, the tournament was upon us.  This would involve two days of non-stop basketball for girls in 5th through 8th grade.  Sixty four teams.  Ninety six games.   Two days.

Everything was in place.  Saturday morning came, and besides some minor scheduling issues, the day began much like I had hoped.  We were off.  And day one continued along smoothly.  Sure, there were minor hiccups along the way.  Much like life, we can plan everything out, yet things come up.  And they did.  All minor, though.  Fifteen hours after the day had begun, we headed home – weary and exhausted, yet also filled with relief in a day done and successful.

Day two.  The younger grades playing – 5th and 6th grades.  Fifth grade would be first.  And once again, the day began with minor scheduling issues, with everything else going just as planned.  And I wandered between the four courts of basketball going on, I checked in with our volunteers, I met with our referees.  And then, there I was, meeting with our volunteer coordinator (my wife) when it happened.

A coach came rushing out of one of the gym doors.  By the look, it was obvious something was wrong.  He quickly approached me, and I could easily sense his tension rising.  The referee had ejected him from the game.  For raising his arms.  And girls were getting hurt on the floor.  (Note:  I’m not here to pass judgment on who was right or wrong in this case)

I quickly went into the gym.  The game was stopped.  Coaches from both teams were out on the floor.  The two referee’s were on the floor.  The whole situation felt volatile and laced with tension.  I approached the referee.  He was visibly upset.  I had already heard the coach’s side of the story.  Now I was privy to the referee’s side of the story.  Not all that different, the two stories were.  In fact, the only real difference was whether or not the girls getting hurt was inadvertent or whether it was the result of a foul.  And we have no instant replay…

And this all leads up to…

The referee asked me to address the crowd of the team who had two players leave the game because of injuries (and the team whose coach had been ejected).  My task:  explain the rules, as the referee had called them, so there was no question as to who was getting the ball, and why this had happened.  Being this was the parents to the team with the ejected coach, and because these parents were already upset with the officiating – the referee felt it best if I addressed the parents.  There was a group of maybe 30-40 people in the stands.  This shouldn’t be too bad, right?  Just explain the rules, and move on.


As I began to address the crowd, I quickly realized the emotional state of the whole crowd.  These were their kids out there.  And they all believed the game was getting out of control.  (I have no basis for whether it was or not)  As soon as I spoke to them – I was verbally “beaten up”.  Yelling.  Screaming.  Gnashing of teeth.  Finger pointing.  Looks of disgust.  I spent a couple of minutes attempting to both explain the rules, and to calm the crowd down (it seemed like an hour).  At which point, the game began again, and I licked my wounds and moved off to the side.  I had tried to remain calm, under control, and neutral throughout it all.  Did I?  I think so, although I don’t really know for sure, it all happened so fast.

I stayed to observe the rest of the game.  It all went off without problem.  After the game, I spoke with people from both sides – in a further attempt to assess what had occurred.

The point here being that sometimes you’re going to be thrust into situations that challenge you.   I was pulled into this game, not knowing what I was getting into.  And when I addressed the crowd of people, I also did not know what to expect.  And I was beaten up.  Verbally.  And the truth is, that’s going to happen in life.  Not every moment is going to be rosy.  There will be moments when life beats you up.  When, out of the blue, you’re thrust into a situation that challenges you at many levels.


How do you deal with those moments in your life when things aren’t exactly as you’d like them to be?   What do you do when some adverse situation presents itself?  Remember that you always have a choice.  You have the choice in how to respond.  How will you?

Sunday Thought For The Day

by Lance Ekum

photo credit: Shanissinha_ “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” ~ Helen Keller

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So Much More Than A Football Game

by Lance Ekum

Note:  If you’re having trouble viewing this, click here. “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.” ~ Wayne Dyer Five minutes.  Does that seem like a long time?  Not sure you want to give up that amount of time to a video of high school football? This […]

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What Do I Know About Fabric?

by Lance Ekum

photo credit: Lucy Nieto “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” ~ Henry Miller Please join me today as I stop and watch over the fort at the Create A Balance community, while Stacey takes a few days off.  We’re talking fabric, although it has nothing to do with […]

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Sunday Thought For The Day

by Lance Ekum

photo credit: TuTuWoN “Be understanding to your enemies. Be loyal to your friends. Be strong enough to face the world each day. Be weak enough to know you cannot do everything alone. Be generous to those who need your help. Be frugal with that you need yourself. Be wise enough to know that you do […]

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by Lance Ekum

“If you don’t have a smile, I’ll give you one of mine.” ~ Author Unknown Smile – it’s good for you! Have you ever heard that?  Is it, though, really any better than a straight face, or even frowning? According to a study from the November 2004 issue of General Psychiatry, elderly people, who maintained […]

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Sunday Thought For The Day

by Lance Ekum

photo credit: dovetailphotography “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will […]

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