Everyone knows stress is bad for you.  You can physically feel it, you can see it manifest itself in weird ways like hair falling out, breaking out, etc, it can make your joints hurt, affect your sleep...and it's actually killing you.

I handle stress horribly.

I can't even say that I try too hard to control it.

But - I read a couple of things today and it has really affected me in a real way. The first:

Start making your own happiness a priority.

As a mother, daughter, partner, and business owner - I'm stretched really thin. Add in the fact that I have an EXTREMELY blended household complete with raising a 15 year old that I didn't have the luxury of knowing since birth, my parents, an 11 year old who is having identity issues, a 14 year old boy who (I feel) lives to drive me insane with constant arguing, and 2 obnoxiously crazy dogs that go nuts when a leaf hits the ground.

I worry about EVERYTHING and EVERYONE. CONSTANTLY.

I have completely lost my sense of self - again. I thought I had lost and then found myself after my marriage ended years ago. But I realize now that I really didn't give myself any time to just BE. 

I got a dog within a month of my ex-husband moving out. I took in my parents within 6 months. I moved the household in 18 months. 

I had three years of such high level stress as my marriage was ending, finally got to the point where it ended, and then have been moving at warp speed ever since.

And not because it necessarily has to go at warp speed. I've created this madness all on my own because:

- I need the kids to do extremely well in school and constantly manage them so that they have the best opportunities laid before them

- I push, push, push in my business because I have so many people to take care of and, honestly, I really LOVE what I do - but the joy and fulfillment I once got from it is dwindling because MY expectations, MY needs for it to be a success (what does that even mean??), is overshadowing the soul-filling goodness it once provided

- I moved into our new home a year ago in July and I needed everything to be perfect like, NOW. Because that's what makes me feel less stressed (???)

- I need EVERYONE to be happy 

What the actual hell.

The second thing I read today that spoke to my very being was:

Being driven is overrated; you function best in an environment of freedom and intelligence.

I grew up in a very driven household. My dad escaped religious warfare in his motherland, put himself through school, immigrated to the US, and became a nuclear engineer. My mother, who was never allowed to do much of anything as a young girl, ran our household like a champ (while having a number of jobs that she could never really build a career on because we were constantly moving - but she did this with grace). My sister has her PhD AND went to law school and is a biotech patent attorney.  

And then there is me. 

And I'm not down on myself. I'm happy with the choices I made {for the most part}. But in all the things I do, I'm driven. And I feel this quote so much beause being driven IS overrated. I feel like I said this through my entire adolescence and some where along the line I lost it amongst the chaos of having to be successful.

And...I'm done with it.

I need to change things for myself, or I am seriously going to keel over dead.

So here's what I'm going to do:

- I am going to starting making MY HAPPINESS a priority. This doesn't mean I stop fulfilling my responsibilities as a mom, daughter, or partner - it just means that when I start feeling overwhelmed - I WALK AWAY. I go sing in the shower, I go take a walk on my property, I hide in my office and make something. I separate myself and regroup. I deserve that. I've earned it.

- I am going to allow myself to enjoy what I do, again.  When you are in a creative business, you start out with all sorts of energy and ambition. You want to make, do, create any and all things. Then you realize that you have to make a profit to continue doing these things.  And then it sucks the joy out of it. 

But - the magic is that creativity can be replenished. It just takes some self-care. And my self care in this regard is going to come from allowing myself to be free.  Yes, I still need to pay the bills, but that worry, those fears of not being able to 'make it' shouldn't paralyze me. I'm giving myself permission to just go for it. Put my heart back in it and let things fall into place.

I know this isn't going to happen overnight. But, I'm telling you: just the act of typing these declarations out, I feel a shift. And that is an amazing start.

Talk to me, tell me what you do to de-stress, change your ways, focus on yourself. I want to know <3