DEAR HARRIETTE: I have way too much on my plate. I have a busy job. I have three kids and an injured husband. I volunteer at my church and at my kids’ school. This is what my mother did when I was growing up, so I thought that I was following in her footsteps. Honestly, I don’t know how she did it. I am exhausted, and I never seem to have time for myself -- whatever that means. I want to carve out even a little bit of “me” time, but I’m not sure how. Can you help? -- In Search of "Me" Time, Boston
DEAR IN SEARCH OF “ME” TIME: It can be tough to compare yourself to anyone else, especially your mother. You are your own person with your own abilities and limitations. Take a moment and evaluate your life. Record how you spend your days for about a week. Look for time that you may be able to spend more intentionally and for quiet moments that you can call your own.
This may require getting up a half-hour earlier than usual, before the family rises, so that you can take a bath, do some stretching, read a book, just be still. Claiming quiet moments can help you to feel calmer and more in control of your life. You may also want to make a list of your daily responsibilities so that you are clear about what has to be completed. Check off your list as you go through your day. This allows you to have some control over your activities, and it keeps you aware of what you have accomplished and what is left to be done.
Finally, even though your husband is injured, ask him to help in whatever ways he can. Ask for teamwork from him and your children. This will help you to feel less alone.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I practice meditation and do my best to stay calm in difficult situations. Lately, I feel like I am losing the battle. I have been in ugly arguments with co-workers at my job -- about legitimate issues, but I don’t like how they have gotten under my skin. I can attribute their caustic behavior to our boss, who is extremely difficult to work with. If I am honest, I have questions about her integrity. Recently, I witnessed her lying to another co-worker and then berating that co-worker for something that was the boss’s mistake. I feel like no amount of meditation can make the crazy stuff that happens at work OK. What can I do to maintain my sanity? -- Off the Edge, Brooklyn, New York
DEAR OFF THE EDGE: While meditation can be extremely helpful in stilling the mind and keeping you grounded, sometimes you need to take additional action. If you believe that you are working in a place that is unhealthy for you, you should consider working somewhere else. You don’t need to be impulsive about it, but make a plan. Consciously work to find a new place of employment that better matches your values. Until you find that new job, stay where you are.
Allow your meditation practice to help you stay strong and not take the assaults to your and others’ integrity personally. Bide your time, but prepare to leave.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)