Gruelling: Sometimes you just have to fasten yourself in and be prepared to hunker down when you face a storm in life. *iStock photo
Gruelling: Sometimes you just have to fasten yourself in and be prepared to hunker down when you face a storm in life. *iStock photo

I don’t know about you, but there are times in life when things seem to feel overwhelming and consequently life can seem completely out of balance. These are the times when laundry piles abound, the refrigerator becomes jungle-like and you just don’t feel on top of anything. 

I’ve just come out the other side of one of these periods. Toward the end of May it was as if an early hurricane arrived in my life throwing everything off kilter. 

Late spring, early summer is usually busy for my family anyway because we have a number of birthdays, our anniversary and of course father’s and mother’s days in there. 

On top of those events this year, life threw in two funerals, a business trip, a very busy time at work, and two different relays that I participated in.   

Can you ‘right the ship’?

This period of six weeks was gruelling. There were a lot of balls in the air to juggle and those close to me know that my nerves were more than a little shot at times. 

I kept trying to think of ways to ‘right the ship’ and asked my husband if there was something we were doing to cause this, but of course there wasn’t. Sometimes life is just like that. It will suddenly seem as though everything is out of control and then, as quickly as it came, it will go and calm will be restored.

Ride out the storm

What are the lessons to be learned from an experience like this? First, I think there is an element of simply riding out the storm. 

There are some things that are thrown into our lives that we have absolutely no control over and cannot change. In this regard, I think it is ok to let the laundry pile up, accept that you cannot manage everything and do just the critical things that allow you to get through this period.

Second, I find that when I go through a period of time like this, I go into what a friend of mind calls ‘retreat mode’.  This is when I pull away from anything that is taking time and more importantly energy from me that I no longer have to spare. Typically, I am a ‘yes’ girl like so many others I know. Without thinking I will say ‘yes’ to requests made of me and will end up very drained as a result. 

Set boundaries

Going through my recent ‘storm’ was a good reminder of one the life lessons I have learned so far which I wrote about previously. It is from Randy Pausch and he says, “The best piece of parenting advice I’ve ever heard is from flight attendants. If things get rough, grab your own oxygen mask first”. This lesson extends far beyond parenting. 

For example, there is something about being a lawyer that makes certain people around you think that they can come to you for advice any time of the day or night! While I am honoured that people value me enough to ask for my advice, sometimes the request comes at a time when I am spent and sometimes from a person who I know would never put me first. When going through my recent ‘storm’, I took the opportunity to set some boundaries and say no — I grabbed my own oxygen mask first!

In our quest for balance, we have to accept that some things are beyond our control and we just have to ‘ride the waves’. During these times, we are reminded to set some boundaries and we tend to retreat a little to conserve our energy. Then, once the dust has settled, we hit that laundry pile and start to rebuild - until the next time! 

Jennifer Haworth is an associate with MJM Limited’s Litigation & Dispute Resolution team ( She is also a wife and a mother. To send your comments or thoughts, write to Jennifer at