It’s no secret; life is overwhelming, especially in this post-pandemic climate where a simple trip to the grocery store swallows almost an entire paycheck, a hearty gulp of the gas tank, and a major chunk of your precious time. Whether you work from home or commute, are single, married or otherwise, have a house full of children, or are responsible for only yourself, the growing number of everyday tasks and the demands of completing them are not only clogging our calendars and day planners but our minds. Just the other day I decided a trip to the bookstore–something I absolutely love to do–wasn’t worth the trouble.
My daily routine had me so exhausted and mentally drained that the thought of dealing with the outside world with its traffic, crowds, and short staffing was almost frightening. I spent the night wandering my house tending to menial tasks such as dusting baseboards and reorganizing my pajama drawer. I didn’t have to put on makeup to do that. Didn’t have to change out of my sweats to do that. Heck, I didn’t have to shower to do any of that. When my friend Lisa came home, she was surprised to see me.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, knowing I had planned on going to the bookstore and writing. I shrugged. “I just couldn’t.”
That’s right. I just couldn’t. The whole thing just seemed too overwhelming. I saw myself sitting in traffic. Finally arriving and not being able to find a seat. Then discovering not only were they out of apple cider, but had sold the final copy of the book I was hoping to read.
“Why didn’t you just Ross It?”
Ross It is a term Lisa and I came up with when I was preparing to attend one of my first writer’s conferences. I woke up that morning completely panicked. The event was taking place at a hotel in the city, where I was terrified to drive. What if I got lost? What if I couldn’t find parking? What if parking was too expensive? Then there was the conference itself. I had booked some one-on-one time with three agents. What if I came across as amateurish? If I got tongue-tied? If I flubbed my pitch? What if the outfit I’d chosen didn’t reek of confidence and success? What if none of the other writers in attendance wanted to eat lunch with me?
“I’m not going,” I announced, walking into Lisa’s room, still in my pajamas.
“Okay, yes you are.”
“No, I’m not.”
After a few minutes of going back and forth like kids in the schoolyard, Lisa said, “Remember that Friends episode where Chandler runs away on his wedding day?”
Yes, yes I did.
“Remember when Ross walked him through all the steps it would take to get him to the altar, and how each step, taken one at a time, wasn’t so scary? You can do that, right?”
And then, just like Ross guiding Chandler, my best friend walked me through the non-challenging baby steps to get me where I needed to go. Like Chandler, it started with a shower. Then I got dressed, applied makeup, and put on the necklace my Aunt Darth gifted me that says create. Next, I programmed the location of the venue in my GPS. I got a protein bar and a bottle of water from the kitchen, I packed a bag of books and my laptop, and on it went until I was out the door, on my way to the conference. Thus, the act of Ross It was born.
The principle of “Rossing” doesn’t apply only to major events such as weddings, conferences, and social gatherings where we’re called upon to present our best selves. Many times, I have to remind myself to Ross It just to get through a particularly hectic day. Have you ever found yourself at the office getting worked up over the remainder of your evening? Preparing dinner and after-meal cleanup, helping the kids with their homework and bedtime rituals, setting yourself up for the coming day? All of that can be extremely daunting when looked at as one huge task. But breaking it down into its parts can ease the anxiety and actually help with getting everything accomplished. The first step is getting in your car and driving home. Don’t jump ahead to helping your daughter with her algebra. You can physically conquer only one step at a time; why burden your mind with the impossible task of handling them all at once?
Sometimes the smallest things in life, the things that seem so simple, the daily challenges or even a routine we’ve done millions of times, can seem so overwhelming when we think of getting ourselves directly from point A to point Z. When this happens, when we rush through or even overlook steps B-Y, sometimes we end up with the result of never making it past point A. Even on those unscheduled days when we’re faced with a seeming black hole of time yawning before us, we can end up unsure of how to fill it and frozen into non-action by the fear of squandering it. Some of us fall back on work, chores, or waste time on our phones or sitting in front of the television.
Don’t lie in bed burdening your mind with planning an entire day. First step, get up. Second step, stretch and take a deep, cleansing breath. Sip some coffee, and eat some breakfast at the table. Then you’re ready to check emails, schedules, movie times, and that sale they’re having at your favorite bath or home store.