Overwhelmed and grateful with a side of exhaustion

“Breath in, breath out, peace is near.” – Breathing Makes It Better

I’ve been listening to a lot of Brene´Brown who frequently talks about shame, paradoxes and authenticity. Recently, she mentioned the idea of both/and and I can’t get it out of my head.

Both/and rings loudly in the day to day and moment to moment, however, it rings especially loud during the holidays.

Going through the holidays without loved ones is brutal. Some moments, the pain of grief feels acute and sharp. Other moments, it’s dull and subtle with even an overlay of joy and peace. How is this possible? How can I want to cry, dance, scream, laugh, yell, sing, and weep all at the same time?


As I contemplate the paradox of both/and, I find myself thinking about the following:

Both feeling intensely grateful and completely heartbroken.

Both wanting to tackle my kids and loving every single thing about them.

Both wanting it to be 7:30 so my kids are asleep and actually missing them while they sleep.

Both loving that they want to jump in every single puddle they pass and annoyed at the laundry and challenge of getting everyone dry clothes when we return home.

Both wanting that baby to sleep through the night and wanting him to stay a baby for as long possible.

Both wanting time to speed up and slow down.

Both longing for the days when I don’t have to wipe someone else’s butt and, let’s be honest — I simply can’t wait for this. No and there.

Covid has sent us a reminder that the only two certainties in life are change and death. That’s been a hard pill for me to swallow. However, it’s been just the pill I needed. It’s a reminder of life. That life is both/and. It’s magical and terrifying. It’s beautiful and challenging. It’s devastating and peaceful.

Covid has certainly altered many plans, however, life is still very much happening. People are still getting diagnosed with cancer. Babies are still being born. People are still dying in car accidents. And the dishes still need to be done.


The more I’m learning to accept both/and, the more peace I feel. Accepting I can feel both completely overwhelmed and intensely grateful at the same time. Not beating myself up for the overwhelmed part but acknowledging it and embracing it for what it is — a feeling. A dear friend gave my kids a beautiful book and I find myself needing the message more for myself than my kids. The book is called Breathing Makes It Better.

The line that is repeated over and over is “Breath in, breath out, peace is near.” This has been one of my go-to mantras. In the depths of chaos and splashed bath water everywhere, peace is near. During dinnertime silliness when no one will stay seated, peace is near. With that last ditch bedtime request for socks and Aquaphor to avoid me leaving the room, peace is near.

And in the midst of the highest highs and lowest lows this holiday season, peace is near.


  1. Hi Jenny! You r wonderful. Handling 3 little guys is more than I can imagine. All your thoughts remind me of the exact same feelings I experienced. Happy holidays! Miss you guys. Xoxo

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