Fighting Overwhelm (+ Getting Ready For A Black Tie Affair in a Tire Kingdom Bathroom)

Happy Tuesday, my friends! 

Truthfully, I’m writing to you today instead of yesterday because I came down with a nasty cold this weekend and I was pretty much out of commish all day yesterday. 

(Turns out, flying cross-country, getting 10 hours of sleep total in three days, then flying back to Florida only to wake up the next morning and drive 4 hours to your best friend’s wedding where you again get no sleep and consume, perhaps, an atypical amount of champagne is NOT a recipe for a strong immune system. WHO KNEW?!)

Thankfully, my Theraflu brain still had the wherewithal to recall that yesterday was MLK day, alerting me to the fact that many of you were probably avoiding your inbox at all cost, so hey, it all worked out. 

Now, if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the first few paragraphs of today’s post (I know I am just typing it…) then that means my devious plan is working and you’re now in a great head space for this week’s topic: overwhelm

We’ve all been overwhelmed at some point, right? A to-do list a mile long. Flagged emails out the wazzoo. Big dreams of changing the world, but no idea where to start. 

And it seems we never have control over when that crushing realization of overwhelm hits. For me, I’ll be in my groove, grinding along, crossing things off my list, and then I step off the metaphorical treadmill for one second just to catch my breath, and that’s when the walls start closing in and those negative whispers in my head become suddenly louder, saying “There’s no way you’re going to get all of this done…”

Been there, yes?

Well, I learned myself a nice little life lesson about overwhelm just this Saturday and I’d like to share the story with you now.

** WARNING to my skimmers out there: It’s a little long, but it involves getting ready for a black tie affair in a Tire Kingdom parking lot, so I promise it’s worth the read… **

This past Saturday, one of my best friends, Sam, was all set to get married in Palm Beach in a gorgeous, black tie wedding at the Flagler Museum.

I had just returned Friday night from a three-day work trip to Phoenix, and the plan was to meet up with my best friend, Britt, to drive down to the wedding together.

We rendezvoused in Jacksonville at 10:30am, filled her tank up with gas and hit the road. The trip began like any other bestie road trip - jamming out to our favorite songs from college, catching up on the latest life happenings, and deeply contemplating the pros and cons of me debuting the bright red lip stain I’d recently purchased at Sephora. We timed the trip intentionally so that we had plenty of time to check-in at our hotel, shower and get ready in the room, and catch the bus that was hired to transport people to the wedding venue.

That is until fate stepped in.

Driving about 70mph in the left lane, suddenly we both heard a rapid thumping noise from under the car, paired with a noticeable thumping under both our seats. In a split second, Britt and I looked at each other, and I calmly said “Britt, that’s definitely a flat, pull over to the right lane.” (Let it be known that I’m not a calm person, so I’m pretty sure some sort of temporary angel appeared and took over my body for a second to get us to safety.) With laser-focus precision, Britt calmly pulled to the shoulder of the highway and we carefully stepped out of the car to assess the damage. Her front right tire was completely flat. 

For one moment, it seemed to hit both of us just how much of a setback this would be in our plan. My mind was wandering off to different scenarios, most of them ending with us waiting by the side of the road for a tow truck to come just as Sam was walking down the aisle.

Thankfully though, we both only entertained these thoughts for less than a minute before we snapped into action, ready to do whatever it would take to make that wedding. Britt started hunting for her AAA card while I called Jason (expert on car-related things and taking action in general) to see what he thought our best course of action was. Turns out, Britt’s AAA card was expired, but Jason had given us the idea to call Roadside Assistance on her insurance card. Meanwhile, I located Britt’s car manual and began trying to remove what we’d need to change the tire from her trunk. There was no time to think; only time to act. 

Roadside Assistance said they’d be on their way but it would take probably an hour to get someone to us. We didn’t have time for that, so Britt and I resigned ourselves to the fact that we’d have to change this tire ourselves. With donut and tools removed, the only thing standing between us and removing that tire was the jack, which seemed to be literally fused to the metal of her trunk. Nothing we tried seemed to budge it, and that’s when I looked up to find our kind roadside angel, Johnny, walking toward us from his car, which was pulled over in front of us. 

“Do you ladies know what you’re doing?” he asked. I forgave the borderline-sexist presumption that laced the question because No, Johnny, no we most certainly did not know what we were doing.

Johnny came complete with his own jack, his own tools, and a paternal warning to pay attention in case we ever found ourselves in this situation again. We paid attention. 

Not even 15 minutes later, the donut was secure and on the car, and, naively, I thought we were out of the woods. That is until we noticed the donut was so low on air that it looked flat itself. (It had been resting peacefully in the back of Britt’s car for over 6 years.) Johnny recommended we buy a new tire if we had any hope of making it the 100 miles down to Palm Beach and back the following day.

Buy a new tire?! Things were getting complicated.

Still, we pressed on, mapping the closest tire shop, but first getting ourselves to the closest gas station to fill up the donut so we had any hope at all of even making it to the tire shop. We had to drive about 15 mph, for fear we’d pop the donut too, leaving us completely stranded, and if you want to talk about lessons in keeping your cool, try peering into your side mirror to see the angry faces of a dozen drivers backed up behind you. 

As Britt filled up the donut, and Johnny gave us our final send off (he’d kindly followed us to the gas station to make sure we arrived okay) I began calling the nearest tire shops. Tires Plus told me coldly that it would be close to a two-hour wait for a new tire (not an option if we had any last hope of making the ceremony.) My second call to Tire Kingdom connected me to Paul who told me it would still be an hour and a half, but I heard a kindness in his voice that let me know he might be willing to take pity on us. I gave him the two-minute version of our saga, pleading with him to see if there was anything he could do to speed things us. “Come on in, I’ll do my very best to fit you in between jobs.” 

Yes! New tire: Check. Now, to get down to the business of getting ready for a black tie wedding at a Tire Kingdom. Looking at the clock, it was clear we weren’t going to have time to get ready at the hotel, but there was still a chance we could make the ceremony if Paul held up his end of the bargain. Thankfully, I’d showered that morning but I was in sweats with a completely bare face. Britt, on the other hand, was rocking some post-workout sweaty hair that needed some immediate attention. As we thanked Paul for the hundredth time, Britt jokingly asked, “You don’t have any showers around here, do you?” and Paul responded without hesitation, “Well, there’s a hose around back…” Britt and I looked at each other, shrugged, and carried our bags of toiletries to the parking lot in the back where we saw the lone hose laying on the ground. 

I held it with my left hand while Britt bent over with her hair hanging down, as I squirted shampoo and conditioner into her palm with my right hand. Possibly one of the funniest things I’ve seen in my life is Britt, fully clothed, with a rich lather going in this empty parking lot behind Tire Kingdom. 

Next up, makeup. We propped the one-stall bathroom door open with one of our bags, took over a surge protector next to the vending machine, and as Britt cranked on her hair dryer, I did my best upscale-evening-smokey-eye look under the glaring fluorescent light of the Tire Kingdom bathroom. Now with freshly washed, voluminous hair, Britt moved on to makeup as I straightened my hair in the reflection of the vending machine (there was no mirror in reach from the power outlet.) We moved back and forth like a well-oiled machine. And just as Britt bobby-pinned her final curl into place, Paul came to our back lair (at this point the waiting area looked more like a sorority house) dangling Britt’s keys indicating we were ready to go. 

Britt paid for the new tire, and we thanked all the shop men as we threw our bags in the car and quickly mapped our destination on my phone. It was 4:00 on the dot, and according to the map we were an hour and 45 minutes away. The bus was to leave the hotel at 5:45 sharp, so quite literally we had not a minute to waste. Too afraid that we’d be stopped for a ticket and still shaken from the tire fiasco, Britt kept a brisk-but-legal pace as I obsessively checked the clock winding down on our Google Maps route. 

Realizing there was no way we’d have a chance to change into our dresses, we decided we’d have to change en route to the hotel. We coasted down the highway, and I did my best quick change move into my strapless, black, floor-length gown. As I tried to zip it up myself, my clasp broke (because OF COURSE my clasp broke) but Britt was able to securely zip me up without it. Then, on to Britt’s quick-change. I held the wheel while she slipped her purple gown over her head and shimmied it down her body. We both burst out laughing. Fifteen minutes until we were to arrive at the hotel and it was 5:30pm on the dot. We seriously might make it, we thought.

We pulled into the Hyatt Place parking lot to see the buses loaded and running, with people still boarding. We decided in an instant that she’d run in to grab a parking permit and I’d stall them as long as I could. I quickly asked the driver, “My friend’s inside getting a permit. She’ll be right out.” “Okay, but she better hurry,” he said, and I breathed a sigh of relief as I thought we had actually pulled it off. One last group boarded the bus, but I didn’t see Britt. The bus was so quiet you could hear a pin drop, but everything inside me was tense. Then, suddenly, I felt the bus slowly roll forward and realized, he’s leaving without her. If Britt and I had made it all this way together and I managed to get to the ceremony and she didn’t, I never would have forgiven myself. Instinctively, I stood up and yelled, “Stop the bus!!!!” I kid you not, it felt like I was in a movie. I didn’t think I had it in me. I made a beeline for the front of the bus, blissfully unaware of just how crazy I looked to all the other passengers, and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Britt sprinting toward the bus door. 

She dove through the door and up the stairs, and we sheepishly walked back to take our seats on the bus. We both sat down, looked at each other, and started laughing hysterically as we tried to explain the ordeal to the people around us. 

(For those interested in how our final look came together, the photo below is us at the reception. Britt is second from the left and I'm on the far right. Emboldened by the fact that we made it, I did in fact opt to go with the red lip.) 

So, now that you’ve read my first novel, here’s the moral of the story: 

If we had spent one single minute more during the course of our saga thinking instead of acting, we would not have seen our best friend walk down the aisle in the most beautiful wedding ceremony I’ve ever attended. Literally, we made it without a moment to spare.

There were so many moments throughout that whole shenanigan when it seemed impossible that we’d make it to the wedding. When it seemed like there were an infinite number of steps to get to our final goal of seeing our beautiful friend say I do. But instead of focusing on the overwhelming reality of the odds stacked against us, throughout the whole thing we both made the decision to ask ourselves one simple question: “What’s our next move?”

What’s the next immediate action you can take to get to your goal? 

Every single time we hit a roadblock in our march toward our goal (the stuck jack, the flat donut, the Tires Plus wait, the lack of shower) we took one step back and chose a different move. But we never stopped moving. 

It’s no secret that life and business can get overwhelming sometimes. But the more you can shift your focus away from the SUM of everything and instead focus on the individual parts and pieces, the more you’ll be able to push through. 

This week, your challenge is to get ready for a dinner party in a Tire Kingdom bathroom. HA! Just kidding. 

This week your challenge is to take one goal or area of your life that you find overwhelming, and break it into bite-sized pieces.

Write those tiny baby steps down and ask yourself what one thing is your next move. Then go make that goal happen, one move at a time. 

If you made it this far, I commend you because I know this was a long one! 

If you need me, I’ll be here, throwing back ungodly amounts of Theraflu and tissues. :)

Have an awesome week! 

 

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