Between flow and overwhelm

By Katy Canete


We all have so many parts of our life to manage. If I think about all of the things I’m dealing with: finances, food, parenting, self-care, my schedule, home admin, paperwork, three separate businesses, social life…I can get a little worked up. It’s a fine-tuned machine at the moment, but not a lot of margin for anything else. Sorry, kiddo but no puppy right now.

I am constantly thinking about how to optimize my time, efficiency and energy in managing any one of these areas of my life. It’s both a gift and an over-the-top obsession of mine. I’ve learned so much about how to take it easy on myself while bettering myself, especially since becoming a single mother. In this new role, I have even less time, energy and bandwidth to work with yet need even more organization and SO much self-compassion to get through my days. People ask me often: How do you do it?



I’ve learned how to find my sweet spot in any area of my life that requires my attention and management. I take one area, let’s say: food and cooking for our two-person family.


I get clear on a few things:

  • What is my dream vision for how things would look (menu planning, shopping, prepping and eating) on a monthly, weekly and daily basis? What does it look like if I could really have it how I wanted it, totally in my flow?  Maybe just someday, maybe 6 months from now.

  • What is happening now? Honestly. What’s working and what’s not?

  • What are some realistic things I could implement that could feel really good to focus on that might make my life easier?

  • What is a practical level of imperfection or mess that I could be okay with? How much room do I have to budge before things feel overwhelming or chaotic in this area?

With these questions, I start to get a sense of a range of comfort that I feel around how things feel when I’m doing super awesome and how things feel when I start to get overwhelmed. I can look ahead at a goal and the vision for optimizing things. I can also see clearly what doesn’t work and what starts to feel stressful, like we’re getting way off track. So, in this, I see the edges of my comfort, I can find my sweet spot.


For me for example, with food, my vision ahead is WAY too amazing like this: Sundays I’ll clean out the fridge and will do a menu plan that evening based on what we have in stock, then I’ll order groceries online (I use Fred Meyer Click list where I can just go pick up the order the next day). I’ll feel good about my budget and healthy choices. I’ll stop by the store and pick up Monday morning. Monday evening I’ll spend an hour prepping a few things for the week, salads, carrots and dressings. In the mornings, I pack our lunches and prep a few things for easy dinners when I get home. I’ll do the dishes while Rio bathes and the kitchen will stay pretty clean. Right.


My realistic top range looks sometimes vaguely like this but usually way less organized, not as much of a schedule for shopping in place, and often messier than I love. I rarely actually prep my veggies for the week and default to the quickest meals you’ve ever seen because that’s just how I can roll. This is me doing my best and it feels pretty great. My kind of shitty-feeling low range is having old mysterious food in the fridge, my kitchen doesn’t feel clean, there’s not enough veggies in stock, I’m feeling uninspired about what to make for us and I end up feeling stressed then eating out to avoid the rut at home. This totally happens. It’s real life over here.


So, when I’m off, I notice that if I can note a few key habits to focus on like a nice, clean kitchen for example… I can slowly work my way back to somewhere in the middle. A little effort on one tiny thing can help me move back towards balance. It’s very usually for me a cleaner environment. If I can put a good podcast on and just start getting to it, I feel my clarity and calm seep in. I might feel more creative with what food we have, I can find a little more grace and ease in that middle ground between perfect efficiency and the overwhelm pit. It’s fun for me to find the habits and daily routines that help me to stay in some comfortable, easy, normal-range in the areas of my life that have the most effect on me. I love to develop systems, cull ideas from various sources of inspiration and then learn how to be kind with myself as I try different things out.


The most important skill I’ve learned is really to allow more mess, often WAY more mess than I’d like and notice the edge of when that mess becomes overwhelming. Then I’ve just got to get in there and put some loving attention to this process. What’s working, what’s not? Where would I love to be and where is that sweet spot that gives me some room for the natural ebb and flow of daily imperfection.


I’d love to hear what’s working for you and what’s not... comment below!


Katy Canete has been a healer and bodyworker for over 10 years. She began Rise Up Mama because she realized that she was called to help other single mamas on their journey to health, wellness and peace of mind.


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