This morning I had a bit of a hiccup with my first grader. As she inspected the lunch that I had made for her, she announced that she no longer likes the vegetarian chicken nuggets that have been the main staple of her diet, for the last 4 years. I calmly told her that, after all, she has loved these little morsels for 2/3 of her life, there are only 5 foods on this planet that she will eat, and 6:45am on a school day is not a good time to have a taste bud revolution. She listened and thought for a moment. She then looked at me and sweetly retorted with just a smidge of condescension; “Mama, don’t you know? People change.”

I looked at her, lost in the sincerity of her face. At a loss for words, I was all at once, impressed, frustrated and filled with a sense of inadequacy. I tried to solve the problem by reasoning with her. But, I was not in the frame of mind to do that and none of my strategies were working. Eventually, she went skipping off to the living room to play with the dog and I slumped upstairs to get dressed. I felt overwhelmed with the crushing responsibility of identifying yet another nutritious food that my daughter might accept. Like a football coach accepting defeat as my team of chicken nuggets were sent shuffling back to the locker room. The weight of the problem seemed insurmountable. Why was this so upsetting?

Was it me? (Yes dear, I’m afraid so.)

I went to my room and closed the door. That was smart. I took a breath. Yes I needed that. I gave myself a 5 minute time out. Good choice. And just as I was beginning to feel calmer, I decided to weigh myself.

What? I stared at the numbers on the scale. They were mocking me, as they expanded, billowing out like huge unmanageable clouds of fat. Suddenly, my fragile peace of mind was gone. I stepped into the shower 5 lbs heavier than I was when I woke up that morning. I wanted to cry.

Was it me? (Um… I’m afraid so.)

My mood worsened when got out of my 3-minute shower to find that the children had not made any progress in their morning routine. We only barely managed to gather ourselves together in time to make a dead run to the car armed with full cereal bowls, socks, shoes, backpacks, lunches and musical instruments. Somewhere between the garage and the school yard, the kids would have to get dressed and fed on their own.

As I negotiated the well known short cuts on our drive to school and began to make up time, I felt myself relaxing. The children were laughing with each other and I could see that we would arrive on time. That would have been a great time to enjoy the absence of chaos, in blissful silence. But instead, I chose that moment to announce that I had an unexpected business meeting that evening and their least favorite babysitter would be staying with them. I was immediately enveloped with whining and complaining. How did this happen? What was I thinking? Was it me?

Yes, it was and is me, when I allow myself to get off-balance and out of synch. When I lose sleep or forget to take care of myself, I no longer address issues with a holistic approach. Instead of being a creative problem solver, I am like a crazed carpenter with only a hammer in my tool box. I make a lot of dents!

If I take care of myself, I can have a very successful conversation about chicken nuggets. I can weigh myself and accept the results as a challenge. I can get the kids into the car with shoes on and tummies full. I can even find a good time to break the babysitter news. When I have all the tools at my disposal, I’m pretty darn good at dealing with life’s little issues. That is me. Is it you too?


1. Identify a menu of self-care items that create balance for you. Maybe you like to take a walk, go to the beach, read the paper with a cup of tea or take a bath. You are not doing anyone a favor by skipping your self-care. Put it in your calendar and consider it as important as grocery shopping, calling the plumber and fixing your daughter’s Halloween costume.

2. Make a list of 5-minute fixes you can do for yourself in an emergency. Go to the bathroom and lock the door, call your best friend, read a tabloid magazine or eat a gooey chocolate.

3. Notice what you do when you are not in balance and gently help yourself to stop the behavior. When I am out of synch, I have a tendency to put my foot in my mouth. When I notice myself getting out of balance, I try to stop talking. How do I know when that is? Because I hear myself asking “Is it me?” I’m afraid so.

Author's Bio: 

I work with busy, high powered women who are exhausted and over-committed. Through coaching, my clients take actions with ease and produce tangible results in all areas of their lives.

Prior to becoming a coach, Ms. Tenzer worked as a talent executive and producer in the television industry. During those years, she found that one of the most meaningful aspects of her work was the opportunity to coach her team members and colleagues as they faced and overcame challenges in the workplace.

It was this enthusiasm for coaching that inspired her in 2001, to establish Life Works Coaching, a company dedicated to serving busy women.

Ms. Tenzer is a busy woman living in Los Angeles with her husband and three children.

Member: International Coaching Federation, Producers Guild of America, Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.