The rainbow after the storm

The rainbow after the storm. (DALL-E generated.)

It all started slowly and innocently enough, like the first drops of a rainstorm.

I mean, it’s only natural for things in life to break sometimes, and need fixing and maintenance, right? Routine dental cleanings sometimes lead to fillings or reveal the need for root canals and crowns. It’s not just me. The older people (and pets) get, the more extra medical attention they need. Appliances and parts of the house also get older and start to wear out. Cars need to be kept in good working order.

But after a few weeks these demands usually let up and allow one to return to a normal routine. Right?

Not this time:

  • My fridge is out… again?!
  • My 20-year-old washing machine is fine, but the drain is blocked and now I need a plumber?!
  • A raccoon jumped from a fence to my gutter and yanked it clean off the roof?! (I was there when it happened.)
  • What do you mean I need a new car? This one’s only 20 years old!
  • The physical therapist I’ve been waiting weeks to see is on medical leave?!
  • I need PT twice a week, but I can’t get another appointment for a month?!
  • How did I manage to lock myself out of my own website?!
  • They kept my CPAP machine for 8 months (no typos; they gave me a loaner but I had to talk them into it) and still managed to return it to me with the wrong settings?
  • My 20-year-old office chair is falling apart? (Do I detect a pattern here?)

The rainbow after the storm

All of this (and more) has been happening against the backdrop of a loved one’s suffering, and the eventual, inevitable, final end of their life. Which happened on Saturday.

Wait…was that part of the storm? Or was it the rainbow?

No, seriously, I think I can feel the storm clouds lifting as I type.

Returning to normal

What is a normal routine for a retired organizer, anyway? Well, for me it usually involves making progress on personal projects like genealogy research and organizing Mom’s Boxes. Maybe blogging or working on a new book. Taking care of things that aren’t emergencies, but could become emergencies if neglected for too long. But lately my biggest accomplishment has been to binge watch 4-1/2 seasons (so far) of the 30-year-old TV show Northern Exposure (for the first time). Reminds me of the early days of the pandemic when I watched Dawson’s Creek (nearly as old, and also for the first time). When the going gets tough, the tough watch guilt-free TV!

I know what will help:  Getting Back on Track (A version of this post — plus the Getting Back on Track flow chart — is included in my book: Go With the Flow! The Clutter Flow Chart Workbook.)

Déjà vu

But wait — haven’t I been here before? What did I do about it last time? Did I write about it? Of course I did!

As my organizing and writing colleague Shawndra Holmberg says, and most bloggers will agree: “When life gives you lemons, write a blog post.”

A search of my website turned up a couple of favorites:

Here’s another time I wrote about a storm: Are you feeling adrift too? (We were not all in the same boat during COVID, but we were all weathering the same storm.)

This time around I also asked ChatGPT:

Hazel: I have been overwhelmed lately with so many appointments — home repair, medical, dental, etc. What do you suggest for staying organized while keeping my spirits up?

ChatGPT: (It provided a perfectly serviceable blog-length reply with opening and closing paragraphs.)

Hazel: That’s good. Could you make it shorter?

ChatGPT: Absolutely! Here’s a condensed version:

    1. Centralize scheduling: Use one calendar for all appointments to avoid confusion.
    2. Prioritize and batch tasks: Group similar appointments together for efficiency.
    3. Set realistic expectations: Don’t overload yourself; it’s okay to delegate or ask for help.
    4. Prioritize self-care: Schedule regular breaks and celebrate small victories.
    5. Stay flexible: Adapt to changes and unexpected events with an open mindset.

Remember to be kind to yourself and seek support if needed.

Thanks, Chatty G! (As my colleague Jamie Steele calls it.)

(Publicly-accessible generative AI has come a long way since last year, but this is still a good introduction, if you want one: An “Interview” with ChatGPT.)

It’s not a contest

Fortunately, it’s not a contest. Still, I counted up my appointments so far this year to make sure I wasn’t making a mountain out of a molehill. There have been 29 such appointments, which is at least 20 more than usual for only a few months in. This does not count my monthly house cleaning and occasional yard work appointments. It also does not count the time spent online and on the phone figuring out insurance and scheduling issues. Not to mention the expenses involved. (None of the appointments were income-producing.)

Not only is that list not comprehensive, it is (seemingly) never-ending.

Troubles ebb and flow, and I’m writing this post partly because I suspect I have readers who can relate.

Is that you?

Are you OK?

Never underestimate the value of a good cliché

Cliché (Oxford dictionary): a phrase or an idea that has been used so often that it no longer has much meaning and is not interesting.

I’m the sort of person who believes things will work out. Not magically, or immediately, but generally speaking, with a little preparation and a little faith.

While these paraphrased cliches may be overused, that doesn’t mean they’re not true and helpful:

  • When it rains it pours. (Don’t forget, that goes for good things, too!)
  • After the storm, look for the rainbow.
  • There is always, always something to be grateful for.
  • First come the rains, then the flowers.
  • This, too, shall pass.
  • Ride the wave. (The wave of emotions, that is. I’m linking to a source in case you are unfamiliar with this one.)
  • Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger (or makes a good blog post).


How do YOU stay organized and keep YOUR spirits up when you are overwhelmed?

What is your favorite cliché, or saying, or bible verse, or song, for hard times?

Do you see something here (or in one of the links) that helps you?

Please share with us in the comments below!




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  1. Janet Barclay on April 22, 2024 at 12:20 pm

    Hazel, I’m so sorry you’re going through all that right now! You’ve included two of my favourite sayings here:

    “This, too, shall pass.”
    “Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

    As well, I’ve always believed that God won’t send us more than we can handle.

    • Hazel Thornton on April 23, 2024 at 2:26 pm

      Thanks, Janet!

  2. Seana Turner on April 22, 2024 at 12:42 pm

    I’m laughing about “Chatty G!” That’s so great.

    I think keeping that positive mindset is everything. Hope is what keeps us going. It is critical.

    The most helpful thing for me when I feel overwhelmed is to focus on gratitude (to settle my mind and put my problems in perspective), pray (for guidance, discernment, stamina…), and then plan. Planning helps me calm down. Planning helps me break the giant into smaller pieces, and identify at least one “next step” that I can take. Then, if I follow through with that one next step, I can relax a bit because I’ve done something other than fret.

    I allow myself to feel my feels, but I also hate wallowing in them. Frankly, it’s unpleasant when it goes on too long.

    Lastly, sunshine always helps me. I think I might be a plant underneath this human shell LOL!

    (On a personal note, sorry for all the hassles and issues. That stuff does seem to come in clumps, which is just “ick.”)

    • Hazel Thornton on April 23, 2024 at 2:26 pm

      Your process sounds much like mine (although I didn’t really say so in the post). Meanwhile, hmmm….sunshine….what a concept! (We have plenty of it. I should go outside more often.) Thanks for chiming in!

  3. Jonda Sue Beattie on April 22, 2024 at 2:33 pm

    Wow! So many things at once. I can relate to this blog, but the house repairs have been more spread out. I wish you had a video of that racoon!
    One of my favorite sayings is, “If you are going through hell, keep going.”
    I am finding that the longer sunnier days are uplifting.
    What keeps me organized when things go wrong is my routines. I have had to adjust them to meet our current situation, but I just keep setting more timers and keep on going. After a while, it just becomes the new normal.
    I also find that having a tribe who can relate and understand is huge.

    • Hazel Thornton on April 25, 2024 at 8:33 am

      Hi Jonda, your saying about going through hell reminds me of another one, but I can’t quite remember how it goes. I’ll return here when I do. Meanwhile, thank you for your suggestions!

  4. Shawndra on April 24, 2024 at 7:11 am

    My husband and I started Northern Exposure too (or rather re-watching together)! And thanks for introducing me to Odds Are We’re Gonna Be Alright.

    My motto “I’ll burn that bridge when I get to it.”
    It’s not a cliche but rather a mish mash of “crossing that bridge when you get to it” and the story about “an explorer burning the ships they came on so that they HAD to work to survive the new environment” — when everything seems to be piling on, and I start thinking about the other things coming my way I tell myself – it’s just a reminder to focus on the thing in front of me.

    • Hazel Thornton on April 25, 2024 at 8:38 am

      Thanks for your comment, Shawndra!

  5. Jill Katz on April 28, 2024 at 6:46 am

    Wow, I really relate to your heartfelt blog post. I have been going through some things, as of late. I related to having mantras and phrases to tell myself as well as the perspective that I have gotten through some tough times. I am learning that setting realistic expectations and being kind to myself are also important concepts.

    Thank you for sharing. I hope you sail through this tough period and get to the rainbow real soon!

    • Hazel Thornton on May 3, 2024 at 9:17 am

      Thanks, Jill! I wish the same for you.

  6. Candice on May 1, 2024 at 12:15 pm

    Great post. I can relate to a lot of the suggestions. I make a gratitude list every night and read inspirational literature to start the day among other things. Over time, however, I’ve realized that I function better if I take anti- anxiety medication. It helps me a lot, especially in hyper-busy times. I’ve finally overcome the stigma of needing to take meds to balance my emotions and am a better person for it.

    • Hazel Thornton on May 3, 2024 at 9:27 am

      Thanks, Candice! I’m glad you found what works for you. (Sometimes it’s a few different things, in combination.) I don’t really know the difference between anti-anxiety meds (which I don’t think I’ve ever taken) and anti-depressants (which I have taken in the past). And, of course, there’s a difference between chronic anxiety/depression and situational anxiety/depression. But, in general, I don’t see the need for drugs as being any different from needing glasses to see or crutches to walk.

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Go With the Flow! (The Clutter Flow Chart Workbook)

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Hung Jury: The Diary of a Menendez Juror