For when you feel like Atlas


These days, on waking, my head feels so full, I wonder if it might explode. I have too much information rattling around up there, too many details and emails and plans to sort through. As gravity would have it, these details trickle on down to my shoulders over the course of the day, and by evening, I am Atlas–the weight of the world resting on my left shoulder.

My husband has the capacity to compartmentalize everything. He creates a mental filing system, from which he will access one specific file as needed. Me? Not so much. My brain mixes the ingredients for tonight’s dinner with next week’s appointments with this weekend’s train schedule with the load that needs drying with the one kid’s (bad)attitude with the shirt that needs mending with the threads of a story. My brain feels like an episode of hoarders gone awry.

Yesterday, one of my children told me they think they work harder than I do, what with the excessive rigors of school and all. And after I resisted the urge to physically maim said child, I scraped what little remained of my ego off the floor and calmly said, “Really? How many people’s lives are you currently in charge of?” Said child then deftly switched topics and asked me for some cash and permission to go shopping with it. I didn’t know whether to applaud the sheer gall of this request, or sign myself up for Parenting 101. I think I might be doing something wrong.

As if the current craziness of our lives isn’t enough, I signed myself up for a ten-week, intensive writing course. This week’s lesson asked us to draw from our deepest wounds and write from our most raw experiences. The other writers turned in work exploring subjects such as child abuse, neglect, substance abuse, and chronic illness. I turned in work exploring my eighteen year old self and writing her a letter which essentially boiled down to two utterly profound words: Chill out.

I find I still need this reminder some twenty years later, as I hoist the world onto my shoulder once again and heave under its weight.  The forgotten appointment and the lost headgear and the stains that won’t come out–this, this is life, every orbed and spinning inch of it. And I can choose to carry the weight of it, or I can choose to carry this moment. This attitude. This word. These three tender and insanity-inducing hearts.


How do you manage the fullness of life and still make room for your heart and mind to stay at rest? Seriously. I need to know.


  • Kara

    Kimberly, this is a great post. Lately I have been shouldering the weight of what is next? Where do I go? What do I do? Should I stay where I am and tough it out, or should I pray to be removed from this situation like I have the past three? Is God’s plan (or blessing) for me to remain single? If so, how do I fill or quell the lonely ache in my heart? Am I doing and being where and what God wants for me? How will I know what to do and will I be able to hear when (if) I am told?
    I guess I didn’t really help and answer your question, but I guess I would say that when all of the above overwhelms me to the point where all I want to do is sleep, and then sleep some more, I read books that others have reccomended to get outside my head and into something new and beautiful. Sometimes I call a friend on the phone or I send a note to someone who wouldn’t expect it. Little things help I guess.
    Sorry to be so long winded, I just read your post a few times and this is what came out. Thanks for writing.

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Kara, I’m so glad you’re asking the questions. No need to answer mine:) I’m praying for you today, for clarity and purpose and a supernatural lifting of this weight.

  • What a great post, Kimberly, so full of images! I love it. Did you ever see those people in Cirq du Soleil who walk and do tricks on top of a large spinning ball? I’m not sure if that’s a better posture or not . . . trying to think how you/we can reposition that ball. You’re my hero as you weave your way through moving, something we (hopefull) will be doing soon. Praying grace for you even, or perhaps especially, when your ego is on the floor:)

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Reposition the ball–you, my friend, are brilliant:)

  • Mark Allman


    The only way I have been sucessful at not being buried by the day to day muntia of life is to use a time/life management system. Franklin Covey has one that I think is more life management than time and it works great in helping to make sure you are putting your time into your highest priorities.

    Perhaps Said Child should follow you around for a day and do all you do! 🙂

    • KimberlyCoyle

      Excellent suggestion, Mark! Said Child would certainly benefit from a day in my shoes:)