It’s no secret that the world is hurting right now, and our little piece of it here in the U.S. is not immune. I don’t feel capable of listing all of the difficulties many of us are currently facing because we all have our own unique challenges. (Writing those words reminds me of a line Robin Williams once borrowed from Ian Maclaren…. “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be Kind. Always.”)

That saying is a nice reminder to slow down, take a breath, and not be so judgmental. To think a little deeper than an Instagram pic or a 140 character post. Because those challenges are real, and they need to be handled. (Notice I didn’t say we have to “deal” with them. You can choose to handle a challenge, or you can simply “deal with it.” Two completely different approaches, the former more healthy than the latter.)

I thought I’d continue with my theme of how I personally handle my day-to-day stresses. I don’t always have the time it takes to get out on the river and chase bald eagles, or to see what treats are on my trailcams. But I have no excuse not to spend a few quiet moments a day with today’s topic…my shrimp tank!

Surprise seems to be the most frequent reaction when it comes up in conversation that I have an aquarium full of shrimp. Fish are much more common, and I’ve had plenty over the years, but these shrimp have really struck a chord with me. I find it super-relaxing to sit and watch them go about their business, without a care in the world.

These past few weeks have been especially fascinating, as my Red Cherry Shrimp couple hatched 14 babies… instantly doubling the total inhabitants of my tank! A fun fact about shrimp is that upon birth the parents’ responsibilities are over! The little ones are on their own to face the world. I’d say it’s a good thing then that once they break out of the egg they are fully functioning little mini-me’s. They can swim and eat and climb just like the adults. It has been fun to watch them grow and fill in with varying degrees of red coloring.

Sitting for a few moments and watching them is one more activity that helps me be the best person I can be. It acts as a form of meditation that relieves stress and lets me temporarily forget about the challenges of the day. It’s funny, as I watched them the other morning and the topic for this writing came to mind, I contrasted the worries that the mother shrimp has with the rest of us. She just had at least 14 babies, but she doesn’t have to worry about how high grocery prices are today. She doesn’t need to plan for how to get 14 kids through college, nor finding a home with mortgage rates at 7%. She doesn’t need to go buy a new vehicle with prices sky-high or draft an estate plan that divides her little piece of the tank fairly. She doesn’t seem to have a care in the world, and I envy her for it. She just lives in this utopia of plentiful food, perfect temperatures, no predators, and several friends and family. I wish we could all be so lucky.

For it’s all those worries that she does not have that I need to bare when I’m helping a family through financial planning. Crunching the numbers and building the deliverables is methodical, but then teaching my findings when families futures are at stake is a responsibility I take seriously. Now, I’m not saying my stresses are any worse than the engineer who toils over the load-weighting on a busy bridge, or the teacher who struggles with how to get through to a troubled student. These just happen to be my challenges, and a couple ways I’ve found to help me handle them. We all need to keep grinding, be we also need to take care of ourselves to be the best that we can be.