The past week has been filled with highs and lows at work and in the weather.

Three days ago, parts of Nebraska within an easy drive north of Kearney had up to 14 inches of wind-blown snow. We were on the south edge and ended up with about the same 2 inches as we had last weekend.

I was concerned enough about the Wednesday forecast that I caught a ride to work with my managing editor and his four-wheel-drive vehicle rather than risk getting my little car stuck in a wind-blown drift not visible at 6:30 in the morning or not being able to get home after work.

I would have been fine coming and going, but I did spend my first 30 minutes home removing snow from behind my garage door and at the end of the driveway, thanks to the snow plow.

The wind is always the big thing in the Great Plains, making visibility terrible during even a minor snow event and leaving areas of bare ground (street) right next to a waist-high drift. It also produces deadly wind chills. The “feels like” temperature was in the minus teens Thursday morning in some places, but reached highs in the 70s and near 80 in southern Nebraska on Friday and today.

Talk about variations of highs and lows in the weather and people’s feelings about it.

While I sometimes think it would be nice to live in a place with more moderate weather, I also wonder if people who experience similar conditions all year can fully appreciate a warm winter day or the coming of spring.

I’m in the middle of one of my most stressful times at work, which makes me frustrated, tired and, sometimes, at my wit’s end.

The Hub staff, led by business writer Mary Jane Skala, is finishing writing and photo assignments for the annual FOCUS section – business and industry – that will run one section a day over five days the third week in February. Mary Jane took the lion’s share of assignments, but the rest of us each had four or five stories.

I’ve never been a fan of special sections because we take dozens of great stories and dump them into one or multiple sections. We’re so busy working on sections that the daily content often suffers, even though we’re trying to keep up with our beats and special events at the same time as the section work.

I finally finished my five stories for FOCUS on Wednesday, which has made me late getting started on the one big section I oversee. The Salute to Agriculture special section will be published March 17, during National Agriculture Week.

I do most of the stories and ask the other reporters and freelance correspondents to do one each.

I discovered on Friday, only because I asked about the deadlines for Salute to Ag, that the ad department had moved the publication date from March 24, which was on the original schedule of the 50-plus sections we do each year, back to March 17.

An earlier deadline will really make me feel overwhelmed and cranky.

The final stories will be interesting, but I know I’ll feel like I just went through the motions. There’s not enough time to gather the information in the right way, do enough editing or even remember the details later if a copy editor-section designer asks a question.

Everyone I know in any field of professional communications feels this way sometimes, maybe even most of the time. The one positive thing I’m telling myself as I head into the teeth of the “too much to do all at once” storm is that returning to anything that remotely seems like a normal routine will be a worth celebrating.

The high of being a journalist comes when I find a great story to tell or amazing photos to take and, despite doing this work or decades, I’m still excited to see the newspaper come off the press with the end result for everyone to see.

For me, there have been enough of those days to get me through the overwhelmed times.

But for now, I’m reminded of a day years ago when I was on a treadmill at the Kearney YMCA and saw a woman I knew – went to church camp with her younger sister as a teenager – struggle on the stepper machine. She looked at me and said, “This is like hitting your head against the wall. It feels so good when you can stop.”

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