Below are the remaining lessons I learned or practiced over the past several weeks. I hope some of these are helpful to you as well.
1. Practice gratitude: Having gratitude for the good things, truly helps to manage the bad. While Boston was being slammed with snow storms all week, I was in a hospital room in Florida. The awesome walk from the car to the hospital — blue skies, warm sun, green palm trees — was a beautiful daily gift during my stay. I also was very thankful that my mom was alive, that heart surgery is available and that my mom could have it. The same was true with my husband—we were way beyond thankful that he was alive to deal with the pain-in-the-butt ripple effect following being robbed. Practicing gratitude helped both of us keep things in perspective.
2. Discover your mantra: Mantras are a huge source of help during times like this. Find the one that works for you. Initially we kept saying, “It could always be worse,” however, as things kept piling on, that mantra almost seemed to be testing fate — so I dropped it. When I was feeling particularly shaky, my mantra was “Keep it together” (KIT). When I would go to the worst case scenario and start thinking “What if…,,” I would stop myself and use the mantra “Stay in the present.” When it felt overwhelming, my fallback was “This is just an MIT (moment in time).” Find your mantra—it (they) will help ground you.
3. Family is a blessing: More than any other time in my life, I’m deeply aware of what a gift my family is. From my husband and children to my mother and siblings and to my in-laws and JoJo, my family is a blessing. Through work, everyday life, errands, etc., I allowed that realization to slip by. I won’t make that mistake again. No matter how annoying my family can be (and I to them, I’m sure ), I will forever remind myself that I’m lucky to have a family that cares.
4. Moving is a humungous stressor: All these events took place while we were moving. Ugh. Did I forget what a huge life stressor moving alone is! If you can avoid doing it all yourself, do so. If not, hire a company to both pack you AND move you. I promise it will be worth every dime .
5. Know your philosophy: I have two underlying philosophies that help ground me in life: “Things happen for a reason” and “There is a gift in everything that happens.” Often I have no idea what that gift is or will be, but it certainly helps me to know that somewhere in all the struggle there is a reason for it and a gift that will come out of it. Many people have philosophies different from this. Don’t worry if these two don’t work for you, but do find your own philosophy. Your philosophy will help you make sense of the crazy stuff. Even if you think life is totally random—your philosophy could be, “Life is random and things always change.” Whatever it is, make sure it is comforting to you and feels true to you.
6. When the tsunami stops, breathe and be thankful for the calm: I’m happy to say that we’ve had a quiet week…and I am soooo thankful for the calm :-).
When life throws you for a loop, your first task is to get yourself grounded so you can weather the storm. Don’t give in to the overwhelm, reactivity or spin that can happen when thrown several stressors at once. Tune into your inner strength and you will get through it.
Challenge: If you’re in the middle of struggles right now, feel free to try any and all of the tips above. Throw out or modify those that don’t help and keep those that do. If you’ve come up with your own survival lessons, please share with us. Many people go through difficult times and it’s hard to think clearly when you’re in the vortex of it all. Share your tips .