You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you. ~Walt Disney
Many of my friends, family and cyber-buddies have been hit with difficulties lately. In the midst of my own problems this gives me some much needed perspective on life. So much of this world and things we worry about is fleeting.
Which got me thinking: what is really worthwhile in an age of waste and disposability? I think of fine crafted furniture made of solid wood. Like my desk at home, an item that is meant to last. This hunk of wood is something I’d hide under and *believe* would survive in a nuclear fallout. It wasn’t easy to build, nor is it simple to move but still there is a beauty to this furniture. Something my $14.99 metal and plastic Ikea desk cannot emulate. I think of real food grown from soil and toil and sunshine, picked in a field nearby and eaten fresh. I think of linens that do not fray at first washing nor fade in a season.
The people I have loved have depth. Like the first woman who mentored me, Evelyn. She’d lost a husband, raised children, had grandchildren and great-grandchildren and a husband full of onery. She dealt with cancer and a family business and strife and was so wise because she had survived so much. Her wisdom sticks to me today. And in college I got to know Phil who declared at age 13 he would never take another medication again. Until he realized without medication his body would reject his transplanted heart and he would die. Phil did die, much too young, but left us music and strength beyond his 26 years.
People and things that have substance are not made overnight, not created from spit and toilet paper. Things that last require work and, as hard as it is for me to admit, trial.
Which brings me to attitude.
The greatest part of our happiness depends on our dispositions, not our circumstances. ~Martha Washington
Above all I think honesty must come first in most situations. Admitting to ourselves and each other that we’re discouraged, struggling or frustrated is an important step to overcoming trials.
Which is not to say we wallow.
For a generation that has been raised in an environment of positive self image and good self esteem (the key theme here being “self”) it’s often a kick in the pants when things don’t go MY way. So, like any great loss we need to transcend the five stages of grief.
1. Denial- this can’t be happening to me. I’m awesome!
2. Anger- it’s just not fair, this person has it in for me, they delight in making my life miserable and I’m going to kill them!
3. Bargaining- but I tried so hard, why can’t that be enough? Can’t I do that later? Just make these next ten years fly by and I’ll be happy!
4. Depression- it’s too hard, I’ll just fail. Nobody like me, nobody loves me, guess I’ll go eat some worms.
5. Acceptance- I don’t like what’s happening but I’m going to do my best to change it. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger and I am strong enough to beat this thing until it cowers in the corner sobbing.
Working our Way Out
I’m a great believer in luck and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it. ~Thomas Jefferson
So if we’re not to wallow, what to do when life kicks us upside the head? Maybe I’m entirely too rational for my own good but whenever I’m frustrated the only thing that helps (short of a good cry and pint with my friends Ben and Jerry) is to find a solution.
Need money? Find a bill to eliminate, way to earn a raise, or sell something valuable.
Overwhelmed with chores? Utilize the youngsters, cut down expectations, work more efficiently, bribe a friend or hire a house elf.
Got a challenging kid? Communicate in a new way, bribe, remind them of mutually assured destruction, research boot camps, look at baby pictures and remember how cute they were or give them away for a night.
The healthy and strong individual is the one who asks for help when he needs it. Whether he’s got an abscess on his knee or in his soul. ~Rona Barrett
From the moment we begin our training in the world pride is hailed as a virtue. We should not litter and thus have pride in our schools. We should earn good grades and be proud of our report cards. But somewhere along the way we hold onto that pride and refuse to turn to another.
Don’t be afraid to reach out, whether it’s while tossing your kid to Grandma for the weekend or asking for a shoulder to cry on.
Metal must be purified in the flames. To truely shine, impurities must be burnt away. So you may come across a friend that you reach out for and they fall short. You may find some people embody the “fair weathered friend” but you’ll also find ones who will help you in the tough times.
When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
In the end it comes down to our attitudes. Let’s try, in our times of trial, to see the light through the darkness. Because when it really comes down to it we have what it takes to make it.
If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right. ~Henry Ford
Note: I wrote this a few months ago and just stumbled up it. If I could apply this to my current state of mind I would say:
1. Denial- I walk into her room and expect Grandma to be there. I still think about her Easter gift and baking cookies.
2. Anger- I’m furious that the family she loved so much for so long neglected her health issues until it was too late and didn’t make the time to visit when she was alive.
3. Bargaining- there are so many things I wish I could go back and do again, say again.
4. Depression- I miss her laugh and how she was the only person always happy to see me.
5. Acceptance- she’s gone and in a better place. She lived a long and full life and I don’t want her to suffer needlessly. It’ll be hard but I can survive.