It finally happened. For a year, volatility at my husband’s company gave us one scare after the other, and today he called to tell me he lost his job. His calm, gentle voice on the other end of the line, asking me how I was doing, made me cry more than the news itself.
This isn’t the first time since we got married. Not even the first time since we’ve had kids. His industry is brutal for it’s turnover. But he’s amazingly calm and strategic about things, so he’s already working on leads to overcome this misfortune. Me, on the other hand? I freak out, then write, THEN get calm and strategic when life throws a curve ball.
So now I write, having cried, curled up in a bath in the fetal position, called my inner circle of support, and sucked down a large cup of coffee (yes, there was whipped cream involved – are you kidding – on a day like this?)
Since my favorite topic to speak to women’s groups about is being resilient (owing to the fact that life frequently throws curve balls, and I am not about to go down without a fight), I thought I’d revisit a few of my personal favorite strategies for kicking misfortune in the teeth.
1. Fix something. There’s nothing worse in times of intense stress than the compounding effect of little chronic stressors with the new, larger one. For me it’s losing my car keys. After six years of losing them daily, I finally said, “Do I really need to search my house for my car keys while the kids are waiting (i.e. screaming and wrestling) in the van outside every day of my life?” No. So I hammered a nail in the wall to keep my keys on. Much less stress in my day. With one, tiny nail.
2. Ignore something. Whatever sources of stress that are not absolutely necessary can be strategically ignored for a little while. Today’s choice for ignoring? Laundry. Not my favorite, thus I will pretend it doesn’t exist for 48 hours. The key here is choosing to ignore just long enough to give us that little boost in energy and focus to handle the major stressors in life, without putting the other stuff off so long it becomes more intense than the crisis we’re facing in the first place!
3. Accomplish something. A loss or misfortune often leaves us feeling helpless. But we’re most certainly not! In the uncertain season my husband’s faced, I decided to accomplish some things to combat this feeling. One was to finish and mail off my final exam for a class I took, which lifted my spirits for the rest of the day! Of course, it’s not always something big like this. Maybe it’s getting the kids someplace on time, or putting away the laundry that’s been folded in the laundry room for a week…. (which is my next project once I stop ignoring it).
4. Do something joyful. “For everything there is a season” a wise king once said. Even for joy in the midst of disorienting grief or stress. So run in the ocean waves. Walk in a garden. Visit the tide pools. Get some sunshine. Make yourself a cup of coffee. Laugh. Take pictures. Snuggle your kids. (And thanks to all my Facebook friends for these great ideas!) Don’t get so caught up in whatever life’s thrown you that you miss the good parts happening right now, in spite of it all.
What about you? What do you do when life throws you a curve?