Well, this has been one holy heck of a week. Smack dab in the middle of my attempts to put the house back together after moving again, my daughter had dental surgery. They had trouble with her IV and, after several attempts to find a vein, the Bermuda triangle of my naturally low blood pressure, hypoglycemia, and squeamishness kicked in and I hit the floor. I woke up to find myself surrounded by strangers, with an oxygen mask strapped over my face. Thankfully, my daughter and I were both fine in the end.
There was a time when something like this would send me spinning. Now, we’ve been through so much as a family that we know how to keep afloat when the waves crash down.
Part of the reason we are more resilient is that we have put together coping strategies, like these, in advance.
Build margin into your life. When you are stretched too thin — pressed for time, in debt, emotionally spent – there is no margin for error and the slightest breeze will blow your house down. In the good times, build in lots of buffer: keep space in your calendar, keep yourself healthy, and build a rainy day fund so that you can draw on your reserves when the time comes.
Know who you can count on. You know that person who is calm in a crisis and will drop everything in your moment of need to help you? No? Maybe you need to cultivate some new friendships. Know who to call in good times, in bad times, and when you need bail money.
Practice gratitude. If you practice being thankful for what you have, you’ll have a better chance of remembering all of the good things in your life when things turn grim. This will give you the strength to move forward.
Gain perspective. If you have no perspective, you will be the idiot weeping because your contractor ordered your kitchen cabinets in the wrong shade of white and we will all make fun of you. If you and your family have your health, consider yourself blessed.
Develop a good sense of humor. If you cannot laugh at yourself and your situation, it will be very hard to get through life with your sanity intact. One of my favorite blogs is Have Some Decorum, written by Eleanor O’ Connell Decret. Ellie is a gorgeous, stylish, American-in-Paris who is battling ALS. She also wields an acid pen and is hysterically funny (she’s just released her memoir, And So It Is.) She’s been criticized for her caustic humour by some, but in times of trouble, wicked gallows humor may be just the thing to get you through. There will be times in your life when there is nothing you can do but laugh or cry, and laughing gives you more attractive wrinkles.
You and Sara are catching the same waves this week, giving us sound reminders for how to cope with what life drops in our lap and how we prepare ourselves to move forward. That’s what I’m doing in France… Filling up my “well” so I can hit the ground running when I return.
And you are filling that well with excellent champagne, I hope! xo
Jen, what a wonderful piece of writing and such good guidance. I will keep this in mind for future reference. I think I’ve got a lot of these covered, but there’s a few that need work in order to be prepared for coping in the best way possible when life throws its next round of curve balls, and we know it always does! Esther xx
Thank you, Esther. Those curve balls always sneak up on us, don’t they.
Wonderful words of wisdom, Jen! Too few of us have that “margin” in our lives, and we pay for it dearly. I always say to filil your own cup first, then give away what flows over to the saucer. We can’t give away what we don’t have! And laughing at our own calamities is so much better than stressing over them!
Thank you, Susan! great advice on filling your own up first!
“Gain perspective”…that’s the goal I keep working on. A lot of the stuff that threw me for a loop in the past was “small stuff.” But I’m learning to let it go and put a positive spin on things. Life is much better when you realize that!
Hi Jen, Sorry to hear about the mini-crisis in the dental office and glad that all is well. Your tips are excellent! It is so important to have a support system to back you up and having the ability to laugh is always essential! Great post!