Coaching Ourselves In Our Journals

Self-coaching is what I teach coaches and clients to do. . . . We each have the ability to learn wisdom, and as we learn wisdom, we become our own counselor.”  Martha Beck, as quoted here.

We’ve talked in this blog about getting support from a counselor, friend, or a life coach. But often the best person to advise us is ourselves. I use my journal as a tool to coach myself.

I journal almost every day. Journals are a place to vent, but last year I became aware of how often I beat myself up in my journal. Complaining about my mistakes or my lack of motivation only reinforces negative thoughts about myself. I have been working to change that. I ask, “Would I talk to a friend this way?” If not, then maybe I shouldn’t write or talk to myself that way either. I still sometimes say I will do something differently next time, but it is more of a note than a criticism.

I try to write something constructive in my journal or to answer journaling prompts. This has made my journaling more relevant and empowering. Here are some prompts that I consider important:

  • If I were confident, how would I talk and act about my goals?”
  • What am I grateful for?”
  • What are my intentions for today?”

And sometimes I use my journal to coach myself about specific goals—most recently for training for a race. I write down when I’ve done well and when something needs changing. One evening early in my training, I realized I hadn’t exercised that day. I wrote, “Oh no, I’m already failing.” But instead of staying in that negative mood, I asked myself if there was anything I could do about it. I decided to go for a walk in the dark and invited my husband to join me. Surprisingly (since it was only 2 degrees outside), he said yes.

Here is additional coaching I’ve given myself about my running:

  • When I’m wondering what to do next, go for a walk. Stretch or use the foam roller. Go for a run.
  • I did not meet an interim goal I had set towards my bigger race goal. Rather than be despondent, I am using that fact to push myself into exercising, eating properly, and training seriously.
  • I am giving up sugar. I’m not going to be ultra strict, but when I want sweets, I will try to choose fruit, yogurt, or a hot chocolate. Food is a fuel. I want to give myself the opportunity to lose a little weight and build muscle.
  • It is difficult for me when there’s a buffet or “free food.” As a kid, I was taught to eat a lot in such situations. As an adult, I need to change that way of thinking. Eat the healthy food and get away from the table. Go socialize instead.
  • It is taking me too long to get ready for 7:00 AM long runs. I will create a checklist of items needed and get ready the night before.
  • When I recieve conflicting advice about my training, I will consider the advice and then do what I think is best.

We can use our journals to coach ourselves about anything. We just need to remember that a coach is supportive. A coach asks questions and pokes about next steps. A coach helps us overcome challenges and improve our lives.

Journaling prompts: Do you speak to yourself like you would to a friend? How have you coached yourself?

This post was written in response to an invitation from Dawn Herring at www.dawnherring.net. Thank you, Dawn. It is part of a #JournalChat Open House on the topic “Your Journaling: The Greatest Relevance.”

 

Posted in Goals, journaling, Leading Ourselves | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Still Unwritten

“Today is where your book begins, the rest is still unwritten.” – Natasha Bedingfield

Some years ago, I faced a milestone birthday. I thought, “If I’m ever going to get my teeth straightened, now is the time. It is less likely that I will do it when I get older. How many older people do I see with braces on their teeth?”

That milestone year also motivated me to start exercising. Exercise had never been a big part of my life, except for physical education classes. That year I said, “It’s now or never. If I don’t establish an exercise habit now, it will be harder as I age.” I didn’t know how to swim except for dog paddling from one side of the pool to the other, so I went to the pool and practiced putting my face in the water. I also took a beginner’s triathlon class in which the other participants ran around the track, while I walked. That is the year I started doing triathlons, and I did them for the next three years.

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Women’s Triathlon – Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games _ Flickr

This year, I face another milestone birthday. I told my counselor I feel it is now or never once again for my goals: losing that ten pounds; running that race; really making headway on that book. She responded, “Yes, you need to make the most of the here-and-now. But there are no real deadlines. It’s never too late to reach for your goals.”

I said, “But it’s less likely to happen the older I get—especially writing a book.”

She said, “Not necessarily. Everything happens at the right time. When it is the right time for you, your book will flow. Keep working the Artist Way program, and your book will unfold in its own way.”

Shortly after that discussion, I went for a run and listened to music, including the song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield:

“I am unwritten
Can’t read my mind
I’m undefined
I’m just beginning
The pen’s in my hand
Ending unplanned”

This song gave me hope and inspiration. I wrote in my journal, “If I had to pick a theme song for this phase of my life, I’d pick ‘Unwritten’. It appeals to me as a writer, and it reminds me I do have time.”

Coincidentally, a couple of days later, a friend sang on Facebook, “Feel the rain on your skin / No one else can do it for you / Only you can let it in /.” These lyrics are from that same song. They speak to me of paying attention and enjoying life.

The song also reinforces a theme I’ve learned in the Artist Way class, which is that we need to stop demanding perfection of ourselves:

“Sometimes my tries are outside the lines
We’ve been conditioned to not make mistakes
But I can’t live that way”

My counselor had said something similar–that I will develop more will-power once I have more self-empathy. I’m too hard on myself.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’ve been in counseling for over a year. The reason I mention it openly is that I hope to inspire you, my readers, to get help if you need it. Life is short. We should not be ashamed to get support whether it be in a group, by talking to a friend, or via counseling. I went to counseling because of anxiety and sleepless nights. I am doing much better now and am happy to report that my next counseling session will be my last.

Here is the link to “Unwritten”. Enjoy, and please let me know how the song affects you.

Are there issues in your life that need addressing? Is there a song that gives you inspiration?

 

Posted in exercise, Goals, Leading Ourselves, Proactive, Self-compassion, Support | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Our Sisterhood Connections

“We don’t need to share the same opinions as others, but we need to be respectful.”
– Taylor Swift

I recently contributed a small piece to the book #Sisterhood Connection: A Year of Empowerment. It is ironic that my copy of the book arrived this past week. Why do I say ironic? The phrase “Sisterhood Connection” is certainly in line with my Women Making Strides theme. However, there is currently a great deal of discord between women in the United States and in other parts of the world.

We are not discussing political issues here. What we are doing is looking at our own behaviors and thinking about our connections with other women.

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My friend Rachell Kitchen (right) and I both contributed to this book.

I hesitate to list the comments between women that I’ve seen and heard recently. This blog is meant to be encouraging and gentle and the words I’ve heard lately have been anything but gentle. There has been much inflammatory language including name calling, insults, and swearing. There has been demonizing of entire groups of people. We forget these are our friends, neighbors, mothers, and daughters.

I used to think maybe someday Women Making Strides could form groups of women walking and talking about topics like gratitude and facing challenges. I once belonged to such a group. It was a small group, and it included gay women, straight women, liberals, and conservatives. We got along just fine. I also thought perhaps I could change the Women Making Strides Facebook page to be more interactive, so we could have discussions online.

Given the recent turmoil, I wonder if such ideas were foolish. Facebook, for example, is no longer necessarily a pleasant place. Many of us are in reactive mode. We are stressed: we don’t understand how others can feel so differently than we do. We worry about what might happen, and we react to the latest news immediately. We speak out, perhaps too hastily.

The political unrest and the discord between women disturbs me so much I can’t sleep many nights. It isn’t healthy to be so upset and I try to stay off of social media in the evening. We need to take good care of ourselves during what is a traumatic time for many of us. Regretfully, self-care may include staying away from people who are consistently confrontational. We need some relief.

Some women, including me, need to express our opinions, especially when we see things we think are wrong. I have the right to speak out, as do you. However, we need to do this without inflammatory language, and we need to pick the right venue for expressing ourselves. Some women exercise their right to assemble peacefully. We can also speak out by calling or emailing government officials. Or we can join groups or make donations to support the causes we feel most strongly about. We can keep positive and pray. These are more empowering and productive than getting caught up in dramas, which I admit I’ve done.woman-writing-email

There are signs of hope. I belong to a running club that is largely women, and most of the time we stay off the subject of politics. We talk instead about our families, how our running is going, fitness, etc. However, I have had discussions about politics while running one-on-one with women in the group whose political views differ from mine. I feel we listened to each other with mutual respect. We didn’t change each other’s opinions, but we understood each other better.

I also belong to a women’s meetup group where we socialize and get together to discuss self-improvement books. We met first as strangers, and now we meet as friends. We have common interests that draw us together despite our differences, and we often laugh together.

All of us come from different backgrounds. Can we respect our differences and try to understand each other? Can we stay connected with our “sisters”?

How do you take care of yourself during stressful times? How do you deal with people whose opinions differ from yours?

Posted in Challenges, Friendship, Making a Difference, Proactive, self-care, Stress, Women | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Happiness and Hygge

“Life can pass us by so quickly, and before we know it, it’s gone. All those small moments in between the big moments are just as important and precious. Feelings of connection, presence, simplicity, and joy are what enriches our lives at a deeper level.” – Pia Edberg

Have you heard about hygge? I just discovered this concept recently, but found it intriguing and have been reading up on it. Hygge is a Danish word, pronounced HOO-gah that roughly translates as “cozy”. Hygge can include eating cake, sitting by a fire with a cozy blanket, reading, and drinking hot chocolate. Candles should be lit.

When I first heard about hygge, I felt excited. Ah, what a concept after all I’ve learned about getting out of my comfort zone! I figured if the Danes say hygge is good, it’s worth investigating. Denmark has been listed as the happiest nation in the world according to the World Happiness Report. (The U.S. ranked 13th.) If the happiest people in the world think comfort is good, who am I to argue?

To an extent, hygge is how I strive to lead my life. I enjoy travel and getting out, but I’m also a homebody—I love to wear fleece, drink tea, and read mysteries. I especially enjoy watching mystery shows with my husband and sitting by a fire with a glass of wine. Learning about hygge affirms that my fleece-loving lifestyle is a good one.

But I could do better at hygge. In one of my favorite blogs, Life on the Cutoff, Penny writes, “I read Roots to the Earth this afternoon, in the company of a few tasty gingerbread men and a steamy cup of coffee. Attendees to the Naperville Garden Club’s annual Christmas house walk, tea, and market, A Cup of Cheer, receive a cup and saucer to take home.” A picture shows coffee in her lovely new china cup with cookies on the saucer. I go to that same Christmas house walk every year, but my pretty souvenir cups sit in my china cabinet. Penny’s post reminded me to use those pretty cups. That is more hygge.

You may have noticed I tend to analyze things. Hygge sounds nice, but as a lifestyle, couldn’t it lead to lethargy and weight gain? Carried to an extreme, couldn’t it lead to agoraphobia? Is coziness really the main ingredient for happiness?

So I read more about hygge and the Denmark lifestyle. Hygge is not usually a solitary pastime. It is a state of warmth and companionship. Cell phones are turned off. Drama is not allowed. People are relaxed.

This made me think about my friend Debbie. On short notice last month, she invited my husband, me, and another couple to come over for pizza before we drove to watch her husband perform in a musical show. She didn’t fuss; she served chips with a homemade salsa before the pizza, and she heated homemade peach pie for dessert. There was a deep blanket of snow outside, but we were cozy inside, enjoying our simple meal and laughing with longtime friends. That’s hygge.

Deb inspires me to try to be ready for company on short notice. I tend to put a big effort into every meal served to company – and as a consequence, I don’t entertain much. Deb pulled that homemade pie and some ice cream out of the freezer. I could pull out cookies and ice cream. This year, I baked several kinds of cookies for Christmas and froze some. Why not always have homemade goodies in the freezer, ready for guests—or even just ourselves—to enjoy?

I suspect hygge is especially nice during the dark, cold days of winter, but the Danes enjoy it all year. They light candles year-round to create a cozy atmosphere.

We can set up our own homes for comfort and warmth, especially in winter. If we are inside due to bad weather, we can be cozy with friends and family, a warm drink, and a fire or candlelight. I’m currently inside with a cold, so I’ve been drinking lots of tea, reading mysteries, and watching recordings of Downton Abbey. I’ve also been eating chicken noodle soup and wrapping myself in fleece while I rest. Feels hygge to me!

However, hygge is only part of the Danish lifestyle. Danes are very active and are outdoors a lot. “Even the slightest hint of spring sun will make Danes head outdoors for strolling, jogging and café life.”  (See here.) Danes also swim and ride bikes—many ride their bikes to work year-round. I suspect this balance of activity and comfort contributes to their happiness.

So maybe the lesson taught by hygge is not so much staying cozy as making the best of life and enjoying simple pleasures, much like the French with their joie de vivre. We can enjoy comfort in addition to getting fresh air and exercise.

What hygge also says is to notice and appreciate the good moments. Look forward to good times, enjoy them, and then remember. Elevate the moments by using that Cup of Cheer china cup.

I hope you make the best of the remaining winter months, and have a happy and hygge New Year in 2017.

What can you do to enjoy some hygge this winter? What can you do to increase happiness in your life?

 

Posted in Happiness, Hygge | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Holding Each Other Accountable

“Obligers do things more easily for others than for themselves. For them, the key is external accountability.” – Gretchen Rubin

I am more likely to get something done if someone else asks me to do it. If I agree to cook something for your get-together, count on me. If I’m on a committee to run an event, my part will get done. Certainly I was dependable when reporting to someone at past jobs.

Unfortunately, I don’t always succeed as well with integrity with myself. If I decide to do something, but I don’t commit to someone else, it may not get done.

I had signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) which was this month, November. I planned to write at least 30,000 words (even though official success is 50,000 words.) During the first week, I was excited about the Chicago Cubs being in the World Series. We had company over, and then I got caught up in the drama before and after the United States presidential election. Our daughter moved out, making my husband and me empty-nesters. Bottom line: I did not keep my commitment to myself to write a significant amount in November. I let other things get in the way.

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Woman Writing a Letter by Frans van Mieris

I think if I had made a deal with someone that we’d both write 30,000 words, I’d have done better. According to a quiz by Gretchen Rubin, this means I’m an Obliger. “Obligers respond readily to outer expectations, but struggle to meet inner expectations. In other words, they work hard not to let other people down, but they often let themselves down.” Obligers like me tend to be people-pleasers.

I’ve learned that I can use my people-pleasing tendencies to my advantage by finding someone to hold me accountable for my goals. I don’t want to let them down, so I’m more likely to do my part. By using external accountability this way, as a tool, I hope to develop integrity with myself.

An example is that my friend Rachell and I hold each other accountable for getting our blog posts done once a month. One month, my blog post wasn’t even on my radar when she first poked me via a Facebook message. She continued to poke me, perhaps understanding that I was struggling. Even when I was against the deadline and expressing doubts about getting it done, Rachell expressed her faith in me, and I wrote and published the post. I do the same for her.

In the past, I’ve had success with other means of accountability.

  • My friend Krishna and I agreed to write an article or short story regularly by a certain date. We then reviewed each other’s work by meeting via Skype.
  • Being in a running club and signing up for events worked well for me. If I had signed up, I felt committed.
  • I participated in a group on Facebook where I could post my daily workouts. If it wasn’t a running day for me, I walked. And I walked longer than I might have otherwise because “20-minute walk” didn’t sound like enough to post.
  • Several years ago, I tried to do the Artist Way program on my own. I read the book but didn’t complete the tasks until recently when I took an Artist Way class. We had to report what we did for an Artist Date each week; how many times we did morning pages; which tasks we completed. I’m happy to tell you that I finished the program.
  • Belonging to Weight Watchers helps me keep my weight under control because I am weighed when I go to a meeting. That is accountability.

It is best if we have integrity on our own, so that if we say we’ll do something, we do it. But external accountability can be a tool for learning integrity. My accountability with Rachell for writing blog posts is turning into an internal habit. When I near the end of the month, I feel driven to write a blog post.

I read the following in an article about getting ready for Lent, but it rings true for any goal: “People often find that they’re much more likely to keep their resolutions when they hold themselves accountable to another person. Knowing that someone walks with us, even if it’s not exactly the same path, can be a great comfort and motivator.”

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If I want to accomplish my dreams, I need to continue to seek people who will hold me accountable as I do the same for them. This will help me develop good habits and eventually to hold myself accountable.

A friend told me that she and friends once did their own version of NaNoWriMo in January, when life may be calmer than in November. Anyone interested in holding each other accountable for writing in January? Let’s talk.

Do you have integrity to yourself? Who holds you accountable?

Posted in Leading Ourselves, personal leadership, Support | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

A Fighter Dancing Through the Fire: Lindsey

“Above all, be the heroine of your life, not the victim.” – Nora Ephron

It would be understandable if my friend Lindsey felt sorry for herself. But she doesn’t.

Lindsey

Lindsey

Until she turned 13, Lindsey’s life was like that of most kids. She enjoyed hanging out with neighbors. She had a mother (one of my best friends, Tina, who I’ve written about here), a father, and four siblings. Lindsey says, “I remember going to Door County many times for vacation. That was always fun.”

Just before Lindsey entered 8th grade, her mother passed away from Adrenal Cortical cancer. “It was thirteen years ago that I lost my mother to cancer. She was not only my mother but my best friend. It was really difficult the first few months because I would wake up in the morning and think she was there. But she wasn’t.”

“We went from having two parents to one. I had to get in a routine and help my Dad with the cooking, cleaning, and laundry, and I looked after my younger siblings. I couldn’t just go out after Mom died; everything had to be scheduled. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to hang out.”

Two years later, Lindsey’s Dad remarried. “It was kind of hard getting along with three new siblings. We all had to adjust.” There were eight kids altogether, and the family later moved to another town.

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Lindsey with siblings Jacob (left), Jason, and stepsister Alyssa with Harvard.

Lindsey adjusted to her new life, and all was going fairly well until May 4, 2012. She had finished a training program to be a dance instructor and was scheduled to begin teaching. She was also working full time, cleaning homes to earn money for college.

Then her life changed again. “It happened in the morning during work. We were driving from the first house to the second, and the driver fell asleep at the wheel. I tried to wake her, but she wouldn’t wake up. I had to decide whether to crash or to keep going toward the Fox River. I grabbed the wheel and we crashed between two trees.”

The scene of the accident - emergency workers surrounding the car

Emergency workers at the scene of the accident

The car

The car at the scene of the accident

If Lindsey hadn’t turned the steering wheel, they’d have gone into the Fox River. “We would have hit power poles, too.”

The driver suffered minor injuries, but Lindsey was airlifted by helicopter to a trauma hospital. She was in critical condition with a punctured lung and spleen, an ankle broken in three places, a broken femur, a fractured disc in her spine, and five fractured ribs. She had a breathing tube and three surgeries. During the surgeries, metal pieces were put in her leg, ankle, and back, and Lindsey still has the metal inside her body.

There are two ways of looking at this accident, as is true of many situations in life: “Isn’t it awful that this happened to me?” or “Aren’t I lucky that I’m alive?” Lindsey has chosen the latter viewpoint.

“After the accident, I had to start depending on other people. I would have liked it better if it hadn’t happened, but everything happens for a reason.”

Lindsey with sister Sarah outside the rehab hospital

Lindsey outside rehab hospital with sister Sarah

Initially Lindsey had intensive therapy at a rehabilitation hospital. Then she had additional therapy for two hours a day, three days a week. She had pain throughout her body. “I tried not to depend on others but after my surgeries, I needed someone to push me to exercise at home. All of my family were big motivators. They helped me and supported me. It was really nice that they did that.”

Lindsey with stepmom Deeanna, father Jim, siblings Jacob and Sarah

Lindsey with stepmom Deeanna, father Jim, brother Jacob and sister Sarah

“It was hard the first few times I drove again. We all hear about accidents, but I never thought it could happen to me. The accident made me much more cautious. I tell my friends not to text and drive while I’m in the car. It freaks me out.”

After Lindsey’s boot and back brace were removed, she had dance therapy at the dance studio. “Dance motivated me more than anything else because that was the main thing I liked to do. Wanting to do what I used to do was a big motivator in my recovery.”

Besides dance, Lindsey enjoyed camping and climbing hills and mountains. Now these activities are limited. “I can’t go camping because my back aches if I hike too long or if I don’t sleep well. I can’t do a lot outside because I can’t bend, kneel or squat for long. I do take short hikes, but I have to take breaks.” Lindsey also has back pain if she sits too long or stands too long.

Lindsey has been a receptionist at a dermatology office for three and a half years. She went to school at night and on Saturdays to learn to be a massage therapist. “I wanted to be a massage therapist because my own massage therapy was relaxing and therapeutic. Massages were done on me during my physical therapy sessions. I wanted to make people feel better by doing something that had an impact on me during my time of need.” Lindsey is currently looking for steady work as a massage therapist.

Lindsey returned to dancing for fun and works at the dance studio occasionally. “At first it was difficult to dance because my whole body was stiff and wasn’t used to that much movement. My posture wasn’t great so that made my back ache. And it was difficult to dance without a lot of breaks. I can’t wear heels for more than 20 minutes because my ankle gets uncomfortable and weak. But I keep dancing.”

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Lindsey and a friend, Steph, who is a dance instructor

When asked about her interest in dance, Lindsey answers, “My Mom put me in dance when I was three years old. I started with ballet, but I really like tap, jazz, and hip hop.” Lindsey did these all through high school. “Then I thought I should try something new, so I went to the dance studio for Latin and ballroom dancing. Dancing makes me feel good. It’s a nice workout, and I have a lot of fun. I meet nice people who also enjoy dancing.”

“I believe in a lot of spiritual things: God, an afterlife, and angels. I don’t know how I made it between the trees during the accident rather than hitting them. It was such a small gap between the trees. I feel that an angel was there guiding me, making sure I was OK. I was so functional.”

When asked if she has a role model, Lindsey says, “My Mom. She knew what she wanted to go for. She worked part-time and still took care of five kids. I don’t know how she did that. She worked on so many projects and never gave up on anything.” Lindsey’s Mom was also working on a Ph.D. in History before she passed away.

Lindsey adds, “My Mom never gave up the fight; the Savior made it so that she lived a great life with a wonderful family. He brought her back to Him and that’s the best prize that could be given.”

Lindsey also credits her Dad, who works from home. “It took a lot of dedication to work at home with all the family around. He somehow had time to hang out with all of us.”

“I’m proud of how far I’ve come since the accident despite all the injuries I had. For a long time, I still got melancholy but I tried not to show it. When I felt that way, I wrote in a journal or I called friends to hang out and cheer me up. I didn’t want people to feel sorry for me. I wanted them to see me as happy and positive, not sad. Most days I was happy and positive, but I had my off days. If you are going through tough times, take one day at a time. It’ll eventually get better. Hang in there.”

When told that she is proactive, Lindsey says, “It’s difficult but it’s worth it in the end. Live your life as best as you can.”

I think the song “Roar” by Katy Perry could describe Lindsey. Lindsey continues to work to overcome her challenges and is a woman making strides. You can watch the “Roar” video here.

Lindsey’s Favorite Quotes

  • “I am my own hero! Take risks, take chances; live the life you imagined. The only regret you will have is not making the most out of your life.” – author unknown
  • “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” – Babe Ruth
  • “Life’s a climb, but the view is great.” – Miley Cyrus
  • “Live every day like it’s your last. You never know how long you have.” – author unknown
  • “PAINS: Positive Attitude In Negative Situation” – author unknown

Are you the heroine of your life or a victim? Do you have a favorite inspirational quote? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

Posted in Challenges, faith, Inspiration, Proactive | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Navigating the Highs and Lows

“I like to go out there looking like a strong woman, because I am strong. But I am also a woman who goes through all kinds of problems and highs and lows.” – Katy Perry

My husband Ken and I were in Italy for two weeks at the end of September. It was an idyllic trip and we enjoyed everything—the food, the art, the history, and the scenery. It was one of our best vacations ever.

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The Forum in Rome

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Venice

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Lake Como

 

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Ken and I on an island of Lake Maggiore

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David by Michelangelo (Florence)

Unfortunately, things weren’t so great back home. Our dog Dexter had previously had a toe removed due to malignant skin cancer. During our trip, it was discovered that the cancer had spread to his lungs. The oncologist said 6-year-old Dexter had up to a few months to live.

When we came home after our trip, Dexter was coughing a great deal. I had jet lag and could not stop crying. The next morning, I took him for a Blessing of the Pets that is held at our church annually in memory of St. Francis. This seemed like perfect timing and gave me some comfort.

But when Ken returned to work on the Monday after our trip, he was told his services were no longer needed, after 37 years of employment. Even though his company has been laying off employees for nearly two decades, this was still a bit of a shock.

Meanwhile, we were doing palliative care with Dexter, trying to make him comfortable as advised by a veterinary oncologist. However, a week after we came home from our trip, he struggled for every breath and could not eat or sleep. His vet recommended we have him euthanized.

Dexter was a very loveable dog. He loved everyone, and most people loved him. When someone came to our house, even a stranger, Dexter ran around excitedly, then flipped on his back so they could rub his tummy. We will grieve Dexter, but are comforted that his suffering is over.

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Dexter

On the same day that we lost Dexter, we went to the wedding of the son of close friends. We’ve been family friends for decades, and this was a high for us. We ate delicious food, we danced, and we enjoyed being with many dear friends. We are close enough to them that I could talk about what had happened to Dexter. A few friends told us of their sorrows with losing their own beloved pets.

My family and I will have to adjust to these changes. Besides what I’ve mentioned, our youngest child is moving out soon, and Ken and I will be empty-nesters.

Things could be worse, and Ken and I are grateful that we and our children are in good health. We hope to make the best of our altered lives. We have received helpful advice. One friend suggested that I “let the good things about your trip reverberate for you. Use that as fuel to move into your next phase.”

Our friend Allison had similar thoughts. We mentioned that we plan to walk more and go for runs. She said, “You have the opportunity to make new habits. This is worth thinking about so you make good new habits. Both of you have this opportunity.”

She has a good point. When our lives are shaken up, it may be a good time to reflect on what we want our future to be. I don’t mean to be Pollyannaish. Positive thinking will not make the bad times less painful. But possibly we appreciate the good times more if we’ve been through some low times. We can’t escape them; they are part of life, and we need to accept them. I will close with these thoughts from Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3:

 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

     a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
      a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
      a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
       a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
      a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
      a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
       a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

What are some of the highs and lows that you’ve been through? How have you navigated them?

 

Posted in Bad days, Encouragement, personal leadership | Tagged , , | 10 Comments