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.


The Forum in Rome




Lake Como



Ken and I on an island of Lake Maggiore


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.



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?


About Susan Ekins

Freelance writer and blogger at Women Making Strides. Interested in personal leadership and empowerment. Wanting inspiration and to inspire. Leader in church ministries. Blog: Facebook page:
This entry was posted in Bad days, Encouragement, personal leadership and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Navigating the Highs and Lows

  1. Diane Overgard says:

    We all live highs and lows, and hearing you articulate them so beautifully helps us keep life in perspective. Thanks for your honest sharing!


  2. Julie Stroud says:

    Sue, what a lot of ups and downs, indeed. It comes and goes in waves, doesn’t it? Hoping for a new season of calm for you.


  3. Peggy Gavin says:

    Sue, I had no idea of the lows you were experiencing when I saw you at that wedding. I know for me it is the support of friends and loved ones that have gotten me through the lowest times in my life. That and being grateful for all that I DO have. Like you said, your health! That’s HUGE but it is just one of the many things we often take for granted.


  4. Nancy Rudzinski says:

    Sue, praying about things that have happened, and having hope for the future, has helped me when things occurred. It may not be easy to accept, but it may be all we can do, at the time. The above Ecclesiastes passage says so much.


  5. Oh, Susan, I know these times and I know these verses so well.
    I am so very sorry to hear about Dexter and about your husband’s job loss. While I cannot take away your tears, your sadness, your worry, I can offer up prayers, and am doing so right now. I still remember the day our cat was hit by a car. I saw it happening and couldn’t do anything to stop it. Zoe died in my arms and my tears flowed like the river Jordan. My husband’s company folded their offices at the same time. Lots of tears, for sure, and a poster with Ecclesiastes 3 hung in our bedroom.
    Interestingly enough, we’ve been experiencing just about all of this again – all this weekend! 🙂 A wedding, a major worry for one of our children, the joys and beauty of Autumn,a small upswing in finances – and now, a trip to the ER. I’m right on “a time to mend” hoping my ankle isn’t broken. 🙂
    There have been times in my life that I pray “Lord, help me through the next hour”. He does.


  6. dawnbarclay says:

    Oh, Sue, tough times. Thinking of you. I am sorry. For your question, in times past, I let myself be carried. Navigation wasn’t possible. I felt right just to sit for a while. This phrase helped, ‘Death ends a life, not a relationship’. Lots of love to you all. Dawn xxx


  7. Dawn Herring says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss of your dear pet as well as the changes with your husband’s employment. I cannot tell you how many times I have referred to the Ecclesiastes scripture you shared. It speaks to every situation we can encounter. I often find myself using a negative situation as motivation for positive change, as difficult as the circumstances might be. I wish you grace and peace.

    Be refreshed,


  8. Sherri Russell says:

    Sue – John and I are so sorry for the loss or your Dexter. We know how hard it is to let our beloved pets pass on. Our hearts go out to your whole family.
    As for Ken, I agree with others – take this as a new opportunity. Work does not ever define who we really are. I am certain that after reflection, you both will come up with some great ideas as to what you are now free to explore. Love to you all Sue …


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