A story about resilience.
The idea of if you could do anything came to me straight of out of left field when I became a stay at home mom with newborn twins. As crazy as that might sound, it was the first time in my life where I felt my future was a blank slate. You might be thinking “staying home with twins, yeah that would close a lot of doors”, but you know what, you would be amazed what comes to mind when you have to start over.
Job loss, relationship changes, moving, sickness – all of those can put you in a fight-or-flight mindset. The resistance can be huge. It was for me: I was happy. I had direction. I had opportunity. What happened? I learned that life can be planned, but that doesn’t always mean we will stay on the same path, even when we think we’ve got it all figured out. Life moves forward, every day. Life changes, every day. Even if you think everything has stopped, it really hasn’t.
When you slowly move away from a life you once knew towards the unknown, you discover you have two choices: regret or reflect. When you regret, you block the chance for anything new to come into your life. When you reflect, you find there are other parts of yourself you didn’t even know were there. You start to discover that maybe life is not always work until you retire, or babies come when you are ready. More and more research is showing that Generation X, Millennials, even the new generation of college students will have to build resistance training into their self development because the idea that you can stay in one place of work until you can retire is shifting. Or the idea people live tell their 90.
I’m learning more and more that change is what keeps you going, challenges are what keep you living, experiences is what keep you happy. And this is good.
Because, what if you could do anything? What if a job change or a relationship change or even a new location was what was supposed to happen? That it was always in the plans? What if I told you that life will change. How do you think you would react? How do you think you would live your life?
For me, having unplanned twins, then relocating to a new town, choosing to quit my job to stay home with my girls and son was my big resistance test. How did I do? Let’s just say low scores out the gate but it was what I needed. It tested my marriage, my confidence, my trust. I experienced depression. I experienced regret. I even exerienced the feeling of loss because I wasn’t used to it. I wasn’t used to not making money or not going to an office. It was all so new to me. And as crazy as this sounds, what helped me build up my resilience was coming back to “if I could do anythig”.
You might be asking, how? How do you get past or even believe you could do anything. Yes, at that time, I wasn’t traveling the world by myself for NBC Nightly News, but I was dreaming of it. I wasn’t in the classroom or a board room but I was dreaming of it. I started evaluating what I could do. What I loved. What I wanted to try. What I already knew I was good at.
What if you are in a relationship? What do you do if your partner is not interested in moving to Hawaii. You ask anyway. Maybe they are. Or hasn’t asked you about your dreams since the first date. What do you do? You share. You don’t give up. You pop open some beers, hand them one and say, “I’m thinking of trying this…” That’s what got me through it. If it’s not beer, try two spoons and a case of ice cream. Or in some cases you just go for something you want to do. By the way, I need you to watch the kids Wednesday night. You stand your ground. You keep believing in yourself. You wish it was different and then you do it anyway. Remember that life changes every day. My own relationship is not a “go Vicky go” but I do know that he will make the time to take care of the kids when I need him too. Sometimes, actions do speak louder than words.
What if you don’t have the money? Try experience, may it be paid or not. Experience is worth more than you will ever know. It will get your spirit moving. Your spirit is what matters. Money fills the gas tank but not always your heart. Experiences do. Time. That’s where if I could do anything becomes your biggest motivator. Your “go Vicky go”. My twin girls were so ready for preschool and I always wanted to try academic advising. At the time, all I needed was enough money to pay for preschool. I reached out to the the chair in Natural Sciences and Mathematics at Dominican University of CA and together he gave me a chance and my twins got the chance to make new friends. Whatever you do, keep dreaming. Keep believing. Keep looking for opportunities. You will surprise yourself.
What if you are not as healthy as before? Health challenges are huge and life-changing. But they are challenges that can be faced. They can be won. This last year, my family have been with my mom as she heals from cancer. This experience has taught us so much. It can make you stronger than you ever were before. It can make you see what you were missing. It can teach your family and friends to not take life for granted (or anyone for that matter). Let the time you are healing be your reflective time. Your chance to dream.
What if you could do anything? Trying a new career. Running a marathon. Finding a way to take that trip. Not giving up. Staying home with your kids. Walking to the mail box today, even it it takes all the energy you got. It might be telling your partner something has to change. Whatever it might be, go for it. Life is always moving forward even when it might feel differently. And as crazy as it sounds, when you realize what YOU want to try, you will find away. The free time will come. The peace will fill your home. The trust will happen. The smile will return. If I could do anything..