After church today some of my girlfriends and I stayed to commiserate about the collective, catastrophic changes all of us have encountered this year. Like Queen Elizabeth, who publicly referred to her “annus horribilis,” we all agreed that in many ways, we too, have had a horrible year. In reference to a year of stress, one of my friends matter-of-factly stated that she’d “lost her glue” to which I responded, “My glue died.” While our individual stories prompted serious thought, the real question for most of us is how do we change what we don’t like about our lives? How do we get our mojo back, and perhaps most importantly, how do we become our own glue?
The glue that keeps us on the right track, or binds us together as a family, is one of the most essential ingredients of life. For me that glue has been James and God, but when I step back and look at my life before I really knew either one, I realize I’ve always been my own glue. From the day I was born, six weeks premature and the first Rh-negative baby to survive a complete blood transfusion, I’ve been a survivor. My friends have always said I have guts. My glue, or what strengthens me, is a combination of the ying and yang of guts and fear, a sassy determination and a moral code. Together with James, whose glue was God, country, family and doing the right thing, we were an indestructible team. Now that he’s gone, I know I’m still the same gutsy, determined woman, I’m just having a hard time writing the script for the next chapter of my life.
Before any of us attempt to write a new script, perhaps we should step back and take inventory of what is and isn’t working in our lives. A severe headache that resulted in temporary blindness forced one of my girlfriends to assess her life. When her doctor asked about her stress levels, she listed a litany of things that had backed her into an unhappy corner, things she complained about, but until recently, did nothing to change. After her doctor prescribed a mild antidepressant, she took a good look at everything from family problems to rush hour traffic and a diet dominated by sugar, fats and fast foods. Who would have thought that leaving the house a little earlier would allow her to not only miss her tortuous freeway commute, but give her time to work out in her company’s gym, which then motivated her to change her diet and lose 11 pounds in the last few weeks? While none of these things have changed her stressful family problems, they have allowed her to view them with fresh eyes and a renewed spirit. Bravo girlfriend! You are inspiring!
Stress is a reality of life, and believe it or not, it’s not always a bad thing. Stress can push us to be the best we can be. It can motivate us and makes us stronger. It’s a fly in the ointment, an unwanted ingredient in our glue. The challenge, however, comes in managing our stress whether it stems from illness, death or our own personal soap opera. Here are some things that might help us to strengthen our glue.
1. Be your own best friend. Most of us instinctually know when we’ve gone down the wrong path. Don’t wait for permission before you make changes to your life. Instead, give yourself permission to act in your own best interest.
2. Focus on the solution not the problem. Step back and look at the big picture. How did you get here and what’s the best way to get out or lessen the problem?
3. Know when it’s time to ask for help. While we may like to think we’re Wonder Woman or Superman, none of us always manage to find our way out of the maze. Find a counselor or a trusted friend who can help you think through your options.
4. Don’t move on without healing the problem. Just because you don’t work through your grief and anger doesn’t mean it’s not there. Resolve problems before they stack up and become cumulative.
5. This too shall pass. Visualize the life you want. While it may not come to pass, it may motivate you to make the changes necessary to move through this time in your life.
My girlfriends at church are a wonderfully supportive group of women. Our love of God and one another makes for our own powerful, healing glue. Thank you, sweet friends, for leading the way. You always manage to lift me up.