I wish all of you a Happy New Year, with prayers and best wishes for a blessed 2021. I want to begin this year with a new series entitled Threads of Life.
Throughout our lifetime, we are weaving together the threads of our existence. Those threads are all around us – ready to be woven into a tapestry that shares our story and defines who we are. We choose how we weave them together. We are the designers.
Developing a life of meaning, purpose, and joy
I have been reviewing the stories and blog posts I have written or used in presentations about ways you can enrich your life, find comfort in your losses, and overcome what might seem like impossible odds.
When we meet someone new, we say, Hi, my name is_____________, and start a conversation.
As that conversation continues, we gradually get to know one another. So, for those who are new followers of my blog and podcast, I would like to formally introduce myself.
Hi, I am Marlene Anderson and I write and speak on how you can take advantage of any challenge, turning it into something positive and meaningful. (You can learn more about me on my website About page and Speaking & Workshops page.)
As a former licensed counselor and college teacher, I share my training and life experiences, offering strategies to help you tackle life’s challenges. These become a toolbox of approaches that can be used to combat fear and anxiety, recognize and solve problems, and take charge of your life.
If you find yourself struggling to get out of bed in the morning, anxious about the day awaiting you, you are not alone. We are living in a time of great uncertainty, which causes stress levels to escalate.
Anxiety and fear take center stage, and we struggle to find ways to make life normal again. Often the symptoms are so devastating, it becomes harder and harder to identify the underlying problems.
When our ability to think is compromised, our ability to find resolutions is compromised.
When we try to cope without identifying the underlying core issues, we end up going round and round in circles. Stress levels not only continue to escalate but remain high day after day.
Acceptance is a concept – a state of mind – a way of looking at life and problems. It is a way of thinking that can be applied to any circumstance. It is a pivotal point that takes us from what we can’t do to possibilities, options and choices.
Problems have a magnetic way of holding us in place. Like an insect caught on fly paper, we get stuck in the mess of it all and can’t see a way out.
Acceptance takes us out of the victim role and puts us in the administrator role.
It keeps us from playing the blame game where everything – from circumstances to people, parents, siblings, religion, God, whatever – are blamed for our inability to do anything.
Acceptance puts us in control of our responses regardless of what life throws at us.
Acceptance is a necessary step in helping us recover from losses.
When we accept our circumstances, their formidable impact on our life is reduced while helping us find ways to reconcile and heal.
In many ways, we are addressing stressful events every day. We acknowledge, accept, look for options and work to find solutions instead of allowing them to create ongoing turmoil. Because acceptance is such an important concept, I want to expand on how it can help us lower stress levels in our daily lives.
We are currently living in uncommon stressful times: the pandemic, inability to go back to work; wondering whether our kids can go back to school, whether we will have enough money to pay our bills or if life will ever return to normal. Add to that the emotional stress that is generated as we try to communicate and work together to solve the escalating problems we face.
We will experience stress every day. That is normal and natural. For example:
You’ve been asked to work overtime – again. The bus was late, you arrive home to kids fighting and an irritated spouse, the kitchen is a mess and you just want to throw up your hands and scream.
That is a pretty normal reaction to a string of events that were frustrating and exasperating. Who wouldn’t want to throw up their hands and scream?
However, when we remain in that agitated state, the original stress is compounded. We need our jobs, we want to have good times with our families, and we know we can adapt, but how do we keep the accumulation of expectations and demands from overwhelming us?
We think of losses as something we quickly address and then dismiss. But the more significant the loss, the more the impact it has on every area of our life: social, financial, personal, family, friendships, and our past as well as our future.
Loss asks the question, where do I go from here?
There are many books on the market that speak to that early universal pain. We can experience a multitude of emotions: shock, anger, fear, anxiety, relief, shame, guilt, etc. Our pain will gradually recede as life demands we engage again to pay the bills and feed our families. But little information is offered to help us create a new roadmap moving forward.
My newly released book, Learning to Live Again in a New World, addresses that need.
My husband and I loved to sail. We moved to Washington so we would have more opportunity to cruise the beautiful San Juan Islands.
If you plan on doing serious sailing or cruising, you need to learn the “rules of the road,” must be able to read charts and navigate the waters to avoid hidden reefs and shipping lanes. What is the significance of the different sizes and shapes of buoys? How do we chart a course from here to there while taking advantage of prevailing winds, tides and currents? Without these basics it is easy to get into trouble.
Sailing requires adjusting your sails to the weather and water conditions. The wind is the energy source that propels you through the water and as the wind shifts, your sails need adjusting to maximize power.
What scares you the most on a day-to-day basis? Are you concerned about your job, or your kids or testing positive for cancer?
Fears are normal and natural. They help us plan and think and prepare. But they can also become deep-seated anxieties that monopolize our thinking to the exclusion of problem solving.
Fears, like anger, can become excessive
They can appear like huge dragons or monsters threatening everything we do to the point where we no longer see options or opportunities.
The excessive fears we create in our mind seem just as real as any physical danger we might encounter.