"Sometimes, you don't choose a journey -- the journey chooses you."
On a recent podcast I recorded for the web site, The Power of Moms, I interviewed Donna W., loving wife for over half a century, accomplished mother of 10 children, grandmother to 43 grandchildren, and community volunteer extraordinaire. Donna credited her consistency with meaningful, love rituals that she has practiced with her family through the years, as a measure of success for the things she planned on -- and for things she didn't like breast cancer and heart surgery. Her established rituals are being put to the test again as Donna deals with her husband's progressing Alzheimer's disease. As her husband struggles and Donna adapts to this new change in their relationship, it is the maintaining of loving rituals that creates the security her husband is trying to hold on to and the ability to cope that Donna faces every day. Donna has found that keeping life as normal as possible during abnormal situations is a productive way to deal with a journey not chosen.
Another strategy is to (as hard as it might seem) just get up and face each new day even if you feel you lack the capacity to do it. Sarah G. is a young, first time mom, who is my oldest daughter's age and who I've known since she was a teenager. Last year, shortly after her son was born, he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Sarah has spent most of her son's first year in and out of the hospital, facing life and death situations for days and weeks at a time. I'm pretty sure when Sarah was playing house as a little girl, this scenario was not part of her activity. Last April, while in the thick of things, Sarah summed up her coping strategy on her Facebook page: "All it takes is all you've got." With the love and support of her husband, her family and friends, Sarah has found the inner strength to greet the unknown of each new day with courage and optimism. Facing a journey head on has proven to be the best way to navigate it.
By this mid-life stage of life, it has become quite clear that life isn't always fair. Each of us at one time or another have been on a journey not of our choosing. And while we can't always pick our journey, we can choose how to deal with it. As long as we keep pressing forward and include optimism, courage, fortitude, and our regular rituals, joy will ultimately shine forth, in usually unexpected ways, on that journey of ours.
Are there other skills have you discovered to provide anxiety relief and keep you moving forward on your journey?