Month: December 2016

CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

CHANGE IS IN THE AIR

Change happens. What we do in response to it, how we handle the emotional fallout, is often more important than the event itself.

Before Thanksgiving, my husband loaned his “project” car, a 1990 Jeep Wrangler, to his nephew.  Scott, being the endlessly generous man that I married, offered it up easily. Intuition suggested to me that it wasn’t the best idea in the world. I kept my thoughts to myself. People change. Right?

A MECHANICAL WORK OF ART!

Scott's JeepThe Jeep was my husband’s baby, his pride and joy. It has been his one and only creative outlet and escape from life’s weighty responsibilities over the last three years. In that time, he turned it from a well worn vehicle into a gorgeous piece of mechanical art! (At least that’s how he sees it.) Fresh paint and replaced parts, it was the inspiration for birthday and Christmas gifts from the whole family. On nice days, he’d take it here and there, just for the sheer pleasure of driving it. Otherwise it sat in the driveway for him to admire and work on on nice days.

Scott’s generosity swung around and bit him in the butt. Leaving the parking lot after work, Nephew flew around a blind corner at a high rate of speed and T-boned a truck parked in the lane. All parties involved were fine. The Jeep? Totaled. To make matters worse, we found out about it, 10 days after the fact, from our insurance agent.

CHANGE MOVES IN AND SETS UP SHOP

In a flash, “change” moved in and set up shop. Our plans for the day were lost to emotional turmoil and endless phone calls. When we woke up that morning we had no idea that such an occurrence would take over our week before Christmas.

As I listened to my husband’s end of the conversation with the insurance agent, I knew exactly what had happened and I was spitting nails angry.  It was not a surprise to me. Forty one years old and notoriously irresponsible, the flashes that he was growing up swayed Scott more than they did me. The adrenaline started pumping through my veins like  Shanghai Maglev.  I made the bed, did a load of laundry and washed the dishes in the five minutes he was on the phone.

Scott’s response? Total self-control. He dove straight into his head, pushed his feelings as far away as possible, and started a to do list in his head. I knew he was heartbroken and angry, and I knew in time he’d wake up to his feelings. He was not, however, ready to face the onslaught just yet.

He hung up the phone and decisions lined up awaiting navigation. On the surface, the decisions involved dollars and cents and boiled down to how we could recover the loss financially.

The underlying choices, however, would determine the long term fallout and the ability of those involved to learn from the experience and move on.

NAVIGATING CHANGE

The love of old vehicles runs in the family! My son’s purple VW is behind Scott!

This event was did not create serious life altering change, but it carried with it many of the components necessary to learn, or practice, dozens of life’s lessons. Change is like that. It shuffles the deck, deals, and then waits for us to play our hand.

My biggest challenge was navigating my anger. I was only indirectly affected and so my path was somewhat nebulous. My anger was not. I was hurting for my husband and suffering his loss, even while he was largely unaware of it. I knew it would come home to him in time, but for me it was immediate and present.

Unexpressed anger is a slow burn. It can lead to depression, illness and a growing sense of powerlessness. It sucks the life right out of us and leaves us wide open for future difficulties. Inappropriately expressed anger damages relationships and innocent people. It spills out in passive aggression, sarcasm, irritability, without diminishing the initial anger.

ANGER IS NORMAL

Anger is a normal healthy response. Allowing it, owning it and finding an appropriate way to put it to good use is the challenge. Anger helps us protect ourselves and set boundaries.  When anger arises, if we take time to experience it fully, it will direct us to the issues that need to be addressed. If it doesn’t call for an immediate response, it is best to let allow the adrenaline rush to dissipate enough to recover rational thought. We perceive things differently in the heat of the moment.

PROCESSING ANGER

As I sat with my anger, the following thoughts and feelings arose.

  • How irresponsible! (I value personal responsibility in myself and in those I keep close to me.)
  • How self-centered! (I value thoughtfulness and caring that goes beyond what is in it for me.)
  • How disrespectful! (Scott is deserving of respect from the nephew he practically raised. Inherent in this is appreciation and gratitude.)
  • Fear. Will Scott set his own boundaries? Will he take appropriate action, or will he sublimate his anger and let Nephew off the hook. This always comes back to bite us both.

The action I took:

  • I decided to share some of my thoughts with Nephew. In other words, I told him directly that he had better man up, take responsibility for his actions, and make it right. When he gave me the runaround, not unexpected, I called him back to responsibility and then let it go.
  • Then I through my support behind my husband. I listened and I encouraged him to hold Nephew responsible, but to take control of how things played out with regard the vehicle. In other words, to do what was best for him, not Nephew.

DISSIPATING ANGER

My anger has dissipated. I’m over it. As for my husband, he’s navigating his part of the equation in his own time and way. He has the more challenging obstacles to overcome, but he’s holding his own. His loss is eking out in bits and pieces. It will take time and he’s learning every step of the way because he’s holding the experience loosely.

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha:Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy and Liberation

We get into problems with change and anger when we hold on too tight. When we try to make things happen, force the issue, fix the problem now we operate in a reactive state. We’re wrapped up in our emotions and unable to see the bigger picture. Taking time to breathe and slow down the process results in better decisions and less lingering discomfort.

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GIVE THE GIFT OF HOPE ~ A Book of Quotes

GIVE THE GIFT OF HOPE ~ A Book of Quotes

A BOOK OF QUOTES MAKES A PERFECT GIFT!

book of quotesIt took a great and mighty shove of the Universe to get the most recent revision of my book of quotes, FINDING HOPE, Quotes & Inspiration, out in print in time for the holidays. This book is designed especially for the woman facing the aging process. Choosing my favorite quotes on topics such as Strength, Change, Beauty, Fear, Wisdom and more, there is something for everyone.

Access the Table of Contents, a description of the book and reviews by visiting the book page on Amazon. Finding Hope is also available for Kindle, but buyers seem to prefer the paperback version. One reader writes, “it’s one (book) to keep on your nightstand. . . within easy reach when you need it.” Blank pages at the back of the book provide a convenient place to store additional quotes.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to check out the latest version of FINDING HOPE. Consider ordering a few extra copies for holiday gift giving. Amazon promises to get them to you in time, especially if you order right away. Give the gift of hope this holiday season.

Thank you and happy holidays to you and yours!

Dorothy

“A beautifully written book which stays with us long after it’s been read. Sander inspires us with her wisdom about aging with grace – the hardships and the beauty.” ~ An Amazon Reader

“Keep this little book handy for those days you can’t seem to pull yourself up! I always find just what I need when I open this book.” ~ An Amazon Reader