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A Good Word

I had the opportunity to attend a speech by Dan Clark at BYU this week. He talked about adversity.

Dan Clark lived through some. He wanted to be a professional athlete and attended college on a football scholarship. He was projected as a number one draft choice for the NFL Oakland Raiders but cracked his 7th vertebra during a tackling drill which ended his football career. Doctors projected a 10% chance of recovery, at best, but after several years he did recover and started speaking to high schools about his recovery. He spoke for Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign, has written 21 books, has spoken to thousands of people around the world and has accomplished so much in the years following his “adversity”

Every life will have its share of adversity: affliction, bad break, bummer, burden, calamity, can of worms, catastrophe, challenge, crisis, crunch, difficulty, disaster, distress, downer, drag, evil eye, hard knock, hard time, hardship, hurting, ill fortune, jam, jinx, kiss of death, misery, misfortune, mishap, on the skids, pain in the neck, poison, problem, reverse, sorrow, suffering, the worst, tough luck, tragedy,  trial, trouble (or whatever you want to call it.)

But I’ve come to learn for myself it has a purpose.

“Adversity introduces us to ourselves,” Dan said. So true! You become acquainted with a lot of things during adversity–your true self is one of them. And I believe that if you choose to handle your adversity correctly and make the choice to overcome it, it will be a worthwhile introduction. Because I’ve seen it for myself and have seen it in others, as well, that “you can make setbacks, comebacks.”

“Comeback is a good word, man.” (Mickey Rourke)


Second Marriage Moment #25: The Counselor Was Right

“Gratitude is an art of painting an adversity into a lovely picture.” (Kak Sri)

I’ve always been the kind of person that appreciates cheerfulness, a positive attitude, a spirit of gratitude, a sense of humor and kindness and courtesy toward others. It’s pretty much how I’ve always tried to approached everything, every blessing and every challenge, in my life. And true to form, it’s how I entered into remarriage.

I thought that if we all tried to be cheerful, if we all had positive attitudes, if we all counted our blessings instead of our misfortunes, if we all laughed at ourselves and some of the crazy blended-family situations we now found ourselves in, if we were just polite to one another, everything would (at least) be tolerable. It’s how I raised my children; it’s the home life I’ve always espoused; and it has worked well for us: the good times have been really, really good; and the challenges, even the practically unbearable ones in the wake of a Ponzi scheme revelation, the venom we endured, the divorce and complete life change which resulted from the situation brought upon us by a former family member, were more bearable because of it.

Unfortunately, the remarriage counselor had a different view. He actually told us to expect issues—and he told us what they would be! I was NOT a fan of all the counselor told us to expect. And, I recognize (now) I was extremely naive to think all of the above could eliminate from our lives what every other remarriage situation brings to all family members. I learned, firsthand, the professional expert, the remarriage counselor, did indeed know what he was talking about. Every single issue he told us to prepare for came to pass in the course of our engagement, our marriage, or in the months afterward!

Looking back, I guess it was easier to know what to expect (even though I’d forgotten to expect it by the time it happened). I recommend premarital counseling to everyone. On those occasions when an issue would arise, we were prepared for it to some degree. My husband would look at me and say, “No problem, we were told this would happen, we’ll make it work.” And he always did, we always did, reminding ourselves, “This, too, shall pass.” And it always does.

One thing the remarriage counselor failed to mention, however, was the impact mothers have on their children; especially the impact of different mothers raising their children! Remarriage, and my husband, have taught me, “Different mothers equals entirely different cultures!” I believe you can attribute most blended family issues to that.

As a result, while there have been some great moments, there have been some challenges. I even dared wonder, about three weeks into our marriage (and on one or two other occasions), “WHAT have I done? Can I really endure the issues that come with this territory?” But what marriage doesn’t make you wonder that at some point, even a first marriage? And as my husband always points out, “At least the issues are never with each other or between us.” True, and that’s something to be grateful for.

Another thing I’m grateful for is that despite eight months of marriage, he is still holding on to the whole “soulmate thing” with all of his heart. And the longer I’m married to him, the more I think he’s right. How awesome it is to have found mine, so unexpectedly, thanks, once again, to…the unexpected life.

Oh, the counselor was right about something else, too: It CAN be done. It IS worth it. And, to quote him, “You two are going to be just fine!” Second marriage moment #25.

“Keep your eyes open to your mercies. The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.” (Robert Louis Stevenson)

What blessings has YOUR unexpected life brought you?

Snow Day

I remember snow days in Colorado were always a celebration. Cozy, unexpected family time; days filled with sledding and hot cocoa; relaxing by the fire; snuggling on the couch.  But the snow day we had in the spring of 2009 was completely different.  It just felt cold and alone.

That snow day I saw what an outcast I had become. Even regarding snow!

Every single driveway of ALL of our neighbors had been plowed, except ours.  (We hadn’t shoveled our snow in years–a neighbor with a snow plow on his truck, or a neighbor with an ATV and snowplow, always took care of it for everyone.  Not in 2009.) To make matters worse, all of the plowed snow had been piled, four feet high, at the top of OUR driveway.

A subtle message.

Aristotle was right.  ”Misfortune shows those who are not really friends.”

My son and I shoveled and shoveled the snow in an attempt to clear the driveway.  There was so much snow, snow that was that heavy, wet, spring snow, and the snow was piled so deep, we hardly made a dent in the piles although we shoveled until we felt like we’d sprinted a 10k.

My daughter was going to be late to meet her friends due to the snow situation blocking the exit from our driveway so I finally called a friend and asked her to pick my daughter up so she wouldn’t miss the activity. When her husband drove up and saw the piles of snow deposited in front of our driveway by neighbors, he was appalled! And angry.  He went home, got his snowblower, drove it over to my neighborhood and home, and cleared the snow away. (His wife told me he glared at every neighbor he saw as he did it–he was THAT disgusted by the hateful actions of our neighbors.)

That day I wrote, “I’m an outcast. But like the old song says, ‘I get by with a little help from my friends.’ Thanks, Dan.”

And truly, with good friends you’re never REALLY an outcast. Aristotle forgot to mention that while misfortune shows those who aren’t your friends, it also shows those who really are!  At a time when I felt like the biggest loser on earth and a total failure–believe me, ending up with my life at 41 1/2 years old had NOT been my life plan–I had friends who showed me otherwise.  ”The making of friends who are real friends,” said Edward Everett Hale, “is the best token we have of a man’s success in life.” If that was the measure of success, I hadn’t failed at all!

I don’t know how I would have survived my nightmare without friends.  ”A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.”  (Anonymous) At a time when I felt like I had lost everything, including myself, they reminded me of who I was, what I had always been and showed me I was still me.  Me. Me PLUS the adventure of my unexpected life!

They helped me make the transition into a new chapter of my unexpected life. And although it was very hard to leave them in Colorado and begin a new life in Utah (so hard, in fact, I couldn’t say goodbye to anyone–I just drove away), how fortunate I am to have known such good people, to have been blessed with such incredible friends, that it WAS so hard to say goodbye!

My friends, old and new, help keep me going even to this day. Truly, I get by with a little help from my friends.  Don’t we all?