What do you do when your positive attitude runs for the hills? What are some strategies to prevent you from crawling into bed and waving the white flag when life throws consecutive punches? At my going away party in California, a friend who had just survived moving her family from Seattle gave me a bottle of wine with a note that said, “Tracy, drink this. You’ll need it.” She wasn’t kidding! According to several sources I’ve found, moving across the country ranks in the top 10 most stressful life events just behind the death of a loved one, divorce, and imprisonment. That sounded ridiculous to me, until I started living it.
When my husband received a job offer in Austin a few months ago, we were thrilled and I braced myself for the work I had ahead of me. I stayed up around the clock to get our house ready to put on the market (which was fine because I have insomnia anyway), but keeping a house in show condition with two small children and two dogs is about as easy as nailing jello to a tree. During that time I learned to Relinquish Control and Wash Down Tums with Red Wine. Not many things have gone smoothly over the last two months, but for the most part I have rolled with the punches and kept on smiling. Here are some highlights:
- We stayed with my inlaws for a week and my dog destroyed their house. My FIL said he will be gifting me the antique oriental rug that Shelby pissed on four times. I love that man.
- Our corporate apartment had no hot water and no cable when we arrived in Austin. Now that we do have internet, the speed reminds me of the dial-up modem my parents had in 1997.
- We found our dream house and set a closing date. We inspected the roof. It needed $105,000 worth of work. Deal. Breaker. I had to mourn the loss of that one and accept the fact that we won’t be settled anywhere before the kids start school. There is very little inventory right now. So we wait. I looked at a house that backs to the Dell estate and managed to cause suspicion with his security team, but that’s another story. I wouldn’t be surprised if my realtor blocks my phone number any day now.
- My son burst into tears the minute we stepped foot into his new martial arts school. I wasn’t far behind him. We miss Master Lerma.
- Shelby was bitten on the ear by a spider and I’ve never seen more puss. Her beautiful hair is falling out to due anxiety.
- My other dog Bailey had a horrible bout of diarrhea, all over the corporate apartment. The new vet loves us. We’ve spent hundreds of dollars there this month.
- My four year old projectile vomited all over the car on our way to swim lessons. I don’t yet have a pediatrician or any friends I can call to help me in that situation.
- Our apartment is on the second floor and the guy who lives below us must hate me. I’m certain the kids sound like a herd of elephants dancing on his ceiling. I was going to bake him some cookies as a peace offering, until I realized my baking sheets are in a warehouse somewhere in California. He’ll have to settle for a case of beer.
I’ve been laughing through most of it, but today I am crying uncle. After spending the weekend in bed with the stomach flu I caught from my four year old, there are now ants, LOTS of ants marching down the wall of the apartment into my laundry basket. They are all over my favorite pair of jeans. And we have quite possibly the ugliest fake plant known to man in our living room. I haven’t slept in my own bed for over a month. We are ready to buy a house and we can’t find one. My favorite pair of shoes is missing. The kids are waking up with nightmares. I miss my friends.
I don’t like to complain, and I would consider myself a pretty positive person. But I gotta tell ya, my good attitude has officially run out the door and down the street. So now what? I have a choice. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. I’m reminding myself of some strategies that work in challenging times:
- Allow yourself to be upset for a brief time. Don’t let people tell you not to be angry or sad in response to a situation. The fact is, you feel that way. Embrace it and let it soak in rather than deny it. The key is not allowing those emotions to take hold of you for more than 24 hours. You have to snap out of it or it will drag you down deeper than necessary.
- Give yourself a reality check. Things are never as bad as they seem at the time. Take a hard look at the bigger issues people are facing around the world. Do some reading. Watch the news for a dose of perspective. Call a friend who is going through a difficult time and provide them with encouragement. Focus on others. Get the focus off yourself.
- Pray. A lot. Remember that you’re not the one in charge.
- Write. When you write it down, it doesn’t seem so bad. You can usually laugh about it or at least gain better perspective when you write about the events in your life.
- Wait patiently. Sometimes the only solution is time. Time will improve the circumstances. Time will heal the wound. And we can learn a lot while we’re waiting. Michael Hyatt offers wisdom on the topic in his post What to do when you are forced to wait.
- Focus on the good things. There are ALWAYS good things. Thankfully I have a lot of reasons to be happy about moving back to Texas.
What would you add to this list? What has worked when you needed an attitude adjustment?