5 steps for getting up and finding your brave when you’ve been hit by one of life’s waves.

 

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My little sister Mariah was in high school on one of our family vacations. She was in the ocean riding waves and had on one of those tiny little bikinis that I folded in my drawer for the last time years ago. I was on the shore building a sandcastle with my first toddler, Morgan, who is now 28. This story still comes up in my head time and time again, even after all these years, because it so relates to this harsh and breathtaking life.

The wind was ferocious and the large crashing waves had a mind of their own.

Mariah screamed. It was loud enough to get my attention and I did want to make sure she wasn’t being eaten by a shark. She was under my watch. Searching the stretch of ocean, I finally spotted flying feet as a large wave brutally took her under.

I stayed put. She was still alive by the looks of all the flailing limbs. It is hard to be graceful when you look like a new calf trying to stand on wobbly legs. Each time her feet were almost planted, another wave knocked her bumward. Ok, call me heartless, but I laughed out loud. This was funny.

Coughing and sputtering and stumbling, her feet finally found a little balance even as the frothy water kept on coming. Finally standing, she was totally clueless that her pink-striped bikini top was now down around her waist. Fully facing the beach, her ta-tas were so lily white the little circles of skin shown like spotlights.

I tried to get her attention but crashing waves swallowed my sound. She must have felt the cool breeze on that baby fresh skin. Her hands slammed against her chest to cover things better left unseen. One hand spread for coverage, the other got busy pulling and tugging and wrangling the top back where it belonged.

I could tell she was traumatized. She ran up from the water, grabbed a towel and crumbled to the sand beside me in tears. The boys from the house down the beach clapped and whistled – not cool, fellows.

Waves can wobble us off kilter or slam us to the bottom like a tsunami, bringing catastrophe and washing away life as we know it. Right when we find the ground, another hits, ripping off our suits and we stand naked and bare before the world. How in the heck do we get up and even begin to put one foot in front of the other?

It really isn’t easy. There have been times I wanted to crawl back into bed and stay there for the day, or heck, the month.

Plato wrote back in 420 Before Christ (I obviously wrote out BC for emphasis…that is a long time ago!) Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.tweet

Even back then, the uber aware realized that humans trudged through this beautifully tragic earthly life not floating effortlessly above the fray. Ok, we aren’t being literally thrown into the lion’s den below cheering crowds with olive wreathes around their heads hoping to see blood, but that doesn’t make our battles any less painful and some feel exactly like that!

Standing up is the hardest part. Taking that first step can feel like cinder blocks are wrapped around our ankles with thick ropes but each step does get a little easier. Then the light peeks through.

I have shared with you that waves have knocked me down. Like many of you, boatloads have wobbled my balance and a couple have been tsunamis. Sometimes it just doesn’t seem fair. But here is the thing: it happens to everyone and has from the beginning of time. No one is immune.

The question isn’t why me. The question is now what? How do we get up and get on with this breathtakingly beautiful life even when we can’t breathe.

These are some lessons I’ve learned about getting up, finding our brave and taking baby steps toward living life out loud.

Here are the BIG 5!

  • 1. Always. Trust. Yourself. I would shout this from the mountaintops if I could. It has taken me some mighty hard lessons to learn this one but YOU are the expert on you and what is going on in your little corner of the world. That little voice whispering truth & tugging on your sleeve is in there, desperately trying to be heard. Be still, listen & TRUST YOUR GUT!tweet
  • 2. Be good to your body. You need it in tip-top shape to stand up, garner your brave and your balance. It is the only one you have!
    1. Eat real food – plenty of veggies, fruits, lean meats & fish, nuts & seeds, whole grains and plenty of water (if you need guidance with healthy eating, reach out here)
    2. Focus on good, solid, sound, rejuvenating sleep (need sleep hints? Reach out here)
    3. Get outside in the sunshine – pretty self-explanatory.
    4. Get moving – walking is great, running or gym work is fantastic! Whatever works for you. Take a friend or child for company. If you need help getting off the couch, here is an app that might help.
    5. Limit alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine and other drugs! Nuff said!
  • 3. Sift through the jibber-jabber. Lots of folks, good folks, have lots of good advice Everyone becomes an expert when others are hurting. To some, what you are experiencing will be no big deal and can downplay your pain (or even find humor in it); they have gone through it before, know exactly what you are experiencing and have all the answers. Thank folks for their help and move on, finding your own beat. You know the rhythm of your soul – find it, listen to it and dance along. True friends, real friends will bubble to the top – embrace them and let the others go. You don’t need any toxicity in your life.
  • 4. Accept help and support. Friends and family can’t fix your wounded heart, hurt feelings, disappointing or devastating situations but they can bring you a supper, meet you for coffee or take a child to practice. Let them do what they can. It helps you maintain healthy connections and allows them to support you and not feel completely impotent in a hard situation. Nurturing positive relationships and being vulnerable is vital for real connections and emotional health.

Being vulnerable is honesty & bravery colliding. The collision is frightening & powerful.tweet

  • 5. Trust the journey. You can’t control it and the path won’t be straight! It just won’t, darn it! Say that truth a couple of times. The good news is, two steps forward and one-step back is still going in the right direction. This is your story. It might not be the one you had envisioned, but it belongs to you. Be patient with yourself. This one is hard for me but things have turned out way more interesting than I could have ever seen. Trust it and let it go.

Scott Fitzgerald said:

For what it’s worth, it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.

Remember, brave one, you are not alone.

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