There’s always something. It might be a challenge with a friend, or work or your health, but it seems life is always changing and there are always challenges. So how do you keep going?
Four short weeks ago, on Dec 8, 2015, my life took an unexpected, horrific turn. Car accidents happen every day and people lose their lives every day, but you never think it’s going to happen to you. That night my daughter, Katie, died in a collision with a semi. She was 17 and a half, with a bright future ahead of her. She had been planning on becoming a nurse and already had her mind set on pursuing further training as a nurse practitioner.
As you can imagine, my world stopped turning. Life as I knew it was over. Yet, a small voice inside me said, “you have a choice”. I can’t undo the accident. I can’t bring my daughter back, but I can choose the way I move forward. I can choose anger or fear or jealousy or a multitude of other negative emotions…or I can choose love. Reacting negatively serves no purpose. Being jealous of her graduating friends will not help me heal. Being angry at God or people around me only pushes them further away. And living in fear is not living at all.
Now, let me tell you, those negative feeling do surface and I deal with them. I have learned they are natural responses to losing a loved one. I cry, I scream, I shout, but I always come back to love and positive thoughts. All it takes is one look at my daughter’s smiling picture and I am reminded what she brought to this world. Katie was uplifting to those around her, she always made people smile and she lit up a room just by walking into it. I want to be more like Katie.
So, how do we move past challenges? Let me tell you what I have learned.
If you are also dealing with a challenging time, these guidelines may help you, too.
1. Be positive and be grateful
Don’t dwell on the negative – you will make yourself crazy. Instead, pay attention to all the good things. It can be difficult to see them, but they are there. While there is NOTHING positive about losing a daughter, there is much to be grateful for. I was blessed with 17 1/2 years with a healthy, happy girl who touched many people’s lives.
No matter what challenges you are facing, there is always something positive. Sometimes the difficult times are showing us a new direction. Once we start looking for all the good in our lives, it helps us re-focus our thoughts.
2. Use your challenge to create new goals
What are your instincts telling you? When everything seems to be falling apart, know that you still have options. Choose to change your path and start taking steps towards goals that you are passionate about.
I want to help and inspire others to live their healthiest, happiest life and to live and love well. Losing Katie has made me take a good look at my own life and I want to do things that make my heart soar and excite me.
3. Take action
Use your positive thoughts, memories and ideas to move forward. To make sure that my daughter will still be at her grade 12 graduation (at least in spirit), we created a memorial scholarship. It will be a legacy to Katie and her dedication to learning. Katie was always helping others, and can continue to do so for many years to come.
What can you do today to start accomplishing your goals, despite your challenges? Do one thing every day that moves you closer to your goal.
4. Keep going
You may stumble, you may fall. Life’s challenges do that to us. The secret is to keep moving. Take baby steps and be kind to yourself. I have felt guilty, desperate and exhausted. We all do sometimes. But I know it’s getting better. I also know that this experience will ultimately make me a better person.
Your challenge will enrich your life, too—the life that will be, and the life you have right now.
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” ~Charles Swindoll