|Our connections to others is what makes us strong and able to endure challenges in our lives. Connections can be the difference between surviving adversity and not.|
I must admit to being taken aback by the number of people worldwide, who in this difficult economy, take the lives of their children and then, kill themselves. This is such an insane and desperate act, and yet, the incidence of such is steadily increasing. Most of us would risk our own lives in order to save our children, and think nothing of this. The personal realities of those who would kill their own children and perhaps a spouse before themselves, must have shifted so radically that they are thought disordered in a number of areas. When I was a child, this phenomenon was almost unheard of, and was publicized even less. Now, I can think of five cases of this occurring in a relatively brief period of time in my own general area.
Since the focus of this blog is always practical and always positive, we should look at how we can fortify ourselves for frightening or desperate times in life in general. Life is challenging. Whether you reside in Beverly Hills, Zanzibar, Tristan da Cunha, or Rome, challenges will come. If they have not come yet, then you are fortunate, but they will come. Challenges with money, serious health issues with yourself, a spouse or with your children, will surface. Problems with family members will surface. This is what we do here on Earth, we experience problems and we attempt to solve them as best and as honorably as we can. There are some positive ways in which we can fortify ourselves long before the challenges come, so that we may be able to better meet them, and serve our families better while modeling healthy behavior for our children, particularly in difficult times.
1. Find a faith and practice it. I don't much care what faith you embrace as no one made me God's authority on how you should praise Him here on Earth. Your reason for doing good in the world is not of interest to me. I have chosen to follow Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, and this works well for me, but your choice and your journey may be different from mine. People with a faith meet challenges and adversity better than those who feel that they are out in the vast unknown alone. So, for your sake and for the sake of your children find a spiritual base. I am less interested in your relationship with a specific church, and much more interested in your relationship with God.
2. Honor and maintain the connections between yourself and others. Positive connections with friends and family can make all the difference when you are enduring difficult times. Having trusted friends around you, who will tell you when your attitudes or ideas need some reality testing and some adjustment is invaluable. Most of us have a few friends who are actually a draw on our energies. Most of our friends however, should be nurturing to us, and should support us positively throughout life. If you don't have those type of friends where you are just now, then become that type of friend to someone. Loyalty and friendship breeds loyalty and friendship. As we move through life it becomes harder for many of us to make the deep friendships that we found so easy to make as youngsters. Still, do this work. The building of gradual friendships throughout life is important and valuable.
3. Honor and own your sorrows. Although we do not have to let our losses in life overtake us, they would be meaningless if we did not incorporate them into who we are today. For example, I am now, and will remain, the mother of a child who did not complete his childhood on Earth. My perspectives will forever be colored by being a mother who completes life on Earth with her youngest child waiting for her on ahead. I can let this destroy me and allow me to be perennially melancholy, or I can accept and understand the great gift I had when I had this child with me, and I can bring light and positivity in the remembrance of my son. Each of us have to figure out how we will continue to do positive things on Earth following our losses. I will never be the person I was before my son's departure from Earth, BUT my broken heart allows me to understand more and to get more done while I am here.
4. Appreciate your spouse. No spouse is perfect, as a human being or as a spouse, or even as a parent. Still, chances are that your spouse is abundantly superior to many of the husbands or wives you know from the work world, or even those married to your friends. When life is hard for you, it is hard for them as well. Take time to nurture this relationship, because this too ends more quickly sometimes when people pass unexpectedly than we anticipate.
5. Avoid drinking alcohol, smoking, and even legal drug use, when you are able. A rare drink before dinner is not a problem, but many people drink too much alcohol, and this impairs their parenting, their other family relationships, their employment and ultimately their finances. Smoking not only predisposes to lung cancer, but when nicotine decreases the size of the blood vessels which feed our organs, we become predisposed to vascular problems, hypertension, and potential organ failures, particularly kidney failure. If we are lucky enough to bypass these issues from smoking, then we may experience emphysema. Smoking is also quite expensive. The children of smokers are often exposed to second hand smoke and can develop asthma. Most of us are wise enough to sidestep illicit drug use, but then we receive prescription drugs from our physician, and rather than working on the problem which led us to use them, we continue to use these drugs beyond the time we should. I know several medical people who became addicted to pain medicine which was physician ordered. Pain meds are fine in the short term, but a pain management physician to help you to wean them and find other ways of coping is beneficial in the long term. Alcohol, smoking, and drug use takes all of us away from our best selves, and for bringing our best selves to our families, and to our tasks and planning.
6. Do not fail to plan. Many of the people from my era did not believe that we would survive the Cold War we grew up hearing about as children. The result is that many of us fell into college majors, and declined to plan our lives and our retirements. Each year we should pull out a notebook. In it, we should write out short term goals for the year, moderate term goals for three to five years ahead, and then long term goals. There should be something in each category, and not everything should be pushed to the long term. Completing a Will might be a good short term goal. Buying and organizing six months of emergency freeze dried food might be a good moderate term goal for a person with no pre-existing preparations. Vacationing in Spain might need to remain in the long term goals for now, especially if your children are small and your funds are otherwise committed.
7. Make an emergency plan. Start simply at first. Try to save three to six months worth of salary as a safety cushion. Make a family budget which is reasonable and not too confining if you can. Each payday, put some money into emergency preparations, food, supplies, etc. When you are short cash, then continue to prepare for reasonable disasters by learning something. Even when you are out of cash, you can organize your supplies, borrow a book from the library on disaster planning and evacuation, or grow sprouts for salads at home.
Our blog is about preparation, and about surviving many different types of challenges across our planet.
Remember that most of all, human beings are not islands. We function best mentally and emotionally when we are woven into groups of people whose views and support are valued by us. If you don't like your present community, then form a community of like minded people with similar goals, and support each other through life's trials. Connections with others are what keep most of us doing the right thing, moving in a positive direction, and off the ledges of life.