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Pippi Longstocking in a GI Joe World

Thursday, 2 August 2018

I think sometimes that people think I am this Pollyana who always sees the bright side and doesn’t struggle. That can’t be further from the truth. Lately I struggle daily to keep my ass moving and out of the bed because it’s the easy and depressing thing to do. I am trying to rest when my body really tells me to but otherwise I have to move, interact, reach out and DO. It’s a conscious choice that I struggle with but ultimately I don’t want to give up so I don’t most days.

Is it easy? It is not. No, it is fricking hard and I want to give up many days but the battle wages on. Life has to be lived, chores need to be done and I have to keep going forward. There are a few key concepts that help me get through most days.

First, I consider life to be like school; I am here to learn things. I also consider, at times, that I am GI Joe and life is like a battlefield where I have to decide if hiding in the fox hole or charging forward helps my growth. That’s the key though in both instances; what will help me grow? I don’t hide in the hole because it’s the easy thing to do when those times happen, I stay there because there is a growth opportunity in that hole. The rest of the time I get up that damned hill whether I feel like it or not because I have to take the hill to win the fight and learn the lesson. Sometimes I charge up the hill and other times I trudge up that road. Either way, if I need to surmount that hill I will eventually take the first step and get up it.

So Mags, you may be asking, isn’t that a heavy lens to view life through? Sometimes, sure it is and that can really suck. Other times it’s light as a feather and I don’t feel the weight at all because I am in the zone, learning and growing on track. Another key to all of this is choosing how I see things that happen. Yes, it is can be a choice and one that we each control.

As humans we are so used to living life in a reactionary state where we are just reacting to what happens without forethought to how we might handle situations when they DO happen. And happen they will, you can trust me on that. My dad taught me a valuable skill in thinking about situations before they happen and how I might handle them when they do. He was a police officer for many years so much of his teaching in this area was around safety. I took that teaching and altered it to other things I was learning about as a young adult and still today.

Are the situations always fun to think about? No. Do I need to think about what will happen if my partner dies before me and how I may handle that? Yes. Now, thinking about those things won’t prepare me for the full on reality but it will help me prepare what I can ahead of time (wills, power of attorney, documentation and so forth) and it will also give my mind a chance to taste what the sadness and loss might feel like. I know that just that little bit won’t fully prepare me for the eventuality but it is a way to start handling that type of situation on some levels in my mind.

Another example of using this technique is to spend some time thinking about how I might handle myself at a company gathering where there may be a person present whom I have issues with. I spend time thinking about how I want to treat this person, how I want to act around this person and the boundaries I will set. This won’t prepare me for every eventuality but I will be more prepared for interacting with this person than I would be if I go in blind. If I have a plan in place, it may not go completely according to my own plan because people are people but I get to choose how I act regardless of the other person. Think about that for a minute; you get to choose how you act. That is true in every single situation in life to some degree.

So Mags, do you take time to think of fun scenarios and not just heavy crap like this? You betcha I do! You have to balance out the bad with the good. This is a skill set that crosses all boundaries! There are so many examples I can give you of how to use this skill in your daily life to learn how to choose to handle things that happen rather than simply reacting to them.

Then there’s the component of you just have to DO the thing. This can be tough and relies on will power to some degree. It also is a major part of learning and growing. I always say that the anticipation of doing something is almost always worse than the actual doing of the thing. We agonize and worry about things often for far longer than it takes to actually do the thing. I guess that makes me more of a rip the bandage off kind of person rather than trying to take it off easily and slow. Here’s the best part about this one though, you can get help. Well, truthfully you can get help in each aspect of this but you don’t have to rely solely on will power here is my point.

Ask for accountability help from your friends, family, therapist, etc. One of the biggest challenges many people face with this part is that they feel alone in what they are doing. Guess what? Most of us feel that way at some point or other. Think about how you feel if a friend reaches out to you for you to help them be accountable for some task and to succeed at whatever it is they are shooting for. Most of us want to help each other so don’t hold back reaching out and asking for help. It’s what we do for each other; help, care, love, support & sometimes push.

So, really I am more like Pippi Longstocking I like to say. I even have this wonderful bracelet a dear friend made for me that says “What would Pippi do?” Pippi was kind of a hero to me as a kid and that never fully went away. She would see a problem and dive into trying to work out what she needed to do to solve it. Now sometimes, ok a lot of the time, this led to hilarious results because they were kids books. The thing I took away from Pippi was that desire to help, to solve problems, to be kind, to be loving and to choose to be who you wanted to be. Pippi was very sure about herself and who she wanted to be and that really appeals to me even today. To know wholeheartedly who or what you want to be and to go after that with your whole being is something to behold and to be a part of.

I want to leave you with a quote that I keep by my desk that I adore from George Bernard Shaw the playwright, which is a huge part of my life’s mantra. “I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” to me. It is sort of a splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

Go forth with your whole heart and be who you want to be in this life. Burn bright and fierce and never stop loving, caring and helping where you can.

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