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The Curveballs That Life Throws

Posted Nov 19 2010 12:00am

Do you ever feel like the curveballs are stacking up against you?  I have found myself in that place many times and after the years, I have learned how to dodge the curveballs or to get up once they have knocked me down.  It is not like I could have avoided the curveballs but I have to decide whether to feel helpless or keep a perspective.

Often times, curveballs make a person feel like there is nothing they can do but there is always something we can do.  Feeling helpless is a normal response and generally, that is the first response.  Things happen that are beyond our control so we feel like we have been robbed or cheated and helpless.  While it is okay to feel this way, it is not a solution and thus, we have to learn to wallow less and to keep an open mind.

I have been pretty vocal about my health, my struggle to get answers, and all the feelings that came along with that.   While I have never really stopped looking back at the challenges I have faced in the last couple years, I have never really consumed myself in self-pity.  A while back, I wrote about my disabled neighbor saying, “If there wasn’t something going wrong every minute of my life, then it wouldn’t be my life ,” and I understand that no one is immune from challenges.  Self-pity is fine and all but there is a time and place.

I look back at the challenges as a means of response so that I can dodge the next curveball.  The last few years had been adverse for many and hundreds of thousands of people have lost their jobs, their homes, and their livelihoods and while I have been faced with my challenges, mine were close calls, and I am one of the lucky ones. What I learned throughout many adverse situations are survival skills.  The better a person gets at dealing with adversity determines how well things turn out. It has taken me some time and experience to get there but I think I gotten the “curveball” thing down.  After the initial shock (and the panic attack), I look at the situation, get my composure back, and decide how the situation can be best handled.   Sometimes, I have to be quick on my feet and other times, I am able to take a little more time to find answers.

Tough times require perspective and that perspective starts with removing the emotional barrier between you and the situation at hand.   I look at the facts and start to consider what my options are, and once I have considered the options, I determine how feasible they are.  Sometimes, a quick resolution is required and other times, it is not.  I also look at the situation and wonder whether it really is a bad thing.  Sometimes, we are quick to decide whether a situation is bad or the worst without fully understanding it.  I step back and look at what really is happening and while a situation can look bad, it does not mean the solutions won’t turn it into a good thing.

Often times, I remind myself to count my blessings in order to gain perspective. I thank God for all the gifts and blessings in my life and I realize that the situation isn’t as bad as it appears.  I start to look at the situation and realize that there is a big picture here and what is so horrible now may not be in a few months or even years.   Chaotic events are only a tiny point in time when you look at your entire lifetime.   I also consider the alternatives because sometimes today’s tragedies are a blessing in disguise.   Weighing what is happening at the moment you are in against the alternative makes the situation more manageable and allows you to think clearly about goals and resolutions.

It is much easier for a person to be calm and focused in order to gain control and perspective of a situation in a healthy manner rather than jump into panic mode or start wallowing and playing the “woo is me” card.  You can make better decisions if you are thinking clearly.  I have learned with a lot of practice that when things do not go according to even my best laid plans, it is important for me to stop and process my thoughts and emotions so that I can gain control of a situation.   This takes a lot of effort and practice but you learn over time.

Once you have gained perspective, you can focus on dodging those curveballs.  You have to learn to manage crises one step at a time.   You also learn that denial solves nothing and acceptance helps you not to delay action.   You have to trust your instincts when it comes to the next steps and keep emotion out of the way.  Remember to make up plan B as you go because you can easily get lost again once plan A fails.  Last surrender but don’t give up.  Once you accept the situation at hand, you can relax to move forward to your plan.  Accepting your limitations doesn’t mean you don’t have alternatives because there are always alternatives.  Even a person with a terminal illness knows there are alternatives.  Just because a person is dying doesn’t mean that they cannot make the best of the life they have left.  That is the thing about curveballs; even if you can’t dodge them, you can still heal your bumps and bruises after getting hit.

The last few weeks have been challenging to say the least but I feel like I have handled them better than I would have in the past.  My mother has been at my brother’s bedside for the last three weeks and while, I jumped into panic mode in the beginning, I found a way to remove my emotions from the situation to get answers.  Because I know what is like to be sick, I understand that solutions, cures, and good health are possible.  My younger sister was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease a couple years ago and now she is in remission.  My mother and my brother did not want to tell her how sick my brother is and about the stomach cancer diagnosis.  Because of my own experience, I believed that she could handle it quite well and she did.

To me, this crisis with my brother’s health is a mountain we have to climb.  My brother’s mountain is much higher and steeper than the mountain the rest of us have to climb but nevertheless, people can climb mountains especially when they are given the resources.  This is our mountain to climb as a family and I believe we will all be able to climb it and yes, there will be some near falls, bumps and bruises but we will get there and hopefully, we come out of it better people.  I pray that we do.

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