Another holiday came. Labor Day. It’s just a day, right? But it’s a day when a lot of people had the day off from work - a nice long, three-day weekend to enjoy family and friends. I really hope that was you, my friend. I was so excited that my daughter came home from her new job in a city 3 hours away. I believe I told you a episodes earlier that she had been living with me since I’ve moved into my new house a year ago. Three weeks ago she moved away and I felt just like that mom or dad who shipped their kid off to college for the first time. She had a few difficult days settling in and the mama bear in me wanted to drive up there and rescue her from anything or anyone that might upset her make her life difficult. Don’t worry, I know better and I didn’t. But it doesn’t mean I didn’t want to. And, I resonated with the empty nester who suddenly found their house way to quiet and still. But I was doing good with the transition, knowing that God was so purposeful in giving her this job. And, like I’d mentioned before, I was open to the new possibilities this could bring for me as I rediscovered myself. So, I knew it was a good thing and was so excited for both of us.
But then she came home for the weekend and left early on Monday - Labor Day. And the weirdest thing happened just after she left. It was like I fell right into a daze. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I think I literally stared out my back windows for 30 minutes without blinking. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but whatever was going on, it wasn’t the norm for me. Somethings was off.
Now, I should’ve known better, but I scrolled through Facebook and saw lots of friends out on Labor Day doing all kinds of fun family things. Hey, I’ve been here before! There are eleven national holidays each year, plus five more celebrated like Valentine’s day, Father’s day, Mother’s day, and Easter. So about 15 recognized holidays and celebrations here in the US a year. Every month there’s something, and some months there are two. So, in the past 4 years since my husband died, I’ve faced at least 60 celebrations of some sort. It’s not a new thing to see others enjoying time together. And honestly, I think it’s a beautiful thing. And I want it back.
So, I fell in a funk and I was sad. Really sad. And then I was so mad at myself for being sad…again. I mean, my goodness. I’ve seen 60 holidays and celebrations - big and small - come and go. Why am I still being affected by grief? Why? I’m wanting to be so done with grief. I don’t want to be sad and long for what is not in my life. And I certainly don’t want to look at others and envy what they have. I’m also mad because I’m feeling like I’m doing great. I’m healing. I’m moving forward. I’m proud of myself. But now this. A setback. I feel side-lined by my emotions. Ugh, so frustrating.
But, this is where I found the power of “AND.” It’s the place where you remember that being fully alive and experiencing all that it means to be human, the full human experience, means that you’re going to experience really great stuff in life, and really difficult stuff, too. Both. And way too often, they’re going to be happening at the same time. It’s just the way things are.
For me, it’s to remember that grief is here, always. Grief is a part of loss. And as long as you have loss you will have grief. It’ll just look different as you go along. But it’s also to remember that grief is not linear. You don’t move through it - or through the quote/unquote stages of grief - to a final destination. Again, it’s here; it just looks different as you go along.
So, here’s how to apply the power of “AND.” Yes, I’m doing good. Great, actually. And I have grief. I’m happy with my life, and I’m sad for what I’m missing. I’m moving forward in a healthy way, and I long for what I remember in my past. I revel in my independence and autonomy, and I miss sharing my life with someone. I laugh and feel lighthearted, and I feel down and cry at times. And it’s okay. Nothing has gone wrong. In fact, it is with full compassion for myself that I embrace the “AND” in my life. The power of “AND.” With grace, I allow myself to be sad that day, and even take a nap. With grace, I let go of any self-condemnation or self-judgment about the way I respond to any holiday - big or small - or any day, for that matter. With resolve to be fully alive and embrace all that it means to be human, I welcome the power of "AND". It’s powerful because it keeps me from beating myself up for what may look like a set-back. It’s not. It’s powerful because it keeps me from expecting life to provide only good experiences. It doesn’t. It’s powerful because it exposes the lie that I am only as good or as healthy as my current emotion. I certainly am not.
So, I started applying "AND" to every area of my life to see if I could get some clarity on how I was feeling about some things. For example, I am so excited for my daughter’s new job opportunity in a new city, and I miss her like crazy and wish she were here.
A “relative” - perhaps a distant cousin - of The Power of “AND” is “This is the part where…” and then you finish the sentence. For example, “Oh, this is the part where I see other people enjoying time traveling with their spouse and I start to feel sorry for myself and feel down.” “Oh, this is the part where I get mad at myself for crying…again.” When I first learned about this little phrase, I was taught by another life coach that was explaining how she learned to respond to her teenage daughter’s behavior. She said, “Oh, this is the part where my teenager rolls her eyes at me because she thinks I’m so dumb.” I don’t know if you can see it or not, but using this phrase “This is the part where…” when applying it to a situation gets you out of the middle of the emotional chaos and sets you outside of the event, more like a spectator or observer. It helps you to be much more objective in the circumstance, without self-condemnation or self-judgment, because nothing is wrong. “Oh, this is the part where this happens and now this is the part where that happens.”
It’s a great way to pull yourself out of a downward spiral of emotions. And you can do that because you’re actually using your pre-frontal cortex - the part of your brain that provides logic and reasoning, as well as regulates emotions - to make the observation. So, next time you find yourself becoming overwhelmed and feeling like your emotions are out of control, or whatever you’re experiencing you want to be different, try the “This is the part where…” tool, and watch to see how your brain observes the events with a logical explanation. I think you’ll be amazed, too, at the rapid rate at which your emotions get regulated. “This is the part where…” Try it and let me know,
The Power Of “AND” uses the same part of the brain to integrate dichotomies - Those places, for example, where you can be doing great and falling apart at the same time; where you can be happy and sad at the same time, and nothing has gone wrong.
What does Jesus think about The Power of "AND"? You know Jesus is always our go-to as an example as to how we should live our lives. So I thought about all the stories of when Jesus walked this earth to see where He may have experienced the power of "AND". The most significant one is, of course, when He went to the cross as a sacrifice for all mankind. Hebrews 12:2 says that for the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross. This was probably by far the worst day Jesus ever had. There was joy set before Him and there was torture and crucifixion. He knew what was coming. He prayed and asked God to remove the cup, and He said this is why He had come. He felt the piercing pain of nails in His hands and feet; the thorns on His brow, felt forsaken by His Father, and He did so with joy set in His heart. Talk about a dichotomy. The power of "AND". Jesus is our example. But He’s also a man acquainted with sorrow, pain, and deepest grief, Isaiah 53:3 says. So He is the One that gives us the ability, the strength, to endure all the things we face in life - big and small.
Friend, when you’re struggling this week because you feel like you’ve hit a wall or taken a set-back just when thought you’d gotten over that hump, take a deep breath and remind yourself that in life, being fully alive and experiencing all that it means to be human, this is the part where you can be filled with joy and purpose and at the same time be walking through some really difficult stuff. And that’s ok. Nothing has gone wrong.
Friend, if you would like some one-on-one help dealing with the dichotomies in your life, I'd love to be your life coach and mentor. I'll teach you some tools, just like the Power of "AND" and many more, that will help you regulate your emotions no matter what you're facing in your life. You don't have to be at the mercy of the highs and lows in your life. Let me teach you how to take back control and get you quickly on your way.
I’ve put a link in the show notes to my calendar to book at quick 30-minute chat to see if we’re a good fit. Or you can visit my website tricizody.com and send me an email there.
Have a great week! See you next Wednesday for the next episode of Another Beautiful Life podcast.
Calendar Link for a free Life Coaching Consult Call: https://calendly.com/triciazodylifecoach/30min
Don’t forget to go to my website www.triciazody.com to get your 3 Guided Worksheets for personal development that complement my podcast episodes. They’re free, and I pray you’ll find some healing and freedom there.