You are here: Features Drew's News When Life is Like an Angry Monkey...

When Life is Like an Angry Monkey...

ie_remarsreport_aprilYou're cruising along just fine when it strikes; that Barnum & Bailey semi in front of you hits a bump, the trailer door breaks and out bounces a crate of circus monkeys.  And they're angry...

Now that you're on the edge of your seat, what's this have to do with anything? Nothing, other than lately my life has had difficulties I equate to the likeness of angry monkeys.  Life sometimes hurls unexpected circumstances at you; sometimes you can duck and avoid the bad stuff, but sometimes you can't.

My ducking skills have been better... I've faced the loss of my job and several other family, health and "old house" repair problems. Some of which I probably should have seen coming, other I could not. Am I looking for sympathy by telling you this? On the contrary, I want to tell you how I am coping with life.

Don't get me wrong; everyone is entitled to wallow for a time. It's unavoidable and also part of the grieving process. Grieving isn't just for the loss of a friend or family member or when you find yourself confronted by a life threatening illness. We can also grieve for the loss of normalcy in our lives. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance; they are part of many of life's journeys from 12 Step Programs to the loss of our "best friend" animal companions.

I've realized that there is no such thing as normalcy in this ever-changing world. You can plan your life out in painstaking detail and project exactly where you will be in five years. Reality tells us another thing though. In the blink of an eye things can change and your entire life heads on a totally unexpected trajectory.

I admit there's nothing wrong with having a plan and to a certain extent it's wise to do so. Just be open to change, be flexible... Let me tell you what I've learned.

Job Loss 
Several things come with the loss of a job:

  • Obviously, a decrease in income. Difficulty making ends meet or having to choose which bills to pay every month are hard to deal with, especially if they've never been a problem before.
  • Depression. No reason to get up in the morning.
  • Fear (what will I do now?), boredom (what will I do now?), anger (what should I not do now?) and vengefulness...keep this one a fantasy.
  • Rejection. Job hunters (especially older job hunters) can relate here.
  • Loss of benefits. Insurances, retirement plans, etc. Very scary...

What Can You Do?  
These are the things that have helped me.

  • Healthy Habits. This is a critical time to take care of you. Many studies site life stressors with health problems. Avoid a junk food diet because it's easier than cooking or if you lose your appetite, make sure to eat. Don't over-indulge in alcohol or other substances that could harm your body (you can't afford them anyway)
  • Get moving. My gym membership has been the one thing I refuse to give up. Exercise can reduce stress, ward off anxiety and feelings of depression, boost self-esteem and improve sleep.
  • Watch for Bargains. With fewer dollars in your pocket it pays to watch the sale ads. Stock up on things that are on sale, but remember, even if it's an exceptional deal, if you don't use it, it's a waste of even a little money.
  • Cook and Freeze. If you have a chest freezer, fill it up. It costs less to run when it's full. I like to cook so this is a good way for me to save a few bucks. Besides, I find cooking therapeutic.
  • Back to the Past. If you're currently not in this situation, prepare for it. Stashing away some bucks now can definitely be a stress reliever in the future. It's recommended to put away three months of living expenses. I have to say that in this economy, three months is vastly underestimating.
  • Be Creative. Do you have any special talents, hobbies, or skills that you could turn into a bit of cash? Baby-sitting, running errands for busy individuals, maybe even a personal chef for an over-worked mom.
  • Distraction. Find a hobby, volunteer, anything to occupy your mind. The thing about creating a distraction is that we really aren't concentrating on the diversion as much as we are shedding the cares of the world for a brief period of time (if your diversion is a hobby that involves sharp implements though, concentration what you're doing may be important). You might find it tranquilizing to refinish a bookcase you scavenged from the curb the night before trash day. Repair emotional damage with a hammer and fistful of nails (well, maybe not repair but some physical activity can do wonders). Clean your house, pull weeds...just get off the couch.
  • Diamonds. Value your friends and family. Some of the ones that care the most are the ones you'd least expect it from. Be grateful for what you have no matter how down you may feel. Strive to be serene in this difficult time.

There is no magic solution or even an easy way to cope when your life is turned upside down; we each have to choose our own path and survive the best we can.

Grasp the power to create a new story. The next one can be better than the last. Optimism is an awesome human trait; it allows us to expand our ideas, improve our situation and gives us hope for a better tomorrow. Choose to be an optimist, not a victim of circumstance. I did.

Peace, Judy