How to Face Challenges without Losing Your Sanity

REALIZATION: As I’ve grown older, the percentage of my days that have been filled with unforeseen challenges has increased in direct proportion to my ability to tackle them as they barrel into my world like a bull in a china shop. I have become quite the matador. Not that I wanted the job, mind you, but I’ve realized that it’s much easier to face and fight than to flee in fright.

Let me tell you, that was NOT always the case. In my mid 20’s and early 30’s, I had absolutely NO idea of how to handle challenges and problems…so I didn’t. I tried to run away from them, shield my eyes from them in hopes that they’d go away if I ignored them, and I even numbed my brain up with drugs and alcohol in an attempt to forget about them. Newsflash… it didn’t work. I failed…miserably. The great saying “live and learn” really has applied well in my life. After all, I’m an anal retentive perfectionist who HATES to make the same mistake twice.

I’ve got great news, dear reader! I’m about to share the secret to my success with you. It really IS possible to face challenges without losing your sanity, and I’m walking talking proof of that fact.


In the past 2 weeks, I’ve simultaneously faced the following challenges:

  • Financial woes forced me to find creative ways to buy a week’s worth of groceries for a family of 2, with less than $15. (TIP – Buy a lot of beans and rice!)
  • Juggled my schedule effectively enough to work 3 part-time jobs, take 5 college classes, write two blogs, exercise, made time for God, and necessary time to socialize and sleep.
  • A diagnosis from my doctor that was less than stellar. Basically, there’s no cure for what ails me. My time on this earth is very limited. Newsflash… EVERYONE’S is. I’ll keep on living a day at a time.
  • The death of my beloved mom. After a 5 year battle with Parkinson’s disease, she put on her angel wings and flew home to be reunited with my dad on August 28th.
  • Mom’s memorial service 4 days later. As if the reality of her death wasn’t enough, I had to deal with family controversy and personality clashes as we said goodbye to the world’s greatest woman.
  • A sewer backup in the apartment next to mine, which decided to come pay us a visit, too. Joy…. Pure joy.

So how did I make it through to the other side? How is it possible that I wasn’t carted off to the funny farm?

ANSWER – My call to action

  1. Believe in yourself. Believe in your ability to overcome adversity. Never underestimate your power to gain superhero strength when you need it the most. Oh, and eat bacon. Or chocolate. Maybe both simultaneously! They are fuel for the gods and goddesses of the world…
  2. Ask for help. Don’t rely on your heart and mind to carry you through life’s storms. We were not meant to face challenges alone. If you’re a person of faith, use it. Lean on the God of your understanding. Don’t forget that where two or more are gathered in His name, there is strength. If you don’t have family to lean on, ask your friends for help. Cry, scream, have a hissy fit. You may get a few odd stares, but I guarantee that SOMEONE will listen and be a shoulder for you to cry on. If nobody in your circle of friends will help you, email or call me. I’ll do my best to help you. I don’t care if we’ve ever met or not. You are important enough for me to care about helping you.
  3. Wear your rain gear. Life isn’t about waiting for the storms to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.

Photo credit: Simply Me


Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda

I follow a lot of people on Twitter.  When I say a lot, I mean in comparison to the people I know personally in the physical sense.  I’m following nearly a thousand.  The fact that nearly half of them are celebrities or brands who could care less that I’m their 35,005th follower is beside the point.  They accepted me as their follower and I am therefore part of their entourage….that’s good enough for me!

Anyway, where was I going with this thought….ah yes…One of those celebrities is Dr. Wayne Dyer (a/k/a “The Father of Motivation”), and he shared something yesterday that I think bears repeating:

“Refuse to ever use the term ‘failure’ again about yourself or anyone else. Remind yourself that when things didn’t go as planned, you didn’t fail, you only produced a result. Then ask yourself this powerfully life-enhancing question, ‘What am I going to do with the results I’ve produced?’ and proceed to act in such a way as to be grateful rather than resentful for those less than glorious results.

What a brilliant thought!  In his awesome way, I think Dr. Dyer is telling us to be this little guy…

Be persistent!  Be resilient!  Be a fighter!  Be all that you can be… JUST NEVER GIVE UP!

Another great thought I had today was in regard to a game of sorts that we sometimes play with ourselves. I call the game the “Coulda-Woulda-Shouldas”.  For those of you that aren’t verbose in the definition of an inner guilt trip, let me enlighten you.  Here are some shining examples of how the game is played:

I overslept, missing the bus (and the opportunity to sit next to that really good looking guy who always rides the #15)  = I shoulda rolled my butt out of bed when the alarm went off instead of hitting the snooze button 10 times.  Now I have to walk to school, but at least I’ll get exercise!

I woulda met you for lunch but… = I was otherwise engaged in the art of a working lunch at my desk (because I planned to fail by failing to plan?)  But hey, maybe now I’ll get that raise I’ve been trying so hard for!

I coulda been a rock star but… = I chose to take home economics in middle school instead of participating in the glee choir and taking guitar lessons.  However, I know how to make a freakishly delicious pan of caramel brownies and sew a hem in my pants!

What is important to note in any of that?  I believe, plenty!  Life is about choices.  Sometimes the choices we make are good ones and other times not, but I don’t think we should ever resent the decisions we make.  Why? Well, because they are uniquely ours, and there is a reason and purpose for everything that happens to us.  What’s more exciting is that at the end of the day, we have an opportunity to look back and do a play-by-play.  If we care to, we can take mental notes of the highs and lows, the good, the bad (and especially the ugly).  When I reflect and take those mental notes, my planning includes trying to repeat the good outcomes at least once more before I die…and planning to avoid the bad outcomes like I’d avoid an encounter with a rattlesnake!

I coulda spent hours writing about the purpose of taking financial accounting and business law classes, but… = I’d rather give you a yummy recipe to try! 


Peanut Butter & Pretzel Truffles

From Eating Well:  January/February 2010

Yield: 20 truffles


  • 1/2 cup crunchy natural peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped salted pretzels
  • 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips, melted (see Tip)


  • Combine peanut butter and pretzels in a small bowl. Chill in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. Roll the peanut butter mixture into 20 balls (about 1 teaspoon each). Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper and freeze until very firm, about 1 hour. Roll the frozen balls in melted chocolate. Refrigerate until the chocolate is set, about 30 minutes.


Per truffle : 64 Calories; 4 g Fat; 1 g Sat; 2 g Mono; 1 mg Cholesterol; 5 g Carbohydrates; 2 g Protein; 1 g Fiber; 53 mg Sodium; 65 mg Potassium

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Store airtight in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
  • Tip: To melt chocolate, microwave on Medium for 1 minute. Stir and then continue microwaving on medium power, stirring every 20 seconds, until melted. Or place chocolate in the top of a double boiler over hot, but not boiling, water. Stir until melted.

The Grand Finale

If you’ve ever participated in a long distance race, you know all about the need for endurance, vision, and goals to see you through to the end of the race. Without them, you might get half way through a marathon, then look in the wrong direction and cast your eyes on an adorable 6-year old selling pink lemonade and shortbread cookies on the corner. If you’re anything like I am, you’d be done for.

Endurance, vision, and goals are the energy that can sustain and push us forward when we feel that we simply can’t run the race of life for another moment. They help us to keep our eyes focused on the finish line of whatever challenge we might be facing, eliminating the distractions that cause us to stumble and fall; assisting us in taking our minds off of any physical pain that we might be feeling.

I used to know diddly squat about endurance. The only kind that I was even remotely familiar with involved making it through the emotional strain of a Ben & Jerry’s Chunky Monkey craving from one paycheck to the next… Then I enrolled in college and I became enlightened to the truest meaning of “EVG”.

Flash back to January 10, 2011. You may not recall what you were doing on that day, but I remember it like it was yesterday. It was the first of my Monday academic “days from Hell”.  This past school term, every Monday I had classes from 7:30am until 8:30pm. Oh, and I’m not talking about fun classes like Bacon Identification or Baking with Nutella 101 (for the love of all that is good in the world, I TRULY hope that Chef Jeff at Fox Valley Tech decides to add those classes to the culinary program one day!) Nope, for 19 weeks I spent my Mondays sitting through 3 hours each of “Tourism – A Community Approach”, “Hospitality Law”, and “Math with Business Applications”. I suspect that even the finest of academic overachievers would yawn a time or two through those classes. However, ENDURANCE saw me through to the end of Hell day, so that I could focus on my classes for the remainder of the week. I won’t sugar coat the situation…for a month or so, it was looking as though yours truly might throw in the white flag on the whole college experience and walk away in defeat. Then I remembered why I had enrolled…my GOALS and VISION for a better future for Brian and myself. I trudged on, (at times, grunting and groaning), but I made it through each and every week. Then I made it through the first month… and the second….and with EVG along for the ride, I made it all the way through the term.

So here I stand at the GRAND FINALE! I’vemade it through some of my toughest courses to date. The ironic thing about that is, in prior semesters, where my classes were a bit less challenging, I still somehow managed to end up with one or two “B”‘s on my report card. So how is it that I pulled off a 19 credit course load and somehow managed to get straight “A”‘s?! On second thought, who really cares why?!  The point is, I FINALLY got the 4.0 GPA I’ve been working so hard for and so desperately wanting.

On occasion, I actually rock my own world… YAY ME!

Because summer break is the time for college students to relax and enjoy the finer things in life, I plan to kick it off right.  I’m going to make a huge batch of Jamie’s orzo salad, grill some flank steak, serve it up with INCREDIBLY awesome mango salsa from Todd and Diane, and finish off the meal with Jessica’s Better Than Crack brownies.


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