Tag Archives: coping

What’s Your Story?

As my husband and I were listening to sports radio while making dinner the other night, the host asked this question at the end of the segment “what will be your story in 2018?”  Hhhmmm, what an interesting question.  I never looked at the new year in this way before.  It made me think, what will be my story?

As I pondered this question, so many ideas flooded my head.  Will it be a new career?  Move to a different city?  Change someone’s life?  It was a bit overwhelming. Then I realized that I don’t need to figure it out instantly.  My focus right now at this moment is myself.  Selfish?  Maybe.  I think it’s important to make yourself the priority sometimes.  With work, relationships, and families, it’s so easy to lose yourself.

The last couple of years have been an emotional roller coaster with several miscarriages, moving, unemployment, deaths, and depression.  I vowed to take care of myself which meant getting back in shape, eating right, evaluate my career, accept the things that I can’t change, and just getting back to me.  My own happiness will be my story in the beginning.  We’ll have to see how this story unfolds, but I’m determined to make this year a positive, knock it out of the park year.

What will be your story in 2018?  Let’s go Eagles!  Fly Eagles, fly!

-Mai Bruneau

About Mai

Mai may or may not have been absolutely delighted by the Super Bowl outcome. You can ask her yourself and reach her here

Take That, Murphy!

Murphy’s Law: You drop a piece of toast, and the butter side falls face down, ruining the toast and creating a small mess to clean up. The document you spent the afternoon working on mysteriously saves to a location never to be found again by you or the IT team.  Everyone seems to have forgotten how to drive (seriously – how does this happen?). The definition of a minor annoyance that seems to us like if it can happen, it will. My December seemed to be full of Murphy and his Law, striking much more frequently, all while I’m trying to jam 15 more thing into the day (also why you noticed we went super stealth quiet here on the blog).

As the holiday season turned from busy to frantic and my breaking point was near, I had an experience that made me think about Murphy’s Law, or rather the opposite of Murphy’s Law – whatever that may called. I had a busy day of running errands, planned out as efficiently as I could. Somewhere in the middle was an appointment with my stylist. The line at the post office was shorter than expected (seriously a Christmas miracle), and a couple of other things went timed just right, and I arrived at my appointment about 20 minutes early. At first, I was a bit annoyed, because it wasn’t enough time to do anything else I needed to do, but I didn’t have anything else in that part of town that would take just 20 minutes.  I decided to go in and see if she was running behind, and maybe I could make another quick stop before the appointment.

I walked in and she was open; she had finished her previous client early.  That’s just not a thing. I slipped into the  chair, elated with my newfound time. I was struck by how lucky it was that she could take me right away. Sure, 20 minutes isn’t a huge deal and it would have been fine for me to wait. In fact, I could have probably used the 20 minutes to just sit and breathe for a minute, come to think of it. But at that point in my day, and that point in December, 20 minutes was EVERYTHING. I thought about how much we let the little, unlucky moments stick with us – it’s Murphy’s Law. We name it, and give it power. But what about the opposite? We don’t label the little, lucky moments or allow them to stick with us. We brush them off faster than they appear.  I’m not big into resolutions, but I am into sharing ideas and letting other creative people name things. What should we call these moments? Those times when the stars do align? Two or three things do break in our favor? We happen to hit all the lights just right? What happens when we start to name the fortune things that happen? What happens when we give those things power? Take that, Murphy! We’re naming these things and giving the good fortune the power…we’re just not quite sure what to call them just yet.

– Catherine Wemette

About Catherine

Catherine has been described as relentlessly positive. She doesn’t think it was necessarily meant as a compliment, but dammit, she is going to take it as one, if for no other reason that she’s pretty sure it would irritate the person who said it. Catherine is the founder of Good for Her Soul and you can reach her here.

I’ll Take It

I’m an old mom – I didn’t have my kid until I was 40. I had been married, had a fine career, traveled, etc. I knew some stuff. So I figured I could work out the whole “have it all” thing. No problem.

Problem! Baby, house, job, husband, friend, gardens, laundry, dishes, dinner…I actually could do it, but I sucked at it. Everything was (in the words of my father) half-assed – I felt like a failure in every aspect. It was pretty low point in my life, about when my son turned 3 (the 2s are nothing, by the way). I was at my wit’s end.

At about this same time, we moved into a new house and had done some renovations. I invited my real estate agent/friend over to see what we had done to the house. She hung out, perfect in her blow-out, designer clothes, fabulous shoes and fantastic heart. She was amazing: three kids, a husband running his own business, her own top-notch real estate agent business. I could barely take a shower.

After chatting for 30 minutes or so, I finally broke down in tears about how sucky I am at everything. She was so kind and calming. I finally just asked her, how do you do it all? She cocked her head and smiled a little bit and said, “Oh, honey…I outsource everything!” She proceeded to tell me about the cleaning lady, carpooling, the nanny, the lawn service and stack of takeout menus in the kitchen.

It was a light went on in my brain. It was okay to ask for help, it was okay not to do everything myself, it was okay to feel overwhelmed. Outsourcing was the best advice I ever got…and I took it: we have a cleaning lady come every other week, we eat out at least once a week, we use after care programs at school. And life is so much better – I am so much more relaxed and happy and able to enjoy my son and my husband and my life.

I know not everyone has the resources to access this kind of outsourcing and that life looks different. But there are still ways to outsource: local and county services, school programs and, family, friends and neighbors. The ultimate lesson is to ask for help. Even with help you’re still doing it all – someone has to coordinate all those helpers, keep the schedule, mind the store.

Bottom line: If there’s help to be had, I’ll take it.

– Libby Bingham

About Libby

Libby used to have a stuffed bear named Alan as a child and recently found him in her parents’ attic. She now understands what it means to “love the stuffing out of something.” You can reach her here

Our Own Stories

I’ve alluded to a rough summer and a rough year, but I haven’t necessarily gone into details. As a site built on sharing stories and building connections through shared experiences, I find myself wondering why I haven’t gotten more specific. I suppose it would be easy enough to say that it’s my business and I’m just not ready to share yet. But that’s not really it. I’ve never had trouble sharing details about my personal life (just ask my friends and random strangers who’ve been on the receiving end of my over-sharing). The more I think about it, I think there are a few reasons I haven’t shared more.

One – I’m still very much in the thick of it. I’m coping better now and healing, but I’m still in the middle of this particular story. I’ve learned some lessons and have figured some things out, but I know I’m nowhere near done processing everything my brain and heart are working through. And I personally like to share stories with a beginning, middle and end. I like to share how I was feeling, what helped me and what I understand now in retrospect. (That said, sometimes the story does end with “and so now it just kind of sucks.” And that’s okay, too.)

Two, and more importantly – I believe the details can often get in the way of our connecting with other people. It’s too easy to distance ourselves by saying “That’s never happened to me. I haven’t lost a parent. I haven’t had a marriage end. I’ve never gotten fired. I’ve never had a miscarriage. I’ve never lost my home. I’ve never been diagnosed with a life-changing illness.” (Just to clarify – these are not all things that have happened to me this year. The universe would have an exceptionally cruel sense of humor to dump all that on me at once.) And even when we have experienced those things, we can’t relate exactly because each loss is different. Each disappointment is unique. Every life change is a new combination of stress, uncertainty and newness. The only thing that really is universal are our emotions. No matter what the situation, we’ve all felt overwhelmed. We’ve all felt joy. Helpless. Lonely. Resentful. Hopeful. At different times in our lives, we’ve all experienced these emotions, and connecting with people around these emotions rather than the specifics of a situation is what makes empathy so powerful. You may very well not be overwhelmed by what I’ve been dealing with. It may have been too much for you earlier on than it was for me. It doesn’t really matter. The point is that the stress all became too much for me, and we’ve all been there, regardless of how we got there.

And finally, I haven’t shared all the specifics because these stories aren’t just mine to tell. They involve various people who may or may not want to share as publicly as I have. And Good for Her Soul is about so much more than just me. It’s about a community of women, all supporting and celebrating each other, but ultimately owning their own stories. And while my voice and my story are important here, I’m just one of many. But I’m grateful for your indulgence in reading so far and continuing along with me. I’m looking forward to sharing more as I process. And even more than that, I look forward to hearing from you about your stories as well.

Have something you’d like to share with a non-judgmental ear? Catherine is the founder of Good for Her Soul and you can reach her here.

Look for the Helpers

It’s been another heartbreaking week. The loss of life in Las Vegas is tragic. Our inability to act as a country is infuriating. And our struggle to understand why these things keep happening leaves us feeling helpless.

When I was little, I hated the sound of sirens because I thought it always meant someone was hurt, and that scared me. It was my mom who got me to re-frame it and think about how the sirens meant someone was getting the help they needed. It’s something I still have to stop and remind myself of as an adult when I get that pit in my stomach. My mom and Mr. Rogers’ moms are smart women. Every time something awful happens – man-made or from Mother Nature – we’re reminded of what Mr. Rogers would tell us as kids.

There was something else my mother did that I’ve always remembered: “Always look for the helpers,” she’d tell me. “There’s always someone who is trying to help.” I did, and I came to see that the world is full of doctors and nurses, police and firemen, volunteers, neighbors and friends who are ready to jump in to help when things go wrong.

-Fred Rogers

As someone who’s not part of the police and firefighter/EMT women and men who are helping on the front lines, I get overwhelmed and discouraged about what I could possibly do to help. I’m not a doctor. I’m not a lawmaker. I’m across the country. What can I do to help in a meaningful way?

Sure, I vote my conscience. And I contact my representatives. And I donate to the helpers who really are on the front lines and are best equipped to do the helping. But it all still leaves me feeling helpless.

And then I’m reminded that helpers come in all forms. I’ve spent almost 7 years volunteering on a crisis hotline. I’ve been on the other end of the line for people who didn’t feel like they had anyone else to talk to. I’m there for people who feel out of options. I’m there to listen to the truths that feel too awful to tell anyone in person. This is a thing I can do, and I know it makes a difference. I may not have been able to stop what happened in Las Vegas or even offer support to those affected by it. But I’ve found a way to jump in and help my neighbors in a way that I am uniquely suited to do. I can’t stitch anyone up. I’m not in position to draft policy. But I also know there are people who can’t talk with people at their lowest, when they need it the most. I can. And so I help in the way I can.

I share this not to say everyone should volunteer with a crisis hotline, suggest that I’ve got some magic fix, or am better than anyone else . Rather, this is how I make sense of the world and my place in it. I remind myself that I’m helping in the best way I can. I can be a helper. And if we as a community all helped in the small ways we uniquely can, we are a force against the darkest parts of our humanity. And so I ask our Good for Her Soul community, how are you helping?  What are we each doing to bring the love and light into the world?

Catherine’s heart hurts, and there’s not really much more to say about that. She is the founder of Good for Her Soul and you can reach her here.

The Power of Quiet

So it turns out we at Good for Her Soul are a little European. At least that’s the story we’re going with since we kind of disappeared in August, thinking a European August shutdown sounds better than “wow, shit got crazy.” Because of course we’re all busy. But seriously, 2017 has been a lot, and the summer was impressively epic in the amount of shit coming at me. So epic, that our August shutdown has also taken up the majority of September. We’re clearly overachievers. No big deal.

So I’m sorry to have left you for so long – it was never my intention. And while it’s been quiet on the blog, I’ve had to work really hard to carve out the quiet in other places in my life. And in doing so – sometimes really poorly, it turns out – I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past few months. Some were new lessons and some are lessons I think I’ll continue to relearn for as long as I’m on this planet. Like trust my gut. Even when things sound like they should be restorative or in the past it’s been a good idea, if you don’t feel like it at the time, for the love of everything, DON’T DO IT. Sure, there are things we need to do to ensure we have shelter, food and safety. Do those things. But the rest? Fuck it. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. You truly don’t. And the people who love you and are important to you? They will always be there for you and will understand when you need to bow out to take care of yourself.

I need more time to myself than I used to. This is a hard realization for my extroverted self. When I’m stressed, it is often helpful for me to be around others and refuel off their energy. And that really does help most of the time. But when I get to the point when I feel like I’m holding it all together with scotch tape and a piece of used chewing gum, I need to lean into that feeling and just shut down. Totally and completely shut down and retreat to the solitude of my house. Ignore calls and texts. Sleep. Cry. Make sure the inside of my shower is dry for a couple days in a row. Take a mental health day. Binge watch Parks and Recreation because it’s the television equivalent of a security blanket. Cry again. It’s my own version of an exorcism, I suppose – get all the shit out of my system at once.

It doesn’t happen often, but this sort of overwhelming stress seems to hit me every few years, depending on what’s going on. And I continually try to power through – work out more, see friends more, get more sleep, focus on work, take on new projects, get back into a therapy routine – all the things that often work, but also fill up my calendar and make it hard to find any unscheduled time. But when I find myself taking out the tape and desperately looking around for chewing gum, I hope I’ll remember next time to cut myself some slack, head it off at the pass and prioritize the quiet for myself. Everything I truly care about will be there when I feel stronger and ready to rejoin the world. So thanks for welcoming me back, world. It’s good to be here.

Catherine is grateful for the ability to disappear into her music collection and reconnect with some oldies but goodies. She’s currently reliving her youth through Janet Jackson’s 1993 album, Janet. Man, that album holds up. She is the founder of Good for Her Soul and you can reach her here.