Here’s What I Do When Life Sucks

I’ve been writing weekly posts for well over a decade. From the outside, it would appear as if I’ve been in the groove for a very long time. I have rarely, and I mean RARELY missed a week (and we’re talking about hundreds and hundreds of weeks). When I do miss a week it’s usually because I’m on vacation or a virus is boxing my brain around.

So you might be surprised at how many weeks I don’t feel like writing, ESPECIALLY something helpful or inspirational or encouraging. In spite of the frequency of my posts, I don’t always feel like I’m in the groove.

Know why?

Because life sucks sometimes.

Bad stuff frequently happens to me and people I care about. And it takes many forms, from major bad stuff like a death in the family to less major bad stuff like a night of insomnia. Bad stuff gangs up on me once in awhile, too, as if the Universe is playing some twisted game of “kill the quarterback”.

Sometimes it’s hard to get up in the morning knowing the bad stuff is waiting for me. Sometimes it’s hard to be nice to others while I’m carrying a big pile of bad stuff around with me all day. Some days it seems like the bad stuff is all there is.

But that’s not true, is it?

Yeah, life is full of bad stuff — not just for me — for EVERYBODY. But it’s also full of good stuff. If I asked you to make a list of all the good stuff and all the bad stuff in your life right now you could find a few things to put in the good column…EVEN ON YOUR WORST DAY. Don’t argue with me. You know I’m right.

But, this isn’t a post to tell you to “focus on the positives” or “just fill your heart with gratitude” for what you do have. Those ideas may seem like great advice to the one giving it. However, in my experience, when I’m in the middle of some bad stuff and someone tells me to “Look on the bright side…”, I have to resist the urge to punch them in the throat.

Instead, here are a few strategies I employ when life sucks:

1. I remind myself that my current bad stuff is temporary. There IS good stuff in life, I’m just not experiencing it right now. That’s not the same as focusing on the good stuff — it’s acknowledging both the good and the bad. It’s more like a healthy reality check.

2. I try to remember that other people are experiencing good stuff right now, even while I’m experiencing bad stuff. This reminds me to try to not rain on someone else’s parade.

3. I allow life to suck (if needed). Sometimes I can quickly change my situation and sweep away the bad stuff, but sometimes I can’t. Sometimes I have absolutely no control over the situation, I just have to live through it and let it suck until it’s done sucking. I won’t lie, this one is hard.

4. I tell someone — sometimes I tell everyone — that my life sucks right now. Hey, there’s no sense in hiding it. THEY KNOW. I try not to make it the main topic of everyday conversation (see #2 above), but I find that when I’m going through bad stuff, hiding it from everyone in my life only makes it worse. Plus, “faking it” takes a lot of energy, which is already depleted when I’m dealing with bad stuff.

5. I write, even when I don’t feel like it. For me, writing helps me think, process my feelings, and express myself. In fact I often joke that most of the time my blog posts are just letters to myself that I share with the whole world. I also find that having something consistent to create helps me feel a tiny sense of control when my world is out of whack.

I didn’t write this to tell you that my life sucks right now. I wrote it to tell you that if you feel like life sucks sometimes, you’re absolutely right. And you’re not the only one who feels that way. We all have our ways of dealing with it and I’d love to hear yours as well.

And if I’m being completely honest, the strategies I mentioned above never completely pull me out of a funk, but they almost always lessen the intensity of life-suckiness that I may be feeling in the moment.

share the spark

Share The Spark

In last week’s post, I shared some thoughts on how to Live Like You Give A ****. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure if it would resonate or offend. Thankfully, it resonated.

At the same time, Alisha Thomas from my team published a post announcing something we’re calling Share The Spark — our new & improved, slightly-more-formalized effort to give back to our community as a company. At the time, I didn’t put these two two ideas together, even though one of the challenges in my post last week was to Give like you give a ****.

As I sat down this morning to write my weekly post to you, I struggled and struggled with what to write. I started two different posts and scrapped them. As a last resort I thought I’d just share Alisha’s post with you. Then it hit me — it was the perfect follow up to last week’s post. And it was clearly what I was meant to share with you this week.

I invite you to read Alisha’s post over on the sparkspace blog. And I hope you’ll be as excited as we are to share the spark.

Live Like You Give A F

Live Like You Give A ****.

Vegetarian tacos.

That’s where this all started.

One of my kids is vegetarian. The only problem is that this kid doesn’t like “vegetarian” food, so the meal choices are a) mac & cheese, b) black bean burgers, c) salad. Obviously, that’s not going to cut it long term, so last week I searched Amazon for a good vegetarian cookbook.

One immediately jumped off the screen at me and I thought, “Now THIS is a cookbook I can relate to.” It’s called Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give A **** (asterisks = my favorite swear word). The irreverence definitely caught my attention, and the recipes looked delicious and fairly simple (my top 2 cooking criteria for sure). I ordered it immediately.

I’m pretty sure there has never been a cookbook with a more clear wake up call in the title or the introduction (you know, all those pages that come before the recipes…the ones you never read). It forced me to admit that I HAVEN’T been eating like I give a ****. Not really.

The title rattled around in my head for days. The more I thought about it about the title, and its attitude, I started wondering what would happen if I modified the title and applied it to other areas of my life. I suspected it might challenge me to really evaluate how I’m showing up (or not) and participating (or not) in the various areas of my life that I claim are important to me. Here’s the list of modified titles I came up with:

Husband like you give a ****.

Parent like you give a ****.

Lead like you give a *****.

Do your job like you give a ****.

Run your business like you give a****.

Volunteer like you give a ****.

Learn like you give a ****.

Play like you give a ****.

Help like you give a ****.

Listen like you give a ****.

Write like you give a ****.

Speak like you give a ****.

Give like you give a ****.

LIVE like you give a ****.

Looking at all those titles — and admitting I’m not living up to all of them — has made me realize a few things:

1. I can’t give a **** at the same level in all areas of my life at the same time, and that’s ok.

2. I probably give a **** about too many things at once. Some/many/most of these things could be let go, or postponed until a time when I have the time, energy, etc. to truly give a ****.

3. If something is taking up my time, energy, etc. that I don’t give a **** about, why is it on my list in the first place?

Who knew a cookbook could make me think so much?

Sorry for all the ****, but sometimes a little **** is just what you need to hear.

You can blame the vegetarian tacos if you like.