How to Stay Buoyant in Choppy Times

By Kate Kerry Spencer

We all have them. We all have those days, weeks or months that drain the color from our cheeks, the spring from our step and the buoyancy from our hearts. We all have those times.

We all have those drains in our lives. Whether it’s a person, a project, or an ongoing set of trying circumstances that can’t be easily, or readily, or even ever changed, we all have something that drains our energy, decreases our resilience and detours or derails our plans. And sometimes, we’re the catalyst for all that mayhem in our own or other people’s lives, intended or not.

So, how do we maintain a sense of buoyancy through life’s choppy times?

First, acknowledge that the times are choppy. It sounds obvious, but acknowledging a tough reality isn’t always the natural go-to during stressful times. Denial is typically the preferred route, mostly because it gives us some time to absorb the shock of the new-and-not-great circumstances. Still, the sooner we look reality in the face, even if it’s just a brief side view to start, the sooner we can begin to deal with the real.

Second, take a deep breath and a step back from doggedly maintaining the facade of perfect normalcy. It’s challenging to have your home office turned into a sick room, for example. But discovering how readily space adapts to usage and need can be semi-miraculous. Likewise, weeds taking over your once pristine garden will have their day in gardener’s court, no matter how many seasons may pass. Besides, weeds add character to boring perfection.) Fashion-wise, if you wear mismatched shoes, or your shirt is on inside out with gravy blotches on both sides, or your hair is bivouacked to some other time zone, you’ll get over it. Seriously, you will get over it.

Third, begin to develop ways to bring some new-normal calm, beauty and meaning to your life. This is the territory of new life, the kind of new life that comes after a siege. This is the time to fall in love with a project, a cause, a sky. This is the time to plant new seeds of creativity, resilience and wisdom. This is the time of planting and the time of harvest. This is the time to discover what you will do now with your one, brave, beautiful life.

Wherever you are in that life, know that you will make it to this territory and however long you live, you will absolutely be blessed to have been here.

Hand on Heart Meditation

Periodically throughout the day, find a quiet place to sit with yourself for 5-10 minutes. Close your eyes and put your hand on your heart. Take some natural deep breaths, in and out, in and out. Silently say to yourself: “I accept myself exactly as I am in this moment. I love myself exactly as I am in this moment. I am perfectly enough in this moment, and the next moment, and the next moment.”

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Kate Kerry Spencer is a Pacific Northwest writer, editor, and publisher. Learn more about her upcoming memoir, Smoke: A Story of Love, Lies and Cigarettes

Smoke is the story of fatal consolations--tobacco, denial and deceit--and the second chances that can come to us in the most unlikely places. For this mother and daughter it was a rehab center where the two women wrestled with cigarettes, scrambled brains and each other--and in the process, found the long way back to love.

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