You know when you’re standing in the ocean, knee-deep, the water is ebbing and flowing around you, the wind’s in your hair and life seems pretty peaceful? Then you turn to say something to your friend beside you and all of a sudden this small, but powerful wave knocks you on your butt. Well that’s life. Life is quite literally, a beach. (This will be a pun-filled post, just so you’re aware…)
While you can usually be prepared for waves heading your way (if you pay attention and don’t turn your back to the water), there are other things in life that we just can’t prepare for. They might seem small, but they can swipe us off our feet and for a moment or two, knock the wind out of us. If you’re farther out in the ocean and you don’t duck down deep enough, you may even get stuck in the wave’s turbulent cycle of energy. In most cases, we get a fright, our head pops up and we’re ok. But what if that moment underwater - panicky, wondering which way is up or down - seems suspended? Well, when life throws those kind of waves our way, here are my tips for keeping your cool:
1. Let yourself be sad, mad, happy, shocked, whatever emotions you’re feeling. Really feel them. Take a quiet moment by yourself and let it all out: scream or cry into your pillow. If you keep pushing these feelings aside, they’ll come out in some unsightly manner, probably at the worst time. Face them and then you can start to move past them.
2. Remember to breathe (and eat). When crazy things happen, sometimes the last thing we remember to do is take care of ourselves. Yet this is when it’s especially important. Set reminders on your phone so you’re eating several times a day and download the Calm app. It will get you breathing and meditating to the relaxing sounds of rain, lapping water and crashing waves. That’s something we could use all the time! I’ve used that app to “keep calm and carry on” while sitting on a train or taking a bath. It’s got lovely pictures too.
3. Tell people about what you’re going through. I don’t mean broadcasting it on Facebook - more like the people who know you best. This is a time when you really need support from your loved ones. That’s what they’re there for. Share your woes and likely you’ll be surprised at how much people care and really appreciate having you in their lives.
4. Read the news. I've written about my adoration for the email newsletter The Skimm (if you’re not a subscriber to this clever, informative, free daily news service, created by two super cool chicks, you’re missing out!). It’s an easy way for me to keep updated on U.S. and world events. Reading the news allows us to focus on things other then what we’re going through. We are all important - but we are also small in the huge scheme of things. Keep up to date with current events and you’ll escape your head for a bit. Reading something like The Skimm always helps me to realize there are plenty of people in the world going through much worse things - and surviving. We’re all fighting our own battles, but world happenings give us perspective.
5. Get outside, even if it’s raining and bleak out. Grab an umbrella, walk to a park, walk down to the water. Take note of the people, the dogs, nature, the life swirling around you. It’s always changing, always moving. Always thriving. And in time, you will be too.
I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to read a post here (or several of them). It means the world to me. I am working hard on a new sort of job, so I probably won’t be able to post twice weekly as usual, although I am going to try my hardest - writing here is my favorite thing to do.
I think when tough things happen, it’s hard to have faith in the future, especially when things seem uncertain. Yet those are the times when we can really rein in our strength, by plugging along and focusing on a goal. By keeping ourselves together. By taking care of ourselves.
When that wave hits us, because inevitably it will in some way, having coping mechanisms, like the ones above, are what give us the strength to stay calm and fight to the surface. That first gulp of cool fresh air, of knowing you’re ok, well it somehow makes the struggle worth it.
P.S. This was an impromptu photo shoot with my surfer dude and photographer, Tom, in Long Beach, Long Island. (Those are his feet in the lovey-dovey, heart-in-the-sand picture. The heart was his idea, haha.) My blazer is from Brooks Brothers, the scarf is from the H&M men’s department, the tank top is from Target, the flip flops I’m holding are Havaianas, the sunglasses are TOMS, the mermaid ring I got in a shop on Ocean Beach, Fire Island and the shell ring is Lucky Brand. The pants are Hybrid & Company - they’re SO NEON and that’s why I love them.