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Survival Skills

How to outwit the nagging voices in your head

Being a child and having just gone thru a divorce, moving from your home into a new town and a new school is probably one of life’s great stressors. None of the three us knew what the future would hold.  At the same time I was the adult in the house starting an entirely new job, in a new town with new neighbors and new co-workers. The divorce rattled my self-confidence. But I had to be strong enough for me and my daughters – to show them that this could be done and we would be all right.

Somewhere during those early post-divorce days, roaming thru a bookstore with only ten dollars to my name, I found a book on the reduced rack and on impulse bought it for the inspiration on the cover. It was a book of postcards that were intended to send to a child who was away at school. Each postcard contained a quote from  Jackson Brown Jr. – from notes he had written to his own child. 

I tore one of the postcards out of the book and clipped it onto the refrigerator. It read:

Be Brave. Even if you’re not, pretend to be. No one can tell the difference. 

That little investment has been serving all of us well for twenty years. 

There were mornings I was rushing out of the house to make it to my new job and one or the other of my daughters would be struggling, anxious with fear of the school bus, classmates, tests and more. And I was panicking wondering how on earth I would calm this child and get to work on time. I would take the postcard off the refrigerator and hand it to said child to keep for the day. 

That little postcard held powers unknown. It was me giving a part of myself for my child to hold onto each day. It was my child carrying me near to the heart all day. Today, we still recite that quote to each other. Today the postcard is still on the refrigerator. 

And when that quote fails to bring us confidence, I say – “Hey, what’s the worst thing that could possibly happen??” Most times, that is enough to make us realize that nothing is all that bad and that we will be there to catch each other if we fall. 

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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