May 10, 2021

The Clarity we Gain after Difficult & Stormy Times.

“Be patient. Like storms, the challenges will pass. Know too, that like the sun, your true self is constantly radiating.” ~ John Morton


With hindsight comes clarity.

When we look back on the difficult times in our lives, we realize we have grown stronger by trusting our intuition and having faith.

We all have an inner GPS or navigation system, where our bodies and emotions give us messages about what decisions to make to best move our lives forward.

Years ago, I was living out my California dream in Hermosa Beach, California. I had driven cross-country with one of my best friends and found a perfect, little apartment two blocks from the beach that had everything I needed.

I had a job I liked, great friends, and ran along the beach every morning before work—life was good.

Then a string of negative events occurred, and life began to spin out of control.

First, my car was stolen. I was able to collect insurance and get a new car, but it was a terrible experience. I parked on the street, so it took a few hours for me to realize it was gone, as I kept thinking I had parked in a different spot. Nope, it was indeed gone.

Then I went skiing at Lake Tahoe for New Year’s Eve with a group of girlfriends. I was not a great skier. I had skied a few times in high school with the church and school trips, and my skills were okay. I had rented skis and the bindings were too tight. I hit a patch of ice and the tip of one ski stuck into the snow and my body turned, but the ski did not.

The skis should have popped off, but instead, my knee popped. I was that person, bound up in the telltale yellow jacket, riding down the mountain faceup on a sled. The diagnosis was a torn ACL and the prognosis was a probable surgery.

I went back to work after the holiday and was informed that I (along with others) was being laid off from my job. Facing no job, major knee surgery, and living alone 3,000 miles from home, I called my mom.

We made a rough plan that I would come home to Pennsylvania and move back in with my mom and dad to have the surgery and recuperate there. At 25 and in love with California, saying I was unhappy was a major understatement.

At my initial consultation with the orthopedic doctor, he pronounced that it was a complete tear, and I would need surgery. He gave me a brace, some daily physical therapy exercises, and an appointment to come back in a month, once the swelling had diminished.

I did my exercises every day and walked instead of running. I was humbled by the injury and felt grateful for my health. Fast forward a month, back in the doctor’s office. He took my knee through some range of motion exercises and, surprise, I did not need surgery.

He said my range of motion was at 98 percent, and even with the surgery, there was no guarantee I would reach 100 percent. He told me if I stayed active and kept the muscles surrounding the knee strong, there was no reason I shouldn’t be fine. He did say I might never run a marathon (which happened to be one of my goals).

A few days after the appointment when I was considering what I should do (as I no longer needed the surgery), my phone rang. 

It was a woman I had worked with briefly a year prior who was leaving her job for maternity leave and looking for someone to replace her temporarily. I had recently switched from an editorial position to advertising sales, and she knew I was trustworthy and would not try to steal her job. It sounded like the perfect opportunity, so I met with her and signed the papers.

In the space of five weeks, I went from planning to leave California to go back to Pennsylvania and move in with my parents to working at a great temporary job and not needing surgery. I had been resigned to going home and made my peace with it, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do.

Sometimes life has a different plan for us than what we envision.

I stayed in Hermosa Beach for four more years and met the man who is now my husband and father of my two teenage boys. I ran two marathons and several 5K and 10K races and began teaching yoga. I met many friends and enjoyed living in California.

Had I fallen into a well of despair with the idea of moving home, perhaps I wouldn’t have been so disciplined with my physical therapy. Perhaps my knee wouldn’t have healed as well, and the doctor would have recommended the surgery.

I believe luck is a combination of hard work meeting opportunities. If we work hard, while striving for our goals, we will be ready when an opportunity arises.

If we keep pursuing what lights us up and brings us joy, eventually the right career will appear.

Sometimes things in our lives fall apart to come back together even stronger. Sometimes we need a little storm to break through the comfort zones that are keeping us trapped and stuck.

I’m reminded of those summer days when it’s so hot and humid you can hardly stand it. The air feels thick, the air quality is poor, and you feel as if you can’t breathe.

And then the storm clouds roll in. The sky grows dark, the wind picks up, and you hear the distant roll of thunder.

Before long, the sky opens and rain pelts the pavement. You can see the steam rising from the ground as the cold raindrops smack the hot asphalt.

Just as quickly as it has started, it’s finished. But it’s cooler, the air moves now, and we can breathe again.

If we’re fortunate, there is a beautiful rainbow too.

Sometimes our lives need storms so we can get unstuck and gain clarity again.

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