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  • Susan Fletcher, Ph.D.

How Do You Find Peace? What Helps You Cope With The Stress of Life?

Do you feel overwhelmed with the stress of your life? Is it like you are being sucker punched?

Your stress might be from an unexpected divorce, the loss of a job, the drowning from debt, or the fear of something going wrong with one of your kids. Whatever it is, it’s likely not just about what is stressing you. It’s about how you are stressing and what THAT is doing to you.

There is that saying that:

Life is what happens when you plan for something else.

Gosh, isn’t that the truth.

If you are a regular reader of my blog or you subscribe to my eNewsletter, you already know I’m a single mom with three boys who are the fuel for my drive. They remind me of what is right with the world. They are my greatest accomplishment by far.

But maybe like you, things aren’t always so rosy. There are growing pains. There are tough times.

How do you know it is going to be alright? How do you find peace?

It doesn’t come because we ask for it. My belief is that it comes because we need it . . . but only if we are willing to be quiet and see it.

The signs are there.

At a time when I felt overwhelmed and a bit desperate the first year after my divorce I struggled to find peace. My gut hurt, my head hurt, and I was using so much energy to create a family for my three boys and me that I cut back on my hours at work to do the best job I could. It was tough and it I didn’t know when it would get easier.

I was running around like a chicken trying to get it all done. It wasn’t unusual that I would leave work to come home for lunch and throw in a load of laundry, put something in a crock pot, retrieve something I left at home that I needed for work, or I just needed to do something in the middle of the day as simple as let our dog out….just because.

It’s during one of those days that I found peace when I least expected it. It was because I was paying attention that I think I was able to see it.

As our dog, Sophie, roamed around in our backyard, happy to get some company in the middle of the day, I stood there more than frustrated that she was taking so long. Looking around, there was this small bird in a tree. It was a cardinal, on it’s own, so still and so focused. It seemed so out of place that I couldn’t understand what it was doing sitting so still.

My grandmother loved cardinals. She would embroider them, hook a rug with them, she collected small figurines, and there was this calendar in her kitchen one time that I thought was just so goofy. She loved them and surrounded herself with different versions of them.

This cardinal in the tree reminded me of them . . . and it reminded me of her. I loved her and miss her. She was a source of peace for me. A feeling that I’ve missed. She would have been such a source of comfort for me in the hardest of times.

It felt like the cardinal was reading me. Honestly, it was more like it was studying me. I was studying her too.

Then it flew towards me, stopping in front of me midair just like a hummingbird. It didn’t startle me. It comforted me. It seemed so connected to me and there was this peace. The kind of peace I couldn’t find on my own.

Then it went back to the tree and looked at me.

Shaking it off I went back to work and googled to see why a cardinal would fly like that. I was curious and then I got chills.

I found out that cardinals don’t suspend when they fly. Then I read this and it changed me to this day:

“A cardinal is a representative of a loved one who has passed. When you see one, it means they are visiting you. They usually show up when you most need them or miss them. They also make an appearance during times of celebration as well as despair to let you know they will always be with you. Look for them, they’ll appear.”

That day I found my peace. I found the source that even with tough times it would be alright. I wasn’t alone. She was with me.

It took a few days to talk about it and when I did, I told my boys. We cried but not because of fear but because of peace.

As I wrote on our Christmas card that year:

Happiness is for those who choose it

Joy is for those who bring it

Peace is for those who feel it

May your peace be found in those things that mean something to you . . . because life is what happens when you plan for something else.

Until next time,

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