How to Recover From a One-Two Punch Life Event

Sometimes life hits us hard with an adverse event throwing us off balance. In return, we react, we adjust, we recover. But what happens when two major life issues clobber an individual in one year? What is the process for getting up, fighting back, and returning to normalcy?  

   A client of mine learned to pick up the shattered pieces of her life and rebuild. For Rhonda, it started when her long-term job with a major financial institution was made redundant. Walking out the door on her last day with her pink slip and severance package in hand, she stayed positive. She did something quite wise, Rhonda decided to take a breather. She deferred our work on her job search for 30 days.

     When I caught up with my client to schedule our first session, she answered the phone in a calm, professional manner. It was what she said next that left me with no words. Rhonda explained she was sitting in a hotel room with her husband and two dogs because her home burnt to the ground in a Northern California fire. 

Picking Up the Pieces

     There you have it, folks, two major life events mere weeks apart, both traumatic, both requiring emotional and financial recovery. Where to start? After processing the initial shock of dual events, Rhonda drew on her resilient nature and began to design a plan. Although highly independent, she knew she must ask for and accept help from friends and agencies. The family made plans to move out of the hotel and into the home of a distant cousin.

     After some counseling and joining a support group, Rhonda and her spouse began finding glimmers of that elusive silver lining.

Now unencumbered by a mortgage payment and Rhonda’s job, the two began discussions about fulfilling a dream and moving to Colorado. While warming to their newfound freedom, their burden became lighter as they anticipated positive psychological changes.

Trauma Recovery

     I suspect at the outset of the tragedy; the couple experienced situational depression. Who wouldn’t? Rhonda told me they left their home mere minutes before the fire consumed it.

     People do recover from trauma, and looking back, Rhonda reports having a stronger appreciation for life. Those two events stacked one upon the other were severe, but change often provides new opportunities. 

     In tough situations, lean into resilience, but the life lesson here is don’t try to go it alone. Whenever a traumatic event impacts your life, ask for help, seek counseling, and as you work through recovery, train your brain to see the positive.

Dear Reader,

When the COVID-19 crisis is over, I suspect there will be multiple stories regarding one-two punch life events. I am publishing this today, to remind us, that on the other side of the toughest situations, it is possible to rebuild.

Stay safe.



Getting Procrastination Out of the Closet

Starfishes on the beach

While unpacking my bags after a lovely beach vacation I opened a closet to put away some belongings. The joyful carefree mood I carried back from the coast instantly evaporated as I viewed the tangled mess of shoes and disorganized clothing. When did this happen I wondered? I always prided myself on maintaining a wardrobe where pristinely pressed clothing arranged in color hues hung neatly in the walk-in while my shoes obediently sat below in tidy rows. Okay, I’ll fess up. I had no reason fake surprise. I’ve been procrastinating over organizing that closet for several months.

The word procrastination stuck in my craw like the stray sandal I discovered wedged between a pair of black pumps. Typically I am not prone to delaying action items on my “to do” list. Scrolling through my memory of months past, I realized it took me forever this year to organize tax documents for the accountant. Several other recent instances came to mind where chores remained undone until the eleventh hour.

As a life coach I realized I needed to do some heavy duty self-coaching before my newly developed procrastination habit adhered itself to me like duct tape on a leaky beach ball. My concern was not why I recently fell behind. I’m human and occasionally succumb to bouts of rebellious laziness. My sole concern was instituting the fix.

Klebestreifenzettel auf Holz TIME TO START

I immediately invoked the ten minute rule. Experts at “Psychology Today” recommend a “five-minute rule,” but I knew 300 seconds wasn’t going to cut it. I positioned the timer and spent the full ten bringing some semblance of order to the wayward shoe jumble. Feeling a bit better about the closet fiasco, I knew the next step was setting a completion date. I reviewed my schedule for Monday and slotted in another 45 minutes to complete the job. Knowing that carrot motivation works better than the stick, I promised myself when the wardrobe reflected perfection I’d treat myself to a new beach cover-up, AFTER I compiled a stack of gently used items and dropped them off in the donation box. Had I resorted to self-bribery? Yes, but for a good cause.

Word quotes of STOP MAKING EXCUSES AND START MAKING CHANGES on colorful sticky papers hanging by a rope against blurred wooden background.

Are you blatantly ignoring a chore? Make time to tackle the job, even if it is just ten minutes a day. Reframe the outcome and sweeten the pie. Organizing the overloaded and unkempt garage means you could hold a garage sale. Just think what you could do with the proceeds!