Author Glennon Doyle said it. “We can do hard things.”
So powerful, this phrase has turned into a well-known mantra and a gazillion over-shared memes in recovery social spaces. I’ve probably said this out loud 50 times in the last few months.
Because it’s March in Canada: ugly and long-enduring everywhere except for maybe across the country on the West Coast.
Because there’s some funky astrology happening now: all my favorite astrologers are shouting at the top of their lungs and ordering me to just go back to bed.
Because I have probably bitten off more than I can chew. This was one of my mom’s favourite sayings. This and my eyes appearing bigger than my stomach. That kind of works here too.
Case in point: I volunteered to have my 17-year-old on my own for two weeks while his Dad and Stepmom took a much-deserved vacation. In truth, my work has me traveling quite often and Greyson is with them during these times. They deserve a two-week vacation and break from parenting. My son lives with autism, anxiety and epilepsy so he’s not the standard teenager whom you’d have to bribe to sit down and have dinner with you. He’s 24/7 on our heels and in our faces. Parenting him on my own, working, running a household, devoting time to my own recovery and mental health, devoting time to my partner and our relationship and just living – well this is quite the juggling act in my life. For the most part, I’m decent juggler.
Now, throw a Great Dane the size of a small horse and an emotional Boxer-Lab into the mix, the family dogs…and yes, I agreed to all of this for two weeks.
Charlie and Freddy take up a lot of space in a house and need to be walked for a least 40 minutes, two times a day. Winter storm or not. In March. In Canada. By the end the first week, the “we can do hard things” mantra played on repeat in my head as I trudged through the snow with the two of them. Together they probably weigh over twice as much as me so the walk was more like a drag at times. Them out in front, their leashes stretched tight, and me trying desperately not to slip on the slick, crusty snow. This was a extreme lesson in mindfulness. Walking two large dogs with a keen sense of smell (and desire to smell everything) constantly crisscrossing leashes; the cold wind whipping against my exposed face while I anxiously scan the horizon for other dogs coming our way; there is nowhere to be except exactly in the moment. Did I mention these two dogs have all of their male parts? Good dogs yes, but highly alert and rambunctious to say the least.
Turns out I could do this hard thing. And I did. There was a lot of moaning, groaning and little bit of bewilderment in how this exact scenario seemed easy in the summer when I last took on this very same task.
Well, I am now back in my cozy cabin with my 17-year-old, one small chihuahua/pug dog and a one-eyed cat named Missy. We don’t go for walks unless we want to, just sayin'. I have been reflecting a lot on this experience and the other hard bits that are showing up right now. I’ve had lots of discussion with friends and community.
We’re all asking…why does everything feel so hard right now?
According to astrologers, the planets are partly to blame. The full moon in what one astrologer referred to as “fussy Virgo” (I’m Virgo rising). Rare planetary transits are calling up big, transforming energies for most signs.
And then there’s the ass-kicking Daylight Savings that just occurred.
What’s also been on my mind is that it’s March. And today it snowed. It may snow again. Sometimes it snows in April (hearing that Prince tune in my head). I should be used to this. March and April can be cruel, sticky months. The promise of spring floating into our periphery and then snatched away as more fluffy, white flakes fall from the sky. Lots of things feel heavy and disappointing…my body, my energy and motivation.
So, what am I trying to express here? I’m asking myself that at this very moment.
Sometimes life is hard. It’s hard because of choices we make or don’t make. It’s hard because of things we cannot control. It’s hard because of the stories we tell ourselves about the things we cannot control. Sometimes, we just need to keep going so we can make it through to the other side. I recently had a session with a coaching client who was struggling with motivation around her goals. We quickly figured out that these goals she was working so hard to take an achingly-difficult, first step towards, might not be what she really wants! We also decided that it’s friggin’ March and it’s okay that motivation seems like a word we’ve never heard before. I encouraged her to let herself off this hook. To take some time to simply observe, notice and reflect on what she wants to do and doesn’t want to do...without judgement. And that brings me back this quote.
We can do hard things. And we all know difficulty is relative and can be a shapeshifter. It’s just another truth that we as humans must live with, along with uncertainty and the meaning of peace and happiness. But what if we stopped struggling and just gave in to the never-ending winter; the cuckoo astrology; the holy-crap-what-have-I-done moments? No drama, maybe a “wow” or an “oops”; some repair if it's needed. Accepting that everything will change and we will be in front of the hard stuff once again, feeling free and easy, wondering if that thing was really so bad.
And we'll be a little more resilient, perhaps a little wiser, hopefully a little more compassionate with ourselves and the journey of life.
We can do hard things. My wish for us all is to take a pause, remember all the hard things in years past and the fact that we got through them, and find a way to make our present experience, no matter what the challenge is, a little easier.
Who’s with me?
P.S. Can you see Charlie's snout in the picture? His head is bigger than my whole dog!