Find an Inner Gutsy Girl Through the Trenches of Single Parenting and Job Loss

Filed under: Divorce & Custody, Single Parenting, Relationships, Books for Parents

the courage companion book picture

"The Courage Companion" encourages you to embrace life, no matter how scary it may be. Credit: Viva Editions

You know that expression, "life happens?" One minute, I was headed down this fulfilling path: A 40-something mom of three really awesome kids, vice president for an Internet company and someone who found time to volunteer at my kid's school and work with inner city teens. Yes, things were looking pretty good. We looked pretty good. I knew we weren't "The Donna Reed Show," but neighbors dubbed us "The Perfect Family."

Guess what happened?

My marriage crumbled. Both my parents got really sick. My dad was in hospice and my son was in ICU on the day my company doled out pink slips.

Suddenly, I was jobless, grieving the loss of my dad, my marriage and the lifestyle that fit neatly into my suburban Chicago neighborhood. I found myself racing from hospitals to the senior living community where my mother lives to the sidelines of my youngest daughter's tennis matches, trying to keep that cheerleader smile on my face. I suddenly knew what it felt like to sit with a laptop at Starbucks in the sea of the anxious unemployed, cranking out cover letters and resumes day after day. I wanted to collapse on the floor in a fetal position.

I never expected to face the bad things. But suddenly there they were. I told myself, "Alright. Buck up. Be there for your kids." That's what I focused on. I've always been drawn to adventure and knew I had to transform this little "life happens" glitch into a gutsy move. It was time to mobilize and tap into my inner Nancy Drew/Rosa Parks and all the courageous women whose stories of resilience and fortitude I've devoured. I clutched onto their inspiration like a lifeline.

A can-do attitude, courage and resiliency became the mainstays and keys to my family's and my own ability to embrace the exhilarating life I believe I live today.

But it occurred to me that others, too, could avoid choking in the face of job loss fears and other scary life stuff, by cultivating a courageous attitude and creating their own turnaround opportunities instead of becoming paralyzed. I found, personally and professionally, that by remaining calm and under control, you can tap into your own inner courage.

This urgency to muster up my own courage became the inspiration for "The Courage Companion: How to Live Life with True Power," (Viva Editions, $15.95) which I co-wrote with a friend and colleague, Nina Lesowitz.

If there is a time for courage, it is now. Today is National Face Your Fears Day and the day this book arrives on the shelves of booksellers. Since 2007, this day is honored to help people celebrate the courage within, according to Steve Hughes, a presentation skills trainer who marveled at the sheer terror people faced when giving a speech in public and created the day to inspire courage.

In writing "The Courage Companion" my co-author, Nina, and I, spent the last year exploring and surfacing the mechanism of courage by interviewing people with extraordinary fortitude.

Our research through interviews with nearly 100 people confirmed that those who survive and thrive in the face of the daily trials of life exemplify the quality of courage. As one unknown author once said, "Courage is looking fear right in the eye and saying 'Get the hell out of my way. I've got things to do.' "

What we found is that people who took action, and faced down their fears, were able to reclaim a far more powerful life. One example includes Angela Logan, a single mom of three, who saved her home from foreclosure with a bake sale. After selling 100 cakes in 10 days at $40 a piece, she was able to pay off some bills and launched a cake-baking empire. (She sold her recipe to a national franchise).

Experts tell you to face your fears head on, and we agree. It is imperative that you keep a positive attitude, both for your own emotional well-being and that of your children. Here are five tips we learned from others who managed to tap into their courage, and turn their lives around:

1. Write down your fears. Identify what your fear is, as well as why you fear it.

2.
Determine your goals. If you want to move past fear, you must first make a commitment to yourself that you will take action to create a new future.

3.
Visualize your new life. Take time every day to see, in your mind's eye, what that new future holds.

4.
Learn from others. Success stories can be a very inspiring call to action.

5.
Do one little thing outside your comfort zone every day. Call people you haven't spoken to in a while to ask for help. By re-framing your thoughts and taking it one step at a time, you can open yourself up to new perspectives, and new opportunities.

Another cool thing about courage is, once you embrace it in yourself, it spills over into all aspects of your life. In the last few years, I've done things I would have never imagined, including competing in triathlons and forging ahead on my own personally and professionally. Our goal for the book is to help others live their lives with guts and gusto.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.