Smartful Coaching

Adversity Flip™

Turn Adversity Over to Find Something Good

08 March

Some Days Even a Positive Attitude Doesn’t Help: You Need To Wallow

This past week has been a series of thrilling highs and heart-rending lows. From the opportunity to visit and reconnect with friends and clients in faraway places to losing my father on March 2. I’ve never been one for roller coaster rides but unfortunately, this past week life has had me on a never ending one.

When it comes to “which member of the family is known for crying” the award is, and always has, gone to me. I pride myself on not crying in public but this week I haven’t been able to live up to my own personal standard. I find myself crying in the grocery store when I look at a box of Shredded Wheat (Dad’s favorite), looking at family photos of vacations, weddings and birthdays celebrated, and then for no reason that I can see. I’ve had to leave grocery stores in the middle of shopping because I started crying and couldn’t focus. I’d been counting down the days until my one year anniversary of being cancer-free (April 9) and was now hit with this…. truly, God where have you gone? During this time I read about a book by a Coast to Coast Radio talk show host I enjoy, Ian Punnett entitled “How To Pray When You’re Pissed At God.” I pre-ordered the book, but boy could I use its teachings right about now.

Am I making a point? Is there anyway to “flip” this adversity on its head and put a positive spin on it? Not likely. Does that make me somehow a failure in showing a positive attitude? Not at all. There are simply times in life when you need to give in and feel your pain, live your grief. I’ve discovered it’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s who I am. If I find I can’t move on or can’t get dressed, or can’t go to a grocery store without breaking down I will know enough to know that it’s time to seek help. Right now though I am dealing with the stages of grief:

  1. Shock and denial
  2. Pain and guilt
  3. Anger and bargaining
  4. Depression, reflection and loneliness
  5. The upward turn
  6. Reconstruction and working through
  7. Acceptance and hope

Right now I am vacillating between steps 1, 2 and 3. While I know I can’t “power through” this I also know I am not alone in finding ways to cope with the loss and I think that just learning to cope is a step forward in the healing process.

  Robbi Hess, Social Wordsmith, is a professional blogger, social media consultant and creative thinker.  She is a speaker on the subjects of time management, writing and productivity. “Helping entrepreneurs find the ‘write’ words!” 

11 October

When Adversity Brings Loss

I was going through a divorce in my early thirties.  I thought divorce happened to other people, not to me.

But here I was right in the midst of it. Frankly, she & I were never a match. But when we got married at a very young age, no one could have talked me out of it – I was certain we were right for each other.

Even though we were never a match, there were some good times. In particular, the birth of our daughter. Regardless, divorce is always a “loss” in some way.  A letting go of familiar & moving into something new, what was once a “family” is no more.

During this time it became very clear that I hadn’t fully mourned from my dad’s death, some 20 years earlier.  All those tears came flooding out now.

I was an emotional  mess.

“Laughter and crying are two of the best healers we have”      ~ Peter McWilliams

But all the crying did me a lot of good. It helped me heal. It helped me get more in touch with my emotions & get more in touch , with who I was.  As I cried & healed, I got more clarity about myself and others.

It also made it very clear that whenever something emotionally difficult comes up, it’s much better to deal with it at the time it happens, rather than wait until years later…



06 May

Gratitude & Adversity

“Gratitude allows us to put life back in balance. When you live with constant gratitude, your life will become a living prayer.” 

~ Barbara DeAngelis, from her book: Real Moments

You may be wondering what gratitude has to do with adversity.

A lot.

It’s easy to be grateful when things go well. How many of us are grateful when things don’t go well, when life is filled with adversity?

It’s important to be grateful for all of life. Even the adversity.

Adversity is where the growth is. Adversity allows us to rise above it.  Adversity is where the lesson is.

Life itself is both triumph & adversity. How can we triumph without adversity? Have you ever been inspired by someone overcoming “the good life”?

No. Every story of inspiration is about overcoming adversity.

 “Our pain can be our greatest teacher. It leads us to places we’d never go on our own.” 

~ Debbie Ford, from her book: The Dark Side of the Light Chasers

My father died when I was 9. I’ve been divorced twice. My daughter has disowned me. Do I wish these things had been different. Absolutely.

Yet at the same time I learned & am grateful for the lessons.

From my dad’s death, I learned to:

  • never take loved ones for granted
  • be grateful that my mom is still living – some have lost both parents
  • be grateful that my dad lived as long as he did – some never know their father at all

With divorce, I learned that:

  • it’s important to follow both my heart & my head
  • I need to love & respect myself before I can truly love & respect another
  • love alone isn’t enough, you have to like, respect & understand each other

With my daughter refusing to speak to me, there are times I think that all I’ve learned is heartache. But then I realize I’ve learned:

  • true love is expressing your feelings, regardless of whether the other person will express theirs or not
  • to focus less on the outcome & more on making sure I’ve done the best that I am able to do
  • once I’ve done all that I can, to be patient, let go & turn things over to our creator in faith & trust

Do I wish these events in my life had played out differently? Yes.

Yet, I’m grateful for what I’ve learned as a result. Adversity has helped me experience significant personal growth & become a stronger person.

It all comes down to a matter of perspective. And we all can change our perspectives if we choose to. Find ways to be grateful for adversity.







20 February

A Tribute to My Dad

Harry Wilson in uniform

When I started this blog I said it wasn’t going to include super-serious issues like death and dying.  However, it was 43 years ago today that my father died suddenly.  I feel very moved to write and share these words today, so I’m going to go with it…

It was hard to lose my dad at such a young age. Over the years I came to realize it wouldn’t have mattered what age it was – it would have been hard.   I also used to think it was worse because it happened so suddenly.   I’ve watched my mother have a stroke and more recently, due to hip problems, spend nearly all of her time in a wheelchair.  As a result, it’s become clear that losing a parent is extremely difficult regardless of whether it happens suddenly or you watch their slow decline.

I don’t have many pictures or memories of my dad.  What I do remember most about dad was how friendly he was and how easily he smiled and laughed.  It was very clear that he loved people and loved life.

Dad also taught me a lot about adversity.  I never heard him complain about anything.  And there were lots of things he could have complained about.  His left arm was crippled and he couldn’t lift it above his head without using his other arm to do so.  He had gotten so good at doing this, I never even knew he had a crippled arm.  The first I became aware of it was years after his death when  my mom said something about his crippled arm.  It also wasn’t until after his death that I found out that he’d battled health issues since birth.  In fact, 3 years before I was born the doctor told him he only had 6 months to live.  Not only did dad outlast that doctor’s prediction by more than a decade, ironically, he also outlived that doctor.  I’m sure that figuring out how to raise  8 children on the modest salary from operating a creamery has very stressful as well.  Certainly running a creamery wasn’t a soft job.  He spent significant time loading and unloading those metal cream cans onto his delivery truck.  The wooden Friday boxes they pressed butter in weren’t light either.  (Note: years later I found out they were called “Friday boxes” because the butter was made on Fridays).

There’s no doubt that my dad’s death was very hard on me and all of my family.

Even so, I still felt that I learned from it.  The biggest lesson – don’t take the people you love for granted because you really don’t know how many more days you’ll have with them.

Tell people how much they mean to you.  Tell them today.

I also used to look at every February 20th with dread.  I was of the mindset I just wanted the day to be be over with.  As the years have gone, I’ve been able to adjust my thinking.   I’ve now come to think of it as a day to remember how grateful I am for the time I did have my dad in my life and all that he taught me.  He wasn’t on this planet long, but his light burned brightly while he was here.  Thanks Dad… I love you!

Harry Wilson in Janesville, IA