Making it Through Struggle in Today’s Challenging World

Fall in Sweden

I’m writing from Sweden where fall has definitely set in and the yellowish-brown leaves float by as the winds whip through the crisp sky. It’s beautiful really, even though the Southern Californian in me keeps hoping for the Santa Anas to push warm air in from the desert…all the way up toward the arctic circle. Ahh…the dreamer in me really never quits.

I’ve been talking to many friends, family members, and strangers on the street about today’s world. The majority feel that things are wild…scary…unpredictable. The economy has many of us panicked and worried about our futures. This get me thinking a bit about how we navigate through life when things seem so unpredictable.

For me, when I feel things are falling apart at the seams I tend to not sleep…to have a hard time focusing…eat less…fret…worry…become like a frightened cat feeling there is no option but to run and hide under the bed.

I’m not in this place now, but I’ve been there many times. There was a time though in which I held on to things so tightly. I prided myself in living in my own apartment, driving a beautiful Audi, having excess cash for travels, etc. When I quit my well-paying job to pursue the life of a writer, it was darn wild. My savings diminished quickly, and I really had to fight to survive. Sometimes I still do in my effort to live between two countries with my other-half and write.

But…I feel it’s been worth it…and hopefully it may pay off in more ways than one. It hurt when I decided I needed to downsize my car, reduce my “thing” pile, and  find a new place to live in Southern California/a roommate who would both help me save money and be an adopted cat mom while I am in  Sweden for months at a time (ouch!…before moving I kept invisibly hitting myself over the head for making this move. I kept thinking that someone my age should be much further ahead…with a house overlooking the sea…living the “dream”).

Yet I learned something life changing — I am not my things — I am not my home — I am not my car. In the end, I gained an amazing friend in my roommate and a new sense of humility. Who knew how much communal living could be? Who knew what freedom can be gained by not being attached to so many things?

I know someone right now who is so worried about finances and saving her home that she walks around each day with tired, bloodshot eyes. Her soul is weary…she cries often. She frets about things she should have done and about how bleak her future looks. “If I am forced to move, what will I do with my beautiful furniture?” she asked not long ago. All the while, her fears are sucking the life out of her. My question to her was, “what is your furniture going to mean to you if you’re dead or sick?” She looked at me with pain in her eyes, wondering if I had fallen off my rocker. My point was…if she keeps letting fear be her guide…she will not last either physically or mentally.

It’s wild to think…many people around the world revere an amazing being who had no home and no worldly possessions. Jesus roamed freely, not burdened by things…but driven by a passion and love for humanity. “Come to me all who are weary and burdened…and I will give  you rest,” he once said. Whether you are religious or not, it is important to realize that these words were coming from a wanderer without a bank account, without a multi-million dollar home, without a Mercedes Benz. He realized how bogged down we can become when attached to things…that our connection and love for one another should trump our obsession with the material world.

I’m not saying for one second that it is bad to have “things.” I still want to save up for a little bungalow overlooking the ocean in Southern California…and who knows…I may own a fancy convertible sports car one day. What I’m saying is that if you or anyone you know is struggling to keep your head above water financially, don’t be afraid. Just make key decisions that will make your life easier to maintain. Don’t beat yourself  over the head…don’t alienate the people you love in an effort to hold on to your possessions…don’t make yourself sick.

Downsize if you need to…

Learn to live on pennies for a while…

Make decisions that are going to propel you forward…

Let go of the need to hold on to possessions and begin focusing on to your loved ones instead…

It’s going to be OK.

The moment we free our minds and unburden our hearts…the more we allow our creative energy to take flight. A healthy mind is essential for success in this life. Pray for guidance. Meditate on good things. Ask for help.

You’ll make it through…

- Jen Engevik

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