How Grit, Grace and Grief Have Shaped my 2020

Uncategorized Nov 05, 2020

It’s been awhile since I’ve written an article or blog entry - almost 4 months in fact.  

So, where did I go over the last 4 months?  Well, I have been in survival mode. My dad died in ICU on August 28.  

His death - after a summer where I became more of a full-time caregiver - brought me to my knees.  He was a GGG - a Genuinely Great Guy, so losing him is devastating and leaves a huge hole in our household.   

I know you are likely feeling deep sympathy for me right now. Thank you.  I also know that many of you have dealt with enormous anxiety and loss this year as well.  2020 has been a challenging year, and it’s ok to admit that, to feel it.  My heart goes out to you.   

My mantra since the pandemic began has been “Grit and Grace.”  I have a post-it on my monitor to remind me.  

Grit signifies for me a curious and powerful blend of resilience and resolve.  Useful qualities!  Qualities that have always pulled me through those times when life throws a massive curve ball either personally or professionally.  Grit helps me follow through and get important things done.

Recently, I read  the book Untamed by Glennon Doyle.  In it, she talks about a mantra she had  adopted to help her step into the "Ache" that is life:  "We can do hard things."   Yes, we can. With Grit.

 We also need Grace.   Grace is about dignity, integrity, calm, intentionality, presence.  Demonstrating "grace under pressure" is all these things.  It's NOT about efforting or muscling our way through hard times to the point of exhaustion and resentment.   It's not about being thoughtless or distant or otherwise hard on those around us.

In these unsettled times, the thing I think we are all grappling with is to some degree is: how can we balance the need to keep on keeping on (grit) with the need for presence, rest, stillness and time to refuel (grace)?

It’s tricky.  

It’s easy to overdo one or the other.  A much younger me simply efforted her way through difficult times - sometimes to the point of exhaustion and burnout.  Too much grit is, well, too much.  

Then there’s the flip side.  I had a client who was immobilized during tough times. She would dial up the self-care to extreme levels, and then beat herself up for procrastinating and staying stuck.  

The key, I think, is in awareness and practice.  Stop right now - and check in with yourself:

  •  Am I pushing too hard when I’m depleted, exhausted?  
    • If YES - What would being kind to myself look like?  What would it give me?
  • Am I overdoing the self-care stuff to the point of avoidance?  
    • If YES - What ridiculously-small baby step COULD I take that moves me forward a wee bit?

Here’s what I’ve learned over the past few emotionally-messy months:

  • When I practice reframing, refueling, and being kind to myself, I am able to find the energy I need to do what needs to get done.  
    • Instead of resisting fatigue and sadness, I give into it and acknowledge it.  I take the nap.   I cry into my husband’s shoulder.   It’s the fastest way through to some relief, and getting back into the business of daily living.
  • I do not have to rise too quickly from grief as long as I choose to not stay stuck in it too long.   Focusing on tiny baby steps each day helps me feel more in control.
  • When I am consistently INTENTIONAL, I am more likely to strike the right balance of GRIT and GRACE.

How will YOU embrace grit and grace over the next week or month?



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