The next thing

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advice, essay, existentialism, health, mindfulness, psychology, self help, self-care, Uncategorized, wellbeing

When a friend’s engineer husband decided to go back to school to become a lawyer, for some reason I couldn’t get over his decision to dive into three grueling years. This sounded just awful to me — they had two young kids at home. And then three years later when he became a lawyer, I couldn’t get over how fast it went by.

Odd as it seems, remembering this got me through a divorce. All I had to do was take the next step and the next step and the next step and knew that after a year of steps I’d be on the other side. And that’s exactly how it worked.

And now taking the next step is exactly what a friend of mine in a very hard hit COVID-19 state is doing to cope with a decision her daughter recently made. Her daughter is a young adult who has been struggling with addiction for the past couple of years, which is clouding her thinking. Because she’s not willing to abide by the rules of social distancing required for her to live at home, she decided to move out of the house and into an apartment with other people who are most likely not abiding by the rules of social distancing either.

This fills my friend with fear. However, she is also filled with a great deal of wisdom earned along the way in this fight to help her daughter find her way back to the life in medicine she’d been meaning to live. And so after her daughter texted to say she was moving, my friend did two things.

First, she texted her back. “I can’t do anything about your decisions, and they scare me. But know that I love you.”

Her daughter immediately responded. “I love you, too.” There are so many other ways that interaction could have gone.

Second, after she went through the task of packing a suitcase for her daughter and sending her on her way, she gave herself firm instructions.

“Just do the next thing.”

And after that she said it to herself again. And then she said it again and then again. So the days go. And she still stands.

For the rest of us trying to find our footing and maintain in this topsy turvey world we’re living in now? Just doing the next thing will get us through.

So may you be strong. And may you be safe. And may we all just keep doing the next thing.

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