Friday, February 26, 2016

When Life Gets Hard, Wear a Cloak (7 Tips on How to Cope During a Rough Week)

This week has been pretty rough. Some of the tough stuff was due to my own unfortunate carelessness, and some of it was out of my control. I know that plenty of people are going through much worse trials than my own little concerns. Regardless, I think it's good to acknowledge that we all go through tough times, and that it is important to make it through those! The other day, Christy wrote that she wasn't sure how Lent was going, because she didn't feel extra-burdened. I knew where she was coming from, because I had been thinking something similar. Later on in the day, as I thought about how I was going through some rough patches, I realized how appropriate and perfect God's timing is. This is Lent, and by letting a bunch of non-enjoyable things coincide, God is handing me a great opportunity to grow in humility, trust, and good ol' Franciscan joy! As I've scrambled to pull myself together this week, a few different techniques have helped me focus on God's blessings. So, I'm linking up with Kelly for some 7 Quick Takes to talk about it! 

1. Bluntly talk with God about it.
Prayer is important, and flowery, beautiful prayers are wonderful. But sometimes, you just gotta be straight-up blunt with God (as Patty notes, this is scary, but so worth it!). Looking through the past several years of my life, I can even point out specific times where I was super blunt with God, and then a crazy obvious answer to prayer happened, I felt amazing peace, or I became refreshed. When I sat down this week and talked it out with God, my words can be summarized with: "Okay, God, here's all of this [insert lengthy list here] and I give this mess to You as an offering. Please help me to trust in You more, and to rejoice in Your love, because this week has been rough!" 

2. As you think through events or talk it over with God, write it down.
I process events by writing them out. For example, when I pray, I often journal, pouring out my heart on paper. When something unfortunate happened the other day, it stewed in my mind for a couple of hours while I was out and about. When I returned home, I took out paper and wrote down all of my feelings about what had happened. It helped me to process and work through the different things that had been bottled up inside of me, and to label the specific things that were irritating me.

3. Wear an awesome cloak, eat some gelato, or do something else extra-awesome to take care of yourself.
I find it awesome how in this picture, the
television set has two bright spots that look like eyes.
On Wednesday afternoon, I really wanted to get out of this rut that I was in. So, I put on my epic Lord of the Rings elven cloak, ate pistachio gelato, and spent some time in prayer (see #1 and #2). You know what? Stepping away from my work and taking a small amount of time to do something utterly random and awesome really helped brighten up my week! Be proactive about adding some extra awesomeness to your day; find something seriously epic and just do it. 

4. Look outward and help others! 
When things get tough, it is so easy to obsess over ourselves. While it's good to be introspective and reflect on our lives, if we get too absorbed in our own problems, we will fall deeper and deeper into the rut that is consuming our lives. This week, a friend of mine needed help with a project for our parish. Putting aside my own work and problems to assist someone else with a project was really helpful for me!

5. Get outside, see people, and soak up the sun!
I realize that in many parts of North America, people continue to live in the glum days of harsh winter (at least, according to many bloggers). But, if you-like me-live in a place that is already rejoicing in springtime and warm-ish temperatures, then get thee outside! The first couple days of the week, I could barely drag myself out of bed (stress + bad cold=body decides to shut down), but later on in the week I ventured outside to get the mail. And, in that span of time, I wound up talking with a couple acquaintances of mine who work at the apartment. Being with other people in the sunshine was yet another thing that helped me-and it's not just me, but science is saying this, too!

6. Offer it up for an awesome intention. 

Redemptive suffering is beautiful, epic, and so important (see Col 1:24, Rom 8:16-18). So while you're bluntly talking to God, ask him to take your suffering as an offering for a certain intention! The other day as I was in my living room moaning and groaning to God about life, a book in my library stack-which I read the other day-caught my eye. As soon as I saw the book cover for Fallen: Out of the sex industry and into the arms of the Savior, by Annie Lobert (you can also hear her story here), I knew that I could offer up my suffering this week for Annie and Hookers for Jesus (her ministry to help victims of sex trafficking). There are countless epic intentions out there, so pick one or two or five and put some more intentionality behind all that you are going through! 

7. Recognize the blessings-large and small-that God is sending your way.
From an understanding, calm, loving husband who has been working hard to take care of me, to beautiful weather, a good friend who was praying for me, finding out that my younger brother did not die (he fell down a mountain in Austria the other day), a great childbirth class, and some cool opportunities that have come my way, there have been numerous blessings this week! While it is so important to recognize the struggles and trials that have come along and not bottle them up, it is vital that I also acknowledge and thank God (and my husband!) for all of the awesome things that have been happening!!

Well, my friends-there you have it! Seven techniques that I used this week when life got rough. These aren't the only methods that I've found helpful over the years, and I'm sure that there are other good ones out there, too! Overall, I try to remember that whatever is happening is not too big for God to handle, and that it won't last forever. Perspective is so important; there were things that happened years ago which at the time seemed like the biggest, worst things in all of history. But do you know what? None of it ruined my life, and it really didn't make that much of a difference on way or another. So keep some good perspective, and if you have one, wear a cloak-because they are awesome. 

[Note: Just so you are warned, I'll probably bring up my epic cloak again sometime in the future, because I am a huge fan of it! In a nutshell: For Christmas, my husband's gift to me was a certificate for an expensive item of clothing. Naturally, I knew I had to buy a cloak (what else would one buy???), and so this lovely cloak came in the mail a couple of weeks ago. My life has been significantly more awesome since then.]

Interested in another way that you can turn suffering into something utterly epic? 
Several months ago, I did a Q & A with a friend about this very topic, and she has tons of incredibly beautiful wisdom to share: 
"These scars will be the artwork etched into my soul: Discussing Suffering, Healing, and Hope with Artist Camille Mica."

Head on over to Kelly's blog for more awesomeness! 


  1. Awesome tips! I always find sunlight SO important - I get really cranky when it's gloomy for more than a few days, and the sun snaps me out of my funk right away!

    1. I'm so glad you liked them, Rosie! I am right with you-I need to get out there and be in the sunshine! (or at least let it stream through all of the windows)

  2. All good thoughts and suggestions. I find it helps so much to take care of myself, and then do something totally random for someone at the same time. And a bath is always good, too.

    1. Ooh, a bath is a great idea-that sounds really nice! I haven't had a bath in forever, but I should totally treat myself to one sometime!

  3. These are great tips, AnneMarie! I can definitely relate to having a rough week and trying to reset my mindset and just hand it over to God. Hope things get better for you soon <3
    You would get along with my roommate—she's a huge Lord of the Rings fan. I am only just reading the books now; I'm toward the end of The Fellowship of the Ring right now.

    1. Thanks, Erin! I have a lot more peace today, and these past couple days have been more on an upswing, which is nice! I will pray for you! I hope that things get better for you and that God helps you hang in there. Your roommate sounds awesome!!! Great job on reading the books-they can be super hard to get into (I love Tolkien, but he takes forever to get things moving!), but they are great. My mom actually read the trilogy out loud to my brother and I when we were little (labor of love on her part!), and it felt really satisfying and fulfilling to go through the whole story and let it all sink in :)

  4. Getting through undesirable problems has been difficult for my family. yet with prayer, the eucharist, acts of charity, and doing what we can is slowly showing improvement. Easter stops the darkness of evil revealing God's merciful love and light in His Son Jesus Christ our Savior. Thank you JMJ.

    1. Joseph, I think it's great that you bring up the Eucharist! Receiving the Eucharist and all of the graces that come with Holy Communion is so incredibly helpful in drawing closer to God and embracing joy :)

  5. Replies
    1. You are very welcome. Thank you for stopping by, Victor! I hope that you have a blessed beginning of your week!

  6. Hello! Great tips - and I'm starting to think I need to make myself a cloak ;-)

    1. Hello, Catherine! I totally recommend getting a cloak; I think that so many people would benefit from wearing cloaks on a semi-regular basis :) (wearing a cloak really feels spectacular!)