Life teaches us some interesting lessons and they often come from unexpected challenges.


Tough times come and go throughout life – some of us seem to be visited by them more often than others, but I find that they always teach me something when I face them head on and learn the lessons they bring with them. Today I thought I’d share my most recent challenge and what I learned from it, in the hope that I can encourage those who are struggling with their own difficulties.


Last year I finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t coping with an extremely difficult work colleague and I opted to leave my job rather than continue with the stress and upset she was causing in my life. This was a radical change for me – to be 57 and no longer working, feeling wiped out mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and unsure what the future held. There was a fair amount of self-pity and doom and gloom running through my head, my spirits were at an all-time low, and I wondered why this was happening to me.

It took several months for my resilience to re-emerge, for my mojo to spring back, and to start looking at the situation through a clearer lens. I wrote many blog posts about my transition from rock bottom to recovery, in the process I learned some valuable lessons and I thought I’d share three of them here today.


The first big lesson was to forgive the other person for her weaknesses, and to forgive myself for not knowing how to deal with it all. It allowed me to acknowledge that it was okay to leave things as they were and to not have managed to fix everything; some things just aren’t solvable. Forgiveness gave me the space to put it all behind me and to stop re-hashing it over and over, to stop thinking about how it could have been handled differently, to stop being angry and disappointed. I could let the situation be what it was, and to move on. I found the ability to accept the apology I was never going to receive and to be the bigger person – to let it go and move forward.

The final step in the forgiveness process was to wish the other person well. To begin with I hoped that one day she might get her just desserts, that karma would sort things out, that I’d find some vindication for all I went through. Over the last year I’ve listened to some really great podcasts that taught me to let that need for “fairness” go, and I now rarely think of her - she’s not taking up space in my head anymore - and that’s the best possible outcome, peace is so much better than karma or retribution.


I wrote a post about self-differentiation on my blog a little while ago because it was an area I realized I needed to work on in my life. I was always allowing other people’s emotions to impact on my own – when they were happy so was I, and when they were upset or conflicted, I’d take it on board and personalize it or try to fix it. It was a part of my personality that I was aware of in regard to my family, but when I wrote the post I also saw that it had impacted my work situation too.

I’d let myself to be drawn into the other person’s pain and lack of boundaries. I’d thought it was my job to help her, to fix her, to sort out her issues; I didn’t have the skills to be able to separate myself from her emotional flood and it nearly drowned me. If I was a more autonomous person with stronger personal boundaries, I could have distanced myself enough to avoid some of that overflow. When I took ownership of that trait in myself, it allowed me to see my part in the fallout and to learn new ways to not to expose myself like that ever again.


As I worked through the aftermath of this particular tough time, I discovered what was really important to me...and returning to work wasn’t on the list. We’re managing fine on one income and the type of life that appeals to me doesn’t cost much. It’s a quiet life, peaceful and pleasant; I choose to live simply and slowly, and I don’t want to work for another ten years to buy more “stuff” or to have more in my bank account for extras.

I’ve discovered that I’m content with what I have. I’m loved by my family and friends who stood by me through that tough time and are happy for me now I’ve found my new normal. I have my blogging, I volunteer, I’m free to help out when needed, I’m relaxed, and I laugh…a lot! What more could I ask for at this stage of life? That tough time taught me that I’m still learning and growing – I’m a work in progress, but I’m moving forward and I’m happy. I would never have arrived at this lovely place in my life if I hadn’t navigated my way through the tough time that led up to it.

You can't have a rainbow without a little rain


There’s a quote that says you can’t have a rainbow without a little rain – and that’s true for a lot of life’s journey – tough times teach us lessons, they strengthen our character, they push us in new directions, and they always come with a silver lining if we dig in and are determined to find it.

Life teaches us some interesting lessons and they often come from unexpected challenges.

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Cresting the Hill - a blog for Midlife (Middle Aged / 50+) women who want to thrive