A Shift Situation and You – Part 1 of 3

By Beverly Sandlin

Life changing shift events come in all sizes and forms – it doesn’t have to be the collapse of our country’s economy, a war, or a solar flare that knocks out the power grid. The Great Depression was a huge shift event that affected nearly the entire world. 2007 to 2012, and for a lot of us is still going on, has been referred to as the Great Recession. But look at the shift events in our personal lives – job loss, divorce, death of a loved one, a major illness. A week long power outage, the water coming out of your faucet is unusable, a tornado rips apart your town, these are all shift events. And your attitude during these events often determines how you get through them or even if you get through them.

Just recently we had a local man commit suicide. He had been through divorce, but the children chose to stay with him and they were very close. A farmer, he lost most of his land in the divorce. He started a trucking business just as the Great Recession started, but that failed too. He was well respected in the community having been a First Responder and Volunteer Fireman, and was from a very large, close knit family and had many friends.

Lord only knows what all was happening in his life the fateful morning he called a close friend and told him what he was going to do and to please find him before the kids did and hung up. The friend raced over to stop him, but it was too late. The man apparently felt the only option of leaving something for his children was to commit suicide, so that they would have an inheritance. The children, barely of legal age would have preferred to have their father than the money. And this is not an unusual story in the Midwest farm families where the farm has been in the family for generations.

So, attitude during a shift situation is, to my mind, paramount. If you are in a personal shift situation, what can you do? I would like you to think about the kind of person you would like to have beside you going through… A night without electricity? Three days without heat in the winter? A week with no electricity or other services and no way to leave – think of a tornado that has devastated your town? A month without income? A 3 month totally debilitating car accident? Six months of one thing after the other going wrong – engine blows on the car, break a leg, lose your job, etc. all one on top of the other? A year of unemployment and prospect of never getting a truly good paying job again? Total disability and you are now on a fixed income for the rest of your life that is barely subsistence level? The loss of a child?

Pretty gut wrenching thinking about these scenarios, isn’t it? We may not go through all of these in our lives, but I personally know individuals who has gone through circumstances like this. But the question was:  “Think about the kind of person you would like to have beside you going through…?”

Everyone’s answer is going to be different here, so I will just give you my answers. I would like a partner who has a positive attitude, can keep a sense of humor during tough times, be caring, compassionate, work as a team to get through things, and be there to the end.

I know, big lofty ideals, but how does that look in practice?

A night without electricity? Hey, let’s have a campfire or dine by candlelight and play games or cards. Maybe go out and see if we can spot the different constellations in the stars.

Three days without heat in the winter? Let’s camp in the living room under a plastic tent, bring in the solar lights in the yard, hook up the Mr. Heater Big Buddy camping heater and test our preps!

A week with no electricity or other services and no way to leave – think of a tornado that has devastated your town? Time to camp and see what we can do to help others who are in worse shape than we are.

A month without income? Hey, honey, why don’t we use this time to see how little we can get by on…

A 3 month totally debilitating car accident? I love you, I care about you, we’ll get through it, and I will take care of everything else, get you back and forth to the doctor and we will be okay.

Six months of one thing after the other going wrong – engine blows on the car, break a leg, lose your job, etc. all one on top of the other? This happens… And at some point all you can do is smile and say, “This too will pass.” And make the best of it.

A year of unemployment and prospect of never getting a truly good paying job again? Maybe we need to totally reevaluate our lives and look at other alternatives in jobs, careers, self-employment, where to live, how to live.

Total disability and you are now on a fixed income for the rest of your life that is barely subsistence level/retirement? I now have time. And if I’m very careful I can survive. But what can I do to feel useful and fulfilled? What can I do to bring happiness to others?

The loss of a child? Devastating to any parent and often breaks up a marriage. X is no longer here, but you are and the other children are. We can honor X by, and know that our time with each other is finite and we need to be as good as we can to one another every single day.

The next question is, can YOU be that person? No expectation of perfection here, but can you meet most challenges with a positive attitude, keep a sense of humor about the situation, and be capable enough to make the cuts, change the course, and look for new options?

Attitude in a crisis situation is often the defining factor between those who survive and thrive and those who don’t. Our attitudes is something we all have control over.

In my humble opinion, this is what SCP is all about – dealing with shift situations. So, whatever it is, job loss, illness, retirement, natural disaster, it means cutting back. And my hope is that YOU will help me fill this out a bit in the comments.

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