Standing Strong

Standing Strong

If I ranked years in either good year or bad year columns, 2018 would definitely make it into my bad year top five list. Filled with multiple disappointments and multiple deaths, it also marked the tenth year since I lost Dan and the twentieth year since I lost my mama, so there were bad memories to contend with too. However, I am still breathing, which means I get more time to fight through this unpredictable and sometimes hellish world—a place according to the news and statistics has become unbearable to many who believe they cannot go on. Their eyes dimmed from so many tears they cannot see a way out of their problems, they cannot see there are people who care, and in that deep, dark valley where seemingly unsolvable problems seep out of hidden crevices, they lose hope. Then they sometimes make an irreversible decision.

Mama used to remind me when I went through storms, “Better days are coming.” Sounds too simple, however, it relays optimism, the power of staying positive, a “glass is half-full” scenario. In my research for one of my projects, I read about people who attempted suicide or about the family and friends who lost a loved one who gave up and said, “No more pain. I can’t do this anymore!”

Rarely, in my studies have I come across stories that are more heartbreaking than these. I used to wonder, “If only someone could’ve reached that person in time.” That’s not always possible because many people who are hurting, deeply hurting to the point they feel they have no hope, are often good at hiding those feelings. Their smiles mask mountains of pain.

I’ve been so discouraged I felt that even God Himself had abandoned me. If you’re feeling like that, please do not give up. Even though you think you all out of strength, your motivation has been drained dry, nobody cares, it is not true. Deep down inside you have what it takes to go on and get through whatever it is. Please understand that storms don’t last, although it seems like they do sometimes. Nothing in life, even the good things, last forever.

2018 was rough, but there are good moments and milestones with good memories tied to them. The year marked twenty-five years since I boarded my last sock in a textile mill. It took me a little over seven years to make that change (persistence paid off big time). During this difficult year, I found there are diamonds all around me, be they family or friends (old and new); they were there to remind me to keep going, don’t give up, stay persistent.

Staying motivated during difficult times is hard. Getting through them can sting like a bee, but we can stay strong and keep fighting.

When we were in Monaco a few years ago, we came across a group of trees planted high on a hill overlooking the Mediterranean. What makes them notable is that they are all leaning out toward to the sea, appearing to desperately hang on while fighting the elements that seek to uproot and destroy them. The strong winds may have bent them over time, but they are still standing, still fighting, still surviving.

We may get blown around, scarred up, and our worlds flipped upside down now and again, but we can keep on fighting, keep on trying. Like the ant and the rubber tree plant and the train that thought it could we learned about in our childhoods, we can stay strong like those trees on that hill in Monaco.

It’s possible you are closer to a breakthrough than you think, something is going to happen to make the bad days worth the wait. Your situation may look hopeless now, but it’s not always going to be that way. 2019 may be your best year and like Mama said, “Better days are coming.”

Happy New Year!



© Dee Hardy | Encouraging the Discouraged, 2019. All rights reserved.

A Little  Engine, Changes, and Determination

A Little Engine, Changes, and Determination

People repeat the same phrase, “Time to turn over a new leaf,” every New Year’s Day, and we make New Year’s resolutions most of us don’t keep past the first week. Yes, I’m guilty too. This year I’m focusing on a few goals, some of which I’m carrying over from 2015. One goal reminds me of the classic story my Mama used to read to us entitled The Little Engine that Could. When I was a child and I said something was too hard and I couldn’t do it, Mama reminded me of that tale. She said, “Remember what the little engine said when he was about to give up? I think I can, I think I can! You can do it. Now, try again.” The lessons she taught me from that simple little story have stayed with me.

Changes were abundant in 2015 for me. A new grandbaby lightened up my life! Emily is precious, and she looks so much like her mother. Kim looks like Dan, so I see a little of him in Emmy, my nickname for her. I melt when she smiles at me.

Another change is I am now a published writer. A testimony I wrote entitled On Being a Persistent Widow, a topic I have some experience with, in fact, a lot of experience, was published in Trials and Triumphs, Volume II. It is available here, I also shared third place in a Creative Writing contest sponsored by the Georgia Writer’s Museum for a story named Grammy Sue and Papa. I am a happy and thankful woman! Yes, thank you Lord!

These were wonderful and exciting changes. Another change was harder, much harder to deal with, and it brought a little sadness.

After a long time with the same employer, I began a new life with a company I worked for several years ago. I miss many of my former coworkers, aka my comrades. Now, I am blessed with new coworkers who are delight to work with too. It was time to move on, and I landed in a good place. I am extremely grateful.

Twenty-two years ago, I left the sock company I had worked for almost two decades to complete my degree, and thirteen years ago, I left it again after working in its information technology department because the company was going out of business. My friends who worked there are still my friends now, and I believe my friends at my last job will continue to be my buddies long into the future. That’s the beauty of social media. It allows you to reconnect with people whom you may not be able to before Facebook and other forms of social media. I guess Facebook is not all about wasting time.

Of course, I’ve got the usual weight loss goal, which by the way; Oprah has nothing on me with yo-yo dieting. My stress level goes up and so does my food intake. Stuffing my mouth with all kinds of comfort foods, inhaling them like a drunk binge drinking, killing myself with a fork one bite at a time, I stuffed myself with all kinds of sweet or greasy junk. After skyrocketing stress levels for a few years, my stress decreased in 2015, and the weight is coming off without too much effort. Must be something to that cortisol stuff…

I am going to continue to rebuild my life after almost self-destructing after Dan died. It will take time, will be hard to do, even painful, and it might bring a tear or two, but worth it, yes, indeed. Note to self, I am still breathing, so I keep trying.

Another goal is to write, write, and write some more, with finishing a book I’ve been working on here and there at the top of the list, and yes, get it published. I know I dream big and some will say I’m crazy (I’m used to that one), but I believe God doesn’t put anything in our hearts without a purpose. My high school English teacher once told our class, “Everybody has a book inside them.” I’ve got two books inside me busting to get out. I always knew I was little different.

Reinventing yourself is not easy. Failure and rejection are expected, and in writing rejection is a part of the process. It toughens the skin and makes you less likely to cry while making you try harder at improving your writing. That is true in everything though. The trick is simple: do not give up.

That is where the story of the little engine comes in to play. Writing a book is hard work, and getting it published is even harder. That is my dream, and if I don’t succeed in 2016, there’s 2017 for continuing the fight. Mama’s words echo in my mind, “Remember, I think I can, I think I can! You can do it!” I am going to give it one heckuva effort.

If you want something, work hard, and do not give up. The meme below lists famous people who did not give up, despite rejections and failure. Each of them put their pants on one leg at a time the same as you and me. We can succeed too. Happy New Year!




Featured Image Photo Credit:  Do not give up © ChristianChan – iStock by Getty Images


© Dee Hardy | Encouraging the Discouraged, 2016. All rights reserved