Today’s post is a message from Karen Baer, who has worked for Terraine since 2003 as an Environmental Scientist and Project Manager. Below, she will share her insights on handling personal struggles in a business world and finding contentment in controlling only those things that you can control.


planningWe are a culture of professional preconception planners.

Parents look for just the ?right? time to have a child. From the womb, they decide whether to preserve their baby?s cord blood in case someone in the family falls ill.?At birth, grandparents open college savings accounts for their new grandbaby. At age 12, money from that first paper route paycheck is taken out for social security. After college, job offers are weighed against each other based on retirement programs, stock options, tuition reimbursement, health insurance, dental insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, and insurance for insurance. Once employed, supplemental insurance talk begins. Homes are purchased and insured for what could happen, and the cycle begins again.

Planning isn?t a bad thing. It?s good to be prepared. Ask anyone, I?ve always been a bit Type A. But sometimes I think that when we focus so much on what is or isn?t down the road and stick to a plan simply because we are scared not to, we lose ourselves. A part of who we are and who we could become begins to die. Sometimes we need that slap in the face, that bucket of ice water over the head, otherwise known as loss of control. Pleasant or not, it?s what will help us to recover and flourish.

?The Trick is To Enjoy Life; Don?t Wish Away Your Days Waiting for Better Ones Ahead.?
– Marjorie Pay Hinckley

Nearly 6 years ago, I fell extremely ill. Pregnant with my first child, I found myself homebound, unable to care for myself, dependent on my husband to bathe me and walk me from point A to point B. No GI doctors would touch me with a 10-foot pole because of the little bean inside of me, and eventually, I ended up admitted to the hospital by my OB. I was 19 weeks pregnant, a mere 114 pounds, and depressed.

?It?s good you were admitted when you were,? a nurse would later tell me. I didn?t have to guess what that meant. After 10 days, I was discharged, but I left the hospital shadowed by a lifelong diagnosis: Crohn?s Disease.

After leaving the hospital (and probably because I was jacked up on steroids), I was ecstatic to be feeling well. It was as if I had eaten 20 giant Pixy Stix. I was so happy to be able to go to the grocery store, to take walks, to eat and eat (and eat) without fear, nausea, debilitating pain, and other unpleasantness. I left what I imagined hell to be and savored each and every day of my ?new? life. I truly lived in the moment.

But as time went by, and because I really never had issues after that initial flare, I began to doubt my diagnosis, my medical care, and the importance of taking what I called my ?gold-plated? pills that cost nearly as much as my rent per month. I fell back into what I considered to be the rational, logical way of life. Perpetually planning, anticipating, and forgetting what ?now? should/could feel like.

Fast forward to December 2011….

Shit happens, and at times, it can feel like future plans are taking flying leaps out your window.

On Christmas Day last year, I noticed that I was having trouble seeing. Eventually, my eyes ached, and I couldn?t look directly into any form of light. Shortly thereafter, I started to disappear, shedding over 10 pounds of my normally 120-pound frame. Crohn?s Disease can affect other parts of the body, including the eyes, and as a result, I was diagnosed with iritis/uveitis and admitted to the hospital for 4 days for further assessment and to begin therapy for an active flare.

Seven months later, I am still struggling with my health. Some days are great; other days, not so much. At times, I find myself falling into that dark and awful place where I was 6 years ago, just prior to my diagnosis. But most of the time, I am simply reminded of what I?ve learned to value in this life. If there?s anything the last 7 months have taught me, it?s that there are only so many things you can control. I can?t control the fact that my body likes to attack itself. But I can decide that I won?t allow Crohn?s to define me. I?ve been reminded that my family is by far the most important part of my life. That work, although necessary and fulfilling, should always take the back seat. I?ve learned to take things one day at a time, but sometimes (ok, often) just one hour at time, because that?s what I can do. I?m making efforts to learn new things, enjoy myself when I?m feeling good, and leave behind stuff that?s really not that important. I don?t want to look back on my life when I?m 65 and wish I had spent more time with my kids and less time cleaning ceiling fans! And I think, or at least I hope, that I?ve made strides at treating other people as if I have no idea what kind of day they?ve had before running into me ? because maybe they?re struggling, too.

When I get better for a long stretch of time again, I may forget all of this. But I hope not. I?ve found myself through pain. I?m learning to let go. I?ve forgiven myself for wasting my thoughts and time on worry. I?m moving on, and my only hope is that I?m better for it.

Stop worrying so much; worry is using your imagination to create things you don?t want.

So what do my innards have to do with you?

Undoubtedly, you enjoy the creamy center of life and business that is control, but often you have to break through the chaotic shell to get there. In business, just like in my medical struggle, things don?t always go the way that you want. But when you are confronted with chaos, you have a choice. You have the choice to worry about what will be, or you have the choice to dig down deep, find yourself and what you can control, and learn to let go of what you cannot. You have to decide what in this life and your line of business are most important to you. Define your priorities. Forgive yourself for time wasted second guessing, for losing sleep because of ?what you could have done.? Realize that the road you?ve taken has just been a part of the entire process of finding yourself and your place in this world. And then, move on, hoping — no, KNOWING — you?ll be better for it.

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