Recently in one of our weekly Friday Split.fyi Coffee Talks one of the great parts of our discussion was around resiliency. We talked about how resiliency is needed in all parts of our lives. The changes we have all experienced due to Covid isolation and fear are overwhelming. You might also have experienced illness, injury, death, and/or divorce during this time. Add in the fact that you may be worried that you won’t bounce back after divorce. The number one takeaway was how one’s mindset is really important in being resilient. It takes the right mindset to find new meaning when life happens and shifting to that mindset takes work.
The Gentleman Named Sook
The day prior to our Coffee Talk, I had a hard day in mediation with my ex. This hard day is resulting in a major change in my life. A good change, but nonetheless, a major one. This left me feeling a bit overwhelmed. I decided that hiding in the corner of a dark dive bar, playing backgammon on my iPad, drinking a White Claw (it is still COVID after all) was a good place to let my mind wander and shift. I wasn’t paying much attention to anyone or anything around me when this older gentleman, sitting next to me, asked how I was doing. This question prompted our small talk. We noticed that across the bar were a group of rowdy younger people complaining about getting old. One guy is turning 35 this weekend… oh to be turning 35 again!
This gentleman and I laughed and started talking about how old you feel is really in your mind. I told him that I started riding dirt bikes once more just last year and how riding made me feel like a kid again. He lamented that was something that he would love to do again too, but it’s hard to ride with just one leg. Huh?!? I hadn’t paid any attention when he came in and sat next to me, but sure enough, he had just one leg. My natural curiosity, which sometimes makes me ask uncomfortable questions and is always getting the better of me, had to ask if he minded telling me what happened. I did tell him he didn’t need to share if it was private.
About 18 years ago this gentleman (Sook) signed his divorce papers in the morning and made plans with a woman he was dating for the afternoon to celebrate. She was going through a divorce as well and was about to sell her boat for much-needed cash. She really wanted to go out on the lake one last time. Sook wasn’t really feeling a boating adventure, particularly because he prefers the river over the lake, but knew it was important for her so off they went to the lake.
He was waterskiing and he took a spill. When his date came to recover him after the fall she couldn’t see where he was in the choppy water. As a result, she accidentally ran him over cutting his off leg essentially at the hip. I was in shock from his story! Sook laughed, hit his hand on the bar, and said, “So I lost my wife and my leg on the same day!”
It took about a year to recover and then he was back on a ladder-climbing up it on one leg and doing the carpentry work he loved and made a living at. After two more years, his one leg just couldn’t handle the load so he decided to go back to school and sort out a new career. He hadn’t used a computer for anything other than email and maybe looking on the internet occasionally, but he was determined. Ultimately he learned drafting, became an expert in AutoCad and is now a Civil Engineer. And besides finding a new career, he rides horses and quads, rock crawls in his Jeep and still climbs ladders for his own house projects.
A Lesson In Resilience
Resilience plays a big role while facing major changes in life circumstances. In Sook’s story, there were three things that stood out about his mindset.
His ability to:
- Find some humor in what must have been a really dark time.
- Take action and be decisive when facing change.
- Not let his circumstances limit his future.
None of these things are easy to do by any stretch of the imagination.
I walked away from my chat with Sook inspired and smiling. Surrounding yourself with people that are surviving and thriving, like so many of you in our Split.fyi community, is a great way to support you being resilient. Most of us didn’t end our marriage and lose a limb on the same day after all!
Guest author: Heather Steer, CDFA and Split.fyi Founder