Hard things and good things work together

I’ve been thinking this week about the good things we receive through an experience of hard things.

No matter how good the good thing is we receive through what’s hard…it doesn’t magically make the hard things good. Or transform them. Sometimes (most times) they’re bad in and of themselves.

Things like Covid. And lockdown. And back pain. And deaths of people we care about. And depression and addictions and abuse and trauma.

Those are bad, bad things. In themselves there is nothing to rejoice in, and everything to grieve in. Or hate. Or work against.

But always, always out of those bad experiences and hard things, comes good. Good that we wouldn’t have gotten any other way.

It doesn’t make the bad thing okay. It doesn’t wipe away all the pain that came with it. But it gives you something to turn your attention to, something to be grateful for.

My back went out on Sunday. It happens now and then in my life, pretty rarely actually and I’m thankful for that. Last time it happened was maybe 5-7 years ago. It feels like an instant twang, like a switch was flicked, and suddenly i can barely walk, or I’m lying on the floor because that’s all I can do.

I tried to figure out what happened. I’d done some running the last few weeks – just a few minutes paced between the walking. Maybe 3-10 minutes at the most out of a 45 minute walk. And once or twice my back was a little sore the next morning, so i went back to walking for a few days.

Then one of the team reminded me I’d been jumping on a trampoline on friday night, and i remembered jumping on it with one foot instead of two, bouncing in and then out, and feeling my back sort of go twang a little. It seemed okay after that, and I didn’t think much of it. Carried around my one year old niece on my hip a good bit at the weekend, carried a heavy bag on my shoulder on Sunday.

Sunday afternoon i get out of my car and BAM. Can barely walk. Can’t sit or stand, and lying down is tough no matter which way I tried it. Lots of ibuprofen and hot baths, and I’ve bought a heating pad which let me just say needs to be a staple in every person’s home. (Or every person who lives in a country that has cold weather. Not sure my family in arizona is too keen on a heating pad since the whole state is like one big heating pad.)

It’s not a good thing. It’s frustrating and painful (and I’m really bad at waiting) and I wish it would just go away. 

But I got thinking about the week, and about former times when i had some kind of pain or illness, and I realised there was a lot to be grateful for. Good that came – or was brought to the forefront – because of this hard thing.

Things like…

…all the years of effort to build a team in the business, people who in the aggregate are better than I could ever be on my own. (Or even on their own are better than me in many areas.) Which has resulted in me knowing if I hadn’t been able to show up for a meeting, they could handle it and do it really well. I wouldn’t need to cancel it and things would go just as well without me. That’s a huge thing, and it wasn’t the case even a few years ago. I used to have to cancel meetings and then I’d have tons of meetings to come back to once I’d healed.

…actually WANTING to work, not feeling obligated to or having it weigh on me. On Tuesday i was still feeling pretty weak, but we had a new team member starting. I could have skipped the call, or sent her a video, or rearranged it. (She even very graciously noticed i was struggling a bit and asked if it would be better to rearrange.) But I said well I’m kind of bored of lying in bed, so let’s give it a go, and if it’s really bad we’ll stop. Mostly though I was really excited to have her join us and wanted to give her everything that would help her get going in her role as swiftly as possible. The same with our team meeting that day, and the first session of our Mastery coaching group. I truly wanted to be there, and was glad i managed it.

…buying a heating pad. I’m telling you. Even if you have no back pain, just buy one for those cold winter’s nights. It’s like all the blessing of a hot bath without any of the hassle.

…a new office chair. I phoned my mum (who has years of experience with back pain) and we commiserated and she shared ideas to help and sympathised. And then I said I was thinking of buying a really, really good office chair and I’d found one and was deciding whether to get it. An hour later she sent me money towards buying it, and the chair was ordered.

…understanding the value of a standing desk. I’ve been thinking about one for a long time, but this week because I really couldn’t sit very long, I made a makeshift standing desk by moving my computer up on a big stack of books. I’ve discovered to my surprise that I really like it, and that’s another purchase I’ll likely make soon. And I know there are a lot of health benefits to a standing desk, not to mention more energy for videos and calls than when you’re just sitting.

…receiving kindness and care from so many people. One of my biggest personal challenges is asking for help. I find it really hard to do and usually end up just powering through myself. And when I’m physically struggling, i usually have things set up so I can manage – I work from home, my food is delivered, most things are online. But a few people asked if there was anything they could do, or if I wanted a call or a visit or a FaceTime, and i realised I always have the option to say yes. To accept help even if in some ways i don’t “need” it…because there is an element I do need. I need to be someone who doesn’t have it all sorted. I need to receive. I need to be reminded how much I’m cared for.

I still would really have liked to skip all the back pain and just have the week without it. But then I’d be without the reminders of how far I’ve come in the business, without the heating pad and new chair and standing desk, without the extra opportunities for people who love me to show it in a practical and caring way.

We need help, and hard things remind us of that. Maybe that’s the ultimate good thing that comes from what’s hard. Needing and receiving help. Community. Team. Support. Grace. 


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Well. So. Small update.

Was out hiking on mull and slipped on a rock crossing a burn, and broke my ankle. (I remember hearing an audible “crack” as I went down.)

No signal on phone. Managed to climb down a ravine to get to a more open place and hopefully signal. At that point still convinced it “wasn’t that bad”. Tried to walk along the path and realised yes, it was that bad.

Phoned coast guard, who were utter legends. Sent a boat AND a helicopter. Sun was setting and they didn’t want me sitting in the dark. Oh my word it was cold. Helicoptered out to fort William hospital (nicest people ever), then down to airdrie where I got a cast.

Ankle broken in one place. Doctors pleased (as much as you can be!) it’s a clean break & lining up well. I’ll be down for 4-6 weeks.

I’ve repeated myself a lot over the last few days so here’s the short version to all the questions, with appreciation for the care.

Yes, I’m okay. I’m also utterly exhausted & have hit the “damn, this is going to be a long road” phase. Taking it one day, one hour at a time. 

I’m being looked after. Very kind friends and things being delivered. My amazing sister @secondsunrise2 flying in tomorrow from america to be with me for a few weeks. SO grateful.

What do I need? I’m good on the basics. There have been unexpected costs and more coming so if you want to PayPal monies for deliveries or getting my car & belongings back or all the taxis or whatever, feel free. I’m hardly destitute so only do that if you want to send something useful and aren’t sure what. PayPal username karenlreyburn. Amazon wishlist in bio. Random care packages also happily received!

My car & belongings are up on mull. I have people to help and we are working on timing. But if you’re on mull and want to return a car near Glasgow, let me know :)

Shout out to the Coast Guard for being so swift, & that beautiful combination of sympathy and practicality.

Download the @what3words app. Literal lifesaver.

That’s all for now. All the love. Oh - and no, I don’t hold this against mull at all. It’s still my happy place. Things happen & the mull community has been beautiful. Shout out to @treshnish who couldn’t have been kinder. ❤️
Morning walk. I stood and watched the ferry come in and the sun lighten this little edge of the world.
Been going through old photos and letters - the last of the boxes i had stored at my sister’s house in america. 

When I first moved to Scotland, I only planned to live here for a few years and then go back. Then after a few years I wasn’t ready yet…then I got my residency…still not quite ready….then started a business…then Scottish citizenship…bought a house …finally accepted this is my home and I wasn’t moving back. 

And with every visit back to the states I would go through more boxes, more photos and letters and memories. I’d keep some and throw others away; take photos out of frames and give away the frames; and as time went on I was able to distinguish between the ones I definitely wanted and needed to keep, and those which were lovely at the time but didn’t need to be saved anymore.

Over twenty years on and this past trip I went through the very last of the boxes. I joked to my sister that I’ve now officially settled into Scotland 😆 

This photo of me and my Gramps is a fave and definitely a keeper. Most of the photos and letters I’ve kept are those of family - parents, grandparents, sisters, nieces and nephews. And as much as I love taking landscape photos, I noticed that 20 years later it’s the people photos I am more likely to keep. Thankful for the traditions and patterns of seeing family every year or so since moving to Scotland. They’re small things - baking Christmas cookies and going for walks and going for road trips - but it’s the time together and the continuing family jokes and the memories which remain. And a few photos.

My grandfather (and all my grandparents) have now passed on, but I remember with fondness sitting around at their kitchen table, eating fresh vegetables from the garden, playing scrabble, laughing and talking and drinking coffee.

It’s the small things, and the rhythms of family, which last. ❤️ 
#family #memories #grandparents #oldphotos
Made fresh mince pies for the first time ever. Over twenty years in Scotland and I’d never tried to make them from scratch, so I figured…now is the time! I’m doing lots of thanksgiving baking (yes, we stretch it out here so I’m still prepping!) and decided to buy the ingredients. 

Dried fruit…mixed peel…lots of spices…and Venezuelan rum :) I made up the mincemeat last night, and then today put it in the little pastries and even cut out the wee stars to go on top!

I think I can safely say they’re the best mince pies I’ve ever had. Fresh out of the oven sprinkled with icing sugar and with a glass of said rum alongside :) 

Now we are curled up with a Harry Potter marathon, with plenty of mince pies AND a thanksgiving feast still to come. Happiness! 

#mincepies #homebaking #maryberry #maryberryrecipe #happythanksgiving #happychristmas #harrypotter #hpmarathon