8 Life-Changing Lessons I Learned from 593 Days of Foster Parenting

For the most part I keep my work blog and personal blog separate. At work I blog about cloud computing, technology and the future of accounting – all things I am passionate about. But as I wrote this blog post today about our foster parenting journey, originally intended for my personal blog, something told me I needed to share it more broadly, if for nothing else to remind everyone who reads it that it only takes one person to change the world, one person at a time.

In June of 2014 my husband and I learned of the dire need for foster parents in Georgia. I realize this need is not unique to Georgia, but the stats in our state alone are staggering: over 10,000 children are in foster care and every night 150 children sleep in hotel rooms with adult ‘supervisors’. Our foster care agency alone turns away about 40 kids a week because they have no more capacity and are so short on foster homes. It took very little convincing for us to want to learn how we could help.

On June 19, 2014 we took the first step and sent an email that would change our lives forever. An email that simply asked how we could help with this crisis situation. On June 15, 2016, 593 days after our first foster kids moved in with us, they moved out to live with the incredible family who is adopting them and becoming their ‘forever family’. It’s what I learned between those two dates that I want to share with you.

After months of classes, learning, certifications, home preparation, interviews and home studies we were officially approved as foster parents and on October 31, 2014 – Halloween night – a beautiful boy and girl (brother and sister) came to live in our home. I can’t share the details of their story for obvious reasons but I can tell you that for the next 593 days, we learned more from those children than I have from any course I’ve taken, which I’ve attempted to summarize below…

  1. Everyone has a story you know nothing about. Many times as we stood in the middle of a mall with our foster son having a meltdown, we would receive looks from disapproving people who were silently judging our parenting abilities. They didn’t know he was a foster child struggling from the insurmountable loss of being taken away from his parents and knew nothing about his past, his triggers or his emotional trauma. From the outside it simply looked like we had a child we couldn’t manage. As foster parents, you are constantly judged on so many levels for so many reasons. I even received a letter from a distant relative telling me she didn’t think I was fit to be a foster parent because I traveled too much for work, and this came after only having met me a handful of times in my entire life. As a foster parent, I constantly had to remind myself that it was okay to be judged by people and that I was doing this to serve our foster kids, not to make other people happy or to be accepted. It was very tough, especially because I am naturally a ‘people pleaser’, but it was (and is) a constant reminder to me that there is so much going on behind the scenes with everyone you meet and you need to handle every person and every situation with care, a big dose of grace and avoid judging others at all costs.
  1. I (we) have it pretty good. There is no doubt about it; life can be stressful. A long day at work, times when making ends meet is challenging, a hectic pace that leaves you wondering how you can possibly get it all done. But all of that pales in comparison to what many children I’ve met over the last two years while foster parenting have experienced. In many cases foster kids are accustomed to having only one meal a day (when they are lucky), have never had a parent attend a parent teacher conference or a school concert, haven’t been able to shower when they need to and don’t have clothes that fit or don’t have holes in them. They often come from homes where the consequences to their actions are unspeakable and they live in constant fear. These are not kids from a third world country, these are kids right down the street from you and I. The perspective I gained from the humbling and heart-wrenching stories of kids in the foster care system reminds me every day how fortunate I was to grow up how I did and how fortunate I am to have a roof over my head, a fridge that is always full, a safe place to sleep and be surrounded by people who love me. In a world where everyone seems to be fighting for more and trying to get the next big thing, I keep reminding myself to stay grounded and that what I have today are the very things that someone else is praying they can possibly get access to in their lifetime.
  1. Everyone deserves someone that doesn’t give up on them. I don’t know about you, but I have always had someone in my corner that I knew would be there for me no matter what. Growing up, that person was my Mom and it never occurred to me that if I did something wrong, she may give up on me. That simply wasn’t a possibility. But that is not the case for many children in foster care. In many cases, these kids have had many people in their lives give up on them… again, and again and again. The emotional toll this takes on these young people as they grow up is astounding. In our journey, we learned that when a child experiences (for the very first time) the feeling that they have people in their lives that simply won’t give up on them no matter what, everything changes. Their behavior, their mental capability at school, their ability to just be kids. Everything. There is someone in each of our lives who feels as though they have no one in their corner and that life-changing person they need could be you.
  1. A million excuses can’t change the world. Although I don’t like the word “busy” I think I can confidently say I am a busy person. I have a demanding job (which I love) that has me traveling at least 50% of the time and working longer than average hours. My husband teaches golf and because most people want golf lessons in the evenings or weekends it means that typically when I’m off work, he’s working. We have no kids of our own and no real experience raising kids. We have no kid ‘stuff’ (clothes, toys, furniture, etc.), and the list goes on. What we did have was a whole list of excuses why foster parenting just didn’t make sense for us and our lifestyle. But I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am so glad we looked past all those excuses and took a leap of faith that what we needed would come together and we could make it work. In today’s world, it’s easy to come up with a million excuses on why you shouldn’t do something, whether it’s going for a dream you have or helping those less fortunate than you. But at the end of the day, a million excuses simply won’t change the world. You need to move past your fear, past your doubts and past your excuses and dare to do something big, bold and life changing for you or for someone else. It’s what makes for a richer life and will give you moments of joy that you won’t otherwise be able to experience.
  1. You are not alone. I’m a fairly independent woman and as a result, when I take on a project, job or challenge I often assume I’m the person who will be driving a lot of the activity or getting things done. With foster parenting, that was not the case. I quickly realized I did not have the skills, knowledge or experience needed to really help these kids alone and I would need to surround myself with people who could help. It was incredible to watch our friends and family step up to support us and the kids, even though it was a journey they have not personally experienced. It was also incredible to see our network quickly build out with dozens of new friends, case workers, social workers and others… all there to support us and the kids. It always had a huge impact on me on days when we had court when I’d look around the courtroom and see so many people there advocating for these precious children. The key takeaway for me is that it’s amazing to see how many people are prepared to support you when you step up to make a change in the world. You don’t need to do it alone and you don’t need all the answers. You just need to surround yourself with people who will be there for your journey and be willing to accept their help.
  1. Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone. I first heard the quote “Do for one what you wish you could do for everyone” from Andy Stanley and it left a mark on my soul. Many people don’t bother tackling a challenge or epidemic in the world like homelessness, child hunger, poverty or another cause because they don’t think they can really make a difference; they are just one person. It’s true – the problem is massive. But if you just do for one person what you wish you could do for everyone, you have the ability to change someone’s life and one life saved or changed is worth it. The changes in our foster kids in the 593 days we had them made me realize one person has the power to make a life-changing impact, one person at a time.
  1. There is a whole world out there “we” know nothing about. When we began our foster parenting journey we underestimated the amount of learning that was ahead of us. Yes, we had all the learning you’d expect as first time parents to an eight and nine year old, but we also had to learn about a million other things. How the court system works, how the Department of Family and Child Services (DFCS) works, the rules and regulations around caring for foster kids, the thousands of people who are involved in ‘the system’ to help protect kids (and people) who need protecting… and the list goes on. It was an incredible eye-opening experience to be able to become part of entirely different world than the one we were accustomed to; not for a day, not for a month, but for almost two years. I would encourage anyone to find a cause they are passionate about and take the time to learn the ins-and-outs of how to affect change in that area. The perspective it will bring is a beautiful thing.
  1. It’s not about me. Without a doubt, the number one comment we heard from people who learned we were foster parents was “I could never do that. I just couldn’t say goodbye at the end, it would be way too hard.” And let me tell you, it’s a thousand times harder than you can even imagine. Saying goodbye to kids who called you Mom and Dad for almost two years brought months of tears, many conversations with the kids that ripped my heart out and a goodbye that made all other goodbyes pale in comparison. But you know what? It was worth it. We didn’t do it because it would be easy. We didn’t do it for fun. We did it because these kids (and so many others) deserve a chance. And we’d do it again for the exact same reason.

The last 593 days have been life-changing to say the least. We experienced being called Mom and Dad for the first time, falling in love with children who were not our own, watching them grow, change and heal in many ways and at the end, saying a very painful goodbye and closing this chapter in our lives and thinking about what is next. I am beyond grateful we put a million excuses aside and opened our lives and our hearts to a whole new world. I’m not sure who changed more through this journey, the kids or us, but it has enriched our lives in a way that I could not have imagined possible.

Making Memories

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Like 50% of people in America today, I grew up with in a home with divorced parents. Mine happened to split up when I was six years old and because I was so young, I have very few memories that I can recall of my Dad from when my parents were still together. However, there is one that I remember vividly.

My sister and I had gone to bed and were fast asleep when my Dad came in to our room and woke us up. He told us that the original version of the Wizard of Oz was on TV and we needed to see it. I remember how exciting it was for us to get out of bed and go in to my parents’ room, jump in to their bed and watch the Wizard of Oz for the very first time… and as a family. That was one of my favorite memories with both of my parents.

Now to today… I have been a foster Mom to a boy and a girl (siblings, who are now nine and 11 years old) since October 31, 2014. In just a few short weeks they will be moving in to their “forever home” as they get adopted by a family that we have known for many years, and love. It is such an emotional time as we prepare our hearts to say goodbye to the first kids to ever call us Mom and Dad.

Tonight, the boys were out for the evening so it was just my foster daughter and I at home. Her teeth were brushed and she was in her pajamas and I was getting ready to tuck her in. For some reason I flashed back to many years ago when my Dad ‘broke the rules’ and in turn, created a memory that I will never forget. I looked at my foster daughter and said “You want to go swimming?” She looked at me (slightly confused) and said “Tonight?” and I nodded.

And so we traded our pajamas for bathing suits and went outside to the pool, cranked up some of her favorite top 40 tunes and swam, danced, sang and laughed in the pool for over two hours… in the rain. As the steam came off the pool, she swam over and gave me a big hug. It was one of the many times during our two hours in the pool that I had to hold back my tears.

Sometimes you just need to let the ‘rules’ go to create memories and beautiful moments that will last a lifetime. For me, tonight was one of those times.

Why Everyone Should Advocate for Someone

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As a fairly new foster parent, it’s already become clear to me that one of our most important roles is to advocate for our foster kids. Whether it’s for special education programs, medical attention, specialized treatment or therapy or simply their best interests, things just move faster when they have an advocate fighting for them. I’m sure one day the kids will be able to advocate for themselves, but like most foster kids they are at a point in their lives when they aren’t in a position to do that.

Yesterday I was thinking about how everyone has points in their life when they could use an advocate. Maybe they are struggling with a tough situation at home, are overwhelmed at work or just can’t see what they need to do to get one rung higher on that corporate ladder. Sometimes, for any number of reasons, people just get stuck and could use someone to help them get ‘unstuck’… and that person could be you.

Think back to a point in your life when someone took a special interest in you. Perhaps it was a mentor, teacher, colleague, friend or family member. They invested in you with their time and experience to help you overcome the challenge you were up against and because of them, you are where you are today. Most people can think of someone in their life (or if you’re lucky, a few people) that went above and beyond to invest in them. Sometimes you aren’t sure why, sometimes it was someone unlikely and sometimes you didn’t even realize the significant impact that person was making until years later.

Regardless of who you are, your age, your experience, your job title or where you are at in your life, there is someone right now that needs you to advocate for them. To lift them up, to share your experiences, invest your time and just listen and care. You may be the only person that really takes a special interest in that individual. It doesn’t need to be someone that is going through a rough time. It could be someone that has plateaued in their career and can’t figure out how to get that next promotion and needs someone just like you to provide perspective and show them the way. To be their mentor, their coach and their guide on the path to their next big thing.

Today, take time to reflect on all the people in your life; people who are very close to you as well as those that are acquaintances. And then think about who may need you to invest in them and advocate for them. There is a big difference you can make in someone’s life starting immediately – it’s just up to you to take the first step and make the commitment. Be the person that years down the road someone looks back and says “Because of them, I am where I am today”.

Turning Insights in to Action – 5 Steps to Building Your Post Conference Action Plan

Today we wrap up Sage Summit 2014 and wow! The caliber of speakers and content was like no other conference I’ve ever been to, which lends itself to the question “Now what?”. We just took in four days of non-stop education, inspiration, motivation and insights, but the real key is how we’re going to turn all of that in to an action plan to ensure each of us gets great ROI on the investment we made to attend the conference.

I thought I’d share what my plan of attack is going to be coming out of this week, which may help you craft your own action plan.

#1 – First, it starts with setting time aside for reflection within a few days of the conference wrapping up. You don’t want too much time to go by because you run the risk of forgetting what’s most important or don’t end up making any action plan at all. I’m planning to go through the #SageSummit hashtag on Twitter, my own tweets from the conference, all the notes I took in the meetings I had, notes I took in sessions I attended and key takeaways and learnings from any sessions I presented at. I’m also going to take a final read through my conference agenda which may jog my memory as to other highlights.

#2 – Next, I’ll identify my ah-ha’ moments and insights. As I review all the information above, I’m looking for those things that made the lightbulb go off above my head and making a consolidated list of what all those ah-ha moments were.

#3 – Once I have that consolidated list, I’m going to identify my top five favorites. What were the ‘best of the best’ as far as insights and learnings.

#4 – It’s time to build my action plan. How am I going to take those key learnings and use them to change my trajectory, shape the future and help me achieve a new level of success? I am going to keep in mind that if I just make even just one small change a week, that is still over fifty small changes a year which can lead to big transformation.  What is going to change as a result of my learnings? All of this needs to ultimately build in to my action plan, which of course is specific, measurable and time-bound.

#5 – Set the cadence to check in on progress. I need to ensure I schedule time to check in on my progress, even if it’s a meeting with myself.

Everyone that was at Sage Summit made an investment of their time and resources to attend. Don’t let the opportunity slip by to turn all your great learnings and insights in to action and catapult your own business (and life) to a new level of success.

Time for Some Fresh Perspective

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Let’s face it, life is busy. Deadlines, commitments, responsibilities… and the list goes on. There are rarely enough hours in a day to get ‘it’ all done (whatever ‘it’ is), let alone step away from all the craziness for some fresh perspective. But when I make time for it… wow!

I recently started reading the book Harvard Business Review’s 10 Must Reads on Managing Oneself. The first chapter in the book is an article by Clayton M. Christensen titled “How Will You Measure Your Life”. First, if you don’t already own this book I recommend heading straight to Amazon and getting yourself a copy – it’s amazing.

I paused many times throughout this chapter to simply reflect because the concepts, lessons and perspective gained were so profound. A few of my favorite points were…

  • Being a great leader affects so much more than helping people perform at their best to achieve your company’s objectives. Being a great leader means the people who work with you and for you are positively impacted by you so when they leave the office, they are excited, rejuvenated and in a position to achieve their greatest life ambitions away from work as well. It means that because of their interaction with you, their personal life is better. You’ve built them up in a way that allows them to be a better parent, spouse, volunteer, etc. Wow. That extends well beyond what many think a leader’s role is.
  • Christensen shares one of his greatest learnings; “It’s easier to hold to your principles 100% of the time than 98% of the time”. Through life experiences, he knows that the phrase ‘just this once’ almost always turns into ‘more than once’ and he won’t compromise his values… not even a bit.

These are just two examples of what I took away – there are many more great insights. All week I’ve been thinking about what I read on leadership, life purpose, values and other great principles. All from one author. One book. One chapter. A lot of the concepts weren’t new to me, but Christensen’s approach allowed me to think of them in a new way, providing a fresh context to get me thinking. The rest of this book is proving to be just as thought-provoking.

How do you bring fresh perspective and new context in to your life? Perhaps you read, or maybe watch some of the great TED talks that are out there. It could even be a conversation over a coffee with a mentor or friend that will challenge your thinking. Whatever your preferred approach, just make sure you do it. Carve out time to think differently. Challenge the status quo. Because after all, life is about continually growing, evolving, becoming better, and then taking action so when your days are over, you can say with confidence “I truly became my best self and gave everything I could. I know beyond a shadow of doubt that I achieved my life’s purpose”.

Lessons from My Mom

My mom was my greatest champion, an endless supporter, my biggest fan, and my best friend. I think back to the challenges she faced raising kids for many years as a single mother. At times, we didn’t have spare cash to get the toys and ‘luxuries’ the other kids had. But, we always had a firm foundation.

My mom taught us with encouragement, never entertaining the word ‘impossible,’ but rather telling us anything we dreamed was within our reach. Through example, she taught me how to be a strong businesswoman by reinventing herself as many times as necessary to support our family. She innovated when innovation wasn’t a trend.

She instilled in me a priceless moral compass that I come back to every day to guide my decisions. She brought me up with faith much bigger than any obstacle put in front of me. All of these lessons are valuable beyond compare, but there’s one in particular I’ll never forget.

It was Thanksgiving Day 2005 and my family was gathered, waiting for my mom to arrive so our celebration could begin. She never made it. My mom was in a fatal car accident on her way to my home; just two months shy of her 51st birthday. The loss of my mother was the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with. My mom was a firm believer in ‘everything happens for a reason,’ and while I struggled to understand what the reason could possibly be for this tragedy, I attempted to make sense of it and find the lesson in the midst of my grief.

Through her passing, the biggest lesson my mom unintentionally taught me was that life is short and to not put off until tomorrow what your heart is telling you to do today. Don’t wait for the perfect day to pursue your dream. Don’t wait for retirement to travel. Don’t miss out on priceless family moments. Don’t miss an opportunity to tell someone how much they mean to you. Don’t miss a chance to build someone up; you may be their only champion that day or in that moment. We often live today like it’s just another day and tomorrow we can try again, but there’s no guarantee that we have tomorrow.

Many years ago, I created a bucket list – a list of things I wanted to do in my lifetime – and I update this list every year. A bucket list typically includes things that seem out of reach, so they’re moved to a ‘someday’ category. Through the last lesson my mom taught me, my someday has become today. I’ve taken all the things in my bucket list and have been making them a reality – one by one. This Mother’s Day, I’ll take another look at my bucket list and the amazing things I’ve been able to bring to life over the last year. Then I’ll make a plan on how to bring forward those someday items. #NoRegrets

The One Thing That Could Change Absolutely Everything

This morning I received a bit of an unexpected blessing. Some good news, if you will. I took a few all-too-brief minutes to appreciate it and then immediately moved on to get ready for my day. As I was enjoying my morning coffee I was struck with a huge realization – the good news I just spent a whole five minutes appreciating is the same news that would be the ‘one thing’ that could change absolutely everything for someone else.

The reality is that most of my days are a series of back-to-back blessings. I wake up with a roof over my head every single day of the year, I always start my day with a hot shower and a coffee, I have a job that I absolutely love to go to that challenges and stretches me, I learn something new every day, I have a husband who supports me and enables me to do what I do… and this list goes on… and on. Perhaps it’s that constant series of blessings that caused me to gloss over yet another one. What a tragedy.

I think about the millions of people around the world who would say that just receiving one of my every-day blessings would change absolutely everything. Think about it…

Millions upon millions of people would say – If I just had…

• A roof over my head, it would change absolutely everything.
• A job that could pay the bills,
• Running water,
• A feeling of safety and security,
• The opportunity to learn something new,
• A spouse who loved me unconditionally.

You get the idea. The point that just hit me over the head like a ton of bricks is that just one of the very simple, every-day blessings that we (or more specifically I) gloss over or accept as the norm would be for millions the ‘one thing that would change absolutely everything’.

As we move through this season of bounty surrounded by family, friends, freedom and a life many would call ‘living the dream’, let us all take a moment to say thank you for all we have and appreciate every last little thing that alone would truly be life changing for someone else.

The Art of Truly Listening

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It’s a crazy busy, multi-tasking, information overloaded, multiple-device kind of world out there. You likely have very little time to just ‘be’ – to step away from the hectic pace, turn off your incoming texts, emails, tweets and Facebook messages and just relax. However, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that there are side effects of this information rich, 24/7 world we’ve created, and one of those side effects is the decline of an individual’s ability to truly listen.

Read my full post on the Virgin.com Entrepreneur website.

Having an Attitude of Gratitude Year-Round

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays – it’s a great time to reflect on how fortunate we all are and how much we have to be grateful for. Whether you’re Canadian and celebrate Thanksgiving in October or American and celebrate Thanksgiving in November, we definitely have more than enough abundance on both sides of the border to be thankful long after the official holiday is over.

I am fortunate to have the opportunity to celebrate both American and Canadian Thanksgiving and over the last few months of Thanksgiving festivities and celebrations, there are some lessons learned that I consider worth remembering year round.

  • We have more than enough. Enough what, you may ask? Everything! We live in a culture where the more we have, the more we want and the more we think we need. Although not everyone is in the same boat, there are many people who feel they go without, when in fact, there is very little that most of us go without. Andy Stanley reminded me last week that we (as North Americans) live in a world where we have a perfectly good car that does exactly what we need it to, yet will go and trade it in on a newer, better model. Or, we have a kitchen with a fridge, stove and counter space that meets all our cooking needs but yet will rip it out and start over so it can all be new. The truth is, we often have exactly what we need and shouldn’t take for granted how many ‘extras’ we really do have.
  • Opportunity is everywhere. What a great place we live where we have the opportunity to change our circumstances. When we’re in school we’re encouraged to explore all the things we could be when we ‘grow up’ and once we’re in the career phase of our life, the world really is our oyster and we can shape and mold our own destiny. There are an abundance of opportunities all around us – all we need to do is look for them and then take action and make them happen.
  • Freedom is a privilege. When I watch the news I am frequently reminded there are countries where all people hope to get out of a day is a safe place to hide from the gunfire surrounding them, or maybe they dream of a day when they can openly profess their religious beliefs. We often take freedom for granted, but because every day you get to decide what you do and where you’ll go, we should be eternally thankful.
  • We need to complain less. It’s easy to get caught up in what I’ve heard referred to as ‘first world problems’. I saw a Saturday Night Live skit that had a number of technology experts complaining about all the issues with the iPhone 5 and then they brought on a panel of people representing the factory workers who make the iPhone 5 to respond to the complaints. When you look at the life circumstances of many of those overseas factory workers, the technies felt ridiculous complaining about how the iPhone wasn’t fast enough or how the maps didn’t work properly. I also recently heard someone talking about how they felt over-taxed when they withdrew money from their retirement savings. Think of all the people who dream of having any retirement savings at all! Next time you catch yourself complaining, think of how you may sound because it may come across as ungrateful.

If you need some reminders about why you should be grateful, especially on days when you feel you don’t have a lot to be grateful for, click here for a list of 19 reasons that was recently posted on one of my favorite websites, Practical Tips for Productive Living.

I think at the end of the day, if you had a heart-to-heart conversation with anyone you’d be able to get them to a place where their gratitude came to the surface. However, we should all strive to live our lives in a way where our gratitude for the amazing abundance we have is evident to all those we connect with on a daily basis.

Five Tips for Maintaining Perspective in Challenging Times

Although the idea of going through life smoothly with very few hurdles to overcome may seem appealing, that usually isn’t reality – and it actually wouldn’t provide the insights you ultimately need to get to your next level. Individuals and businesses often learn the most when they are faced with adversity, tough economic times or even health challenges. Next time you’re going down a challenging road, remember these five key points:

  • Situations are temporary. Danielle LaPorte has a “Manifesto of Encouragement” on her website and one of the quotes is “Someone is in profound pain, and a few months from now, they’ll be thriving like never before. They just can’t see it from where they’re at.” – very wise words!
  • Accept help. You likely have people that say “if I can help with anything, just let me know” and believe it or not, they aren’t just saying that. Take them up on their offer for support – whether that means them taking your kids off your hands for the afternoon, bringing dinner,  putting in some extra hours at work or just listening, let them take some of the pressure off you.
  • Look for the lessons. There are usually a few valuable lessons to be learned in every challenging situation. If you can manage to, try to take a step back and look for those lessons – how did you end up in this situation, what did you contribute to arriving here and what will you do differently in the future so you can avoid (if possible) ending up here again. Simply “surviving” the ordeal isn’t nearly as valuable as what you can learn in the process.
  • Keep a positive attitude. This is likely the toughest of all. When things are going sideways, it’s much easier to get caught up in how bad things look and think of the worst case scenario. True leaders will try to rise above the situation and be positive, partially to try to avoid insanity and partially to keep the troops (aka – your team, family, etc.) from needless worry. Having everyone worried that the worst case scenario may become reality doesn’t benefit anyone so stay positive (even if you’re faking it) and everyone in your life, including you, will be further ahead.
  • Take care of you. Sometimes it feels like the best solution is working around the clock and burning the candle at both ends to get it solved, but that likely isn’t the case. In fact, exhaustion will leave you without enough brainpower to figure out how to solve the problem. Get rest, eat well and get some exercise – even if that means a short walk around your neighborhood. Without looking after you, you won’t have the right frame of mind to get anything accomplished.

Remember, in times of challenge, perspective is sometimes what it takes to make it through and these five points will help provide that perspective when you’re having a hard time doing so yourself.

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