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uglydoll photo: Uglydoll uglydoll.jpgGUS (Gave Up Smoking) is a community support diary for Kossacks in the midst of quitting smoking. Any supportive comments, suggestions or positive distractions are appreciated. If you are quitting or even just thinking of quitting, please join us! We kindly ask that politics be left outside.  

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For me, the last few weeks have been an exercise in learning to go with the flow, roll with the punches, and expect the unexpected. No matter how carefully we plan out our lives, there are always times when nothing seems to unfold as we'd anticipated, to put it kindly.

uglydoll photo: domo uglydoll.jpgWhether it's workplace glitches, unexpected deadlines, interpersonal drama, unwelcome information, People Being Wrong On The Internet, or some other life hiccup you hadn't planned for (illness, financial squeezes, natural disasters, or shutdown of a needed government service by a rogue band of wingnut pinheads), every so often life offers up a big ol' WTF?!? that leaves you off-balance and scrambling to cope.

In my case, it was two parts work (project glitches, big deadlines), one part unwelcome news (hey, the mortgage company hasn't been calculating my escrow correctly and I have to cough up a few thousand bucks or see my mortgage payment skyrocket), one part worry (a friend was in a car accident) and one part homefront hiccup (unexpected last-minute family visit) that threw me for a loop. I'm behind on my email and calls and To Do List; I haven't had much time for socializing or even enough time to do the basic stuff like dishes or laundry. It's not pretty, folks.

domo photo: . domo.gifIn the old days, I used to cope with this sort of thing by smoking a lot, and sometimes by smoking a lot and also flat-out ignoring whatever it was that was hitting the fan. These days, I don't have the former coping strategy to fall back on, and I long ago realized that the latter coping strategy isn't really much of a strategy and only makes things worse. So I'm left to invent new ways to deal.

One of these things is to---well, if not exactly welcome the unexpected, to at least be open to the idea that not all unexpected things are bad. For example, saying "yes" to an unexpected last-minute invitation from my sister in the middle of a busy weekend let me see the Biennial at the Portland Museum of Art for free on a Saturday morning. It also let me be in the right place at the right time (a thrift shop, while waiting for a bus) to let me find one of these babies (in mint green, to match my kitchen) for $7! Score!

It also helps to recognize that we don't always have to do battle with or overcome the not-so-great things. Sometimes it's okay to just roll with the punches, to pick your battles, and to give yourself permission to be "good enough" when "good" isn't possible. I say this as if I've mastered the art, but to be honest, I still struggle with this one. Most people do!

uglydoll photo: ugly toe uglydoll-bigtoe.jpgSo many of us endlessly postpone efforts to make changes in our lives because "the timing isn't right" or "there's too much going on right now" or "things are too stressful" to cope with anything else. We miss opportunities to improve our lives at those moments when we most need them to improve. We fear adding one more thing to the pile, fear having one more issue to  cope with, without realizing that facing up to it, and giving it a "good enough" try (even in the midst of all sorts of craziness!) might be all it takes to improve other things.

Accepting that there never WILL be a perfect, stress-free moment to make the changes you need, and giving yourself permission to be just good enough and go with the flow when stressful situations present themselves (as well as accepting unexpected, positive opportunities) can make the difference between starting to feel better NOW and waiting to feel better someday.

Who's Your Little Buddy?
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