Lessons From Navigating Rapids

Updated: Apr 12

We’ve hit a few snags these past weeks. My parents in law’s health declined very suddenly, tough decisions will have to be made. On top of this, my husband has an uncertain travel schedule, our eldest is navigating new academic challenges and needs support adjusting to a more demanding schedule. My cornea has developed a blister, a sign my eye condition is developing to a stage where I need a corneal transplant. Again, big questions arise. Do we wait until my husband is next home or do we go ahead with the transplant?

Here’s what I discovered from digging deeper into this rafting analogy:

If you go over a bump, lean in towards the center of the raft. This is something we often hear: when we jolted by a life event, regroup, and find your center. It is interesting to see it illustrated here.

Never raft alone, surround yourself with a team of experienced ‘rafters’. Some mums have been solo parenting for years with a spouse who works away from home. I have interviewed many of them and will continue to do so. Their wisdom, experience and insight are invaluable. Look at my posts on social media where I share the resources I glean or join the community of ‘Solo Parenting Expat Mums’ on Facebook.

“When picking a line through a rapid, it's important that you break things down into individual moves, all of which you are confident that you can make. You then need to look at how well these moves fall together as a sequence. It must be understood that your success in running rapids relies greatly on your ability to look ahead and take actions that set you up for the future moves that are required. If you focus solely on getting through one feature at a time without real consideration for the next move, then you'll find yourself running rapids in a defensive, reactionary mode. This is a scary way to run rapids, as you are never really in charge of your situation, and things can quickly snowball out of your control.”

The same goes for life. Take those difficult decisions one by one, but with a view to the future. Find solutions that will work for you on the long run. For example, finding someone for extra house help on a regular basis, not just simply ordering endless take-aways because you’re always under time pressure. Keep your eyes flicking between the current challenges, but also where you want to go.

If thrown overboard, it will disrupt your breathing. “Try to regulate your breathing and stay concentrated on the task at hand, which is getting back onto the boat, not the fact you've been thrown overboard.” (from the US Search and Rescue Task Force Website) Who like me, needs a reminder to focus on ‘getting back in the boat’ rather than on the fact that I have been thrown off course by what someone says, how I feel, or an unexpected challenge?

Have a safety line, something in place that you can bring you back. This one ties into the previous tip very well, and it is vital to have your own personal strategy to help you regain equilibrium and get moving in the right direction again. This could be a regular call to a therapist, counsellor, or coach. It could be a habit of journaling regularly. For me, if I go a few days without my daily meditation, I am more vulnerable mentally to negative thoughts. Conversely, if I go back to a daily meditation, it immediately resets the tone to a more constructive one.

What is your lifeline that draws you back and stops you from drowning?

Join me on Social Media for a conversation about how you ‘white water raft’ through life.



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