When life takes your breath away


Have you ever had this happen? You are sound asleep and the phone rings, you glanced at the clock it’s a little after midnight. Your breath catches. Your heart is in your throat. Instinctively you know NO good news comes in the middle of the night. You immediately do an inventory of the people in your life.

Life does that to you. Things happen. There are choices that you must make along the way. Those choices shape your life and the lives of those around you. I’m not going to tell you that nothing bad will ever happen to you. Sooner or later it will. It’s what you do when “it” happens that matters.  I’m not going to tell you I’ve had it worse than you.


I know that many of you have suffered loss. Many of you are in the midst of loss. Our hearts hurt for you.

I have learned 3 things from my losses.

First of all, when something happens, you have to make a choice.

Secondly, there is hurt and then there is HURT. You have to know the difference.

Finally, I learned I needed more tools. I started to develop a set of tools that help me rebuild my life. Those tools are the skills I want to share with you today.


2020 has brought us terms like: pivot, resiliency, grit, social distancing, and pandemic. It’s brought us zoom and zoom fatigue. We have made face masks and sourdough. We have learned that schooling children is not easy and that there is a limit to bandwidth. And bandwidth is important.

We are learning to read fire maps and sign up for news alerts. What each level of evacuation means. And we are stressed and tired and concerned.

In all things there is good and bad. 2020 has also brought us gifts.  

One of those gifts is the gift of reflection. Reflection requires time. Reflection allows us to see a situation and respond rather than react. We call this reframing … or The Personal Change Management Process – We need this tool NOW!

Let me ask you… How many of you have ever been chased across the African Savannah by a cheetah? I’m willing to bet you all have. Let me explain.

As early humans’ survival was tough. We were smaller and weaker than many things that wanted to eat us. We didn’t have fur to protect us from the cold. We didn’t have claws or large sharp teeth. What we did have was a brain. Our human brain is a thing of beauty. It’s how we survived the Savannah.

Fight or flight is designed to save our lives when we are faced with a life-threatening situation – Like a cheetah. But it is not helpful and more often than not it hurts us in modern life.

High-stress emergency situations is what adrenaline is for. Adrenaline is not for the long run. The constant stress of this pandemic is wearing us out for a reason.

In a great article by Tara Haelle, entitled: Your ‘Surge Capacity’ Is Depleted — It’s Why You Feel Awful. She states, “surge capacity is a collection of your adaptive systems — mental and physical — that humans draw on for short-term survival in acutely stressful situations, such as natural disasters. But natural disasters occur over a short period, even if recovery is long. Pandemics are different — the disaster itself stretches out indefinitely.”

Let’s talk about what fight or flight does physically to us.

Whether the threat is real or imagined your body reacts the same way!

Your body signals the release of adrenaline. Which sends oxygenated blood out to your extremities so you can either fight or run away. Your digestive system shuts down or … releases. Your brain shuts off access to the slower prefrontal lobe (your voice of reason) and shifts to your faster limbic system. Instinct, habit, and programing goes to work. You no longer have the ability to think – only react – The way you were programed to. And then in lies a problem. In Lawrence Gonzalez’s book, Deep Survival, He say’s thinking too little causes us to panic, thinking too much causes us to choke. The key is to have the right things programed so we respond correctly.

This is the problem. When our programing takes over and we are on auto pilot, we react, we don’t respond.  This is the reason the military personal train under stress. They want a certain reaction.

BUT you have to have the right things installed and many of us don’t.

In Viktor Frankl ‘s book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, one of my favorite quotes is this: “Between stimulus and response there is a space.  In that space lies our ability to choose our response and, in that choice, lies our growth and freedom.”

Viktor Frankl a survivor of Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II experienced uncertainty in a chronic, horrific situation.  He later developed Logotherapy and it’s his work that I’m pulling from.

In a nutshell, being able to reframe a situation and respond differently requires that you get your head on your shoulders. It takes practice.

Finding that moment between the thing that is happening and your response to take a breath is hard but necessary.

Reframing is a way of being able to take a step back from the situation as it happens. To look at it from the perspective of an observer. Viktor Frankl taught us that by taking a breath you give yourself time to put things into perspective. We can find beauty in some of the most horrific situation. We can also find strength and resiliency and compassion.

This pandemic as horrible and horrific as it is not the end of the world, even coupled with these devastating fires. Not that it isn’t life changing. I’m not minimizing the loss of loved ones. I’m not belittling the economic damages.  All of this is real. BUT time will still march on.

We need tools in our tool kit of life. We need coping skills and knowledge to keep fear at bay. We can learn to take a breath and get our heads clear. To move through this pandemic, we must find creative solutions.

We will find ways to adapt to our “new normal” of indefinite uncertainty and change.

My roots run deep. I come from people who risked everything to travel by wagon train to Oregon in 1844. There is grit and strength in my blood. I bet it’s in your blood too!

This is a country that comes together and holds each other up. There is strength in knowing that you have people you can count on and that you can be that for others.

I truly believe with creative, calm reasoning we will not only survive we will thrive.

Be safe. Be kind to one another. Be resilient and flexible. Remember to put things into perspective — Take a breath and ask yourself – How Bad is it REALLY? And what do you want to do about it!

I want to leave you with this. When we are faced with situations beyond our control, we are challenged to change ourselves.

We want to be that resource for you as you make changes in your life – Proactively. Check out our programs at www.soulcanyon.com 


With much love to all of you,

The entire team at Soul Canyon.   Rob, Mary, Bella and Sunny




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