This post may contain affiliate links that help Mike keep the posts coming but cost you zero extra. Please see my disclosure page for more details.
If you’re interested in participating in the Wins and Losses Series, please send me a note here (you don’t have to be a blogger to participate!)
(Photo courtesy of Kevin Newton)
This week we have: Amanda from Why We Money!
Amanda is the co-founder of WhyWeMoney.com – a site where she and her husband share ideas, experiences, and tactics for finding a balance between enjoying life today, while still planning for a great tomorrow. She has a great one in store for us today so I’ll let her take it from here:
I love going a little deeper than the money side of personal finance, so I was excited when Mike asked me to participate in this series. It’s super important to look at the “whys” of money and life.
I firmly believe that, although we can’t always see them, there are lessons to learn and good that can come out of both the wins and losses. It’s been said life is 10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows. And, in my opinion, it’s hard to have one without the other.
Worst Moment #1: The call
You know the one I’m talking about.
I was in my last year of undergrad and my parents were visiting for the weekend. That day, we took a road trip to have lunch with all of my grandparents.
That night, we were back at my apartment and the phone rang. My dad answered and within seconds we all knew it was bad. My paternal grandparents had been in a terrible car accident (with a farm implement) and my grandma was taken to the hospital.
My grandpa was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.
I was grateful to have been able to spend time with my grandpa that day he died. (And we just happened to take pictures that day.)
In my entire life, I’d never experienced such a traumatic and sudden loss
I had never had anyone close to me die – and the pain was new and raw and intense.
This was my first experience with the true fragility of life and how fast it can change. I struggled for quite a while trying to wrap my head around it, searching for answers, reasons, and the meaning of life. And I found a new appreciation for life and the amazing people in mine.
Takeaway: Don’t take your loved ones for granted and spend time with them whenever you can. Most importantly, always, always, tell them how much you love them. Not just with your words, but your actions.
Worst Moment #2: An unexpected diagnosis
I have a disclaimer for this one. As I mentioned, I have trouble considering most things in my life a “loss.” Partly because I don’t think I’ve experienced that much loss in my life and partly because growth and other good things can come out of loss (though it’s often hard to see at the moment).
In 2017, I set a goal to “finally” figure out what was wrong with my leg
For years, I’d had significant nerve pain (and a palpable, painful lump) in my right leg. In 2016, it seemed to be getting worse. I started noticing it was much weaker than my left – and didn’t work nearly as well.
After a few months with no answers (but some pretty freaked out docs who saw the MRI images), I went to Mayo Clinic and was diagnosed with some unknown type of Neurofibromatosis. Even the top neurosurgeons don’t know what type of the genetic disorder I have.
They literally told me I’m “special”.
My right leg is full of internal plexiform nerve tumors. I’ve had some removed, but there is no possible way to remove them all (plus, I now know the nerves don’t like the surgery any more than the tumors themselves).
Physically, I am slightly limited in my abilities (I notice this most with martial arts). And the disorder is progressive with a somewhat elevated risk of malignancy, so no one really knows what the future will bring.
Takeaway: Though we may not be able to choose some things in life, we can choose our reaction to them. (Mike: I absolutely love this comment – and it’s so true. Kudos to you, Amanda)
I can choose how to look at this. I can see it as a “loss” because 1) I’ve lost some physical ability and 2) I don’t know what I’ll be able to do in the future or how the disorder will affect my life and longevity.
But I choose to look at it as an opportunity to recognize the importance of living my life “now”, to appreciate what I’ve got today and do the things I love to do. (And I want to hike – a challenging trail. I’d love to attempt some distance on a trail, like the PCT or AT.)
Best Moment #1: Seeing our son at his graduation from Air Force basic training
The day Jake left for basic training – when we said goodbye to him at the airport, walked away, and went home to a house that felt so empty without him – was one of the most difficult days I’ve had as a parent.
Weeks of limited and sporadic communication followed. Knowing that he was going through one of the toughest challenges of his life was hard. But then there was the pride and joy of knowing he was accomplishing so much, physically and mentally. The highs and lows were extreme during those few weeks.
Also, for a child that often had trouble walking at the age of 2 and continued to struggle with borderline juvenile rheumatoid arthritis for several years, getting through basic military training meant even more.
No words can describe that first hug when I “tapped” him out of formation on the first day of graduation weekend.
Takeaway: The struggles make the victories even sweeter.
Seeing Jake at graduation – and all the amazing changes in him that happened over a few weeks – was nothing short of amazing. As his parent, there are no words to describe the immense feeling of pride, love, and respect I had at that moment.
Best Moment #2: Passing my temporary black belt test
My husband and I started taekwondo when our kids were younger. The kids quit but we chose to continue. One belt test after another, we moved through the ranks (with an injury here and there). As we neared our temporary black belt test, we trained daily.
In our martial arts school, the temporary black belt is the most challenging test, both physically and mentally.
I was confident in most of my abilities, but I went into the test not knowing if I would even break my boards. I hadn’t broken them in practice. I was so nervous I was shaking – and I was exhausted from the rest of the test. Also, I didn’t particularly like the idea of getting out there in front of the judges and spectators. But after 2 tries, I broke my boards and finished my test.
So, as a not-so-athletic 39-year-old, I passed the temporary black belt test. But this isn’t a win because I became a “black belt”. It’s a win because it gave me the confidence and recognition that I could achieve whatever I set my mind to.
Takeaway: With time, persistence, and practice, I can do anything I set my mind to.
I never had the goal of black belt. And as I trained over the years, there were times of frustration and doubt. But with persistence, time and practice, I saw a slow improvement in my skills and confidence.
Thank you, Mike, for allowing me to share these moments! Writing this post drove home the importance of reflecting on momentous life experiences. For me, it was a reminder that both the wins and losses are essential for growth and gratitude in life.
I loved reading about Amanda’s mental approach to challenges in her life. Where some folks may come to a setback and ‘turtle up’ (hide in the shell) – she sounds like someone who would do the exact opposite – find a way through. What about Amanda’s story stuck out to you? We’ll both be monitoring the comments section below and we’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks for Reading!