Spiraling Out of Control

July 5, 2017


It was 1:00 a.m. and I was spent. Done. Exhausted. Emotionally Drained. I think you get the idea and I'm guessing you've been in THAT place.  You know . . . when little things go wrong and add up into one gigantic wall you hit. Or maybe even a couple big things you can't seem to overcome. Either way, you feel as if you're spiraling out of control!  If you can't relate, you may not be human.


The first layer of bricks on my wall started building a couple days after returning from a photojournalism trip to Haiti. I took 2780 pictures during the five days away and a handful of them were already edited while in-country. When I returned to the States, I sat down at my desk in my home office to continue the long editing process. I heard this odd noise coming from my external hard drive. "That doesn't sound right, but I'm sure it will pass," I cautiously yet hopefully thought to myself.  But, quickly I realized that annoying consistent noise was letting me know that it had crashed.


I reminded myself to just breathe.  Although I lost hours of work, I still had all the images on my SD card in my camera.  So, I started the long process yet again of uploading, organizing, and choosing my favorites.  I kept telling myself that I could handle this.  It was inconvenient and frustrating but the bright side was that I didn't loose the raw footage. I accepted the new reality and pushed forward.



Until . . . the next morning when brick layer number two (which felt like a boulder) came tumbling down.


I awoke to a text that read, "I think your email has been hacked."  Really!!! Because I wear so many hats, each of those roles have an email account associated with them so when I heard my information had been stolen, that meant fixing not just one account, but MANY.  Yet again, I reminded myself to breathe but that inner reminder was starting to become an inner annoyance (like a toddler repeatedly calling your name when you're standing right next to them).  But, this stubborn woman believed she could overcome this too.


I began the painful process of changing all my passwords but found after a couple hours, there was still one account that even the service rep couldn't help me with.  I had had enough. It was 2:00 p.m. I had been problem solving all day and catching up on editing pictures.  I decided it was time to finally shower and eat (which were low on the priority list that day).


Oh . . . just wait.  Here comes brick layer number three.


Feeling refreshed and less hangry, I headed back to my laptop and saw a new Facebook message from a mutual friend in another country. The details revolved around corruption in that part of the world that led him and countless other teachers and administrators loosing their jobs.  Contributions given to sponsor kids to attend school were being pocketed and leaving communities in disarray.  It broke me to hear that it had "devastated his family." I knew what that new reality looked like as I had spent a couple weeks in that area and saw families that could not afford the basic necessities. Feeling helpless, I couldn't offer much assistance in referring him to other employment options. 


I've been exposed to some amazing and heartbreaking sights, sounds, and stories in my 23 years of international travels.  I have learned how to process the unbelievable and horrific, but every once in awhile, a story will break me. And after 24 hours of spiraling downhill with big inconveniences, this news hit hard. And deep. 


I was torn a part that I couldn't make a bigger difference. I was upset at the pride and greed in the world. I was plain and simply ANGRY.


After researching the corruption, I decided to step away from my computer that had consumed me the last couple days trying to remedy multiple situations.  I took a late-night walk in my neighborhood to recompose myself and reflect.


It's now a few days later. I'm still editing photos but was able to give the company the images they needed on time. All my email account passwords have been successfully changed. And, I was able to share some positive words and encouragement with my friend overseas.


I knew in the midst of the chaos, things would eventually change. Sometimes those changes are positive and sometimes they take us further down that spiral. But either way, we have a choice. A choice on how the circumstances - the trials - will affect us.


I'm reminded of musician Kelly Clarkson's popular phrase "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Although I may need to step away, cry, or scream during difficult times, I also choose to fight. Because although that spiral seems to be leading us downward, we can crawl our way back up that slippery slope. I choose to find ways to chip at that brick wall until it no longer blocks my view of reality.


So, when you face a towering wall in your life . . . when you feel like you're spiraling out of control . . . breathe. Recognize you can break it down. Climb up. Win the battle. Overcome. Trials come and go but hope always remains.


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