You know those times when you feel like you're underwater and everything is crashing down hard on you? THE TIMES WHEN what's happening to you, or what’s happening around you, is so shocking and surreal and feels so awful that you can't even imagine how you're going to get through it! Those times happen. In one way or another, we've all been there a time or two.
When I look around and see crazy fires, floods, volcanos, and such, I know that many people are experiencing those kinds of times right now. Today. 

I've been looking back and thinking about the hard times in my own life, and more than anything, I’m feeling grateful for them. Without them, I would never have been able to gain valuable insights and perspective or be the wise and seasoned woman I've become. 
Admittedly going through adversity is never fun or easy. Still, I’ve learned to be grateful for it (even in the hard moment) because I know it's the challenging times that offer the most opportunity for learning and growth. And I do like the results that come from learning and growing! 
One of the significant gifts I've gained from going through my periods of hell is compassion. I have sympathy and empathy for others struggling that I might not have if I’d ever have had otherwise. And judgment.... well (even though I used to be quite judgmental), let’s say that's pretty much off the table now, thanks to me being the one on another end so many times.
What I know from experience is you really can't judge another until you've carried their load and walked a mile or more in their shoes. It's human nature for us to look around and see others who don't have their act together and think that we have something figured out, that we're doing something right. (and granted, maybe we are because there is something to play by universal rules...)
But haha... because all it takes is for us to lose something overnight like our health, someone we love, income, a house or car, etc., etc.... and we realize fast just how much we're all in the same human being boat. And honestly, if I hadn't been the one who messed up and struggled so many times, I might be sitting on my high horse right now. But because of my challenges, I definitely am not. 
Going through a plethora of hard and painful experiences myself has opened my eyes and heart and helped me SEE and FEEL other people's pain. It's given me COMPASSION for people who are struggling and suffering, and it's helped me bleed for them and cry with them and want to help them. I'm grateful for this significant awakening, opening, and softening in me. I don't think it would've happened if I hadn't gone through so much adversity first myself. 
The trick to getting through hard times is to keep your chin up and remember that nothing stays the same forever. Everything in the universe is constantly shifting and changing, and cold, harsh winters always end and turn into warmer and sunnier days. It helps a lot to remember that, and when times are tuff, be on the expectant lookout for those warm, cheery days ahead. Guaranteed they're out there and when you experience them, make sure you notice and ENJOY them! 
I've learned that all the smooth sailing, heart-happy, feel-good days in your life are a beautiful gift! So enjoy them and appreciate them. Don't take them for granted. Store good times up in your heart so much that when hard times come again, you'll have some extra strength to get yourself through them. And don't forget to learn and treasure up the lessons!

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