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Advice to Younger Me: 6 Ways to Find Hope and Resilience While Navigating Hard Times

Written by Molly Schreiber, Founder + CEO, Challenge to Change, Inc.



" Smile more. Make connections.  Love big." ~ Molly Schreiber


Seventeen years ago, on May 26, 2007, my life was turned upside down within moments, and the path I viewed for my life was forever altered.  I lost my life partner, my first husband.  Many of you reading this blog have heard me intimately share my story with you.  


This significant shift in my life made me a widow with three children all under the age of three, marking one of the toughest periods I've faced. From this challenging experience, I've grown and evolved.  I've realized that I'm not alone in navigating hardships; we each have our own “hard.” While some may be more demanding than others, it's important not to compare them.  


As the anniversary of this significant life transition approaches, I find myself reflecting on everything that has occurred over the past 17 years and contemplating the potential that the next 17 years will hold. In this blog, I’ll share my reflections on the last 17 years and offer advice to dear, younger me.  From these reflections on young Molly, I write this blog.   I invite you to read my story, reflect on your own life, and how you can navigate transitions - the big, the small, and the in-between.  




May 26, 2007 was a beautiful, sunny day.  The lilacs were still in bloom and the temperature was a beautiful 76 degrees. It truly could not have been a more perfect spring day.  I recall, on this beautiful May day, that it was Memorial Day weekend.  The weekend of graduations.  The weekend of growing up from high school and moving onto the next phase in adult life.  Little did I know that I’d be moving onto the next phase in my adult life too. 


That year in May, my little brother was graduating from high school. I decided to drive the three kids and myself back to my hometown of Bellevue for the event while Kyle stayed back to prepare for his own school's graduation celebration.


As I tucked my three children into bed at my parents' home that Thursday evening, I vividly remember praying to God and saying, "I have the best life. Thank you for everything you have given me. I know that there are other people in the world who need more than I do. Please know that I have enough and I am grateful." Within an hour I was woken up by a phone call saying that Kyle had been in a car accident and was being life-flighted to a major hospital in Des Moines, Iowa.


I remember how shocked I was that so much beauty could surround me on such a tragic day of loss.  As I sat on the back deck of my home in Fort Dodge, surrounded by loved ones, I was stunned at how life could continue to move forward as I felt I was drowning in grief.  Many of the details of those early days were clouded, but I remember having moments of clarity of the hard road I had ahead of me in raising three happy, healthy, and safe children. 


Me with my three kids, Maggie, Maria, and Jacob ~2012


This very weekend is seventeen years later, and it’s the exact weekend that I’m celebrating the graduation of my twins, Jacob and Maria.  It is the Memorial Day weekend that seemed so far off to me. The day my three children go off into the world and make it better than they found it. The day they transition from the world of youth into the world of adulthood.  Seventeen years later, we’re celebrating a time of hard work, tremendous love and growth - for them and for me. 


One emotion that frequently surfaced during these years was what Glennon Doyle termed "scited." Glennon understood that we can feel multiple emotions at once, leading to the empowering concept of "scited" (Scared + Excited). As I embark on this new life transition, I carry these truths with me, feeling "scited" about what lies ahead.


Seventeen years of experience.

Seventeen years of advice.

Seventeen years of change.

Seventeen years of growth.  


Me with my husband, Tom, and my three kids on my twins' last day of high school, May 2024


Advice to Younger Me: 6 Ways to Find Hope and Resilience


 As I look back to the young 30-year-old Molly who sat on the back deck of her home in Fort Dodge, Iowa on May 26, 2007, I now want to offer her so much advice and guidance on life.  I want to help her to navigate the transitions that were to come in the following days, weeks, and years. 


1.Everyone’s hard is their own hard. 


“Hey Molly, today is really hard.  This is as hard as it is going to get for you for a while. I promise you.  Molly, there are so many people who have gone before you and have experienced hardship.  There will also be many more to follow you.  Remember, young Molly,  everyone’s hard is their own hard. Everyone has a hard in their life. Yes, everyone.  All of our hards look different.  Your loss of Kyle looks very different from someone who has lost a job or a pet, but their hard is just as near and dear to them.  It is the only loss they know.  Therefore, it is their hard. We could create a hierarchy of hard, but why?  Grief is grief and it is real and raw. Be kind to everyone who is experiencing hardship.  You have much to share from your journey.  Be kind.  Be generous.  Be helpful.” 

 

2. Don’t take things so seriously.   


“Molly, you have a long road ahead of you.  Yes, seventeen years seems like a lifetime, but it will be here before you know it. You are going to experience so much adversity and so much love during this time.  Embrace the duality of it all but don’t take things too seriously. Have humor.  Laugh a lot.  Let the little things go and work through the big things with grace. Life is much harder when you are too serious.  Welcome the ease life can offer.  Smile more. Make connections.  Love big.” 




3. Search for meaning early in your journey of the hard. 


“This may be hard to hear, Molly but finding meaning in your grief journey will help you heal.  The cycle of grief will go round and round until you decide to get off the merry-go-round. When you jump off, do so safely and with meaning.  Finding meaning may be helping young widows with their own healing.  It may be offering mindfulness and yoga tools to young learners.  Whatever it may be, Molly, find it and allow hope to guide you. Be patient.  Have hope.  Give grace.”


4. Practice a quiet time daily. 


“Meditation and prayer are going to be very important to you for the rest of your life.  Lean on these practices.  Find a quiet place and time every day to accept the quiet into your life.  Life is going to be very loud for you in the coming years and mindfulness and prayer will be tools to give you peace.  It is not a selfish time, young Molly.  It is a necessary time.  If need be, get a babysitter so you can have this space.  Your children will be better because of it. Welcome the quiet.  Spread peace.  Get grounded.” 




5. Get enough sleep. 


“Young Molly, the tears can stop when you sleep. When life gets too overwhelming, take a nap.  Rest is essential for the mental mind and your physical body.  You will emotionally be more centered and grounded when you have eight hours of sleep.  You will never win an award getting five or six hours of sleep a night.  No one is impressed.  Put the self care practice of eight hours in bed as a priority.  Your physical body will thank you.  Rest more.  Do less.  Have hope.”


6. Movement is magic. 

 

“Molly, you will do this very well over time.  I only state this so you remember.  Exercise will help you to navigate the transitions of the next 17 years.  It will help you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually to make important decisions in the transitions to come.  Remember to carve out this space for yourself and remember:  give up teaching the class and take it for yourself.  You deserve the movement without the teaching brain activated.  Movement is medicine and magic all in one.  Sweat daily. Get centered.  Have hope.”



Molly's Path: Building Hope and Resilience for a Bright Future


On this seventeenth anniversary, I’m “scited” to share the book cover to our newest children’s book based on my story called Molly’s Path: Building Hope and Resilience for a Bright Future.  Written by our Trauma Supports Director, Kayla Reetz, this book encapsulates the wisdom I've gained from my greatest life's challenge in a kid-friendly format. It's designed to help children navigate grief and hardship while fostering hope and resilience for a bright future.


In a world often filled with uncertainty and adversity, hope serves as a guiding light, providing us with the strength and resilience to navigate through life's ups and downs.


I knew my best friend and my life partner would never have left me if there wasn't a bigger purpose.  I knew I was divinely supported by God and the Universe, and I had to hold out hope for a happy, healthy life.


Through the loss of my best friend, Kyle, I was given the gift of hope and was inspired to make a difference in our world of education to enable the next generation to have tools of mindfulness and self-regulation.  The tools I wanted to give our young students were the very tools I used to navigate a very difficult time in my life.  


Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) Download



The book cover for Molly's Path: Building Hope and Resilience for a Bright Future (releases August 30th!)


You can get an Advanced Reader Copy of the book before its official release on August 30th.




Pre-order your Copy of Molly's Path - Releases on August 30th!



Peace,

Molly



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