Fish Ladder Days

A small fish ladder helps fish migrate past obstacles.

Ever had one of those days where everything seems uphill? It’s early in the day and you know you’re trapped on the treadmill until well after the sun sets?

You listen to your own voice and you can hear that terse, grumpy sound – even when the other person has done little or nothing to deserve it.

What starts off this cascade of events that turns a normal day into a day of slogging through molasses?

Could be something as simple as a paper cut.  A wood splinter from the desk.  Ruining breakfast. You didn’t sleep well, and the kids are unruly, and you’ve stained your shirt before you even get out the door.

Yes, of course you’ll live through it.

But then there are days when you are counting on someone who lets you down. When you feel betrayed, or when there are things going on in your life that make it hard to keep your emotions under control. And these are the days that seem to never end.

I started calling them "Fish Ladder Days."

Whenever I had one of these days, I called it a Fish Ladder Day because I felt just like those salmon you see jumping a couple of feet out of the water and giving everything they have to scale a waterfall. They’re in full out do or die mode, trying to get home.

And then, one day this week I realized what a fish ladder really is.

A fish ladder isn’t a barrier.  It’s actually a way for the fish to go around, over, or through obstacles on a river – like a dam, for instance. (Just ask NOAA or the DNR).

Realizing this, I stopped in mid-step. Had I been seeing barriers where there were none? Was I making the barriers bigger than they were because I was tired or hungry?

What could my fish ladder be? What could boost me over or around the barriers?

  • What if I read something inspiring or listened to energizing music?
  • What if I gave up my usual Lone Ranger attitude? Not easy, I admit. What if I reached out to a friend for a quick five-minute cheer-me-up call? Not where I unload my tales of woe but where I hear about her garden, her new dog or her latest grandchild.
  • What if I reached out to the people in one of my groups or to my incredible Mastermind team?

I had been totally focused on my problems. I was surrounded by a sea of resources at my fingertips and saw myself alone in the desert. The reality was that I was supported and nurtured.

Suddenly I didn’t feel so tired or grumpy.

A couple of phone calls and a FaceBook post later I had found my way around and over the obstacles. Ways I hadn’t seen before because I was too close the problems.

What about you? Are you less alone than you believe?  Do you have the courage to reach out for support?  If you have no one to reach out to, where could you find groups of like-minded people?

Take Action – Make This Your Own

Make a list of people to call or text (I feel strongly calling gets you a greater benefit) for the next time  when you’re feeling stuck.

Cross off anyone on the list who is critical or judgmental of you, or who will need to dump their stuff on you.  That’s not supporting you (that’s a different kind of call).

As you look to those around you, if you don’t see connections who are like minded, where can you find them?

  • If you’re in business, what groups will help you grow stronger and faster?
  • What are volunteer activities you’d enjoy?
  • What hobbies have you let languish?
  • What activities get you out and about?

And, finally, the next time you find yourself having a fish ladder day, don’t hesitate to pull out your list and make a call (or two).

You can also check out these related posts:

Have You Hit the Messy Middle?
Burned Out? – What to Do About It (Besides Quit)
Bounce Back Fast – 11 Tools in 60 Seconds


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