I have a handful of catchphrases that help me survive. I’m not a rock climber, but I picture these phrases as being like those stakes that rock climbers put in the mountain as they make progress that keep them from falling all the way down and having to start all over…or worse.

  • Transitions are hard.
  • I make awkward normal.

These are two of my faves, and they both came to mind today. They often go hand in hand for me as a stumble and scrape along steep learning curves. Sometimes it’s a new state or a new country and culture. Sometimes it’s a new family schedule. Sometimes it’s a new relationship. Sometimes it’s a new task. Sometimes it’s just something new and unexpected…like a new toothpaste.

Here’s what hit me today:

  • Sometimes things are hard.
  • Sometimes things are awkward.
  • Sometimes they’re both.
  • Sometimes they’re neither, but we think they are.

It was that last bit that got me. I had a moment about 18 months ago where things felt super hard and awkward. The honeymoon of my new dream job was over, the real work had begun, and I wondered why we’d ever left our comfortable (read predictable-to-us) lives in Chicago. I mean, there were days that felt hard back then, but those days were still familiar. Whenever I had awkward moments back then, it was practically guaranteed laughter for everyone.

Why would anyone give that up to become strangers in a strange land?

I’ll tell you why. No one ever grows if they stick to status quo. We just get status quo. There’s more to life and who we are than status quo (maybe that should be a catchphrase?).

Oh, another catchphrase? Comfort and challenge. If you’re feeling too challenged, I’ll comfort you. If you’re feeling too comfortable, I’ll challenge you. It’s one of the opening lines in any initial therapy sessions with me. It’s the dance between the two that sharpens and shapes and tugs us along the journey. I really believe that. When I finally looked in the mirror and said those words to myself, it was like I plugged back in and have since been able to enjoy the dance and journey of making my dream job my new reality.

I think it’s similar for our girls. They come from such challenging circumstances. They need comfort. They need to know that the next meal and the next kind word are predictable. They need to know that when they speak, someone will not only listen, but will believe them. Because they know the harsh realities of life and what it takes to survive, trusting in comfort can be as hard and awkward as trusting in challenge was for me.

The irony is that we often reach the place where it is no longer hard or awkward, but we still think and react as if it is because we haven’t figured out how not to.


Maybe that’s when it’s time to find the right catchphrase to catch us.

Heather Headshot

Heather Bland CEO, My Refuge House

Inspired by How Full Is Your Bucket?, A Drop For Your Bucket offers a somewhat stream of conscious peek into my brain and heart during my training “adventures”. Between my 40th birthday in October of 2017 and the 10th anniversary of My Refuge House in September of 2018, I will run 10 different races. My hope is to gather friends along the way who will either run with me or cheer us on as we raise awareness about the journey of My Refuge House! I hope you will receive at least drop of inspiration in each of these raw reflections. Thank you for reading and pondering.

Countdown until we hope to see you in Dallas at Fashioned For Freedom: