Centric Boston’s Linda Stevens gets through challenges by remembering that self-acceptance, perception – and a little humor – make a difference.

Do you have a favorite quote or maybe a mantra that helps you get through challenging days? I do. Henry David Thoreau once said,

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

These insightful words remind me that life in many ways is about perception. I can choose to “see” challenges, family, work – you name it – in a myriad of different ways. But in the end, it’s up to me.

Over the last few months, that quote has found new meaning for me as I cope physically with my twin pregnancy while working full-time.

However, before I tell you my story, I have a confession to make. I am a fitness freak – phew, I said it. I’ve been obsessed with nutrition and fitness since I was a teenager – strict diets, fitness competitions, you name it. But, since finding out I was responsible for creating two little beings, I told myself I could, and would, dial it back.

For the first couple of months, it was actually pretty easy to keep that promise – I was nauseous and tired 90% of the time. But, by month four I was starting to feel better and went back to my daily workouts, albeit at a much-reduced intensity.

However, my self-esteem was sinking lower and lower with each passing week as I watched my hard-won muscles disappear. I thought it couldn’t get any worse, until it did.

The Pants

I’d taken an early morning flight from Boston to Washington D.C. to spend the day meeting with a few potential clients. Before leaving the house that morning I’d dressed in a blouse and pair of form-fitting black pants that had served me well the entire way through my first pregnancy. They had started to become a little snug, but they were the only clean pair of professional pants I could squeeze myself into, so they had to do.

The problems started shortly after touching down in DC. As I was leaving the plane, I noticed that my pants felt much looser than when I’d boarded. I prayed that it wasn’t a problem with the zipper while trying nonchalantly to examine the backside of my pants.

What did I discover? A broken clasp! I worried about the show the passengers behind me were about to get. So, how do you emerge from a major clothing malfunction with your dignity intact? Here’s how:

  1. Seek cover: a handbag, briefcase, notebook, your untucked shirt, basically anything. If all that fails and you find yourself on a jet bridge with no refuge in sight, get your back against the wall and pretend that you’re waiting for luggage until everyone has disembarked. This will also give you time to think about your next move.
  2. Close the gap: Unless you’re MacGyver, you probably don’t have an arsenal of items to help you repair the damage, so use what you do have.

By using the above strategies to get to the ladies room, six safety pins, and some serious jerry-rigging, I was able to secure the clasp and proceed on time to my first sales meeting of the day.

I could feel the panic attack coming on – the sweats, racing heartbeat and tunnel vision. “Breathe…just breathe,” I whispered to myself.

A Reminder

It suddenly came to me: An image from a curling team-building event. My colleague crouched down and gliding across the ice with a rock in-hand, well-positioned to put us in the lead. Followed by the sound of tearing fabric and his struggle to stand.

I remembered the team’s collective gasp, followed by ruckus laughter that was deafening. He stood there in his tattered pants and clearly visible long-johns, laughing louder than everyone else.

There was no judgment. No self-flagellation. Just an attitude of life happens and isn’t it funny?!

It was exactly the reminder I needed – my heart rate slowed, the room was clearly visible again. Life happens, I told myself.

I imagined sharing my own misadventures that morning with my potential client, in all of its agonizing detail, as an “icebreaker.” With the look of horror and laughter that would follow, they wouldn’t forget my visit anytime soon!

However, I restrained myself. After all, I didn’t want them distracted by the idea that my safety pins could fail at any moment. Yikes!

All in all, it ended up being a good day. I met some great people, got a request for a proposal and was reminded: It is possible to change some of life’s less than ideal moments simply by choosing how to “see” them.

While I don’t relish the idea of sharing this very personal story with you, I hope the next time you are faced with your own “moonshot” moment, in whatever form it may come in, that you too will remember: A little humor and self-acceptance can make all the difference in how you see the world, and most importantly yourself.