In today’s episode I share the story of the Salmon who migrate through the Ballard Locks with how we navigate around the obstacles in our lives.
How to Navigate the Coronavirus/Change with Hope
The Story of the Salmon
If you were a Salmon coming in from the Pacific ocean north of Seattle, Washington in the United States with the goal of spawning somewhere in the tributaries of Lake Washington, you would come into the Puget Sound, go into Shilshole Bay and continue up until you were stopped by a Dam.
Now this dam is no ordinary dam. It separates the 20 foot above sea level freshwater of the Lakes from the salt water of the Pacific. Just like a dam stops the progression of water–it also halts the progress of the salmon and the boats.
Unfortunately Sea Lions also know that the Salmon will be stopped here, and love feasting at this stopping point.
Now, if you were a Salmon you might be thinking, What the heck! What happened to my goal to swim upriver and spawn. How do I get upriver when I am stopped by a dam and hunted by predators?
I’m going to pause there and step back from this story and continue it in just a little bit.
So, what do you do when you hit a change–something that stops you–something that stops your progress? That is a hard feeling to have the rug pulled out from under you. There is nothing more frustrating than having your progress completely stopped.
Many people felt this frustration when countries locked down during the Coronavirus outbreak. It was hard to have our progress–our normal lives–stopped, halted, or damned. Most experienced a decrease in bope.
It think it is important to understand the concept of hope and what helps us have hope, so that when our progress is stopped or our normal is changed, you know how to pivot.
Having Hope During Change
On last week’s episode, Dr. Benjamin Hardy and I talked about hope. One of the quotes I read from his book was, Personality Isn’t Permanent, is “Research shows you cannot have hope without a goal.”
Now, you might be thinking–“Tamara, that is crazy! Goals aren’t connected to hope.”
But, the more I have studied hope, the more I have realized goals or how we envision the future has everything to do hope!
If I were to ask you, “What changed in your future because the world shut down with the Coronavirus?” I bet you could tell me what changed or didn’t happen in your life.
Personal Example of Dashed Hopes
For me and my family, we missed going on choir tour to California. Choir concerts were cancelled, piano and voice lessons were cancelled. School was cancelled. Heck–going to the store normally was changed. Our Spring Break trip to Yosemite and the Giant Sequoias was cancelled. I had hoped to go to Disneyland for my birthday in May–but it never happened.
What happened to hope? It decreased because our family couldn’t envision the future. It had changed. Life stopped. And it felt frustrating. People were clamoring trying to figure out how to solve problems and keep moving.
How the Salmon Navigate Their Obstacle
Let’s go back to my story of the Salmon. They have come as far as they can go up the waterway and are stopped by the dam. But this is no ordinary dam. This is the Ballard Locks.
The Ballard Locks and the Fish Ladder
Now, as the fish swim backwards and forwards trying to find a way through the dam, they’ll catch the scent of fresh water, because they’re drawn to it. Salmon have a very good sense of smell. And by following this fresh water scent, it requires them to go a different or perhaps a more difficult route up a series of what they call weirs–picture a giant water staircase. The Salmon press forward, propelling their bodies up and out of the water to jump to the next level 21 times before they reach the freshwater and can continue their journey.
So my family and I had the privilege of visiting these Ballard locks back in 2014 when we visited the Seattle area. It is awesome and I highly recommend it. They have this really cool viewing window, which is under the water and you can watch the salmon as they’re pushing against the flow of the water, and they navigate their way up this fish ladder. It isn’t a straight shot up–in fact they have some 90 degree angle turns the Salmon must navigate to continue forward and upward against the current. It is hard, and challenging, but these Salmon have a drive and they don’t give up. They are going to make it–and they do. They finally make their way and to the fresh water and can continue their journey on up into the tributaries of Lake Washington where they can return and spawn like they’ve been going for.
Now, I’ll include some pictures of our family at the locks because boats can also make this 20 foot increase in elevation by going through some locks and it’s pretty fun to watch them as well.
To watch a YouTube on the Salmon who come through the Ballard Locks, go here.
Comparison Between the Salmon and Learning to Pivot
I’m going to draw some comparisons here, just as the salmon had to smell and find their way up the fish ladder. When we hit a challenge that stops us just like this dam stopped the fish. We too have to learn to kind of pivot, jump out of the water per se, find a different way to achieve our goals or maybe change our goals.
Personal Pivots with Goals
Granted, there were things like the high school choir tour to California that couldn’t be replaced, but my kids learned to do piano and voice lessons online. School was moved online. I learned to do my grocery shopping online and pick it up at the store where they delivered it to trunk of my car. Our spring break trip morphed into a trip at the beginning of May in a rented RV and we drove to southern Utah where we explored Bryce Canyon, Escalante and Capitol Reef.
And as we envisioned and figured out new goals, our hope increased. Remember that quote by Benjamin Hardy, “Research shows you cannot have hope without a goal.” And that’s what we found to be true.
When the world changed, our hope decreased because our goals got shattered. But as we moved forward and kept looking and pivoting, we were able to establish publish new goals. We found ways around it just like the fish.
Pivoting with Minor Goals
Now, I am sharing major goals with you, but goals can be minor things as well. I was sick for about a month (I may have had the Coronavirus), and I had to pivot my expectations of myself because I was so tired I couldn’t get up at my usual 5:30am. I modified it to be 7:00am because I needed more rest. Unfortunately, I also ended up getting about a month an a half of rebounding almost daily migraines and I had to be more gentle with my expectation of myself–and my goals shifted to getting myself feeling better.
And I was able to get my health back and get to feeling better and, and, and so sometimes we have to pivot several times until we find where we’re supposed to be. But as I set new and different goals, like getting my health back, it became a priority for me and I was able to figure that out.
3 Tips for Life Detours
I am going to share 3 Tips You Should Consider when you need to pivot–when life throws you a challenge you don’t see a way around or through. These are things that I’ve had to apply throughout my life, and they’ve really, really been helpful for me.
Tip #1. Pray
When you hit an obstacle in life that completely stops you, pray. Sometimes we’re going down a path we feel God has led us on and we hit a stopping point. Ask God to help you figure out either a way around it, or ask where he wants you to go from there. We talked last week about living in limbo. Now, God isn’t going to give you every step of the way, but He may give you an impression, or He may expect you to think for yourself and see if you can figure something out to help you move up and around and through that fish ladder along the side there.
There is an awesome verse in Romans 12:12 which explains this perfectly, “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer (Greek translation: constantly persisting in prayer).” So, be persistent prayer until God either opens a window points you another direction or helps you climb the ladder around your obstacle.
Tip #2. Be Flexible
I laugh that I’m giving you this tip because I used to be the polar opposite. I used to be very, very rigid in my plans and in my thinking when I was much younger. The interesting thing about life and having two sons on the autism spectrum is that I never knew if it was going to be a good day or a bad day. I had to learn to be flexible and bend…and my life has become better for it. Change doesn’t throw me into complete disarray like it used to, and I think that is a good thing–because if life is consistent in anything, it is consistently changing.
Life is constant in change. So, learn to be flexible.
Tip #3. Don’t Give Up
This is a crucial one because sometimes when our hope drops, we feel like saying, “I don’t want to move forward anymore. I give up.” And that’s a hard feeling to feel and it’s real. And if you’re at that point of depression, for more than six months, please get medical attention. Doctors can help. You might have situational depression, and that is a very real thing. So get help.
Don’t give up! Goals, expectations or hopes might need to be altered, but don’t ever give up on moving forward. You aren’t done learning until you die–so keep learning, keep moving, keep trying to figure out the next step–even if it feels like you are taking one step forward and one step back. You may even need to rest a day or two of five before you take another step, but keep moving. Don’t give up!
The Example of Paul
I hope we can keep pushing forward and not give up and someday say like the apostle Paul boldly declared at the end of his mortal life (2 Timothy 4:7-8), “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing.”
Now, there is someone who didn’t give up! Paul kept moving and pushing forward through prison, shipwrecks, persecution, even unto death. Paul had the eternal hope, the eternal vision of where he would someday be–with a crown of righteousness on his head. And that same blessing and gift of hope can be each of ours as we keep moving.
So we don’t give up, we pray, and we continue to be flexible.
Now, my friends, we’ve had a great story about salmon and trying to swim up river and we may feel like our hope has been dashed, but I hope that you can pivot and set new goals–even if they’re tiny baby goals. Maybe tomorrow you can say, “I’m going to get up _____ in the morning and I am going to do ____.” And set a goal of what you want to do.
And if you have kids that throw your day for a loop, remember the second thing of being flexible. Be flexible, because life does not turn out how we expect every day.
But keep setting baby goals, which can grow into a little bit bigger goals. And as we set bigger and bigger goals and accomplish them are hoping creases and our self esteem increases as well.
Alright, so we’ve talked about some really important things about how to increase our hope when our dreams and hopes and expectations have been dashed. And now I’m going to tell you a funny story, because it’s important that we laugh.
I had a good chat the other morning with my oldest son Jordan. We just sat and laughed and talked in my office for a long time. When he got up to leave, I hugged him and as I patted him on the back I felt something there. It was a small circular sticker that said, “Monkey Butt Powder.” I pulled it off his shirt, read it and burst out laughing (because he had just come home from the gym). Come to find out, my jokester husband had stuck it on him after he got home, but we all had a roaring laugh.
So, find the humor in life. Hope on my friends! Set some goals so you can hope on!