Ultimate Blog Challenge - Day 15: Adversity

Welcome to Day 15 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.


This is an odd thing for me to say as a Hockey Mom because we don't have halftime; we have three periods with two intermissions = bathroom and snack breaks between regulation periods.

So far managing the daily assignments plus the networking have been going surprisingly well. Could I do it every month? Probably not.

Today's prompt is a wonderful example of what we in HR like to call "behavioral interview question", and I'll explain what that is in a minute. First the question:

With all the natural disasters hitting the world lately, many people, maybe even you, are facing adversity. Write about a time that you or your business faced hard times: what was it, what caused it, what did you do to overcome it, what did you learn from it?

So what is a behavioral interview question?

It's a question that focusses on how you have handled a difficult situation in the workplace, assuming that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Your answer will reveal your attitude and skills.

Example question:

Tell me about a time you disagreed with your manager's leadership style.

While there is probably not a perfectly right or wrong answer, you should certainly not rant about that bitch and claim you knew better how to do her job ;-)

Instead use this opportunity to show how you handled a tricky situation by using communication skills, empathy and respect.

Make sense?

Back to today's question.

In our country we don't have to worry about natural disasters. OK, I'll take that back. We've had bad hailstorms, downpours, floodings, and  as a result, crop shortfalls this "spring" and "summer". Still though. We have insurance, and we can still feed our people. 

We live in a stable country. OK, I'll take that back. We've been experiencing bizarre situations and anti-vaxxers' demonstrating in just about every major Swiss city these past weeks and months. Still, though. 

Our systems and laws that are in place are working fine, and our members of the government are doing a pretty nice job considering the situation and circumstances. OK, I'll take that back. If a regular person can not find a GP within a reasonable driving distance, something is not that great. Still though.

I like to think since we live in the first world, we can solve almost every problem. Sometimes it takes time, money and effort, but most situations can be fixed. Challenging phases define us by how we react to them: we can give up, blame others, strike back or make the best of it, learn from it and move on. 

My buddy Einstein suggested that we can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

See why I'm so proud of him? He's such a smart cookie!

Let me cite another great mind: Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus taught that all external events are beyond our control and we should accept whatever happens calmly. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can control through self-discipline.

In today's world this translates to the following meme:

This may all be easy for me to say! 

My house didn't flood, and it didn't burn down either. Our company did not have to declare bankruptcy, and none of my loved ones has been diagnosed with stage four (insert evil type) cancer. 

My greatest adversity was probably the years of trouble conceiving. We went through all the tests and procedures (except IVF) school medicine had to offer, and when that didn't help, we turned to TCM. A wonderful lady told me just by looking at my tongue (yes, really) I suffered from iron deficiency, and while she may start treating me with acupuncture and cranio, I needed to get some IV ferritin, stat.

She wasn't kidding. Blood work showed dangerously low levels, and it all became clear. Yes, I had a stressful job that left me exhausted, but it was also the low iron that made me feel so drained.

Long story short, I was lucky that I got pregnant before my biological clock was running out of time, but I also had to look in the mirror and ask myself what if?

What if a baby was not in my cards, even though there was nothing medically wrong with me or hubby? 

Even though setting yourself an ultimatum is probably not wise, I told myself if I couldn't become pregnant before turning 40, that was it. I was going to enjoy life as a childless lady and not become that bitter person. Instead I was going to do all the things my Mom friends could not without a ton of organisation and guilt: go out on a moment's notice, travel, maybe tackle some further training.

Lucky me. I got the best of both worlds. I had a baby and a part-time job at the airline that came with the perk of business seats for me and my immediate family once a year. 

That's how my two year old flew to San Francisco. (Hello Janet, too bad we had not *met* yet!)

I am very aware of how lucky we are, and we're not taking it for granted. 

While I don't want to to be that Mom that goes "eat your veggies; tons of starving kids in Africa would be happy to get some broccoli", I make it a point to remind my son of how good he has it.

Earlier this year, as part of religion class, Colin and his friends got to choose from a variety of events and topics, and I had a chance to accompany them to the unique Swiss paraplegic center

Tim, who has been in his wheelchair for 30 years and works as a peer counselor. led us to the newly built visitors' center where they set up an entire wheelchair accessible apartment for us to explore: smooth flooring, widened entranceways, lowered countertops and sinks, you name it!

The kids had fun racing each other, test driving their wheelchairs, but they certainly got a glimpse of what it means to do every single thing sitting in that chair, day in, day out. 

Just the other day a friend came over for coffee. She’s an elementary school teacher and complained about her library budget being cut yet again.
In times where we hear how kids don’t read anymore and spend their times in front of screens instead.
My sweet teenage boy went through his box of “baby books” he had set aside for the next yard sale and donated them to her school. 

My friend went home with a large and heavy bag full of well-preserved children’s’ books. "You might have made fortune selling them" she said. "Are you sure you don't want to keep them?" 

"I'm not exactly a poor guy, and if your students will love it, then I'm happy to give them away" he replied. 

That's the spirit.

What adversity have you faced? How did you deal with it? Let me know below.


  1. Years ago I taught adults whose main goal was to get and keep a good job or career. As part of the curriculum we talked about and practiced answering behavioral interview questions which at first were difficult. Many of these students had faced a great deal of adversity and used what they learned and how their positive attitudes helped when answering these questions at the interviews. It not what happens to you, but how you react that matters.

    I do have a question. What is TCM?

    1. Interestingly, overcoming adversity is more valuable than any diploma on your resumé.
      TCM stands for Traditional Chinese Medicine

  2. Excellent post, Tamara. I’m with you on everything. I have to give it some thought about my own adversities. It’s too early in the morning but your post Isan excellent read with my cuppa. It reminds me to be positive. We can choose to be a solution instead of adding to the problem.

  3. Tamara,
    It is always humbling to write about adversity because it exposes us at a level that is raw and painful. Even after you see how it worked out, the memories of what you felt then, linger.
    We have had over two years of one adversity after another, and we are still in it. I plan to post about it, but it won’t be an easy one to write.
    You’ve inspired me though. Thank you! I’m so glad you have your hockey-playing son!
    Great post!

  4. My biggest adversity is easy -- my kidney failure and subsequent kidney transplant. It's what got me started blogging and really working to finish my first novel *not that I moved very fast but I am almost done now!) I learned that I am stronger than I thought, I can deal with adversity (I hadn't really been faced with much before), and that tomorrow is not promised!

  5. We have had some troubling times. My husband was involved in an accident while he was driving a big rig in which a fatality occurred. A woman cut in front of him and then the car in front of her stopped suddenly and my husband's truck rolled over the woman's car. He was blamed because he was a "professional driver" so should have been able to avoid the collision. That's not true but he lost his job anyway and they took his license away so we had to make do with my salary alone for several months (because he was let go he couldn't collect unemployment). He was able to get part-time work in construction with a friend and then a job at Sara Lee Coffee and Tea where he worked for 18 years. It was because of his job there and the stock options they offered him that we were able to afford the down payment on our house so I guess it all worked out in the end but during those months of him not working I clearly remember sitting down on the kitchen floor and just crying when he wasn't around so he wouldn't see how worried I was. Tamara, I agree that it is too bad we didn't "know" each other when you visited SF. Thanks for the thoughtful link and I hope that if you ever come out this way again we can get together.

  6. If we can keep in mind that adversity always transforms into a greater good, we can relax into the trauma. "When one door closes, another opens." This has always been my experience. When I lost 2 of the most important men in my life, husband and brother, to CV19, in a 5 month span of time, I felt myself become stronger. "This too shall pass." Until it is my turn to reunite with all my dearly departed.

  7. I am big on taking life one day at a time and just go with the flow


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