A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO TURN DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES INTO AN ADVENTURE By Deryn van der Tang
Copyright © 2021 Deryn E van der Tang . All RightsReserved. First Edition Published 2022No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in aretrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by anymeans without the prior written permission of theauthor. The only exception is brief quotations in reviews.eBook editions are licensed for your enjoyment only. Theymay not be re-sold, copied, or given away to other people.Should you wish to share an eBook edition, pleasepurchase an additional copy for each person.Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations in thispublication are from The Living Bible Translation.Scripture quotations are taken from The Living Biblecopyright © 1971. Used by permission of Tyndale HousePublishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, CarolStream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.Cover Design, Deryn van der Tang, Cover Art Image andinternal images, Deryn van der Tang. Website: www.crossingmybridges.comEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org
A PRACTICAL GUIDE TO TURN DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES INTO AN ADVENTUREby Deryn van der TangJill told me her story as we sat and enjoyedour cup of coffee and cake. She said she hadgone back to school and was now sitting thesame exams as her teenage son. Her husbandhad left her without support when they weredivorced. She had no qualifications to get ajob, so she started where she left off school atfourteen years old. Some years later, I met upwith Jill again; I hardly recognized her. Shewas positively glowing and told me she wasnow a qualified Aesthetician and ran herown salon.I sat across the same table from Marjory sometime laterand listened to her unending stream of woes. Herhusband, a doctor at the local hospital, had died from aTropical Disease he had picked up from a patient some sixyears before. She complained that her two daughters didnot help her as much as they used to. She was dependenton them and demanded their time and attentioncontinuously. They were starting to resent it as theywanted a life of their own.Jill had re-defined herself as a survivor and “anaccomplished businesswoman". Marjory had become avictim of her circumstances; she had defined herself as a"poor widow."Life can be unfair, but you do not have to let direcircumstances define you. What makes one person asurvivor and another the victim of their circumstances?
Life can be difficult sometimes, and there is nodoubt about it. Most of us have been through roughpatches but have recovered to get on with ourregular lives. I am writing for that small group ofpeople who have been through traumatic andunpleasant life-altering circumstances. People whohave lost loved ones through death or divorce, havelost their homes, been displaced, or relocated, andthose transitioning into the third stage of life—people who are frustrated that their expectationsof life have met with disappointment.The Difference between Victim to Victor isTransforming the way you thinkRead on if you would like to knowhow to change these circumstancesfrom a challenge into anadventure. It is a long and arduousjourney; this is not a quick fix butcultivating a new way of looking atlife’s circumstances. You can learnto change your perspectives andgrow resilience. Move out of yourcomfort zones and help others.
Without a doubt, none of us like change. When we arethrown into an unfamiliar situation, all our fears andresistance rear up to paralyze us. We must have faith inour ability to survive, faith in our God who has said Hewould never leave us or forsake us. This space is wherewe find out who we are and who God is. Like a weedgrowing through the crack in the concrete, this gives usthe courage to move forward in whatever ourcircumstances are. Embrace your fears and movethrough resistance to conquer them.There are many stories of faith overcoming fear; some ofthese stories are mentioned in the Book of HebrewsChapter 11. There were people who received all theyasked God for. There were also people who had faith butdid not receive what they asked for. But both wereregarded as heroes of faith. I am sure we all relate tomore modern examples of people overcoming, and I shallshare some of those stories to encourage you to perseverethrough the hard times. I write about some of thesestories on my blog and books. Fear versus FaithHero's Hall of Faith
tHOW TO PREPARE FOR LIFE’S HELP YOU GET PERSPECTIVELEARN TO BUILD RESILIENCE PRACTICAL TIPS ON SURVIVING CURVED BALL’S LIFE’S CHALLENGING CIRCUMSTANCESWHAT YOU WILL LEARNTo create an adventure out of difficult lifecircumstances, you must be proactive. You mustlearn the art of turning lemons into lemonade. Ifyou learn them well, there are specific life skillsthat will help you navigate through thesedifficult places, and most of all, you will earn yourmaster's degree at the University of Life andgraduate as having finished the course well.Passive or Active? You need a Plan of Action.
Let me introduce myself; I am Deryn. I am not famous,but I am a survivor. I have been widowed and divorced; Ihave lost friends to suicide. I have lost my homeland andhave moved countries four times. I have had to changecareers three times; my family is scattered all over theglobe. I have lived through post-war colonization anddecolonization, war, communism, ban-the-bomb, thefirst polio vaccine, the first heart transplant. The happyHippy days, Elvis, and Rock 'n Roll and incredible featsof human endeavor, to name but a few. I have runDivorce Recovery workshops, small group Bible studies,and Singles Groups. I have managed social andretirement housing. I have written for and edited localChurch newsletters and magazines; I have publishedseveral books.I was born in Rhodesia a former British Colony inCentral Africa. My one set of grandparents weredescendants of the 1820 Settlers. These were a group ofpeople that Britain sent to populate the area calledAlbany in the Eastern Cape of Southern Africa after theNapoleonic wars. The other set of grandparentsimmigrated to Rhodesia after World War II, as therewas no work for returning soldiers. My grandfatherseeing an advertisement for Immigration to Rhodesia,was captivated by the promise of sweet peas of everycolor growing on foot long stems. That was all themotivation he needed to pack the family up and head offon the adventure that brought my mother into the rightplace to meet my father. Why should you listen to me?
My father’s pioneering family had left SouthAfrica and settled in Rhodesia. They planted a lineof jacaranda trees on the property where mygrandfather had built a fine tree house for uschildren. When these trees were in full bloom,they were a magnificent sight, a cloud and carpetof purple. Both grandparents grew scented sweetpeas, purple, pink and white fragrant blooms onfoot long stems. Surrounded by the scents andshades of purple was it any wonder that it becamemy favorite color?Besides giving me the love of purple, mygrandparents also taught me how to buildresilience and fortitude mixed with faith into lifeas they had done. So, I am going to give each ofyou my readers and friends an enormous bunch ofpurple sweet peas with tips on how to turn youunwelcome circumstances into an adventure
While it is true that we can never be fullyprepared for every eventuality and disasterthat may come our way. Mentally we canprepare ourselves that is how life works andno one is immune. No one could haveforeseen the devastation of COVID in 2020-2021, but students of history will have toldyou that it was not the first pandemic theworld has experienced. If it has happenedbefore, it can and most likely will happenagain. And this is so with most calamities, bethey wars, hurricanes, floods, fires, disease,and disruption. These are perpetualproblems. Perhaps they may happen in yourlifetime, perhaps not, but if you are mentallyaware that they are a possibility, you aremuch more likely to build a mental resiliencethat says, I can survive this too.Your first bunch of Sweet P’sSo how can you remain poised andplayful during these times? Embracea wider perspective, there are alwaystwo sides of a coin, try flipping thecoin. If it is on the negative andperplexing side, flip it to the positiveside, - how can I look at this from adifferent angle and create a morepositive experience out of it?
I was caught in lock-down in Australia forfive months in 2020, while I was visiting mydaughter, I could not get home to the USA.There were many negative things thathappened, my visa ran out, I could not do allthe touring I had planned, could not visitplaces that were on my to do list. So, I flippedit to make it into an adventure. Iphotographed and blogged about places I hadseen around my neighborhood. I bought awatercolor pad and painted a series of picturesof exotic flowers and held an onlineexhibition, the first in my life! I startedwriting a book, that I had been planning for awhile and painted the illustrations for that. Iwas secretly pleased that I was able to spendan extra two months after my visa expiredwith my daughter that I had not planned on. Iwas able to help support her and her familyand sew up some masks. I could even sayTHANK YOU COVID, that was a gift to me!
It can take a lot of perspiration to make a bad situationbetter, and I know there will be some circumstances that areso black that it will be hard to see even a prick of light in thedarkness. But persevere, find people who will support andhelp you (they may even wear purple!) and you will bepleased that you did.Be mentally prepared that life does throw us curved balls andthat we have the power to choose our response to them.How do we get perspective when thingsare out of control? Our emotions andfears can run crazy at this time We canfeel panicked that we can’t cope, or fearpetrifies and paralyzes us, and we arelike a deer caught in the headlightsfrozen not knowing what to do. We mayindeed be in great peril of our lives. Wecould feel pessimistic about the outcomeof these perplexing and puzzlingproblems that surround us on everyside. So how do we turn this around intoan adventure from being perturbed andpathetic into poised and peaceful?Second bunch of Sweet P’s
How do you turn your fears and panic into anadventure? On another trip to Australia, I wasvisiting Cairns and had taken the KarundaScenic Rail trip to the top of the Great DividingRange. After looking around the village at thetop I took the Sky Rail down the mountain, sothat I could view the Barron Falls, Coral Seaviews and the Rainforest.If you are still alive to tell the tale,you have been given your life back.Be thankful, and pensively turnyour thoughts and heart upward,pointing them to God. Learn to prayand mindfully focus on what He issaying to you. With patience youwill find that you begin to see apicture however veiled it may beand that this is part of God’s planfor bringing you closer to Hispurpose for your life. As you go onthis adventure with God, findingout more about Him, and how Hecommunicates with you, you willfind that the anxiety is replacedwith peace and placidness that youcannot explain, even though yourcircumstances may not have alteredmuch.
I travelled in the six-seater gondola with a few otherpeople the first section down to Barron Falls. Onentering the second gondola to go down, the groupbehind me consisted of six people, so they wanted totravel together and told me to take the first gondola andthey would take the next one. So, I was alone in thegondola when it juddered to a stop and I was lefthanging high above the forest roof swinging in the wind,with mist and clouds swirling around me. My firstthoughts of panic that the gondola would fall off thecable and land in the middle of the forest, were followedby, no one on the face of the planet knows where I amright now. No phone, no way of letting anyone know, Iwas petrified I would land in the forest, and it would takemonths to locate where I was. It was then that I felt thePresence of the Creator, who knew exactly where I was,He whispered into my heart, ‘you now have theopportunity to really see my beautiful creation, look atthose tree ferns and palm trees, how wonderful andamazing is that. So, I took out my sketch pad and fromthis perspective I drew the top of this picturesquerainforest which I would not have been able to do if thegondola had not stopped, I had been with other people orbeen paralyzed by my fear. That was indeed theadventure of a lifetime!Looking at things from a different perspective, througheyes of faith, brings peace into the panic.
Third bunch of Sweet P’s The movie “Chariots of Fire,” is anexample. Eric Liddell, by standing up forwhat he believed in, refused to run the100 m in the Olympics on a Sunday. Afterhe was re-scheduled to run during theweek, he won the 400m in 47,6 seconds.He later became a missionary in Chinawhere he coached and taught youngpeople. During the war, he was interred ina prisoner of war camp with the otherforeigners. This gave him the platform inwhich he could help so many more people,by a being a light in their darkness. Hisstory lives on teaching us to persist withwhatever work has been assigned to usby God even if it eventually costs yourlife. The Heroes of the faith teach us the samething, having faith in God who calledthem to their purpose in His plans theywere commended for their faith. Eventhose who did not receive the promise inthis life, their stories also wereimportant to be recorded in Hebrews 11.Being able to see things from a different point ofview or perspective opens up a space in your mind tocope with new pathways. When you read the storiesof people who have won through the most difficult ofcircumstances, who have triumphed over tragedy, itencourages you that there is hope at the end of thetunnel.
These stories of courage andperseverance of people like DavidLivingstone, and Nelson Mandelainspire me to do keep going whenthings are tough. These two menpioneered through such hardcircumstances to achieve theirgoals. On one of his travels,Livingstone’s upper arm was bittenby a lion and the bone splintered,there were no hospitals anddoctors. He had to cope withsetting it himself, he must havebeen in incredible pain without anyanalgesics. Yet, he continued toexplore and map Africa and workedhard to put an end to slavery.Nelson Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island for 27years for what he believed in, regarding racial justice.Yet at the end of his imprisonment when he wasPresident of South Africa, he became the belovedMadiba. His persistence made his dream come true. “A winner is a dreamer who never gives up.” Nelson Mandela. These men were penetrating the darkness and doingpioneering work, lighting the way for others to follow.Life was not predictable for them, they were sent toplaces where no doubt they would have pined for family,friends, and some comforts, but pushed through untilthe end. Each one of them a hero in their own way.
We moved to Port Elizabeth the year of the 150thAnniversary of the landing of the 1820 Settlers in the EasternCape (Albany Province) of South Africa. This was amemorable occasion for this was the town my ancestors hadarrived in on the “Amphitrite” sailing ship in March 1820. As a young mom with small children and no family helpnearby, there were times I would have given up if it had notbeen for the stories of my ancestors. The weather wasunpredictable, you could get four seasons in a day. This isthe only place I know of that you can get your laundry dry inthe rain! The wind blew the rain off the laundry faster than itfell! We were young and not well off, and I slaved to make agarden in the pale sandy soil, with little success. We then hada drought, this was a common occurrence for the area, but itwas so severe that the city was on the brink of shutting offthe water supply. Water tankers would be brought in so thatwe could fill containers if it did not rain soon. I thought ofMarianne Smith, my ancestor on her daily walk to the riverwith her bucket to collect water. There were no sanitaryarrangements either, and she had to survive in the mostappalling weather conditions with a new baby and four othersmall children. Thinking of her stoked up my courage if shecould survive here so could I. I thanked God for a roof overmy head, and water that usually came out of the faucet.New perspectives and other points of view willencourage you to persevere through difficultcircumstances. Read stories that enlighten andinspire you through the pioneering work of others.
Fourth bunch of Sweet P’s The perplexing problems of life can be complex. Thereare often many layers that lead to the choices thatpeople make. There are also decisions made byothers, accidents, or an Act of God that force us intochanged circumstances. The unexpected. So how dowe navigate these to turn them into an adventure?Here are some tips that I have picked up along theway, some you may find helpful, others not, but theyare all tools to move you out of the calamity zone intothe adventure zone. I called my website Crossing MyBridges as a metaphor for getting from one side tothe other. You can only cross one bridge at a time, sotake it slowly.Planning- If you know you areabout to enter a problem zone,moving, changing career or anyother foreseeable event, makeplans and a timeline as to how youare going to go about it. Just asyou plan for major events, like bigbirthdays, weddings etc., you needto take the time to plan this lifechange transition.Preparation – Read the signs, be aware, whether it isbad weather, a bad marriage, terminal illness orgetting old. Be prepared for what could, and probablywill happen. If you don’t die young you will grow old.Plan and prepare for this. Travel lightly through life.How much ‘stuff’ do you really need? This is one of thehardest things to do, weed out your possessions downto basics.
Prevention. – If you had read the signs right, is thereanything you could do to prevent this calamity. Try tomaintain a healthy lifestyle, exercise, and havesufficient sleep and rest times. If you are havingrelationship problems, communicate or get counselling.If you see bad weather coming have emergency kitready in case, you need to leave or at least have someemergency supplies on hand. Doing routine householdrepairs can also go a long way to preventing more lossand damage.Pointed goals – Set you goals like a compass, so evenafter a disruption, you are not thrown off course, butcan continue to move forward to reach those goals. Itcan be easy to give up when your life is in chaos. View itas an interruption, and postponement, but not the endof dreams and goals.Prudent – Be wise in your judgement ofsituations, carefully weigh your options. Becircumspect in checking out the facts. Be awarethat there are dishonest people and scammersout there. Listen to people whose wisdom yourespect. Find people you trust to discuss youplans with or to pray with you through theoptions and give you guidance if necessary. Bediscreet with whom you discuss your business.Live a frugal, sober life. Planning your financeswisely to stay out of debt. Save for yourretirement. Don’t forget to save for short termgoals, vacations, or a new car. It is prudent tohave three months living expenses in a savingsaccount for unseen circumstances or calamitywhen you are not earning. Have a giving plan toshare with others less fortunate than yourself.
Professional – conduct yourself with poise, self-confidence, and dignity. Hold your head up high nomatter the circumstances. You are unique, you are animage bearer of God, do not allow anyone to put youdown or make you feel you are unworthy. God createdyou for a purpose in this time slot in history. Be curiousand through perusal of the Scriptures and prayerconnect to God and ask Him to lead you throughprecisely to your divine purpose. Passion – When you heart is on fire to pursue yourpurpose, you will find that you have the power to pushthrough any roadblocks. Perseverance does take time;you need the passion to carry you through. Peacemaker – We are called to bepeacemakers and reconcilers in thisworld. “Blessed are the peacemakers,for they will be called children of God.”Matthew 5:9. This does not mean beingpassive or a doormat, it means activelyseeking to be a peacemaker, calling outinjustice where you see it happening.Reconciling people to their lovingCreator, being His hands and feet in afallen world. Sure, we are all going tomess up from time to time, we arehuman. Be gracious and flexibletowards others who differ with you,don’t forget there are other points ofview. Be willing to listen and hear themout and if you still disagree, agree todisagree on that matter without losinglove and compassion for the person.
Pharmaceuticals – I thought it prudent here as well tomention popping pills. If you are feeling anxious anddepressed and are having self-harm thoughts becauseno matter what you try you cannot turn youcircumstance into an adventure. I would recommendgoing to see your clinician or doctor or go for mentalhealth therapy. Sometimes being put in the pressurecooker of life and having too much stress, can cause thedelicate chemical balance in our brains to get out ofwhack. PTSD causes imbalances and if you have beenthrough very traumatic circumstances or have beenimmersed in trauma for a long time you may needprofessional help and medication to see you through, soyou can pursue your God given life.Pillar of Strength – When you havesuccessfully navigated your difficultcircumstances and turned them intoan adventure instead, you will feel asense of pride in your achievementsand have built up reliance so that youbecome a pillar of strength to thosearound you. In turn you will be able tosupport and help others on theirdifficult journeys.With good planning, preparation, prevention and pointedgoal strategies. We can we pursue our purpose with passionin a professional manner acting as peacemakers. We willbecome a pillar of strength and support to others. Alwaysbeing mindful of our own mental health, seekingprofessional help, if necessary, especially for PTSD.These are practical steps you can take to mitigate the impact oflife’s unpredictable and complex circumstances, as you journeyacross the bridge to get to the other side.
There was a time when I had three challenging circumstances at thesame time, wrapped up in a bow of political instability. This waswhen I learned to proactively manage my situation. I had decided atthe time of my divorce to move countries and change my career, as Icould see no long-term future in Rhodesia for me or the children, asall my friends were moving off as well. I began by searchingmagazines in the library for an appropriate job position. I preparedabout 12-20 letters to suitable companies, whether they were lookingfor a Cartographer or not. I received responses from about six, andinterviews with three, and a position with one. Having secured theposition, I set about with the emigration process and all thatinvolved, which was quite extensive given the political problems andReserve Bank Restrictions at the time. I made long lists of things todo, things to buy or sell. And worked my way through the listmethodically, adding and crossing off as required. I also set aboutfinding out more about my new job, environment and if I had anyresources, which I did in the form of family in Johannesburg. I alsohad to brush up on my second language as I would be expected tocommunicate in Afrikaans in my new job. I also had to workthrough all the emotional and spiritual baggage of a brokenmarriage and learn how to be a single parent to my kids. This tookan enormous toll on my health as I picked up the pieces of my lifeagain in my new home. The stress had caused a ‘frozen shoulder’which required medication and manipulation. When I eventuallyarrived in Johannesburg, I was only allowed $10.00 to take with meout of the country, yet I was able to survive my first month on thatbecause God had gone before me and prepared the way. It took me agood eighteen months to recover physically from the stress andlonger from the emotional and spiritual abuse. But after about twoyears, we began to thrive as a family again and happily embarked onour adventures learning to appreciate things like public parks wherewe could enjoy the roses.
I could see and smell them, but not have the responsibility ofhaving to cultivate, water, prune and spray them! Learning tolet go was liberating. For each life changing circumstance, Ifollowed this practice of preparing as much in advance as Icould, making lists and spreadsheets to organize and affecteverything that was required to expedite the transition. Itcontinues to be part of my annual practice of setting up goalsfor the next twelve months. I am flexible enough if thingschange, but don’t leave things to chance, my compass is set inthe direction I want to be heading. I try to look at things fromdifferent perspectives and place myself in other’s shoes. Thisreally helps to keep things sweet as I do not have to be a ‘rightfighter.’ I keep an open mind and find ways to enjoy things thatwould not be my choice. I remain curious about the world, andhow things work. Always looking to see the beauty in the worldaround me. I thank God every day for the life He gave me.Is it possible to turn every negative experience into anadventure? No, there are certainly tragedies that itwould be appropriate to mourn. It is possible thoughto create a new way of looking at life with a mindsetfixed on the possibilities, and the faithfulness of God.Being thankful for what you have and not worryingabout what you do not have, to make the best of everysituation, turning those lemons into lemonade. To getout of victim mode and instead be encouraged byothers who have gone through the fire of adversitybefore you. Think adventure first, how can I turn thisaround? Would this make a good story? Can I see thefunny side of this? But most of all, try to look at yourlife through the lens of God’s purpose and plan for you,can this be turned around to help others.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in ChristJesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”Ephesians 2:10We have been created in God’s image to do goodthings, which were already planned for us. Walkingthrough our challenges is part of that plan, so we canbe the encourages for those along the way and thosewho come after us.Finally, if you would like to reframe you challengesinto adventures, follow my blog Crossing My Bridges.My lifestyle blog offers tips on navigating thecomplexities of life, travel adventures, contemplationon Nature and stories of people who have builtresilience through living and suffering difficult timesin their lives and other applicable topics on faith andlife. I am also an author of several books and anartist creatively expanding my ideas graphically.I write stories and meditations that are at theintersection of life, human experience, andspirituality. I point to resources and books that havehelped me and could help you. I also bring stories ofheroes and ordinary people like you and I who haveovercome their challenges and built resilience intotheir lives. I want my stories and tips to inspire you tolook at things differently, so you can transform theminto something of greater meaning. I have writtensome Devotional books that will help you to connectto your Creator. I also have an online Art GalleryAmazing Gaze, with paintings to inspire.
Please enjoy my website! If you like what you see,consider subscribing to my email list (at thebottom of this page). I typically send out emailsonce a month with a blog update bi-monthly orletting you know of something I recently foundinteresting. Thanks for stopping by. If you havefound this helpful, please share it. I promise notto overwhelm your inbox. You can follow me onsocial media as well.BLOG https://crossingmybridges.com/blog/FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/dvandertangFB Psalm 139 Grouphttps://www.facebook.com/groups/275289350419742FB Group:https://www.facebook.com/Derynsbridge/LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/deryn-van-der-tang-6117b91a/Amazon Author Page:https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07TKDCCWV Instagram :https://www.instagram.com/derynvan/Twitter : https://twitter.com/dvdtang1
Published byCopywrite: Deryn van der Tang 2022www.crossingmybridges.com