Concrete Supports is a section in the Youth Thrive training that I facilitated this past week. It is a section that I have taught in the past, but hadn’t put a lot of emphasis on its purpose. However, I am now realizing how important supports are during a difficult time.

If you have read my column the last month, you have seen how I’ve struggled with life and everything that was thrown in my direction. I feel like if I started listing all of the negative and challenging events, I could fill my word limit. It has not been easy to keep putting one foot in front of the other as I so often advise others. But, as the stress is decreasing and I’m finding my way into a new routine, I know it was my supports that made this time bearable.

I feel like I need to acknowledge all that my husband did to make my days a bit easier while he himself is coping with some difficult news. For instance, the daily phone calls from my aunt, when all I did was whine about how unfair life has been. Encouraging phone calls, cards and texts from friends and family who knew that I was not okay and loved me anyway. It all made a difference.

On the days that I didn’t know if I could deal with one more thing, one of my readers would tell me how much they enjoyed my column or post some encouragement on my Facebook page. Those kind words made my heart happy.

Then, in the midst of one awful, good-for-nothing day, I receive a phone call from the State 4-H Office asking me to teach a workshop on resiliency next spring.

“Sure” I said, as I was thinking, I don’t know if I’m the right person for that, but I should have it together by then.

“Oh, and you won the Salute to Excellence Outstanding Lifetime Volunteer Award,” the person on the other end said. I muttered a “thank you,” but didn’t fully comprehend what it meant until the next day.

My friend, Jane Esau, nominated me for this award and I was the winner for Nebraska 4-H. My nomination goes to a regional level and will be announced in the spring. What an incredible honor, and I was so excited to be recognized at the 4-H Achievement Awards last week.

I received so many encouraging words from friends and family on Facebook when my award was posted. It was exactly what I needed at that time. I shed so many happy tears.

Then, there was the veterinarian that prayed with me while I was beside yet another horse that was at the end of her journey. It was a prayer that lifted me up.

Throughout the hard times, I've reminded myself that I am a strong person and that I will come out the other side of the yuck.

All of these are a part of my support system.

Everyone needs help sometimes. Occasionally that help comes from unlikely sources or an informal support system.

I was training other professionals to remember that sometimes we need to rely on concrete or formal supports. We also need to remember that sometimes people need help in accessing those formal supports.

It’s not a natural tendency of most people to ask for help and, for others, it might even be embarrassing. But getting the needed help can be an opportunity to develop a sense of independence, self-confidence and self-efficacy.

Who supports you when you’re having an awful, good-for-nothing, terrible day (week or month)? How do you help others? It can make all the difference.

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