Realty Executives of Sudbury Ltd.

Steve Caswell

Steve Caswell


Realty Executives of Sudbury Ltd.


In The Face of Adversity

(Published on - 3/7/2023 12:04:23 AM)


Hardship.  Misfortune.  Hard times.  These are synonyms that pop up for adversity.  And there is no doubt we are all facing adversity at this moment.

Miriam-Webster defines adversity as “a state or instance of serious or continued difficulty and misfortune.”  But that is only a technical definition.  

We are all different and unique from everyone else.  No two stories are alike.  No life, from start to finish, is the same as another.  Sure, there may be similarities with some, but that would only be on the surface while the individual mindsets would be completely different.

Look at identical twins, for instance.  The pairs that I know have different careers, different partners, different bank balances, different styles and different personalities.  Even conjoined twins would have a different perspective of the world around them and definitely a different definition of adversity than most of us.

The actual definition of adversity is not straightforward like Miriam-Webster states.  It is unique to each of us based on our own personal context.  Your perception of adversity will be different than mine.  We’ll both have a different vision in our minds when we think of that word.  As will your definition be different from your kids, your parents, your siblings, your friends and every single other person in the world.

The irony of all this is that all our unique stories have just left their natural courses and we have all now been bound together, moving forward in a parallel format.  We’re all being affected and inflicted by the same problem on a worldwide stage and, yet, our stories and perception of adversity will still remain completely unique to ourselves.

The nurses and doctors on the front line would probably define adversity by the long hours they’re working, their fear of losing patients at increasingly rapid rates, the worry about getting infected themselves and infecting a family member when they go home for that few hours rest.

The parents out there would be defining their own adversity as trying to explain to their kids why they can’t go to the park, trying to get work done while still trying to keep the kids entertained or putting on a brave face at the dinner table for the kids knowing the economic struggles they’re enduring and what lie ahead.

The elderly, living in isolation, are seeing the stats where their definition of adversity is having to stay quarantined, trying to get food and groceries delivered that hopefully aren’t carrying an extra COVID bonus, distraught that they can’t hug their grandkids and, most importantly, trying to beat the stats and stay alive.

No matter who you are or what your current circumstance, your past has created your context for adversity.  And it is always evolving, so our future perception of adversity will be defined by these times we’re going through now.  The key is to harness this framework the right way to get yourself through the adversity you’re facing on your individual level.

I’m going to share how my version of adversity has grown over time.  Maybe it will help you or maybe sharing this will help me as a reminder of what is important.  Hopefully it will help all of us.

Before I get into it, I want to make a very clear statement that I am in no way looking for sympathy cause of my past.  I’m well past that.  I’m long past the anger I’ve had.  I still am affected emotionally at times, but I believe that’s healthy to continue to move forward.

Further, everyone has a backstory.  Mine is just different – not better or worse.  I know there are plenty of others out there with tough storylines and great resilience, so this is not a “mine’s shittier” comparison by any stretch.  And the shitty storylines continue to unfold daily for plenty of families out there during this.

People often say, “everything happens for a reason”.  I call bullshit.  But this is a phrase people use to help them cope with situations of adversity, and that’s 100% ok if it works for them.

I believe more in the saying, “play the hand you’re dealt”.  You can’t change the cards and the card you pick up that’s face down on the deck could make everything better or totally fuck you, but it’s random and these forces are completely out of your control.  But the cards in your hand are in your control and you can make decisions to work them into the best conclusion for yourself.

I’ve compiled four short stories for you that have ultimately defined my adversity.

5-Year-Old Emancipated

I was a punk when I was a young kid.  Likely drove my parents nuts.  And I know damn well I drove my Grandma, “Ma”, crazy.  She was a stubborn, old Finlander who would sit in her La-Z-Boy, chain smoking Matinees, handing out punishments to the kids trouncing through the camp like we were all on speed and a bulk pack of chocolate Easter eggs.

Her favourite disciplinary measure was the “roosinoighta”, pronounced ‘Ru-see-noigh-ta”.  That’s the best I can do for you.  I’m probably nowhere near the correct spelling, IF there even is a correct spelling.  I have a feeling this was a bullshit, made up name for it and any Finnish readers can chime in on this.

This form of punishment was tough as a kid.  When I misbehaved, Ma would tell me to get up into the birch trees on the hill and bring her back a “roosinoighta” for punishment.  This meant you would have to go into the bush and find the stick she was going to discipline you with while she lit up a Matinee, or five, and watched you eerily through the giant picture window like it was the Long Lake version of the Bates Motel.

Do you know how hard it is, with eyes welled with tears, to pick the stick that you’re going to get whacked with?  Do you know how devastating it is when you come back into the camp and Ma says, “not big enough - get back up there”?  Adversity was trying to find the right sized stick that would pass as “large enough” while still trying to keep it small enough to limit the pain.

Now, before anyone gets fired up about child abuse, this was the 70’s and I got spanked plenty of times – rightfully so.  But we never actually got “hit” with the stick.  We’d get a tap on the ass with it while we raced off to our room for grounding while everyone else was getting to swim, sauna and jump off the dock.

The punishment was the act of forcing us to choose our own fate.  We knew our choices would end in pain, but we were able to make decisions to limit the pain by finding the one that “just passed” the benchmark.  All the while the selection process was the true penalty.

Nevertheless, now in the prime of my life at 5-years-old, I had enough of this “regime” I was living under.  The conditions of having fresh blueberries every morning for breakfast, living on the lake for the summer months and getting to stay up late playing Rummy 500 were completely unacceptable if it came with the ongoing threat of the “roosinoighta” looming over me.  Enough was enough.

After I got the tap on my ass and sent to my room, I made the decision to make my move.  I grabbed my packsack, ignored Ma’s instructions to get back to my room, grabbed three grape juice from the fridge and packed them in with my bathing suit and colouring books.

Ready to face the world on my own, I looked Ma and my Mom straight in the face and said, “I’m leaving home” in between balling my eyes out and the snot rolling down my face.  The response I got was, “good luck” – not exactly the “we’re sorry, come back and you can do whatever you want” I was hoping to get.  Now I was committed.

Facing a whole new level of adversity that I just obligated myself to, I began my march up the driveway to greener life pastures.  I wish I could find the picture my Mom took when she asked me to look back while she was laughing hysterically and waving goodbye.  I was that epic meltdown, crying kid mess that we’ve all seen, and been.  But she still didn’t seem to care about me, so I kept walking.

My first stop with my newfound independence was at my aunt and uncle’s house.  They lived about 150 feet up the hill and shared the same driveway.  I hadn’t even made it off the property yet.  But, needing to figure out my next moves, I took a break to tap into my rations of grape juice and tell my aunt (my Mom’s younger sister) of my new plan.

How she kept a straight face during my tale is something only a Finlander would be capable of.  She nodded her head, in complete understanding of my decision, then told me I should go downstairs and talk to my older cousin.  I headed downstairs, grabbed the other Intellivision remote control and we played video games while pounding back my last two grape juice.  This was freedom.

Somehow, I woke up in my bed at camp the next morning.  Realizing the blueberry pancakes smelt too good to avoid, I sucked it up and decided to stay knowing they knew just how close they came to having an emancipated son.

This was my perception of adversity.  I was dealing with a major struggle and made quick, knee-jerk, emotionally driven, irrational decisions that put me right back where I was when I started.

They say most peoples’ response when faced with adversity is “fight or flight”.  And I flew like a boomerang.

There’s Been An Accident

It was Sunday, July 21st, 1991, and my Dad knocked on my bedroom door around 830am.  He said, “your sister and I are going to Penage for the day.  Want to come?” 

I loved Penage, and I still love Penage, it was where I went for the other half of my summer after the Long Lake camp noted above.  It was the “Caswell Family Camp” on the North Shore that my grandparents built in 1939 and was shared by all family members down the line from them.  It was a great spot that once created great memories.

But, at this point, I’m at the age of asshole 16-year-old that would rather hang out at Southridge Mall or sit in a basement somewhere hoping to “hook up” with a buddy’s sister or cousin.  Driving 45 minutes to the lake and putting around in the boat all day with my dad and sister just wasn’t on the “cool” radar for today’s agenda.  I politely said, “Nah, I’ll see ya tonight,” while I rolled over and did the teenage thing of sleeping in till almost lunch.

I got to my buddy’s place and we were doing the “cool” thing – hanging out in the basement.  My parents had no idea where my buddy’s place was, let alone the phone number, but somehow there was a phone call for me.  When I picked up, I was told, “Steve, get home.  There’s been an accident”.

I ran at full speed.  I made Forest Gump look like “He Was Walking!!!!”  I could’ve probably ran to Penage without losing any speed while my mind raced with a million thoughts.  What was the accident?  Who is hurt?  Who is going to be at my house?  I’m not religious, but I sure was praying hard that my dad was ok.  Of course, my sister as well, but my dad was my mentor, my best friend and one hell of an awesome guy.

As I got home, there was no time to enter the house, instead there was a car waiting in the driveway with my cousins.  I was whisked away on a direct shot to Sudbury General.  I was asking every question and there was nothing but blank stares and “let’s just get there” responses.

As I raced into the ER, I asked the nurse where Bill Caswell was.  Her reply, “sorry, there’s no one here with that name.  But I have a Heidi Caswell on the list” – my sister.  My heart sunk.  I was crushed.  It’s like I was still running home at full speed and didn’t see the brick wall that just popped up in front of me.

I was taken through the swinging doors into the back where my mom, who was a nurse in Labour & Delivery at Sudbury General, was being consoled by family and some of her colleagues.  But no sign of my sister yet.  My mom was a mess, but we embraced.  She was barely able to get out the words as to what happened at Penage, but she explained that Heidi was ok - albeit completely traumatized and in shock.  But they have yet to locate my dad.

We went in to see my sister and, with a completely blank stare on her face, she gave us a vague explanation of what transpired and how she was able to swim to shore where she was airlifted out.  My mom and I tried to stay strong, but it was impossible.  Literally impossible to just put on a brave face.

Here’s adversity in all its glory, brought on by the same story, yet three completely different versions of it all within the same family. 

I had just been told my best bud in the world is missing and presumed drowned.  My Mom just lost her best friend and husband and is now alone to continue raising two kids.  And my sister had just battled adversity watching my Dad go under while she was swimming to shore.

Then came the “What ifs”.  What if I had gone that morning?  What if Heidi had stayed with him?  What if he’s just on the other shore confused in the bush?  What if…. What if…. What if…..

What ifs” don’t help adversity, they add fuel to the fire.  I know that now but didn’t then.  It doesn’t matter what could have been done to change things, I can only change what’s going to happen next.

Obviously, this was devastating to our family nucleus.  We lost the head honcho.  And in the months following, after the 10-day search for his body came up empty, things began to unravel.  My mom and I started butting heads about who was the “man of the house” now.   And being an asshole 16-year-old, I felt I was.  She felt she was.  But neither of us let it go.

Over the next two years, I spiraled downward.  I was full of hate, I was full of regret and I was full of self-blame cause of the “what ifs”.  I was in and out of the house and had a complete “who gives a shit about life” mentality.  Basically, just a giant, and dangerous, “fuck the world” mindset.

Then I got complacent and found myself in some real shit.  I won’t get into too many details here (maybe a story for another day), but I found myself sitting in the bail court lock up waiting for my hearing.  Just to be clear, this was a non-violent issue, but I was a newly minted 18-year-old that had just fucked up.

When I came out of the tunnel to see my lawyer, I asked where my mom was.  He replied with, “she said to let you rot”.

This was it.  This was bottom for me.  I had let my rampant emotions control me and this is where I ended up.  Not even my own mom would help me anymore.  The boomerang went badly off course and never came back on this one.

Boy, was this a wake up call for how to deal with adversity.

For my issue, I ended up with a punishment of 18 months’ probation and 150 community hours.  In hindsight, the judge definitely helped me straighten out into the person who’s writing this today.  It was a harsh penalty considering what I had done, but the judge did warn me, "it is for your own good and make sure you don’t ever end up back in front of me again.”  It was good for me.  Thanks Judge.

I committed to everything fully and served my time.  I also started working part-time, recommited to high school, got back to playing hockey again and tried to go back to the life I was living before tragedy struck.  My mom and I struck a peaceful chord and we agreed to go back to being a family while she had adopted a new tone as well with her newfound saying being “life is for the living”.

The adversity I faced, my mom faced, and my sister faced was all drastically different.  And how we individually responded to the same circumstance we all were hit with was unique to each of us.

But, it’s important to note, that my emotional and irrational reactions to it caused even further adversity to my mom and sister.  My actions caused greater suffering to others at a time when we needed to all heal together.

Some did say, and have said, “you were a teenager dealing with a traumatic situation, so it’s ok that you went off the rails a little bit”.  I disagree – there are no excuses in life.  And it wasn’t “just a little bit”.  I didn’t just come off the rails – I flew off the rails and took all the other passengers with me. 

My flight response affected my loved ones and my complacency almost ruined me.

“Heidi, The Police Are Here For You”

It was Sunday, December 17th, 1995, and I awoke to an early morning doorbell that was seriously impacting my hangover.  My buddy, Ryan, and I had done our usual night at Ralph’s and capped it off with the famously low-fat Big Drippers delivered from Sub City.  So, I wasn’t sure if the malaise was from the rums at the bar, the brick of greasy roast beef in my stomach or a combination of both.

I emerged from my basement bedroom, passing “Coondog” in his usual sleeping spot on my dad’s old La-Z-Boy, and I headed towards the door.  Down the entry hallway, I could see a policeman through the glass on the front door.  With a whisper, “Shit, Coondog, it’s a cop”, he propped up in the chair pretty quickly as I’m sure his mind was racing through last night’s events the same way mine was.

I opened the door and said, “good morning, officer.  How can I help you?”  His name was Grant Shaw and, although I didn’t know him before that moment, we became friends afterwards.  He replied with, “is your sister home?

I could feel the stress leaving the La-Z-boy as I also felt a rush of “whew, not us”.  I yelled upstairs, “Heidi, the police are here to see you” as I wondered what she possibly could have witnessed the night before when she was out.

Then Officer Shaw walked in and said, “no, I have to talk to both of you.”  This cannot be good.

When Heidi came down, I once again heard the “there’s been an accident” line.  I just ran head long into that brick wall again, yet I hadn’t even moved this time.  He went on to inform us that Mom was killed in a head-on collision, along with her close, nursing buddy, at the hands of drunk driver.  The lone survivor, out of six people, was my mom’s boyfriend who she had just started seeing as it took her that long to get over the loss of my dad and move on with her own life.

Before I could even digest the news, a rush of people came into the house – aunts, uncles and my girlfriend’s dad, John Smith, who is also a Realtor® and a great friend to this day.  I looked over at Coondog and his face said it all.  Although it wasn’t his flesh and blood, he was wearing that same blank, traumatized stare that Heidi had on in the hospital only a few years prior.

Here I was, 20-years-old, had now lost both my parents, just inherited a house, two cars and, what we would discover later, living with a schizophrenic sister.  Merry Fucking Christmas.

With all the sobbing, hugging and “what ifs” filling the room, John pulled me aside with a non-emotional tone and said, “don’t agree to anything, don’t sign anything and take your time figuring this out”.  To this day, this advice likely saved me from backsliding into the same way I responded to my Dad’s accident.  Sage and calming advice, in the face of adversity, from one hell of a great guy.

I bucked up and dealt with the cards in hand.  The life all my friends were going to enjoy, heading off to live in a dorm and pursue that university degree, was wiped out and replaced with funeral plans, lawyers to see and decisions to be made for the future that required a level head and an “adult” mindset.  I was now feeling the same adversity my mom dealt with after my dad’s accident, with the exception that I had no asshole teenager trying to take over the house.

A day after I got the news, one of the best things that happened was thanks to all my best buds from high school.  We’d always go to Jeff’s place (aka Caughy) and hang out in his basement.  After two days of dealing with some seriously heavy shit, having a constant parade of people coming through the door with food and condolences and having family staying with us to make sure we were ok, the boys grabbed me and took me to Caughy’s.

I was one of the boys that night.  I wasn’t a guy who had just lost a parent, instead they’d grill me about the shirt I was wearing, they’d kick my ass on the pool table and make me get my own beer.  I wasn’t getting any special treatment and it was perfect.  Getting taken out of the chaos of the “your life has just been drastically altered” situation and getting to spend time with good friends as “just one of the guys”, even if only for a few hours, was just what the doctor ordered.  These guys are not psychologists, but somehow they managed to teach me a valuable lesson about stepping outside of adversity and how a moment of normalcy can reframe and refresh your mindset when you’re forced to jump back in.

The night after my mom’s funeral, I burst.  It was a tough stretch, from initially getting the news to walking out of the church, and my emotions had finally caught up to me.  Had I let my guard down?  Or had I become smart enough to contain my emotions until the heavy lifting required during a stage of adversity had passed?  Yes, to both.

A week later, I attended another funeral for my good friend’s mom.  She had been battling cancer for eight years, consistently in and out of the hospital type battle, and her two sons took great care of her through it.  My buddy came up to me in tears after the funeral, wrapped his arms around me and said, “you’re the strongest guy I know.  I’m going to need ya through this.”  He was wrong.

I told my mom to have a fun night on Manitoulin Island before she left and woke up to a police officer at the door.  He put a lot of his young life on hold, while I was being an asshole teenager, to help his mom in her daily battle.  Who really was the stronger of the two?

Regardless, we both were living the same outcome, but had two drastically different paths of adversity to get there and, similarly, two different paths coming out of it.

I got through it.  And I fought like hell.  I ignored the “what ifs” and I often did it with a smile on my face remembering my mom’s line – “life is for the living”.  But, most importantly, I suppressed my irrational response of “flight”, faced the situation with my emotions under control, made the tough choices and hung in there till I was passed it all.

Odile Roars Ashore

As some of you may now, Michelle and I spend some time in the winters in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  We were spending too much on various one-week vacations in the winter months, trying to escape the snow and figured we’d look for a place to be a little more planted and embedded.

In September 2014, I was in Cabo San Lucas getting us setup for our first upcoming winter there.  And for those who may not know, September is right in the heart of hurricane season down there.  But, for the most part, where Cabo is situated and how the peninsula is laid out in relation, most hurricanes get into “the shoot” and miss Cabo, or occasionally just throw a glancing blow of rain and some winds before they steer off into the middle of the Pacific.

As a somewhat nervous hurricane rookie, I heeded the warnings that were coming.  There were a few storms spinning offshore and we were told one was going to hit us.  I can’t recall the name of that one, but I also can’t remember the name of the one that missed New Orleans a few days before Hurricane Katrina hit either.

In almost identical fashion, the one that was “supposed” to hit us, didn’t.  It got into the “shoot” and off it went into the Pacific.  A few nights later, as I was out for dinner with a few fellow Canadian locals that I had just met, I mentioned that Odile looked like it was going to hit us.  I was lightly grilled about being a “novice” and that it would likely hit the “shoot” and be on its way.  Likely…..

Knowing complacency can be dangerous, I still went through all the motions of preparation even if it was “likely” to miss us.  I thought, “what’s the big deal in having some extra tuna and water in the cupboard and a jerrycan full of gas for the car.”  On Thursday, the day after the dinner above, I went about a casual day of prep and had the comfort of knowing I was ready.

By Sunday, September 14th, it was now evident that Odile was on a direct path for us and it was going to be a massive blow.  Complacency had come home to roost for plenty of people.  Grocery stores were packed, long lines at every gas station and people scrambling to board up their windows as the winds began to pick up.  Instead, I actually went out for a few beer and watched some football as the “novice” who already had all his ducks in a row.

Choose any cartoon word from a Batman punch you want – “POW!”, “BLAM!”, etc.  Hurricane Odile began to make landfall around 4pm on Sunday, with plenty of people ill-prepared still in the stores and gas station lineups, as a Category 4 hurricane.  The scale is one to five for those who don’t know, where a Cat-4 is considered devastating.

By 7pm that night, the boards on the windows had been ripped off and the bedroom window was being bent open with the winds and had water coming in like someone was standing outside it with a firehose.  I am not embarrassed to say that I was screaming at the window - “FUCK OFF, ODILE!!!!” - as the 235 km/h sustained winds had basically everything airborne that wasn’t tied down and slamming them into everything that was tied down.

Then it abruptly stopped.  Dead silence.  No wind, no rain, no nothing.  Although I had never been in one before, I knew we were in “the eye” of the storm.  It is profoundly surreal.  It’s almost as though these storms are genetically designed to provide a false sense of security, so people let their guard down in order to inflict maximum damage.

Then you could hear the roar starting to gain momentum again as the eye passed and we were entering into the backside of the storm.  This is even worse than the front side.  This is where most of the damage is done where the winds are even stronger.  This was getting very real, very fast.

After screaming every other profanity I knew at Odile, I finally was able to doze off around 3am.  The winds were settling, I knew I had made it and, after taking a quick inventory, I knew my immediate surroundings were safe to get some much needed rest.

I woke up at 6am, went down to the kitchen to make coffee, wading through about a foot of water, and opened up the front door.  This was my first true visual of what just happened.  Giant palm trees in the community pool, cars smashed in the parking lot and neighbours without any doors or windows left.  It was clear this was NOT what the area and the locals were used to.

I grabbed the mop and bucket, opened up the windows to get some air flowing and did a full clean top to bottom of the house.  Just because it wasn’t normal outside didn’t mean it couldn’t be as close to normal as possible inside, which gave me that sense of grounding for the moment.

After driving down to the main drag, it was evident that this was widespread devastation.  Almost every electrical pole was on the ground, water wasn’t flowing, the roads were basically impassable, and all communications were down.  This was a true Zombie Apocalypse with everyone roaming around staring at each other blankly in utter shock.  I went back to home base to absorb what I just witnessed and ground myself again.

The next day, I took a ride into town to see what it looked like.  It was bad - really, really, really bad.  As I was walking around taking pictures, I had locals advising me to “get back to your hotel, this isn’t safe for tourists to be in”.  After a quick stop in to see how my buddies were doing, I went back home.

When I got back, I noticed a tree that had been uprooted near our place.  I grabbed my battery powered reciprocating saw and started hacking away at the tree to create kindling and fire logs.  My neighbour, who was completely ill-prepared for this and didn’t have a window left intact, yelled to me, “what are you even doing that for, Caz?”  I replied, “well, Mike, who knows what’s upcoming and we might be cooking our food over a fire pretty soon”.  You could tell he was in the same stage I was in after my dad’s accident – complete denial and anger that this was “happening to him”.  I, however, was in a new stage of coherent decision making on the fly and planning for any possible outcome.

That evening, as I was BBQing burgers on the rooftop, I saw fires starting to burn in the Walmart parking lot as rumours were buzzing that rioting and looting had begun.  Only 36 hours after the hit, the entire area was beginning to completely destabilize.  They weren’t allowing tourist buses to get through the narrow road openings to get to the airport.  The military was overwhelmed and had to simply let the looting occur as long as there was no violence.  And the individual communities had no security personnel as they were busy trying to help their own families survive.

On the flip side, there were workers in backhoes digging out the roads, cleaning the beaches and just generally helping others out.  These people were in the same situation and decided to do something about the adversity they were facing by helping, instead of selfishly making it worse for others.

My wife, of course, is back in Canada going through her own adversity.  She can’t contact me, she’s seeing news reports of the chaos and, other than one message that got through right at the end of the storm before communications ceased, she really had no idea of my well-being.  I’m sure she was walking around with a look on her face like Coondog had.

The next day, I got together with my new friends and ended up moving in with them for a “power in numbers” type of scenario for our safety.  We were all in this together and we were going to get out of this together.  But, they are bar owners in Cabo and, as the people they are, they refused to leave until they found each one of their employees and give them money knowing that they were hopefully heading out and the bar would be closed for who knows how long.

Our lives at this moment consisted of cold beer (thanks to a generator!), showering in pairs so one person could use a pitcher to dump pool water on the other, having to walk back to the pool after using the bathroom to grab a bucket to flush and staying isolated in the house otherwise for our safety.  It was becoming barbaric.  But we kept our eyes focused on the end game – getting the hell out.

Five days after the storm hit, we had heard rumours (that’s how news was spreading), that there were evacuation flights coming in.  Emergency communication had been restored, but it was spotty at best.  I asked Michelle to reach out to our friends in Los Angeles and Phoenix to be ready for the possible arrival of myself and friends, simply assuming (and hoping) that we’d end up in one of those locations with familiar faces.

We packed a bag each and hopped in the car for the airport.  The carnage was evident on the entire ride out.  It was bad.  And then even worse when we saw the airport basically destroyed.  We parked the car in a random field, left a note for whoever found it to hopefully leave it there and locked the doors.

As we walked up, there was a massive line up of Mexican nationals, looking to board military rescue flights to the mainland, that were being distributed rations in the near 40C heat.  We considered going back to the house assuming there would be no way we’d be getting on a plane that day from the back of that line and, once the sun goes down, we are not safe outside of the confines of our safe space.

Out of the blue, a Southwest vested gentleman approached us and said, “if you’re Canadians or Americans, your flight to Phoenix is on the tarmac.  Follow me.”  As we were walking, my eyes started to well up.  I made it.  I did it.  We did it.

After a two-hour flight, I got to embrace our great friend, Deb, who was waiting for us at arrivals.  I’m sure she still remembers the smell of that hug after showering with pool water and Lysol wipes for five days.  I introduced my friends and we had a 30 mins drive back to Deb’s place where we must’ve said “holy fuck” 100 times.

When I got in the shower and Rory’s disco lights showerhead started hitting my face, I'm not ashamed to say that a considerable amount of the water going down the drain were tears as I knew it was over.  I definitely still have some PTSD thinking about everything that I had endured and how it ended at that exact moment.

There was a giant community that all suffered from the same traumatic blow.  In the face of adversity, some turned selfish adding to the chaos, some cried over spilled milk, some made sure they didn’t leave without taking care of others and some bound together to make it out as a group.

We brushed aside complacency, made calm and intelligent decisions to prepare for the days ahead, became “as one” for our safety and stayed in the fight till it was over.

Hope This Helped

Like everyone else, my definition of adversity and how I respond to it has evolved over time.

Long gone are the days of being the “why me?” person.  Long gone are the days of allowing uncontrolled emotions forcing me to make irrational decisions.  Long gone is getting angry in the middle of it.

Instead, I’ve looked adversity dead in the face and proved to myself that if I resist the urge to run away from it, keep my emotions in-check, take my time to make the appropriate decisions and continually be prepared for what might occur next, I’ll be ready and able to get through anything. 

And there will always be an opportunity for me to let my emotions come out when it’s over.

Right now, we are in “the eye” of the storm.  We’re passed the initial punch and we’re in that surreal moment where things seem to be standing still.  This is a big eye and it will take time to pass us, but we have to acknowledge that the backend of the storm will likely be worse than front.

We have to resist the urge to lay blame and get angry about it.  We have to resist the urge to become selfish.  We have to avoid becoming complacent.  We have to resist our emotions from taking over.

Take this time to analyze your situation.  Take this time to make informed, responsible decisions that will shuffle your cards to make the best hand.  Take some time to shut off the news and find some normalcy you’re more used to.  Take this time to be prepared for the back side of the storm.  Most importantly, we all have to take this time to bound together and get out of this as a group.

With what we’re in now, we all know we’ll have good days and bad days, we’ll get upset and we’ll laugh, we’ll shake our fists and we’ll cry, but all of it is ok.  The key is to remember that others are experiencing the same and to share your good days with those that are having a bad one, try to make someone laugh when they’re upset, open their fist up with a wave of compassion and put out your shoulder as a place for someone to shed their tears.

There will be time to heal and reflect back with emotion after the important work is done.  But, for now, we all still have too much hard work to do to get this all behind us.

Remember, your personal definition of adversity is unique only to you.  Nurture it and embrace it.  It's that definition you've created that will be your guide through this.

I love this picture too much not to close with it:

Continue to stay home, stay healthy and stay safe.  We will get through this.

Contributed by:

Steve Caswell

Cell - 705.561.8767


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other salespersons, staff or affiliates of Realty Executives of Sudbury LTD. Brokerage, Realty Executives International, the Sudbury Real Estate Board, Ontario Real Estate Association, Canadian Real Estate Association or any of their subsidiaries.  For any concerns pertaining to the content herein, please contact us immediately at


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