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When the heat is on: Surviving life’s challenging seasons

Summer in my rugged, beautiful homeland of Australia is always HOT, but this summer has been THE most intense heat I can remember of all the summers I’ve encountered in my lifetime so far! From December 26, 2018 until late January 2019, we had in many parts of our sunburnt land temperatures in excess of 40 degrees celsius (104 F) for the major part of 5 weeks. It was during this time that a few things were highlighted to me about how to survive life’s challenging seasons.

During this time, most evenings were spent with my family, and many other heat struck friends and locals at our local river, when there was enough shade from the searing sun to be safe to venture outside. The primary goal? To find respite from the very intense and relentless heat.

One evening we were at the river being swept along by the icy cold current until after the sun had gone down. Within moments of exiting the icy water we were dry again.The mercury didn’t fall below 40 degrees Celsius until after 10 pm that night! There was even one report of a guy cooking a porterhouse steak perfectly on the dash of his car while parked in the shade!!! Now there’s some intense heat! Other parts of Australia were left scorching in 50 degree heat (122 F).

In all honesty, even as an Aussie who has lived here all of my life, that was abnormally hot and ridiculous heat by my standards. In reflection, I concluded that I learned a few things from the harsh, natural elements and conditions in this homeland of mine.

1. Safety and comfort are VERY appealling

In the intensity of the heat, people flocked to well air conditioned venues to escape the searing heat. Even the outdoor pools were too hot to go to. It was a desperate search for respite from the extreme conditions.

Many homes had air conditioning fail them in the midst of the heatwave. Repair services weren’t available for weeks in advance. Families had to sweat out the heat in their homes. Alternative methods to keep cool had to be found.

I think it would be fair to say for most that safety and comfort are two things very high on our list of priorities. For me, especially where my children are concerned, it’s a resounding YES! I’ve learned that opting for comfort and safety is a default for many of us. However, what I have also learned is that its often the very thing that prevents us from taking risks.

I believe that taking risks is a necessary part of growth and change in our lives. Its necessary to surviving life’s challenging seasons. I’m not talking about careless decisions that impact poorly on ourselves or our families. If I forced my children to play outside all day in the intense heat they would’ve ended up with heatstroke. That would not have been responsible or caring of me as their mother at all. I’m referring to the necessity of facing discomfort and fear sometimes so we can get through the challenges that life often presents us.

Some people have a natural propensity toward risk-taking, while others will avoid it. I believe it’s something we can all embrace. By doing so we discover our strength, our voice and our purpose. My mantra “Do it afraid!” is one I tell myself often. Living in my comfort zone will never bring long-term satisfaction. Facing my fears head on has been both the most frightening and the most rewarding experience for me. It all leads to inevitable growth.

2. Learning to brave the elements when the heat is on is a MUST!

This point is an extension of my first. Heatwaves dish out some pretty wild extremes. We had intense heat, lightening strikes and hot winds all at once for a couple of days in our region. This is a perfect recipe to spark devastating bush fires. Such conditions put many people on edge. Some sat back and hoped for the best. Many rural residents got out in those conditions to check on their livestock, hose down their houses and put out any spot fires.They took every precaution possible to increase their chances of survival should a fire take hold nearby.

The importance of learning to take risks and face life’s challenges is one of life’s most crucial tasks. We are nudged or compelled out of our comfort zones sometimes, to tend to tasks that require us to step up where the ‘heat’ may seem too intense. Out of necessity, we can make a choice to face those moments with purpose and a tenacity that causes us to draw on our inner resources like never before. Stepping outside of our comfort zones is imperative for our personal growth and forward movement.

3. Hydration is NOT optional

During the heatwave, I was hyper-vigilant about keeping myself and my family well hydrated. I’ve had a long history of debilitating headaches, and one of my triggers is not drinking enough water. My body reacts quickly and violently to dehydration. I’m keen to teach my children the importance of keeping up their water intake. As they grow older they’ll have a much better chance of taking care of themselves during our hot summers. Hydrating my body well isn’t an option if I want to function beyond survival. It’s an absolute necessity! Being re-hydrated in a hospital bed attached to a drip is much less appealing.

Of equal importance to hydration of my body, is filling my mind with ‘life-giving’ thoughts. If I don’t do this, toxic thoughts consume my mind and have a negative impact on my entire being. I get sick more easily. It impacts negatively on my relationships. My sense of worth and value diminishes. I find myself feeling miserable. I’m not fun to be around. That’s on par to being debilitated and laid out on a hospital bed waiting to be revived or re hydrated.

Tough times and challenges are a normal part of life. Not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but inevitable nonetheless.

This is also a practice I am passionate about teaching my children because I want to equip them well. I want them to grow into adulthood having a deep understanding of the importance of filling their minds with thoughts that bring life to themselves and others.


I can draw many other lessons from my heatwave experience. However, the areas I’ve mentioned are most definitely my top 3 in surviving life’s challenging seasons. Whatever challenging season you find yourself in, can I encourage you to remember to do the following. Face your fears. Take risks. Remember to ‘hydrate’ your mind with life-giving thoughts. Do it afraid!

You’ve got this amazing one! Thrive, not just survive, through life’s challenging seasons.

Glenda O'Neill

Glenda is the founder and director of Novo Counselling, a private counselling practice situated in the beautiful North East Region of Victoria, Australia. She is especially passionate about helping women find release from the pain and baggage of their past as she journeys with them through life's challenges, toward emotional clarity and freedom. Marriage and Relationship counselling is also part of her skillset. In addition to her one-one-one work, Glenda leads an online community ‘The Empowered Mind’ where she is passionate about educating and inspiring women to bring life and growth to their inner world, as they grow stronger, more empowered minds. Her online presence continues to expand with her online consults and programs. Glenda is also a qualified teacher with over 23 years spent in education, mumma of three wonderful miracles, wife to one amazing husband, lover of life and proud Aussie.

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