06/17/2013 10:40 am ET Updated Aug 17, 2013

Keeping Your Lower Lip Above Water

It is done. Two hours ago we finally -- finally! -- closed on the sale of our house. It wasn't easy. It's not only taken over two years to sell this place, but it also took a two-year hokey pokey dance between us and Bank of America (put your right HUD document in, take your old HUD document out, revise the verbage in a line item, then you shake it all about) along with our realtor, a foreclosure attorney, two lien holders, a subordinate lien holder, the buyer's agent, a short sale transaction coordinator, an escrow officer with the title company, the mortgage loan officer, the buyer, the buyer's lender, the investor servicing Bank of America's loan to the seller and eventually a court order from the judge saying, in essence, "stop it."

To say that the short sale process is complex, lengthy and ridiculously demanding is so understated, it's like saying that the Kardashians enjoy attention. In addition to people, there was paperwork: tax returns,W-2s, payroll stubs, bank statements, HUD documents and hardship letters and then resubmit all of it over again when BoA can't find it. Or a date expires. Murphy's Law was invented to explain all the headaches involved in this process.

And while we are at it, and although it wasn't required at the closing, let's go ahead and count the divorce decree as more paperwork falling under the umbrella of financial hardship due process.

It takes a certain kind of personality to deal with the due process of being "underwater," as they call it. Being underwater is similar to jumping from a building: It doesn't matter if you jump from two stories or 20, the end result is pretty similar. Same rule applies height-wise in the inverse direction: Once it reaches your lower lip, then submerges your nose, you might as well be on the ocean's deepest floor. Same result.

How did I do it? How did I hang on? Well, my secret, when I got so aggravated that I wanted to spit, has been to think of something extremely heroic and heart-warming, like the Anderson Cooper interview with Amanda Berry's rescuer Charles Ramsey.

So get out the old saw as I once again offer my unsolicited advice to do a few things:

First, breathe.

Next, maintain your sense of humor.

Then, whether you are in sync with the universe or out of sync, above or below water level, despite wherever your lower lip is in relation to the water's surface, it's not so important what is happening in your life as much as how you react to it.

Life is filled with high and low moments of grace. As cliche as it sounds, the older I get the more I feel that life truly is a highway; it is easy to cruise straight ahead if there are no potholes to avoid but, just like a driving over-correction, once you start swerving, it sometimes takes a few miles to get back on the blacktop.

So, what does life's highs and lows have to do with fitness? Fitness is the guardrail when situations starts swerving from one gutter rail to the other. That, and God's grace, as slippery as that bar of soap has become, I know that I need to keep reaching for it, even if it slips out of reach, or under the surface, because I know it's in the tub somewhere.

Give me 30 minutes of vigorous movement during which I can stop doing the whole world's math homework in my head and I will be okay. Exercise is my connection to the real calculations; the math that means something beyond a deed to a house. It has nothing to do with dollars or zeros. It reminds me of what really matters, which is to look down and to appreciate where my feet are right now and that I am rich in a way that can't be measured or earned or taken away (another cliche). Despite (or maybe because of) the more obvious, material losses, I have the invisibles: my health, my connection to my kids, family and my friends. I have a job doing something I love and as I write these words, the birds outside my window are having a singing competition with me as the judge, and I am declaring it a 20-way tie for first place.

Even back when life was going along smoothly, exercise has always released me from the stress of not-enoughness. Now, I wake up most mornings and even though I have less, it feels like enough. I hear my birds trying to impress me and they remind me that we all have to get up and do it again. And that singing will help.

So thank you and goodbye, Bank of America. Thank you for the education. Knowing what I now know, would I do it all over again?

Of course.

But next time, I'll do my own math.

For more by Penny Love, click here.

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