Family, Life

The Art of Optimism

A friend of mine told me the other day that she loves reading my blogs. She said some of them are very sad but I’m always optimistic. My response was that it was all in the words. Because honestly, an hour before she posted that to my wall, I was hunched over at the kitchen table, face buried in my arms, quietly sobbing to keep the noise at bay so that my three year old wouldn’t come running and ask me what was wrong.

I had just spent an exhausting chunk of my morning on the phone and trading emails, taking one blow after another. What a horrible way to spend a morning.

The first was a call in to unemployment to find out if there was anything I could do to speed up the process because the county was waiting on issuing food stamps until they had some verification of the benefits being paid. The response was for me not to be surprised if it took the full eight weeks before we saw anything. With a tiny $34.00 in the bank account to sustain us until next Friday, and another four weeks to go before that eight weeks was up, that was a scary thing to hear.

The second was a call to the bank to talk to the mortgage department about what our options were with payments being as we are currently unable to make ours. There were programs designed to keep us in our house (which we are not currently in right now and trying to sell) but at the cost of our credit. Not all bad news. But still…when our dream is to sell the house in town and live in this old trailer, saving up money to build our forever home…it’s a small black cloud over the future.

The third was an email from the payroll lady at my old job saying she had not received a check yet to keep Cobra benefits going for our dental coverage. I emailed her back as well as the gal in Human Resources to see if there was anything we could do to get a little more time as we didn’t currently have the money. I explained the situation we were currently in. And her response was “This is giving you time….you have a grace period to make payment….but until we receive payment the insurance has been canceled.”

The Human Resources woman was much less abrasive, explaining to me how their hands were tied in the situation and why they had to cancel the policy. It was a much easier pill to swallow coming from her. Of course that didn’t change the fact that my husband was currently sitting in a dentists office, going over a consultation to correct several oral issues that needed to be corrected. Ten thousand dollar’s worth, to be exact. Which, I informed my husband, would cost more than it took me to bring a ten pound baby girl into this world after sixteen hours of labor. Shocking, isn’t it? You can have an award winning smile…and yet it will cost you more than creating and birthing a life. I have a hard time wrapping my head around that one.

Right now, I apologize, but I’m going to take a moment to step up on my soap box. For anyone judging me for relying on the government for support…unless you’ve walked a mile in these shoes, don’t. I’ve seen a lot of ugliness over the years from judgemental people voicing their opinions on the unemployed and the people who “use the system” while walking around with their designer bags and driving in their fancy cars. And yes, there are some people out there who do exactly that. There are also politicians that have affairs and wealthy CEO’s that have a million skeletons in their closet, maybe one of two of them labeled embezzlement.

On top of that, it’s incredibly easy to land yourself a designer bag right now. Mine was given to me by my good friend, Monica who’s mom collected them and had given Monica more than she needed.

I can tell you right now that I’ve had one interview, one rejection letter, and have turned in my resume to sixteen different businesses. My situations is not for lack of trying, that’s for sure. I’ve even taken on a small, part time job and a significant pay cut to bring in some form of support for my family. But the fact of the matter is my children need to eat and there are programs in place to help me provide for them while we make every effort to get back on our feet. So, why not?

Now… I’ll get back on topic.

The reason I write, the reason I blog…is to help remind me of the good things I have going for me right now and to relieve the stress and tension when my days are spent meeting one dead end after another.

It’s incredibly easy to lose sight of your purpose in life. If it were difficult, there wouldn’t be mood stabilizing pills,  psychiatrists or destinations where the main drive is to help you relax and unwind. There are days when life weighs so heavily on you that all you can do is question whether things will ever get better. A majority of us have had these days. A majority of us have failed to find the optimism when we’re faced with them.

My advice…find ways to remind yourself and make it a point to remind yourself.

When I was younger I remember having a really rough day – informed I wouldn’t be getting a raise, was rear-ended by a construction truck and had run into a massive wall of writer’s block with a story I was working on. In hindsight…rough days then were a lot easier than rough days now. I went home, grabbed the nearest writing tool I could find (which…just happened to be a tube of lipstick I miraculously owned), went to my vanity and wrote in large, cursive print, “One day at a time.”
I knew I needed that reminder. I knew I needed to wake up in the morning and that had to be the first thing I saw in order to face the next round of challenges.

Now, I blog because it’s stress relieving and because it helps me prioritize my issues and find a way to be optimistic about them.

Yesterday was a difficult day. No doubt about that. So this morning, after Sammy was dropped off at school, I came home, settled Mady with some crayons and a coloring book at the table, put a little something on the television for her to watch, then went outside with a cup of coffee to walk around the rain soaked garden and just breathe. I needed to stabilize, I needed to dig through the crap that had built up from yesterday and find my optimism.
I looked down, and there…sprouting green leaves and promising tiny vines…was a sugar snap pea plant. There was more to my garden than radishes. I smiled, I took a sip of my coffee and I firmly reminded myself that everything would be okay. It’s the little things sometimes, guys.

It also helps that I have two very influential people in my life that are wise, loving and always ready to say exactly what I need to hear – my mom and dad.

In situations like this, my dad will ask me questions to put things in perspective – like will anything that’s happening right now remove the roof from over my families head? Will anything that’s happening right now take my family away from me? The answer to these questions is usually no, followed by a huge sigh because I’m feeling a little ridiculous for being so hopeless when I have more power in the situation than the situation does.

So, Hope…whose name always makes me smile because it reminds me that there is hope…I’m not always optimistic. I hide it well when I have to deal with nasty things that bring me down, then I hash it out to gain perspective whether it be in writing, a chat with my friends, or a phone call to my parents, and I focus on what’s good in my life. It might be easy to lose sight of my purpose, but it’s always there. A cup of coffee, a good shovel and a reminder is usually all it takes to find it.

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