We’re living in scary and discouraging times. Last Friday Hawai’i began monthly tests of a nuclear warning siren, designed to let residents know of an impending nuclear attack, apparently to give us time to say good-bye to our loved ones. Other things, like ending net neutrality or the tax bill to name a couple, are things that could have profound effects on all Americans (well, unless you’re included in the 1%) in the very near and not-so-distant future. Arguments are actually being made for why it’s OK to support a child molester for elected office. Truth and facts have been turned on their heads.
I’ve had my share of hurt, heartbreak, illness, misery, loss, betrayal and violence during my life, and have several times wanted to crawl in a hole and feel sorry for myself for a good long time. I’ve felt really, really, really angry. I’ve gone through a spell where I wanted to leave this world. But deep down I’m an optimist, and overall I’ve always focused on the positive, on looking forward, accepting that the past is past and that thinking “woe is me” never really gets anything accomplished in the end.
One of my strongest role models growing up was my grandmother. She lived in the same town we did, and I often spent weekends with her at her house, reading with her, watching TV, and asking her to tell me stories about her early life. She had had a tough childhood, but although she’d tell me about things she did, she didn’t dwell on her past, and always stressed the power of positive thought. She was someone who lived the saying, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything.” She always could find something positive to say about any situation, and her kindness, optimism and positive nature stayed with me. To her, I was a “diamond in the rough,” destined for great things. She taught me to think that even if life seemed unbearable, or a situation impossible, it didn’t have to stay that way, that everything changes eventually, and we all have the ability to adjust, adapt, learn and grow.
For the most part I’ve found it just isn’t worth the effort it takes to be negative, or at least not for long. I’m not a Pollyanna though. I still feel frustrated or scared at times, and I still get (very) angry about things. As tough as I think I am, I can still be easily hurt, and it can take me a long time to get over those hurts. But, I stick up for myself, my family and what I believe, and I’m assertive when I need to be. I’ve found I get a whole lot more done and the world turns more smoothly when I see my glass in life as half full instead of half empty. I honestly believe the main reason Brett and I have made it as far as we have is that we’ve both stayed positive and continued to look forward, hard as that’s been at times.
Written on a 4″ x 6″ card that now sits in the drawer of my nightstand is a set of thoughts I’ve collected over the years, ones that, whether I knew it or not, channeled my grandmother, and guided me through both good and bad times. They’ve help me re-focus when I’m feeling out-of-sorts. I think they’re worth sharing:
- However good or bad a situation is, it will change. How I face those changes and what I make of them is up to me.
- Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful. Including relationships, sad to say, or ways of thinking that aren’t productive.
- Frame every disaster with these words: “In five years will this matter?” Or one year? Or a month? Or a week?
- Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need. In my case, I’ve probably always had more than I needed but didn’t want to accept it. I have been incredibly blessed.
- Your children only get one childhood. My job is to love them. All the time and unconditionally. And for all of my life.
- Not “Why me?” but “Why not me?” Why am I so special that bad things should only happen to someone else?
- Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift. I am grateful for every day of the life I’ve had.
- Growing old beats the alternative.
- The most important thing is that you loved. Yes, yes and yes again.
- The best is yet to come. This is why I continue to hope.