Thursday, November 24, 2011

PERSPECTIVE: Don't Leave Home Without It! A Thanksgiving Blog

I'm sure we've all heard someone say at one point, "It's all in how you look at things". I think that if you try hard enough you can find the good and the bad in all things. It's about perspective. Somehow learning how to gain it, and how to maintain it even in the toughest of situations can be a bit challenging.

This is not a blog where I'm aiming to come off like Little Mary Sunshine. However, it's been a bit of a bumpy month for me with some awesome highs and some very low lows, and yet I've still somehow been able to (almost) maintain a reasonable amount of perspective about things. At least intermittently.

As I was driving into work tonight I was listening to the radio. The DJ was talking about a lady who had written in to the radio station. She is a single mom, and she is only able to work part time because she has to take care of her children. She had stated in her letter how her children had started praying that God would provide enough money for them this Christmas that they could afford to put some presents under their tree. They had even gotten excited to find pennies and other coins on the ground that someone had dropped and had given them to their mother to help her buy Christmas gifts. It made me stop and think about a couple of things.

First of all, I can relate to this woman and her struggles to juggle work and family. It's a balancing act, even on a good day. What I couldn't imagine was how hard it must be to make ends meet with a part time job and sole parental responsibilities. I started thinking about the rest of my life compared to hers, and how blessed I am to not have to sit awake at night worrying about where I'm going to find money for Christmas gifts for my children. Don't get me wrong--it's truly by the grace of God that this is the case. I don't know why some people "luck out" and some people don't. People who know me know that I had a rocky start as a young, single mom, myself. I think it's circumstance that allows us to overcome some of these huge obstacles. I was one of the lucky ones. Well, luck, and I worked my flipping tail off to succeed.

It did make me take a moment to be thankful for the fact that I had a full time job that I was en route to, and an income that allows me to maintain a healthy lifestyle and sometimes "share the wealth". It definitely made me think about how having a consistent income is definitely a blessing, and how some people would love to be so fortunate. To those of us who periodically gripe about having to go to work--it's pretty humbling when you think about the alternative.

Do you ever stop to really put your life into perspective like that? To be truly thankful for the things that you do have instead of chronically longing for the things that you don't have? I thought it was a great message to hear on the radio prior to Thanksgiving. The DJ said something along the lines of Thanksgiving being that brief moment to be thankful before the chaos of Christmas ensues. It's almost too bad it doesn't just continue that way through the Christmas holiday. It should be like the olden days at Christmas where you got a doll and a lollipop if you were lucky and called it good (and the doll was actually enjoyed/appreciated all year long). Now our kids aren't happy unless they are opening Play Stations, iPods, iPhones, and goodness knows that the guy down the street probably has a Lexus sitting outside his house with a big red bow on it in and effort to make it a "December to Remember" for his wife. When the heck did $70K Christmas gifts start becoming "normal"? Just matter how much cool stuff you have in this life, someone is always going to still have cooler stuff than you. It's a losing battle to try to keep up.

 And what is up with this Black Friday crap? I'd better never die because some jerkoff runs me over with a shopping cart at Super Target trying to get a good deal on a flatscreen TV the day after Thanksgiving. Talk about a totally avoidable, ridiculous way to peace out. I can just hear the coroner now, "And right over here you can see where the shopping cart ran over her spleen and sliced it right in two!" Ugh. WHAT IS WRONG WITH US, PEOPLE? And now they even open the stores the night before Black Friday. Pretty soon we'll just bypass Thanksgiving altogether and have Black November and they will set up little free food stands throughout the store like they do at Costco that have samples of mashed potatoes & gravy, and turkey. The pumpkin pie sample cups will be at the end of Aisle 5--next to the blow up Christmas lawn reindeer and my lifeless body lying there with a shopping cart track across my spleen.

Back to keeping perspective on things. When I was in church not too long ago my pastor had said something along the lines of, "Do you realize that most people who are rich or well-to-do don't realize how well off they are?" It couldn't be more true. Even if I had beachfront property in Kauai I would still probably only believe I was doing "ok" financially. In all actuality I learned on that same day in church that anyone in the world living with an income greater than $50,000/year is actually in the top 1% of the richest people on earth. Well holy crap! Then why isn't there a red carpet out in front of my home, and why isn't the guy sitting next to me at the stoplight offering me Grey Poupon? Doesn't he know who I am? Sheesh, peasants!

It's true. Most of us are pretty stinkin' rich--and we probably don't even know it until we look at the statistics. As a matter of fact, compared to a family of 12 living in a mud hut in Africa making $150/year, the lady who I mentioned in the beginning of this story whose kids are plucking pennies off the sidewalk is probably pretty well off, too! Not by American standards, but the global perspective probably looks much better for her!

This is a great time of year to count our blessings and be thankful for all of the things that we do have in this life. I've seen all my friends posting daily on Facebook the things they are most thankful for. It's been great--mostly because it's not the petty stuff they are thankful for, but for family and the simple pleasures that life has to offer.

I did not end up posting what I was thankful for--mostly because I have a blog and can torture people with long, drawn out stories in order to get to the one paragraph that might have actually fit into my Facebook status. ;)

SO HERE GOES: I'm thankful for my family. I'm thankful for my friends who are truly some of the most amazing people on the planet. You guys make me laugh, cry, and love me even when I do the sprinkler dance in the middle of the dance floor at the Sand Bar in Juneau, Alaska. I'm thankful for the recent perspective that has come into my life with respect to men and relationships. I'm thankful for the confidence that I have that comes from being a self-sufficient woman. I'm thankful for the blessings I receive from God. It never ceases to amaze me that when I hit a low point how He swoops right in and lifts me right back up with blessings I couldn't have conjured up myself. I'm thankful for being able to work in labor and delivery through the entire Thanksgiving holiday (and just in general for that matter)--helping to bring adorable babies into the world while everyone else in America eats turkey until they feel like they are pregnant and about to explode. I'm thankful for my DVR so that I can cook Thanksgiving dinner and celebrate with my family and with the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Friday instead of Thursday after my work week is through. I'm thankful for the opportunity to take a trip to Kauai with my girls this spring to teach them how to surf. I'm thankful for the possibility that comes with some big changes that I have coming up in the next year. I'm thankful for my health, for the health of my family. I'm thankful that I get to run outside again after being beat down with illness and surgery! I'm also very thankful for perspective and being able to see the good in the crapiest of situations. (eloquent, eh?) No matter where you are in life, or what you are going through, there is hope and promise of a brighter future. maybe all of this stuff wouldn't have fit into my Facebook status...but there ya have it.

After having a super blessed week, I pulled into work tonight I heard one of my favorite songs which includes the lyrics, "Every blessing You pour out, I'll turn back to praise. When the darkness closes in, Lord, still I will say, blessed be the name of the Lord, blessed be Your glorious name..." :)

Have a great Thanksgiving! Don't forget about all the things you truly are blessed with. Don't forget to "pay it forward" this holiday season, and PLEASE don't run over anyone with your dang shopping cart, mkay? Mkay. :)

Peace. Love. Tryptophan.

Eat up, people.


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