Purple Fingernail Polish . . . and Other Life Lessons

I remember a girlfriend of mine having a girls’ night a while back.  Quite a while back.  I’m guessing 15 years ago.

She was kind enough to set up self-manicure stations for us around her dining room table.

It was kind of her, but I was ungrateful . . . complaining about how all of the polish was “sparkly” and there was no way I could wear them to work.  I was quite snotty about it, saying none of the options were going to work for me.

I was a Regional Manager and dressed very conservatively.  I followed all of the rules of a professional.  Whose rules?  I really can’t answer that.  Some rules I had established in my mind that said sparkly fingernail polish was not acceptable.

In the last five to ten years, as you know, anything goes with fingernail polish.  When blue and green polish became the norm, I was pretty uncomfortable with it.  Being a child of the 80’s, it brought back memories of the punk rock era.  It didn’t seem like something adults should be doing.

When I saw one of our local celebrities, who generally dresses conservatively and is in her fifties, wearing blue fingernail polish, I knew it was just my hang-up.  Still, I couldn’t bring myself to wear anything but pink, red, shades of beige, and when I was feeling really daring, grey.

Last Saturday, my son was invited to his friend’s house for most of the day.  It was a good opportunity for my daughter and me to have a girls’ day.  The only time I’ve had a manicure was in preparation for my wedding.  I thought it would be fun for us to go get our nails done together.  It was fun, and not very expensive at all.  We may have to make it a regular thing.

I told my daughter we would get matching fingernail polish and she could choose.  She chose super sparkly green.  Sorry – couldn’t do it.  She ended up choosing purple, which was still too bold for me, but I went along with it.

Long story short, I didn’t sit under the dryer long enough, and I ruined the polish on my pinky putting my seat belt on.  Doh!  I ended up putting magenta on that nail.  Now I was really daring!

I did get a lot of attention related to my fingernails.  Generally, positive.  But, being an introvert, perhaps the increased attention is part of the reason I stick with my old-fashioned shades.

I can get away with a little more daring in my current job, because it’s a casual environment.  What this whole purple polish experience has revealed to me is that I can be pretty uptight about some things that really don’t matter.

 

Cats and Faith – What an Odd Combination

Cats have been on my mind a lot lately.  We took in a stray last year (you can read more about that in my previous posts, A Kitty Cat’s Tale (Pun Intended) and Nine Things to Love About Cats – From a Former Dog Person).

I work at a steel mill, and there are always cats running around.  This year though, there has, we believe, been one very active male.  We had three or four litters of kittens running around.  Before we took in our stray last year, I never would have considered taking one home from work.  For one thing, they are very dirty – a steel mill is a filthy environment.  For another, I just didn’t think that I cared for cats.  We had dogs, and the two just don’t mix.

But, we found, that the cat and dog got along just fine.  Our first cat is black, and I ended up bringing home a white one.  He was so dirty, he looked gray.  Turns out, the cats love each other too.

This new cat is the sweetest.  He purrs constantly.  Perhaps he’s just grateful to have a home, instead of sleeping on concrete and rocks.

In addition, we’ve been making trips outside at work, to look at darling, tiny kittens.  I was also involved in an effort to capture several of them, with the hope of finding them homes.

This will seem a little disjointed, but it will all come together in the end!

Now on to the faith part.  We’ve been attending a new church over the past several months.  I wanted to learn more about the church, and I’ve been struggling with some things, so I asked the Lead Pastor if he would meet with me to talk.

One of the things we talked about was my history with church and faith.  Tonight, I remembered one cat in particular that changed my faith, and not in a good way . . . or was it?

When I was in college, one of my roommates brought a cat to the house we were renting.  I wasn’t thrilled about this, because pets were against the rules.  But, it was a nice enough cat, and I accepted that he was going to be around.

One day, I was talking on the phone (this was before everyone had cell phones . . . it was around 1992 or 1993).  The cat approached me, so I picked him up.  I was holding him near my shoulder and face when he jumped off.  He hit the foot board of a bed (I thought with just his feet) and took off.

I didn’t think too much of it, but later, my roommate noticed that he was bleeding from his gums.  She took the cat to the vet.  I spent a sleepless night praying for this cat to get well, because I knew my roommate blamed me, even though I had done nothing wrong.

While the vet had the cat, she decided to get him fixed.  It turned out, the cat was a hemophiliac and he died.  Even without his injury, he would have likely died from the procedure.  Still, the experience stuck with me, perhaps even longer than I’ve realized.

When God didn’t answer my prayers the way I wanted, I wondered, what is the point in praying?  Is God even listening?

That feeling and doubt stuck with me for years.  While I did not totally reject God, He certainly wasn’t the focus of my life for a very long time.

Now, I realize how immature my thinking was.  To think that God could answer “Yes” to our every request simply doesn’t make any sense if you think about it.  Many times, our requests are just plain selfish.  We don’t look at the big picture, even when some of it is available to us.  But, more often, the big picture includes details that we do not know.  We have to trust that, when the answer is “No”, God knows best.

So, what is the point of praying?  It isn’t just asking for things, or it shouldn’t be.  It includes praise, forgiveness, growth, thankfulness, and yes, sometimes asking for things.  God desires a relationship with us, and that can best be achieved by reading His word, worshiping Him, and praying.  True faith comes when we continue to trust in Him, even when we don’t get what we think we need and want.

 

 

 

How Can I Use my Gifts to Better Serve God and Others?

God is telling me something.  Over and over.  Does this ever happen to you?  A theme . . . a message that just keeps coming up.  This time, it seems to be at great frequency.

The last couple of Sundays that we’ve attended church, the idea that we should be using our talents to serve God has been the focus.  1 Corinthians 5-31 was discussed, and it is a wonderful illustration of how we all have different talents and abilities . . . spiritual gifts, that we all serve a different purpose as a part of a larger body – the body of Christ.  I wanted to include the entire passage, but it is quite long for a post.

Both weeks, I found myself thinking about my gifts, and how I could be using them better.

People come to me for advice.  I think it’s because I’ve learned to be a good listener, not always jumping to immediately tell them what they should do.  I generally ask them more questions to help them to come to their own conclusions.  When I started college, I thought I wanted to be a therapist.  I took a different direction, and got a Master’s in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.  I/O Psychology is the study of people in the workplace – Human Resources from a research perspective.  Even before the messages at church, I had been thinking about becoming a licensed counselor, even contacting a University about what would be involved with earning another Master’s degree, and obtaining a license.

But, in this world, it seems to always come down to time and money, doesn’t it?  Just two years of school is very expensive these days, even for an online degree.  I work full-time, and we need my income.  Working full-time and going to school with two young kids. . .  I suppose it’s possible, but I would miss too much time with my kids.  That is something I’m just not willing to do.

I could take loans, but is that a road I want to go down, at 45?  I already did that at 22, and it took me 10 years to pay them off.  Do I want to put my family in that situation?  Probably not.

Is that the license I want anyway?  Perhaps Biblical Counseling.  I completed an online inquiry.  They have tried to call a couple of times, but I haven’t answered.  What’s the point?  Nothing has changed.

So, maybe that’s not it.  At least not right now.

Last Sunday, a video was played of an interview with the Worship Team’s drummer.  I can sing.  Maybe I’m supposed to pursue becoming a member of the Worship Team.  But they have so many.  I’m probably not needed.  But, the Pastor had elaborated on 1 Corinthians 12:21: “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!'”

One should not think that other members of the church don’t need us, or we don’t need them.  But, then there’s the anxiety of singing in front of so many people.  Am I good enough?  Can I do it?  Is this where I’m needed?  I just don’t know.

Tuesday morning, I thought maybe it’s the blog.  Maybe I’m already using my writing talent.  But, then why would God be putting this on my heart if I’m already doing it?  I blog about a number of things.  Maybe I’m supposed to devote it totally to faith.

When I lack clarity, I often tell God that I am a knucklehead, and if He’s trying to lead me somewhere, I need Him to spell it out for me.  Then I felt that was a cop-out.  I felt that God was telling me, “I gave you a brain.  I expect you to use it.  Do your part.”  But, still, no answers were forthcoming.

Am I to write a book?  Get a new job?  Volunteer?  Use my gifts where I am right now?

On Tuesday, it came up again.  This time on K-LOVE.  Luis Palau (love him) talked about the same scripture passage.  We don’t have to be Pastors to use our gifts.  We should spread the gospel, no matter our profession.

And again, on Tuesday night.  This time, in a very unexpected place.

I’ve been borrowing a dramatic series from the library, “A Place to Call Home.”  The series takes place in Australia.  The Blighs, a wealthy family, are at the center.  The matriarch, Elizabeth, is quite a nasty character in the beginning.  By the end of Season Two, she has changed her ways.  As she says, a mirror has been held up to her face.

In Season Three she volunteers at a soup kitchen for veterans.  She tries to serve food, but she finds herself ill-equipped in this role.  As she’s leaving the man who runs the program asks, “Shall I put you on the roster?

Elizabeth replies, “I don’t think so, Mr. Goddard.  I don’t think I’m of much use.”

Days later, she arrives as a piano is being delivered, which she arranged.  She begins to play and sing.  One of the men, whose speech was incoherent in the earlier scene, begins to sing.

“I’ve never seen the men so happy.  So . . . engaged.  I’ve told you, of course, I make sure they’re fed.  But, this was living.  They were alive!”

What she did was beautiful.  She was obviously nervous when she started;  she was well outside of her comfort zone.  But she found the courage, and she found a way to use her gifts to make a difference.

I still have not figured out exactly what I am supposed to be doing, but I have faith that it will come.  I’m anxious to find out what lessons I will learn on this journey.

 

 

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Missed Opportunities

My family and I got back from a Florida beach vacation a few days ago.  We spent a week in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area.  We saw “Hurricane Simulators” at various tourist sites.  Of course, it’s nothing like a real hurricane.  In fact, a hurricane machine for fun is probably offensive to people who have been through an actual hurricane.  Nevertheless, my son, being a typical 7-year-old boy asked to try it every time we saw one.  I used my stock answer, “Maybe later.”

So around day 4 of our vacation, I finally agreed.  We were at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa.  I’m not sure why I decided to say “yes” at that moment.  Perhaps I figured, what’s another $2 with all of the money we’ve spent on this trip?  (By the way, we had another opportunity the next day while waiting in the extreme, stagnant, humid heat for our dolphin-watching cruise.  This time, I decided to join the kids, and it was glorious.  The coolness of the wind stuck with me for a while, even after leaving the simulator).

I was digging through my camera case, which doubles as my purse while on vacation, for a couple of singles.  I had put one into the machine, and had just found a second when a stranger put a dollar in front of me.  I said, “I’ve got it, but thank you,” as I fed in the second dollar.  He said, “Well, my brother paid for mine.”  I responded, “And I just took away your chance to pay it forward.  I’m sorry.”

He looked a little disappointed, but not annoyed.  He seemed to delight in watching my children’s enjoyment of the simulator.  Everyone did.  There was a small crowd watching, and I heard someone say, “She likes it!” about my daughter.

In retrospect, I wish I had handled the situation differently.  While I was already feeding money into the machine before I understood what he was trying to do, I could have done something to continue the string of paying it forward, instead of abruptly ending it.  I could have offered to join a dollar with his, and we could have given our $2 to someone else in the small crowd.  But, sadly, I didn’t think of it until much later.

I feel a little sad about this missed opportunity.  Of course, I can’t change it now.  But, it does inspire me to look for some chances to pay it forward in the future.

 

I Might be a Redneck

I really like Jeff Foxworthy.  He has more money than I’ll ever see, yet he still seems to be a down-to-earth, God-loving guy, who doesn’t take himself too seriously.

I’m sure you’ve heard the “You Might be a Redneck” jokes.  If you see any of yourself in these jokes, you might be offended.  But, if I remember correctly, Jeff Foxworthy describes a redneck as someone lacking sophistication.  He acknowledges that he, at times, lacks sophistication.

I would not have admitted this some years back, but I, too lack sophistication at times.  I have a fair amount of education, and for a time, I thought that made me pretty hoity-toity.  I thought it made me a little better.  Than what?  The old me?  Rednecks?  The fact that I can’t answer that highlights how silly this attitude is.

I started wondering about the definition of sophistication.  I turned to my old stand-by, dictionary.com.  Here is the first definition:  “sophisticated character, ideas, tastes, or ways as the result of education, worldly experience, etc.”

Not really very informative, since it uses the word “sophisticated”.  So, of course, I had to look that up:  “(of a person, ideas, tastes, manners, etc.) altered by education, experience, etc., so as to be worldly-wise; not naive . . .”

Sounds kind of yucky, doesn’t it?  I suppose I have been changed, as most of us have through our experiences.  While I desire wisdom, I’ve known plenty of people who are wise who aren’t very worldly.  Anyway, where is the fun in being sophisticated?  There’s nothing better than a good laughter-induced snort.

My husband and I have taken our kids to the Monster Jam monster truck competition three years in a row.  Full disclosure – we would have paid money not to attend a monster truck show before we had kids.  But, after learning to bring ear muffs for all of us (wow, is it loud), I’ve learned to almost enjoy it.  The kids absolutely love it.

So, yes, I enjoy “You Might be a Redneck” jokes.  So much so, that I recently did a search online to find some for a chuckle.  I found this:  300 Reasons You Might be a Redneck.  I particularly enjoyed #15 “Your wife’s job requires her to wear an orange vest.”  You see, I work at a steel mill. While I don’t wear an orange vest, I have been known to wear a bright yellow one, a hard hat, and steel-toed boots with a metatarsal guard.

Life’s too short for all of the energy sophistication takes.  Check out the list.  Maybe you’ll find an item or two that you can relate to.  Come join the fun and be a redneck, at least for a moment.

 

 

 

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I Don’t Care What You Think. Or Do I?

In my late 20’s and early 30’s I struggled with anxiety.  Specifically, I struggled with social anxiety.  While most people care what others think of them, I cared so much it became almost debilitating.  I’ve come so far, it’s a distant memory in many ways.  I’m grateful for that, because, what I do recall is that it was a miserable way to exist.

One of the things I’ve learned through this is that I can’t control other people.  One of the hardest lessons is that I can’t control what other people think of me.

I had to learn to be true to myself and not be such a people-pleaser.  But it has been a journey to find a balance of not letting other people’s opinions rule my life, while also valuing my relationships.  This is something I’m feeling called to write, but it’s so much to sort out, that I decided to make a list of some of the changes I’ve gone through to become more confident and happy.

  • Some of my self-criticism was warranted. 

Besides caring what others thought of me, I was extremely self-critical.  My self-talk was horrible.  I would never talk to anyone else the way I addressed myself in my mind.  I was not kind, caring, compassionate or grace-extending toward myself in any way.

My thoughts about myself were harsh, and often unfair.  On the other hand, I was making a lot of poor choices.  When you lack self-respect, it’s impossible to expect respect from others with any credibility.

I needed to set the bar higher for myself.  While I’ll always have flaws, I have matured in my handling of most situations.

  • It’s necessary to achieve a balance between not letting other people’s opinions rule your life, and still caring about other people’s feelings. 

When I stopped using my emotions to try to control others, I started recognizing when other people were using the same tactic with me.  I had learned to disconnect my thoughts from turmoil and conflict.  I had learned to put it out of my mind, and get on with life.  But sometimes, it may have come at a price.

As I matured, I started to deem people who I thought were less mature as unworthy of my energy.

First of all, just because someone may lack maturity in an area, doesn’t mean they have no wisdom to offer.  Second, all of us handle some situations poorly – no matter how far we have come.  Third, maybe I could use some things I had learned to help other people, instead of writing them off.

I had gone from thinking too little of myself, to thinking too much of myself.  I had to remind myself that not everyone had the same experiences I’d had.  Not everyone had been forced to address some of their bad habits in dealing with others and themselves.

  • Say, “I’m sorry” easily, but only when you mean it.

Have you ever been around people who say, “Sorry” constantly?  I used the wrong word.  “Sorry.”  I dropped something.  “Sorry.”  I walked into the room.  “Sorry.”  It can be annoying because it’s obviously not sincere when it’s said repeatedly.  It’s just a bad habit and an indication of the person not valuing themselves.  It’s annoying, because it’s used inappropriately.

However, it’s more frustrating to be around people who are defensive, and have great difficulty saying they are sorry.  Some people have the philosophy that you always need to win power struggles with your kids, to show them who’s in charge.  But, I think it can send a pretty powerful message to acknowledge you were wrong, and to tell your children you’re sorry, as long as it’s sincere.

Only voice your opinion if it’s helpful. 

I won’t pretend to be perfect at this.  But, I have become better at biting my tongue.  While I can’t say I never participate in gossip, I pass up the opportunity often.  If someone asks for advice, I’ll give a thoughtful opinion.  But, I’m not afraid to tell them that I don’t know what they should do.  I can share my experience with something similar, but that doesn’t mean I know the right choice for them.  Of course, suggesting someone pray on the matter is always good advice!

Value others AND yourself.

Last Sunday, our Pastor talked about Mark 12:30-31 “and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (NASB)

I had heard this scripture many times before.  But, he pointed out something I had overlooked.  God wants us to love our neighbor, but he also wants us to love ourselves.  Never in a prideful way.  But, to me, this means to remember how much He loves us.  We are worthwhile to Him, each one of us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Beauty of Living in a Small Town

I kinda, sorta grew up in a small town, and I kinda, sorta live in a small town now.

I say kinda, sorta about where I grew up because, while I did grow up in a small town, it is connected to a metropolitan area of about 500,000 if you add the population of all of the cities that run together.

I say kinda, sorta about where I live now, because the nearest small town is about four miles away.  We aren’t even in a small town.  We are in the country.  I work in another small town, about 16 miles away.

This has been a change for me.  As an adult, I’ve always lived in a fairly populated area.  In fact, my last residence was a condo, so there was someone living literally on the other side of the wall.  We longed for solitude, and we got it.

We have lived here for over four years.  We are in a development, but we were the first to move in.  We had the neighborhood to ourselves for the first six months.  We now have a whopping three neighbors (three houses, to be accurate; so I guess if you count every resident, we have nine neighbors!).

During our first six months, we felt a little vulnerable with no neighbors.  I was grateful to have our mean-looking dog for some protection (she looked mean – we didn’t advertise that she loved everyone, even strangers).

Growing up, my Grandparents lived in the country.  I would laugh about them always wondering about the rare car that came down their road.  “Who’s that?  Oh, it’s Ted.”  It seemed they always knew the car. It was an event, hurrying to the window to see who was driving by.  Because we had so little traffic on our dead end road, we did the exact same thing.  I had fond memories of my Grandmother whenever I would hurry to one of the few windows with a good view of the road yelling, “A car’s coming!  Who’s that?!”

But, we got used to it.  It’s nice and quiet, and now that we have a few neighbors, we feel less isolated.

What I have found interesting has been becoming part of the community that is the small town four miles away, and the small city that is about 10 miles away in the other direction.  I seriously cannot go to Walmart in the small city or the Dollar General in the small town without seeing someone I know.  In a small town, it doesn’t take long to get to know a large percentage of the population, especially if you have school-age and preschool-age kids, who also participate in outside activities.

I started going to the local salon about a year after we moved here, and something happened that could only happen in a small town.   Our diaper bag had gone missing a couple of weeks earlier.  My stylist was asking if I was from the area. I explained where we lived. The stylist at the next chair asked who my husband was. I told her his name. She said, “I cut his hair. Are you missing a diaper bag?” Yep. Small town. Love it.

At around the same time, we attended the Pumpkin Dash in town.  It’s a race for the kids in their Halloween costumes.  Within 10 minutes, we saw at least 10 people we knew.  My son said, “All of my friends are here!”

Honestly, I wasn’t sure I would like this kind of lifestyle.  It’s pretty hard to be inconspicuous, and my introverted nature makes small-talk exhausting for me.  But, the people are genuine and helpful.

Before I had kids, I lived in a city.  Because I worked in HR, I didn’t feel I could hang out with colleagues outside of work.  I had a very hard time making friends there.  Here, I see the same people over and over, so it’s much easier to make a connection.

Small-town life . . . maybe it’s not for everyone, but I love it.

 

 

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To Rant or Not to Rant, That is the Question

We hear a lot about how people only post the best things in their life on facebook.  It supposedly becomes a contest about who has the best fake life.  But, I personally don’t want to read people’s dirty laundry on social media.  I made a commitment a couple of years ago to only post positive things because I feel there is enough in the world dividing us.

I don’t think posting about your kid graduating from college and beautiful prom photos, and omitting posts about the argument you had this morning, is a bad thing.  People don’t need to read about how the receptionist at your doctor’s office was rude to you this morning.  What’s the point?  I guess it makes people feel a release to spread the negativity.  But, it doesn’t make your facebook friends’ day any better.  I like seeing vacations and kids’ accomplishments.  I don’t see it as bragging.  I see at as celebrating the positive things – because, let’s face it, life can be hard.  Share away, and I’ll be happy for you.

People also say that “Mommy Blogs” are all about perfection, and the bloggers don’t keep it real.  Okay – sometimes that’s true.  I have never tried to do that.  I’ve made it known upfront that I’m not an expert about anything.  Occasionally, I’ll share a tip about something that worked for me, after much trial and error, because maybe it will make someone’s life easier.

I share personal insights on my blog, but I am very careful not to disclose too much about people who are close to me.  This might mean that I have to be creative about how I write something, or it may mean avoiding a topic altogether.  I disclosed something about my daughter, that I decided might embarrass her later in life, so I deleted the post.  I’m constantly making judgment calls – sometimes I get it right and sometimes I don’t.

We have issues in our lives that I choose not to talk about on my blog or on social media.  Does this mean I’m not being real, because I continue to post positive things, but not the negative?  I don’t think so.  Others might.  I’ve learned that, no matter what I do, there will be some who judge it as wrong.  I’m someone who hates drama and conflict, but I’ve learned that, when you’re dealing with other people (which we all are), we can’t always control what comes into our lives.  Sometimes we have to make choices that others aren’t going to approve of.  Sometimes, it seems, no matter what choice we make, there will be someone who will find fault.

Do I ever feel like ranting publicly about it?  You bet.  But, I refrain, because I feel the repercussions aren’t worth that temporary feeling of relief.  I’m just someone doing the best I can, and I choose to focus on the seemingly rare moments that are worth celebrating.

 

 

 

Get Used to Disappointment

Do you remember this exchange in “The Princess Bride”?  Inigo Montoya:  “Who are you?”  Wesley (man in black):  “No one of consequence.”  “I must know.”  “Get used to disappointment.”  “‘kay.”

I can so relate to Inigo’s respond here.  “‘kay.”  My memory of the scene is that he kind of shrugs.  Maybe he’s already used to disappointment.

Have you gotten used to disappointment?  I’m realizing that I have, and it’s not good.

I feel like I’ve been in a slump for a few years.  Don’t get me wrong.  We have so many blessings to be grateful for.  Yet, we also seem to have a history of “whatever can go wrong, will.”  God keeps carrying us through the obstacles, but it seems nothing ever comes easily.  I’ve gotten into this mode of bracing myself for problems.

This attitude of enduring has become a bad habit.  Enduring isn’t exactly being joyful.  Having low expectations is no way to live.

This became apparent to me last weekend.  We bought a camper two summers ago.  Even though it was a used pop-up, it was a pretty big financial investment for us.  We used it several times the first summer.  Last summer, we used it twice.  I felt this pressure to get our money’s worth out of it.  It became a job, instead of something fun.

We decided to sell it.  But, it was the end of the season, so we waited until mid-March to list it.  Still, I thought this was probably a little too early.  I was braced for it taking a long time, and for us getting the minimally acceptable selling price for it.

To my surprise, we sold it in 6 days for a price we were very pleased with.  The couple was nice and easy to work with.

Throughout this process, I expected something to go wrong at each step.  I expected to get no real interest, and to have to look for additional places to list it, periodically lowering the price.  When we had scheduled the appointment for them to look at it, I expected them to not show up.  It was overcast and rainy that day.  If they did show up, I expected that heavy rain would hinder us from showing it.  I expected them to back out.  I expected the funds not to go through.

When everything went through and went smoothly, I didn’t know how to react.  While I was thrilled, even when the deal was done, I expected something to go wrong.

I could list all of the things that have gone wrong for us, and you would see, in some ways, it’s reasonable for me to have this attitude.  It’s okay to prepare for everything not going perfectly, but developing the expectation that everything will always go wrong probably isn’t the healthiest of outlooks.

I’m not 100% sure how to correct this.  Maybe recognizing my attitude is the first step in changing it.

My Unglamorous Life

This is something I wrote a couple of years ago.  I’ve suffered loss and additional struggles since then – my own and those of people I care about.  The challenge to be happy in all circumstances has become more difficult.  Thank you to a friend who reminded me of Philippians 4:11:  “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”  KJV

I watched Revolutionary Road the other night. I was enjoying the movie in the beginning. Good performances, and the couple’s last name was Wheeler (my maiden name). . . Toward the end, the movie started to make me mad. Kate Winslet’s character, April, had a pretty nice life. Two beautiful children and a nice home. She didn’t have a great marriage, but it was salvageable. But, she was deeply unhappy because she didn’t get to move to Paris. She thought she and her husband were special, and they didn’t belong in this suburban lifestyle. She wanted more.

I looked at my own life and thought how much April Wheeler would hate it. I live outside of a small town and work at a dirty old steel mill in another small town. It doesn’t get much more unglamorous than that. But, I am happy. I have my moments of grumbling, but overall, I am happy. I am extremely grateful for my children. I am grateful for the moral support and companionship I get from my husband and other friends and family. I am grateful to have a job where I work with nice people, generally feel appreciated and have the flexibility to attend my son’s school events. I am grateful for my country drive everyday. I think the cornfields, hay bales, old farmhouses and country churches I pass everyday are beautiful.

I couldn’t help but think that if April Wheeler could not be happy where she was, eventually she would be unhappy in Paris too. I’m not saying it’s wrong to have goals or want something different. But if your focus is on what you don’t have, instead of the blessings you do, you can never be happy.