Thursday, January 30, 2014

Compared to what?

Perspective. It's an easy concept to grasp: What looks one way to one person, looks another to someone else, depending on their background and beliefs. The idea of perspective also brings in one's attitude. An optimistic mindset can really be an asset when confronting change. Fortunately, I am an eternal optimist.

I was having an especially difficult day yesterday when I stumbled upon the story of Katherine Stone of Atlanta who had driven 11 hours in the recent snowstorm to get to her kids. She explained how people with no jackets (because it doesn't get cold in Atlanta) had to abandon their cars and walk for hours. I stopped, reset my attitude, and gained some perspective. That's actually a parenting trick I've used in the past on my daughter: "I can see you're having a rough time, so can you please try to change your attitude?" I didn't realize it would work on me.

It's an old saying that bad news comes in threes and sevens. While I'm not superstitious, I have sometimes found this idiom to hold true. I'm dealing with my own sets of threes and sevens this month: my grandmother's death, as well as the personal tragedies of a long lost friend on Facebook, and a dear colleague. Add to this other concerns such as work rumors, repairing my condo, and the uncertainty of school and where to live, and I've got seven. Seven issues to keep my brain occupied, searching them over and over as if I'm panning for gold and if I think if I just think about it the right way, I'll come up with a gold nugget of an answer.

When things I've taken for granted suddenly change, I attempt to look at it as an opportunity. However, I am such a planner that I find it enormously challenging to remain steadfast in the face of change. Taking time off from my normal routine to reflect really helps. So does reading the wise words of Thích Nhất Hạnh

But other times, nothing helps. I have to just sit with my unsettled feelings and have faith that the right answer, the right course of action for me and my family, is going to become clear if I just hang in there. I love these words that Robin Roberts spoke at the MA Conference for Women in December 2013: "When fear knocks, let faith answer the door." Well, hello, fear. You don't scare me. I am equipped with the experience, the resilience, and the determination to keep on keepin' on.

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