Today’s words: perspective and gratitude.
I lay on the couch this morning, finishing watching the documentary I started yesterday as I waited to scoop up Fiance at O’Hare when his midnight flight from Vegas landed. In Two American Families, Bill Moyers “chronicles the lives of two ordinary families over more than 20 years as they battle to keep from sliding into poverty.” I LOVE films that follow people over extended periods of time (Have you seen Seven Up, which interviewed fourteen British children at age seven in 1964 and has interviewed them every seven years since? Fascinating.). With ten minutes left, I had to tear myself away from Families to go pick up the teeth-whitening materials Fiance and I were gifted when a local dentist heard about our betrothment (perhaps America’s coolest-designed and most comfortable dentist’s office; not to mention the nicest staff).
As I meandered to Sugar Fix in my yoga pants and flip-flops, on this disgustingly hot Chicago day, I saw these 9 to 5’ers walking to and waiting for the train, in their collared-shirts and polyester pencil-skirts, earbuds encasing them in their own zombie-worlds as they made the trek they make day after day.
After ten-minutes of making sure my custom-made trays fit and learning tips on how to be sparkly white when September 1st rolls around, I crossed the street to Starbucks where I redeemed a coupon for a free drink, then ate a blueberry scone while I read the Tribune from cover to cover.
Perspective and gratitude.
I was raised by a single-mom who led an entrepreneurial lifestyle that while made her happy didn’t make her rich, and remember her stressing over financial issues. But I grew up in Evanston, a wonderful community filled with good schools, lush parks, and vibrant businesses. I didn’t have to worry about gunshots on my street, or have to work two jobs or apply for a credit-card at age 18 so that I could pay for my college tuition, as the kids in Families did.
Having a paycheck every two-weeks, paid-vacation/sick days, Christmas bonuses, tuition-reimbursement, and a retirement-fund matching program would be nice. But I would trade, and did trade, all of that for the ability to lazily watch a documentary on my couch in breathable clothing, followed by a leisurely enjoyment of the paper and drink at my neighborhood coffeehouse some random Thursday morning.
Creating spreadsheet after spreadsheet to keep track of my company’s various details, nagging person after person to turn something in or give me information I need, spending hour after hour fixing a simple IT problem because my IT department is me who knows little about IT… not super fun. But how lucky am I that I’m not an intelligent and able-bodied adult unemployed for months at a time, only to find jobs making $6 an hour, doing back-breaking manual labor or working the third shift, as are the parents in Families.
Too many people I know have had wedding-planning experiences filled with fights, tears, and piles of debt. It’s been nothing but a joy to plan the next step in our lives. Because I have a Fiance who shares the same values I do (comfort! efficiency! frugality! fun! BBQ!). Because I have a community of giving, skilled, innovative, and progressive-thinking business owners who embraced the idea of a bartered-wedding and/or have blessed us with gifts of services and products. Because we’re surrounded by friends and family who support us in the most kind ways.
So yeah, it sucks that it’s hot out. I’d rather own that new Subaru parked on Ravenswood I passed this AM than our worn-Civic. People drive me nuts by being adults who can’t follow instructions laid out to them in a concise, easy to read email. I shouldn’t have eaten that scone and should lose forty pounds. But in the grand scheme of things, I’m a thirty-four year old woman who is about to marry her best friend, has a self-made career that not only brings her utter-joy but seemingly goodness to others as well, and 99.9% of the time, who lives a life exactly how she wants to live it.
Is there a source of frustration, hurt, sadness, annoyance, anger, envy in your life? If you step back and view it through Big Picture glasses, is it worth the energy, time, mental space you’re giving it?
Perspective and gratitude.