03 November 2011

A Little Perspective Makes All the Difference!

Have you ever noticed that one unexpected thing can turn your whole day around, for better or worse?

On Tuesday morning, I woke up earlier than usual, refreshed, excited and full of energy.  I wasn't sick!  For the first time in nearly a month, I didn't have a sore throat, a headache and tired, aching muscles.  I knew the kids all had after school activities that afternoon, which gave me an extra hour and a half to catch up on the many things that I've let slide while I've been sick.  Since I was awake early, I took my time getting up, eating breakfast, checking my email and getting dressed for my weekly Temple day.

It didn't even phase me when my oldest two kids missed the bus.  I simply gathered up my younger daughters and drove all the kids to school.  (The older kids were even almost on time!)  When my son announced as he was getting out of the car that he'd left his homework on the table, I smiled and shrugged.  No problem!  I had just enough time for a quick detour back to the house before dropping my daughters off at their elementary school.  Added bonus?  I could also grab my cell phone that I'd left plugged into the charger.  And I could easily swing back by the middle school to drop off the homework on my way to the Temple.  It wasn't too far out of my way, after all, and I knew the quiet peace inside the Temple would more than make up for the crazy chaos of our suddenly hectic morning.

When I got home from the Temple that afternoon, feeling relaxed and spiritually refreshed, I had a quiet lunch and then got caught up on a few projects.  I even managed to finish my entry for the writing contest I've been working on for the past month, and I got it in just before the deadline!  Yes, Tuesday was definitely the best day I'd had in a very long time.

Then, as I finished submitting my writing contest entry and gathered my things together to go collect the kids from their various after school activities, my phone rang.  I smiled, recognizing the ring tone I'd created for my husband, and realized he must be calling to let me know he was on his way home from work - a little earlier than I had expected.  Could this day get any better?

His voice was a little strained.  "Honey, I'm on my way home, but when I get there, we're going to need to pray together for guidance.  I have some potentially bad news."

He told me that the Air Force is going through a force reshaping again, and due to a series of recent events, he's right smack-dab in the middle of the group most vulnerable to early separation.

I knew I shouldn't worry.  We've been in uncertain circumstances before - way too often to recount here.  It hasn't always ended up the way I wanted it to go, but it's always been, in the end, the absolute best thing for us.  The Lord knows what he's doing.  I trust Him.

Besides, I knew my husband's commanding officer would do anything in his power to protect my husband's job.  After all, just days ago, he was recognized as one of the key reasons that they passed their recent inspections with flying colors.  He's the go-to guy when programs need to be fixed.  They won't let him go without a fight.

Still, I felt like I'd been slammed up against a wall.  My amazing, peaceful day came crashing down all around me.  In a flash, the joy and tranquility dissolved, and I struggled through a dark cloud of fear and "what ifs."  Our bright, promising future suddenly seemed bleak and hopeless.

Yesterday, when I crawled out of bed, I was still seeing those dark clouds.  Not a single silver lining in sight.

Never mind the fact that my kids all got ready for school without fighting me, and I got to go to the gym for the first time in weeks.  By 7am, I already knew it was going to be a BAD DAY!

Since I've been sick and my gym routine has faltered lately, it took longer than usual to gather my things together.  I was late leaving the house, and arrived fifteen minutes late for my deep water jogging class.  I thought about skipping it altogether, but my lethargic muscles screamed for the opportunity to move again, so I trudged into the gym and changed into my bathing suit.  I tried not to notice that my favorite red suit was starting to wear through in patches due to the high chlorine levels in the pool, but I noticed it anyway.  Oh well.  I couldn't do anything about it now - my other suit was at home. 

I walked out to the pool and climbed in, barely noticing that the water wasn't freezing, as it usually is.  Normally, I would be grateful for such a blessing.  Yesterday, I couldn't make myself care.  My friends teased me about my extended absence, and even though I knew they love and missed me, the good-natured ribbing was almost too much.  I had to fight the tears that threatened to spill over.  Only 9:15am, and this was already shaping up to be the worst day ever!

I'd been looking forward to getting together with my friends for knitting club.  I've missed more Wednesdays than I can count lately, with my illness and various doctor and dentist appointments for the kids.  Unfortunately, I left the knitting project I'd so carefully set out that morning sitting on my dining room table.  I knew I could still go to the knitting club and visit with my friends.  I've missed them, after all.  But really, without a project to work on, what was the point?  Yep, worst day ever!

I took my car in to get the tire fixed (it's been leaking air), and they wanted to charge me for the repair, even though it was covered under the road hazard warranty I'd paid extra for when I bought the tires not many months ago.  Then, the 45-minute repair took just over two hours.

I couldn't even work on my NaNoWriMo writing goal while I waited in the overcrowded waiting room, because they had the TV tuned in to soap operas and daytime talk shows at such a high volume that I couldn't even hear myself think! 

When I finally got my car back, they informed me that both my front and back brakes were dangerously low.  I should make an appointment to bring the car back in for a repair as soon as possible.  Great!  There was no way this day could get any worse!

As I pulled into my driveway, I noticed a large box on my front porch.  The nook I'd been waiting for to replace my defective one had arrived right on time.  I took a deep breath and brought it inside.  At least one thing had finally gone right!  If nothing else, I could curl up with a good book and pretend that this terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day had never happened.  I carried the box inside and pulled out my "new" (certified, pre-owned) nook.  I plugged it in to charge the battery - and nothing happened!  After hours of charging, I later had to admit that they'd sent me a defective nook to replace my defective nook!  I just couldn't catch a break!

I glanced at the clock and saw that I had just enough time to eat a quick lunch before my kids came home from school.  I popped it into the toaster oven to warm up, then answered the phone when it rang.  The dentist's office was calling to yell at me because I had questioned a recent bill.  Apparently, the amount they'd charged when I was in the office (telling me I had paid in full) didn't take into account the fact that they used a type of filling for my daughters' teeth that isn't covered by my insurance ("many policies don't cover this type, and we simply can't take the time to verify which items will or won't be covered prior to providing service.  You should have verified that yourself.")  When I had the audacity to ask that they use the type my insurance will cover for any future fillings, she reamed me for my bad parenting skills.  Apparently, if I really cared about my children, I would use the expensive, non-insured type! 

As politely as I could (I admit that I may have been a little more snappish than I meant to be), I explained that I didn't have time to argue, and I ended the conversation.  Then, I ran back to the kitchen to rescue my lunch, that was already starting to burn in the toaster oven.  As I tried to quickly pull it out, my lunch crumbled into a hundred tiny pieces, littering the bottom of the toaster.  I managed to save about half of it, and I tried to be grateful that I had something to eat, but really, I was just counting the minutes until I could crawl back into bed and forget that this day had ever happened!

As I finished the last bites of my smaller-than-anticipated lunch, the kids came home from school.  I took a deep breath, started them on their homework, and retired to my writing corner, determined to salvage the day by getting at least a little bit of writing done.

No such luck.

Within seconds of sitting down, I leaped up again and ran downstairs to rescue my youngest daughter, who was screaming in terror, as if she'd discovered a dead body.

She had!

My cats had killed a mouse and brought it into the library, leaving it right next to our favorite beanbag chair.  I tried to be grateful that they hadn't brought in a live mouse.  After all, they were doing what cats are supposed to do, right?

While I calmed my daughter, I persuaded my son to grab a plastic bag and remove the offending body from the house.  He took it to the outside trash can, then returned to wash his hands - only to discover that my thoughtful cats had also left a dead mouse as a present for us on the bathroom rug!  (Now, my youngest is convinced that the only safe room in the house is her bedroom.  She keeps the door closed, and the cats aren't allowed upstairs.)

I gave up on trying to salvage the day.  I told the kids they could eat as much Hallowe'en candy as they wanted, and I went upstairs so I could call my husband at work and cry in private.

While I waited for him to answer his phone, I pulled up my email.  The first message waiting for me in my inbox was from Anna Staniszewski (author of MY VERY UNFAIRY TALE LIFE), informing me that I won an ARC of her book!

I read the email to my husband, and he laughed.  "You are so lucky!  You always win these book contests.  If I were a gambling man, I'd tell you to buy a lottery ticket!"

And you know what? He's right.  I am so blessed.  I may have the most UNFAIRY TALE LIFE kind of day from time to time (don't we all?), but I have friends and family who love and care for me, and I really have just about everything I could want.

Besides, I'm getting a free copy of one of the books at the tippy-top of my wish list - one that, by the title alone, fit the theme of my day to a tee.  How could any string of bad day events compete with amazingly good news like that?  Yesterday was THE BEST DAY EVER!

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