Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gratitude and the New Normal

I’m enjoying my morning with my laptop (the new morning newspaper?), a cup of coffee, and my daughter’s favorite shows on the television when I came across a blog entry titled Do Over. The author writes about her husband Chris losing his job, finding a job herself, and trying to stay positive through the experience. Eventually, the effort to stay positive wore thin and worry slowly crept in. After the worst year she and her husband had ever experienced, the next year was even more difficult. She writes:

If only I had known that was only the beginning.

The beginning of our new "normal". A normal that brings with it daily worries about things I once took for granted as easily as the air I breathed. Things like medical insurance and being a stay at home mom. Things like full tanks of gas and a kitchen full of groceries and a husband that doesn't get sent home during the day because "there's just no work".

I think there are so many of us who are either experiencing this situation or fearing it. How would we make it if my husband lost his job? With seven children and a mortgage, just living is expensive. Without a doubt, one of the best things in my life is making a difference for children through my volunteer work with LWB. Would I be able to continue if life became too difficult financially? It’s something I would have to consider. Could I find a way to make life better for children in need, no matter what our financial circumstances? What motivates me to make a difference?

But, here is the conclusion of the blog and this is what really caught my attention. The “new normal” might have an important upside that I hadn’t yet considered:

Without the last two years I wouldn't have learned to prioritize, to improvise. I wouldn't have learned what I'm made of. I wouldn't have learned that I can rise to the occasion.

Most of all, I wouldn't have learned how to be truly, truly, overwhelmingly appreciative when Chris learned this morning that he got the job.

Gratitude. Yes, I am more grateful for things than I used to be. I’m grateful I can keep seven children fed and happy. I’m grateful my husband has the job we depend on. I’m grateful we can make our mortgage payments. Maybe this is the whole point of the “new normal?”

In realizing my blessings, I’m also grateful that I can make a difference in the world – and I hope that it isn’t something that comes from the largess of my family’s finances, but from the largess of my heart. Is gratitude the crucial component of giving back, paying it forward so to speak? And if gratitude grows stronger in tough times, then does the inspiration to make a difference kindle stronger, too?

Debbie Smith

Public Relations Director

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