Life is hard right now. I live in Michigan, where the unemployment rate tops 8.5 percent, the highest in the nation. News of buy-outs and lay-offs are a daily part of life here and across the country.
I am a single mother and I am owed over $85,000 in back child support, not because my child support award was huge, but because that arrearage dates back to when my oldest, who is now twenty, was four years old. I found my dream job seven months ago and two weeks ago was notified that the entire division that I work in will be dissolved. Time to find a new job. Again. I have home repairs that desperately need to be addressed that I simply can’t afford. As of September, I will have a daughter and a son in college with tuition and books and all of the expenses that go along with a college career.
It is so, so easy to catalog the worries and fears and problems. It is hard to remember to look up and recognize that the sky is outrageously beautifully blue today, but it is so very easy to keep the worries and injustices and heartaches constantly in mind. So hard to worry about only what you have the power to change.
As an antidote, I have developed a habit over the years of making a list of “Twenty Things I Love About …” anything. I have lists of twenty things I love about me, twenty things I love about my house, my job, Michigan, or Arizona where I used to live, twenty things I love about winter or food or being alone or … whatever needs to be recognized at the moment.
This summer has been strange, even without the job-loss stress. We have had violent thunderstorms and flooding almost daily. It was chilly and damp and felt more like spring than summer all the way into July. Now that summer is finally here it is still raining, still boggy, swampy, wet, but now it’s also hot and suffocating, stiflingly muggy.
So for today, my list of Twenty Things I Love About Summer:
- The sound of the train whistle through my open bedroom window at night
- Nectarines, fresh and ripe, the juice running down my arm to my elbow
- Reading outside in the lazy heat, my feet in the soft grass and the sounds of laughter in the background
- Floaty cotton dresses
- Cucumbers, peeled and eaten like apples
- Summer songs—“All Summer Long” by Kid Rock, “Summertime” by Kenny Chesney, “Sunshine and Summertime” by Faith Hill, “So Magical” by Martina McBride
- My kids sprawled on the hardwood floor in the evening
- Lime popsicles
- Laundry drying in the sunshine
- My garden
- Bicycles—I have a cruiser with big old-fashioned wheels and I want a wicker basket for the front
- Music in the park outside under the stars with little kids running around
- Street festivals
- The extra hours of sunlight that inspire me to do more when I get home from work than curl up on the couch
- Water—puddles, lakes, the ocean, swimming holes, fountains … all of it!
- White curtains billowing in the wind
What are your coping mechanisms? How do you remind yourself to look up and out and notice the good when life gets hard? What are your twenty things?