Some time in the middle of this winter that lasted forever, I started to notice people complaining about a sidewalk near my school that was often left icy and uncleared. The grumbling that would take place was sometimes quite extensive, and I admit to spending a day or two doing some internal grumbling myself. Then I decided to cross the street. It was a simple idea. Just because I had ALWAYS walked on that side of the street, didn’t make the other side a worse choice, nor was it inconvenient. It was just different.
Soon after I decided to cross the street I found I was less cross myself in the mornings, most of which were rushed and hurried, navigating snow and ice covered streets and looking for parking safe for my very low Sonata. One day I even found myself talking to one of the neighbors near the icy house. She volunteered to me that the elderly couple was not well, and while neighbors did their best to keep up, it wasn’t always possible. Made sense. My grandparents are in their mid 90s and live in their own home. They have kind neighbors who often clear their walkway before family can reach their home. But, what if they didn’t. And what if we didn’t live close? It’s easy to judge. I’m guilty too. But I’m working on a simple move, we’ve come to call – “Flip it!”
We talk “Flip it!” when it’s something that can be fixed. When it’s a negative thought that can be changed.
I’m not suggesting the world go all “Ms. Mary Sunshine” all the time. As a matter of fact the person who always flippantly replies,”Could be worse,” to EVERY situation, often drives me mad. Sometimes things just stink. Sometimes they are even worse. But, for most of us, for the day to day stuff, if we just grab a different perspective, things change quickly and significantly.
I think all this came to mind tonight as I sit, preparing to return to work after Spring Vacation.
This was not a fabulous vacation, but yet nothing awful happened. We cleaned lots of things. We saw a few doctors. I made some phone calls. We got through some necessary spring shopping for my girl who managed to outgrow her entire wardrobe again. Yet, I have this feeling in my stomach, this queasy Sunday night anxiety, that reminds me no matter how much I like my job, I’d rather be home with my girl. Even in this “preteen” phase of our lives, she makes pretty good company.
So, as I started to get down, I was reminded of a dear friend, buried under more than her share of worries, who called to tell me she was being laid off. By no fault of her own, I might add, and I was jolted by the reality that the job market isn’t as good as those of us in pretty secure jobs like to think. It made me think that going to work tomorrow, in a building where I am comfortable, with staff and students that are generally nice to be around, and where I will get paid via direct deposit on the 1st and the 16th is a privilege. The alarm will hurt a little. But I will, “flip it.”
Shopping wasn’t easy. There are shoe challenges for this beautiful girl whose feet are each growing at their own pace. But, we found what we needed, even when I had to buy two pairs and toss one of each a few times. There is a dress for Arista, and a dress for the swim dinner, and one for her grandfather’s 80th birthday. There is a beautiful young lady. So while the shopping pricey, that job security was a comfort. When shopping for shoes was terribly frustrating, like a kid in a candy store who can’t eat anything she wants, we remained grateful. In the most basic forms of gratitude, she has her mobility, she has immense upper body strength to compensate for a weak knee. We have the means to keep her dressed as she needs. Can’t always have what you want – but, rather what you need. “Flip it.”
We didn’t make church as a family of three today. Meghan didn’t leave her bed till after 1, even with the blinds wide open and the bright sunny day on her face. The fatigue was too much. The thyroid hormones still unbalanced. The exhaustion from just being “normal” is too intense sometimes. But I got there. To celebrate our pastor. To worship in a room full of kind souls. To watch a baptism, and to pray. I was alone, but yet I was reminded that I am never alone. “Flip it.”
On April 20th we will make an unscheduled stop to the dermatologist. There is a suspicious mark on Meghan’s side. While no one is panicked, living with Cowden’s Syndrome, and our obscenely high cancer risks, make everything all the more unsettling. We will get it checked, and hopefully it will become quickly a memory. But, we won’t wait. Cowden’s Syndrome is a burden. There is never a break from screenings and testing, and checking. But, we get to strike first. And no matter how overwhelming this battle becomes some days, I am always close in heart with my loved ones who have battled cancer, and those who are battling it now. Our screening and preventative medicine while cumbersome is a gift. “Flip it.”
My heart and my head are full all the time. Sometimes I can keep it in check, and other times I need to remind even myself to find way to “Flip it.”
In every house, on every street, in every city, in every state, in every country in the world, EVERYONE HAS SOMETHING. It is our awareness of others, our ability to see things from another perspective, to know when to make others laugh, and when to hold their hand, to know we are not alone in our struggles. That is how we define where our life will go, and the mark we will leave on the world.